Pastor and Friend Arrested for Praying at Home, Accused of ‘Forced Conversion’

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A Christian pastor and one of his guests were arrested and detained by local police in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for the crime of praying in the pastor’s own home on New Year’s Eve. 

The London-based Christian Today reports Pastor Raj Kishore and some of his friends had gathered at Kishore’s house located in Sonbarasa village on Dec. 31, when Kothibari police arrived at his residence around 11:00 p.m. The police detained Kishore and Raj Kumar, one of his friends, after a neighbor filed a complaint. 

The police alleged Kishore was conducting a forced conversion in his home. 

“The SHO told me that he booked Kishore and Kumar under the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) 151 (‘Arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offenses’), 107 (‘breach of peace or disturb public tranquility’), 116 (‘provides for the power of the Magistrate to take immediate measures for the execution of bond..’),” Pyare Lal, a Christian leader from Uttar Pradesh, told Christian Today. 

The outlet reported the two men appeared before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate on New Year’s Day and were released. However, the case against them continues. 

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slider img 2Kishore’s wife Bhagwanti denied the allegation that any kind of conversion took place in her house.

Speaking through an unidentified source, who relayed her story about the incident to Christian Today, Bhagwanti said she, her husband, and some acquaintances were sitting and praying peacefully in their house when the police at the “false complaint of someone” detained her husband.

She told the outlet her husband and his friend were detained due to the animosity of one of their neighbors. 

According to Bhagwanti, while her family was worshipping and praying in their home, five to six policemen entered the dwelling disrupting their prayer time. The police officers pulled out their phones and began videoing the family’s worship together. When Kishore objected to their conduct, all of the officers cursed them and left, according to Christian Today. 

However, the police officers soon returned to the house to arrest Kishore and Kumar and took them to the police station. 

Through the source, Bhagwanti told Christian Today she and her husband and their friends have the right to worship whom they want to and read religious scriptures of whatever religion they want to, according to the fundamental right to religious freedom given in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. 

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