Pr. Sangeeta and her husband Chandra Shekhar Upadhyay were unjustly arrested and imprisoned in Indore a district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, by the Police after the complainant wrongly accused them of forcing her to convert to Christianity.
“This is a dishonest accusation. My Mother has been a devout Christian and a faithful Pastor. My parents would never force or threaten anyone to convert to Christianity” said the Pastor’s son Abhishek, who is currently pursuing his studies overseas.
Speaking to Persecution Relief, Abhishek shared in disbelief about the accuser being from the very Church Pr. Sangeeta is leading. “This girl used to fellowship at our Church but is now being supported by a religious extremist group and a few local politicians” he added.
Chandra Shekhar Upadhyay holds a full-time job while their elder son is practicing doctor in Indore. “They are a respectful family. We could never imagine Pr. Sangeeta threatening anyone, let alone physically abuse them as per the allegations that this girl has made” said local Pastor Manohar Morne.
“After fabricated complaints were made, my parents were booked under sections 3(2) (va) SC/ST Act, 323,506, Vide FIR NO 314/2020 and then imprisoned.
Since then, the newspapers have been carrying false information about them. This is very disturbing as my family has fervently served the community for many years said Abhishek.
“Pr. Sangeeta originally comes from a high-class religious family. Ever since she became a Christian, she has faced tremendous opposition and persecution. However, this has never deterred her Christian walk. She is a brave woman” said Pr. Manohar.
Throughout the week, Pr. Manohar, who is also a Persecution Relief representative in Indore , has been closely working with the imprisoned couple alongside proficient Christian advocates. On the evening of the 5th of September 2020, the couple were finally granted bail and released from jail.
This case is one such consequence of the severe Anti-conversion Law. Religious extremists’ irresponsibly abuse this law persecute innocent Christians and spread fear amongst the Christian minority. These days, one could be accused of ‘Forced Conversion’ even if all they did was hand out a Holy Bible!
There is wide spread speculation amongst both media and the masses that The Anti-Conversion Law will soon be brought to effect in India by the Modi-government. Bringing the Anti-conversion Law into force nationally will not only be a huge setback to the Christian minority but will only amplify the prevalent Christian Persecution is India.
In the 1st Half of 2020, Persecution Relief recorded 293 cases of Christian Persecution. In 2019 alone, we recorded the maximum number of 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. From January 2016 to June 2020, Persecution Relief has recorded 2067 cases of Hate crimes against Christians in India.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has downgraded India to the lowest ranking, ‘Countries of Particular Concern’(CPC) In its 2020 report. The US State Department ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. Over the past seven years, India has risen from No. 31 to No. 10 on Open Doors’ World Watch List, ranking just behind Iran in persecution severity.
Shibu Thomas, Founder, Persecution Relief www.persecutionrelief.org
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