Date: October 1, 2017
Two pastors escaped an anti-conversion law by the skin of their teeth thanks to a working relationship with local police.
Pastor Santok from Pidal village, Haryana is a well liked and loved community pastor involved in a church planting ministry in his village. On September 10th 2017 he invited a close friend Pastor J. P. Kalyan to preach at his Sunday service and the wider community was invited to attend and hear the gospel.
However news of the service reached the Sarpanch (head of the village) who already had expressed on many occasions that he hated Christians. Noting the size of the service was bigger then normal the Sarpanch became furious he believed many Hindus were in the service and immediately went to the local Police station and tried to register an FIR against Pastor Santok and Pastor Kalyan, stating that they had paid a bribe to convert Hindu's to the Christian faith - am accusation both men vehemently deny.
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At the behest of the village leader local police arrested the two pastors and started an enquiry. However, using social media the pastors videoed an appeal asking for help as they were being arrested for no known reason and feared for their safety. The viral link reached our officer Pastor Naresh our BPCA lead officer in India who knew a police officer at the station.
Through his contact at the police he was able to calm the situation and peace was restored once the Sarpanch was assured no attempt to bribe a Hindu took place.
Pastor Santok, said:
"We were simply sharing the gospel and had the doors open at our church for anyone who wanted to come in. We were not asking people o change their religion that is their choice. We did not give any gifts or any money that is a total lie."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"These two pastors had a very fortunate escape, in almost all similar cases the Christians faced with an anti-conversion allegation end up in costly court cases resulting in sentences and fines.
"However in reality the intolerance we see in India should not exist, the country purports o be democratic in its constitution and has ratified the UN Convention for human rights.
"irrespective of the adoption of these international laws, India breaches so many of them. In this particular case the contravening of Article 18 which provides freedoms of thought , conscience and belief is evident for all to see.
"The UN does not have the will to intervene on behalf of those suffering clear human rights abuses, and western nations ignore India's immoral behaviour intent on maintaining trade agreements and military alliances."