Date:  February 5, 2021

A Christian pastor was assaulted by two Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers in BJP-governed Telangana state who accused him of carrying out religious conversions, despite the fact that the state has no anti-conversion law.

The pastor, Chandra Mouli, was attacked and injured on January 28 during a visit to the home of a church member in Hasthinapuram, Vanasthalipuram locality, Hyderabad district, who had requested prayer for a sick family member.

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The BJP workers, Lalith Kumar Reddy and P. Srinivas, both also reportedly members of a hardline group called the Hindu Dharma Protectors, arrived at the house to accuse Pastor Mouli of performing religious conversions before assaulting him. Local police intervened to rescue the pastor.

An official complaint was filed by Pastor Mouli on 29 January, and the government workers have since been arrested. This was despite a protest staged by hundreds of BJP members outside the police station claiming that the police were favouring the pastor.

Spurious accusations of “unlawful” conversion made against Christians, and other forms of attack, are becoming increasingly frequent in India, as recorded in a persecution watch report released by The Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) in January.

An Indian Christian leader commented, “I think there is an increase in hostility to public Christian activity by calling even regular worship as ‘conversion’ activities. This is new in my view and is a dangerous trend. Any visible Christian spiritual activity will be treated with suspicion in these BJP-ruled states.”

He continued, “We have to accept that there is visceral hatred of Muslims and Christians in the Hindutva groups, and in BJP-ruled states they are getting more aggressive.”

Nine Indian Christians arrested under newly tightened anti-conversion regulations in Madhya Pradesh state were denied bail on January 27. Earlier in the month, Indian police in Shahjahanpur district, Uttar Pradesh state, were instructed to keep a watch on prayer meetings, after five Christians were accused of trying to “unlawfully” convert people to Christianity.