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Pastor jailed 23 days for owning Bible; radical Hindus angered Christians aren't 'worshiping idols' push for prosecution
Christian Post ^ | September 21, 2023 | Morning Star News

Posted on 09/22/2023 2:46:20 PM PDT by Morgana

NEW DELHI — Not even a judge’s reprimand of police spared an impoverished pastor in India from being jailed on baseless claims of fraudulent conversion, one of the latest examples of how Hindu extremists misuse “anti-conversion” laws.

Pastor Bajarang Rawat, a 47-year-old convert from Hinduism in Mohanlalganj, Lucknow District in Uttar Pradesh state, faces charges of converting people by “allurement” even though police could find no witnesses against him, and the only evidence they presented was his Bible, the pastor said.

“Reprimanding the policemen, the magistrate told them that it was not a crime to possess a Bible and that he himself has a Bible at home,” Pastor Rawat told Morning Star News. “The policemen stood silent, but even after this conversation, I was sent to jail.”

Released on bail on Aug. 7, Pastor Rawat was arrested on July 16 and charged at the Loni Katra police station under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021 for “attempt to convert … by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by fraudulent means.”

The next day police drove him to the District and Sessions Court, Barabanki, where the judge asked the reason for his arrest and was told they had confiscated a Bible from him.

The following weeks left his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 10, near starvation, but police had received intense pressure from Hindu nationalist, government authorities to prosecute him, he said. Pastor Rawat has yet to find a source of income after Hindu nationalists ruined his sales stall and he was forced to leave the area.

Police and the news media and Hindu nationalists who accompanied officers could not find a single witness testifying of any kind of allurement. But the extremists blamed Pastor Rawat for brainwashing people, “so much so that they stop worshiping idols,” they said. One Hindu nationalist told officers, “He has been preaching about a foreign God and spreading a foreign religion,” the pastor said.

Police confiscated all his songbooks and his Bible and took him to the Haidergarh police station. After questioning him and holding him for a few hours, officers let him go. That evening, however, police reached Rawat’s make-shift house — a shed covered with plastic sheeting — and again told him to accompany them to the police station, ostensibly to collect the confiscated songbooks and Bible.

“I insisted on following them on my bicycle because I would face a transportation problem while returning, to which they said they would drop me back as well,” Pastor Rawat said.

He was arrested and detained at the Loni Katra police station. An officer showed him videos that the police had recorded of the people who attended his church and praised him for doing a noble job, the pastor said.

According to Pastor Rawat, the officer told him, “You are doing a noble work by working for the community. I can see that people themselves are giving witness to the healings they have received, but there is a lot of opposition and pressure that is coming from the authorities.”

Pastor Rawat said officers told him that he need not worry, that he would be released in three days, and that those who had harassed him for no reason would be prosecuted.

“But nothing of that sort happened,” he told Morning Star News in a low tone. “I was sent to jail and was kept inside for 23 days before I was released on bail.”

In the prior four years, police had regularly monitored Pastor Rawat’s activities but always responded positively to the people who gathered for worship at his place.

But Loni Katra police arrested Pastor Rawat, who ran a stall beside his shed where he sold petty items at a railway crossing, on the complaint of Vijay Hindustani. Hindustani alleged that Pastor Rawat was involved in alluring people to convert to Christianity with the help of a dozen unidentified people.

The day of his arrest, six or seven officers accompanied by about 12 Hindu nationalists and a few news reporters with cameras and microphones arrived at his place at 11:30 a.m. while he was leading Sunday worship, Pastor Rawat said.

The news reporters asked congregation members questions about their faith, reasons for their gathering and whether they were offered any allurement, he said.

“The people boldly stepped forward to give amazing testimonies of healing that they and their families have encountered, and they refused to deny their faith,” he said, noting that as a poor man without a proper home and job, he had nothing to offer people besides his prayers.

Spontaneous church plant

About 50 to 60 congregation members gathered in the open beside his makeshift stall every Sunday for prayer to hear the Word of God, but the church began without him intending to start it, he said.

“One day someone visited me on a Sunday and found my family in devotional prayer,” he told Morning Star News. “They joined us, and in this way, people began to flock every Sunday knowing that they would find us praying and they would get prayed upon.”

Area Christian Anand Masih said Rawat never went to school and could barely read, “but God’s anointing was so much on him that he began to read the Bible and preach a strong and powerful message.”

