A group of pastors in Uttar Pradesh have made a plea for the release of about 30 other pastors who are detained in various jails throughout the region.
Majority of the arrests are said to have occurred when the law against conversion was passed in February 2021, which made it illegal to convert to a different religion using compulsion, force or other forms of bribery.
The group of pastors detailed in a memorandum how Hindu nationalist groups and individuals take advantage of the state's anti-conversion law to interrupt Christian prayer services, rob churches and prayer rooms, trash Bibles, and abuse pastors, priests and nuns.
Furthermore, they have requested the help of the police commissioner in Kanpur to shield the Christian pastors from intimidation and retaliation.
Brother Joy Mathew claims that since the anti-conversion law was passed, persecution of Christians has intensified.
Many Christian leaders were imprisoned, but no one has been found guilty yet since the cases were not upheld by the court upon legal review. While we rigorously adhere to constitutional protections and state laws when we declare the Word of God, those who attack us are breaking both the law and the constitution. They must be punished, he continued.
Pastor Jitendra Singh, general secretary of the Pastors' Association of Uttar Pradesh, claims that the pastors who were detained were falsely charged with engaging in religious conversions. He told UCA news, “We want justice for the pastors who have been victims of persecution.”