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Persecution: India cracks down on Christian camps

September 2017

Indian Christians have been arrested on trumped-up charges after holding church camps. The High Court of Madhya Pradesh, a stronghold of the Hindutva ideology, decided to hear the case of 10 Christian pastors and co-workers.

They were arrested on charges of kidnapping, cruelty and forceful conversion. On 23 May, at Ratlam train station in Madhya Pradesh, local police detained a group of pastors and fellow Christians, including two women and two minors, who were accompanying more than 60 children.

The group was on its way to a Christian summer camp, in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra. All parents immediately confirmed in front of the local court that they had willingly sent their children to the camp. While the children were allowed to return to their homes after three days, the pastors and most of the co-workers are still being held in jail.

According to reports from ADF International, which is defending the accused Christians, there has been rising hostility against Christians and minority religions in India over recent years.

Robin David, an allied lawyer of ADF International, said: ‘The Indian constitution guarantees the freedom to practice and propagate religion to every citizen. The arrest of the 10 Christians, including two women and two minors, severely violates this basic right.

‘All of the parents wanted their children to participate in this summer camp. It is their inalienable right to decide what the best instruction for their children is. The state should not target people because of their religious beliefs. Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. In India, we see an increasingly hostile climate towards religious minorities’.

He said anti-conversion laws have fuelled hostility and paved the way for so-called Hindutva-ideology that seeks to purge India of all non-Hindus.