In Uttar Pradesh, cops halt church prayer after Hindu group alleges conversion
Police stopped a prayer attended by more than 150 people, including 11 American tourists, at an Uttar Pradesh church on Friday after the right-wing Hindu Yuva Vahini complained that the event was a cover for religious conversion.
The youth group, set up by chief minister Yogi Adityanath in 2002, filed a complaint against Yohannan Adam, the pastor of the church at Dathauli of Maharajganj district.
The organisation accused him of converting Hindus to Christianity, a charge the pastor denied.
“No prior permission was taken before the meeting. We stopped the meet after a complaint was registered. A probe is underway and appropriate action will be taken if the charges are correct,” said police officer Anand Kumar Gupta.
The US tourists were let off after police checked their visas and relevant documents.
“The presence of US nationals indicates that innocent and illiterate Hindus were being converted by the missionaries, who lured them with money to change their religion,” said Krishna Nandan, a Hindu Yuva Vahini leader who surrounded the church with his supporters in the afternoon.
They dispersed after police promised a probe and adequate action, though Nandan was not happy that the Americans were cleared.
The church authorities dismissed the conversion allegations.
“The charges are absolutely baseless. The people were attending a prayer meeting voluntarily. We prayed. Nothing else was done,” pastor Adam said.
The Hindu right wing has been at loggerheads with Christian missionaries, accusing them of converting people through coercion and allurement to their faith.
Several Hindu organisations have conducted ghar wapsi or homecoming of such people, which minority groups say is a couched term for re-conversion.
Earlier this year, Hindu Yuva Vahini activists attacked the Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur, accusing it of religious conversion.