As people began to come and receive healing prayer, the church grew, Pastor Rawat said. In addition, he would offer to pray for people who stopped by his sales stall and share about their problems and illnesses, he said.

“More than 300 people have come to me for prayers, and God has been so kind that all have received healing without any exception,” he said.

Different police patrols questioned Pastor Rawat at various times about the gatherings, to which he would reply, “We gather to pray to Jesus,” and they would say that was fine, he said.

Family devastated

Christian leaders heard about Rawat’s unique ministry and his arrest and sought his release on bail.

Munish Chandra, the pastor’s attorney, said he was not aware when the pastor was arrested.

“With much difficulty, we traced his wife and daughters, who were living in a dilapidated shed,” Chandra told Morning Star News. “They had no food to eat. Their condition was beyond what I can describe.”

Pastor Rawat’s wife, Shashi, said she was left homeless after he was taken to the police station.

“Those who opposed us forced me to leave my house along with my children — they even broke our stall,” Shashi told Morning Star News.

She found a room where she and her daughters could stay as they struggled to survive. Pastor Rawat said she gave what little savings they had to an attorney for his bail, “so she did not have anything to survive on” before Christian leaders found her.

The team of Christian leaders helped Pastor Rawat’s family and procured his release on bail on Aug. 7. He and his family moved to an undisclosed location with rented living quarters.

His congregation members found out where he was and continued to visit him.

“Families are still coming for fellowship, prayer and to hear God’s Word, but they all come individually and not in a group,” he said.

Police have not returned his Bible and songbooks. One of his church members asked how he would teach, and how they would sing praises, he said.

“God’s Word fills my heart, and His songs are on my lips — even if they have taken away my Bible, I can still preach,” Pastor Rawat responded.

The hostile tone of the National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, against non-Hindus, has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 11th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position worsened after Modi came to power.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit's mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

TOPICS: Current Events; Eastern Religions
KEYWORDS: christians; donutwatch; india
I want to make a snide remark about how so called "Christians" here in America are having drag queen services or music by MC Hammer. They have a roller coaster on the stage or do skits with themes of Toy Story or Super Mario.

Then I remember they would not be arrested for owning a Bible I've never seen them hold one EVER.

1 posted on 09/22/2023 2:46:20 PM PDT by Morgana
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To: Morgana

But wait...the guys arresting the Pastor are POLICE! They have BADGES! Which means they’re infallible demigods according to some people.

The problem in India is they lack the freedom to keep and bear and use firearms.

Against their own government.

2 posted on 09/22/2023 3:05:26 PM PDT by MeganC (There is nothing feminine about feminism. )
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To: Morgana; lightman

We MAGA folks are supposed to treat India as an “ally” because they are a “civilization state”.

But if they persecute Christians—despite the nearly 2000-year-old presence of St. Thomas Christians in their country—I say “no way”!!

If India wants to pursue the “civilization state” route, they need to recognize the role of Christians in their civilization!!!!

3 posted on 09/22/2023 3:07:34 PM PDT by Honorary Serb (Kosovo is Serbia! Free Srpska! Abolish ICTY!)
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To: Morgana

4 posted on 09/22/2023 3:09:35 PM PDT by libh8er
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To: Morgana

I thought India was an oasis of tolerance and multiculturalism.

5 posted on 09/22/2023 3:11:17 PM PDT by Steely Tom ([Voter Fraud] == [Civil War])
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To: Honorary Serb

“But if they persecute Christians”

Who is they ?

6 posted on 09/22/2023 3:11:56 PM PDT by libh8er
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To: Steely Tom

There may be a small number of relgious fanatics who are doing this. But there are also flag operations underway to blame this on Modi. Soros has been trying to bring down the Modi govt for years (Google Soros Modi) and with an election coming up next year, expect there will be more of this.

7 posted on 09/22/2023 3:14:57 PM PDT by libh8er
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To: Morgana

I have been reading the accounts of the East India Company. Not saints by any means, but I understand the hope of some pious people of the day.

It failed. India is going to get very radical very fast, and they have nukes

8 posted on 09/22/2023 3:18:59 PM PDT by redgolum (We are not going to make it, are we. )
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To: MeganC
India... Hmmm... India.

Well they are shipping fentanyl and precursor chemicals to the US to be inserted by the cartels.

