A Christian pastor in northern India was forced to sign papers renouncing all religious activity – including sharing the Gospel or holding worship in his home – after a police officer threatened to file false charges against him and his teenage son.
A house church pastor identified only as Pastor Sugriv said that the threats by police in Uttar Pradesh state came after his son, 19-year-old Pawan Kumar, asked intoxicated Hindu extremists to stop making offensive comments about Christianity outside their home in Tarkulwa village, Maharajganj District.
“The officers at Shyam Deurwa police station joined hands with the assailants and forced us to sign a document vowing that we would never conduct prayers in our home, and that we would not share the Gospel with anyone,” he said. “I was forced to sign it. What kind of justice is this?”
The night of the first incident, drunk Hindu extremists reportedly shouted “Hallelujah, hallelujah” outside the Christians’ home. Though police initially ordered the Hindus to stop harassing the pastor and his family, they returned the next night, shouting obscenities.
Once again, the Christians informed police of the incident: “We had no other option but to inform the police,” Sugriv said. “It is not safe for us to have these drunkards come by whenever they want and start picking fights with us, shouting at the top of their lungs. We have women in our house, and it was beyond what we could tolerate.”
This time, two police officers came to the Christians’ home and asked the pastor’s son to show them where the accused lived.
“We thought they came to take action against them for our safety and allowed our son to go with them to show their homes,” he said. “We had waited very long for our child to return, and someone passing by informed us that police had taken him into custody.”
At the station, police threatened to charge the pastor with sexual harassment – based on false accusations presented by a Hindu extremist – and frame his son “in such a case that he will be behind the bars for many, many years.”
As a condition for his son’s release, the officers forced Sugriv to sign a document vowing that they would never practise their faith in their home or talk about Christ with anyone, he said.
Shyam Deurwa Police Inspector Vijay Singh denied that the document the pastor signed violated India’s religious freedoms, saying it prohibited only fraudulent conversion.
“Villagers have been opposing them since they have been propagating Christianity in the area, so I had only taken their signatures on a document vowing that they will not forcefully convert or allure anyone to convert,” Singh said.
Attacks on Christians in India have been on the rise since Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party took office as prime minister in 2014.
Sources: Christian Post, Morning Star News
- Ask the Lord for His protection to be upon Pastor Sugriv, Pawan, their family and fellow believers.
- Ask the Lord to grant leading and wisdom to Pastor Sugriv as he considers his future ministry. Pray for him as he leads and supports Christians in his care.
- Pray for the local authorities that they too will see the free gift of God’s grace and embrace it for themselves.
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