Christians arrested for ‘unlawful assembly’

PUJARIPURVAH, India — Police in Uttar Pradesh state, India, detained six Christians in June under “unlawful assembly” laws for worshipping together, sources said. During the June 25 incident police reportedly berated and slapped the pastor for reading the Bible instead of Hindu texts.

Police also confiscated Bibles, hymn books and devotionals. Station House Officer Aravind Kumar of Nanpara demanded that Pastor Asha Ram Sahni hand over literature he suspected was used to convert people, the church leader said.

On June 27 the officer ordered the 38-year-old pastor and five others to the police station, where they were taken into custody. Police charged them with knowingly joining or continuing in an assembly of five or more people. The Christians said Kumar constantly berated them and slapped Sahni.

Kumar denied the accusations. While police were harassing the Christians in Pujaripurvah on June 25, other officers arrived at their native village of Etah of Nanpara Mandal, Bahriach District, and harassed the Christians’ families worshipping at a house there, sources said.

After traveling from Etah village to a church in nearby Pujaripurvah, the six Christians were detained for nine days before they were granted bail by Bahriach District’s Second Class Judicial Magistrate Court on July 5. (MS)