Presumably Indian illegal immigrants are coming into the US now to help out distributing fentanyl in a more hands-on manner.

And sadly but unsurprisingly, we give billions of dollars of financial aid every year to this country.

What ought to happen is: Moratorium on any and all immigration from there and permanent termination of all financial aid to India.

End chain migration from there and kick out some or all already here.

No more Indian students coming to American schools, ever.

Maybe kick their ambassador out.

Screw these people. They hate Americans and our whole culture. We are fools to tolerate them. They are not allies.

9 posted on 09/22/2023 3:22:32 PM PDT by caddie (We must all become Trump, starting now!)
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To: libh8er

Police and judicial agencies of India, if not the whole Modi government.

Read the article!

10 posted on 09/22/2023 3:23:53 PM PDT by Honorary Serb (Kosovo is Serbia! Free Srpska! Abolish ICTY!)
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To: caddie

I will say that if war breaks out between India and China I most certainly do not want the US involved on either side.

11 posted on 09/22/2023 3:24:59 PM PDT by MeganC (There is nothing feminine about feminism. )
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To: Morgana

Pastor jailed 23 days for owning Bible; radical Hindus angered Christians aren’t ‘worshiping idols’ push for prosecution

This text itself reminded me of Acts chp. 19 referencing the “great goddess Diana”

12 posted on 09/22/2023 3:31:54 PM PDT by patriot torch (..)
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To: MeganC

Neither do I.

13 posted on 09/22/2023 3:34:54 PM PDT by No name given (Anonymous is who you’ll know me as )
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To: Morgana; libh8er

From what I have read India’s so called “hindu nationalists” don’t have a beef with Christians. But they do have a longstanding beef with muslims because almost all acts of terror in India are and have been carried out by Muslims against Hindus. When ‘hindu nationalists’ retaliate against Muslims there isn’t much or only muted criticism in the Indian media and the west. A majority are quietly supportive. So the false flag operators (aligned with India’s Left and also financed by Soros affiliated groups) switched tactics and started attacking Christians hoping it would be more effective in casting Modi as an intolerant “Hindu nationalist”. You hardly hear of attacks by hindu nationalists on Muslims anymore which is ridiculous because riots in India have traditionally been between Hindus and Muslims. That right there tells you a lot of these false flag ops.

14 posted on 09/22/2023 3:38:41 PM PDT by libh8er
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To: caddie


Try $123 million.

15 posted on 09/22/2023 4:00:47 PM PDT by skepsel ("A cat is more intelligent than people believe, and can be taught any crime", Mark Twain.)
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To: libh8er

Traditionally Christians have been persecuted in India but the bad things today are less than they were in the past.

In a bygone era 50-75 years ago mass murder might have been visited on Christians not to mention Muslims and Sikhs.

I mean up to thousands killed at a time.

Modi is moderate compared to those that came in the past.

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To: skepsel

2-3 billion per year from the World Bank and other agencies. Of course, you know as well as I do that the US pays most or all of such funding.

$123 million is just another regurgitated lie.

The real figure is probably even bigger than $3B.

17 posted on 09/22/2023 6:28:50 PM PDT by caddie (We must all become Trump, starting now!)
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To: Honorary Serb
"If India wants".... and "they need"

India is a continent with myriad cultures and histories - it's the same size and diversity as Europe.

St. Thomas came to southern India - Kerala and Tamil Nadu. And in those states Christians are not persecuted. Christianity is followed by 18.38% of the population of Kerala. The population of Tamil Nadu is made up of 87.6% Hindus, 6.12% Christians.

This incident was in northern India - Mohanlaganj in Uttar Pradesh is about 2,409 km (1,500 miles) from Kodungallur in Kerala where St. Thomas landed

That is the same distance between Miami and Boston, MA.

so, you need to address your question specifically to Uttar Pradesh, not all of India

18 posted on 09/28/2023 3:03:45 AM PDT by Cronos (I identify as an ambulance, my pronounces are wee/woo)
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To: Steely Tom

It depends on which part of India, however no part is a complete “oasis”.

Multiculturalism generally works in India (except with Moslems). Multiculturalism could work in the USA without liberal intervention

19 posted on 09/28/2023 3:20:26 AM PDT by Cronos (I identify as an ambulance, my pronounces are wee/woo)
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