A South Korean Christian and three Indian nationals are in jail, accused of fraudulent conversion under new anti-conversion legislation in Uttar Pradesh state.
The four were arrested after distributing food and other aid to people affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, sources told Morning Star News. Release International partners are helping to try to secure bail.
It is understood that police arrested 50-year-old Mi Kyung Lee of Seoul and the three others on December 19 in Greater Noida, Gautam Buddh Nagar District. Aid organiser Raj Kumar Masih said that not all the four were Christian and denied that they offered anyone money to convert.
‘We have proofs of our distribution and names and phone numbers of our beneficiaries, who can testify that we have not asked any of them to change their faith or religion. All beneficiaries were distributed ration kits, but none were promised any kind of money.’
Lee, a friend of Masih, was visiting India when the onset of the pandemic meant she had to remain in the country. The other three suspects arrested were Umesh Kumar, the 30-year-old driver, and two women helping with the distribution, identified only as 25-year-old Seema, and 24-year-old Sandhya, who like Kumar is not Christian, Masih said.
Police arrested the four and registered the district’s first case of the state’s newly enacted Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, aimed at checking illegal religious conversions. The four were jailed after appearing in court on December 20.
Masih called the arrests a well-planned conspiracy of the Hindu nationalists. ‘Nobody even bothered to ask the arrested their side of the story,’ he told Morning Star.
Uttar Pradesh is the eighth state in India to enforce an anti-conversion law. Those convicted can face prison terms of up to 10 years.
(Source: Morning Star News; Release partner)
- Pray that bail will be granted to the four accused.
- Pray that justice will prevail and that charges will be dropped.
- Pray that the anti-conversion laws in Uttar Pradesh and other states in India will be repealed.
Please pray for Nigerian pastor Polycarp Zongo from Jos in Plateau state, who was abducted by Islamist militants in October. We have been informed that, contrary to recent reports including in a Prayer Alert on November 11, Polycarp has not been released and is still being held captive.