NEW DELHI, India – There were reportedly two separate arrests made against Christians in the southern state of Karnataka this week.
In the first incident, one pastor and two church elders from the Pentecostal Mission in Mulaykatta, Shimoga district, were arrested on false conversion charges on July 19.
According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Pastor Chinnadurai, Glory and Baby Kutty were arrested while praying for a family Sunday evening.
Before the arrests, a Hindu radical group barged into "Shantamma's house and started threatening the pastor and the two ladies," GCIC reported. Later, the advocacy group informed the Shimoga Rural Police Station which then ensured the safety of the Christians.
"While the officials at the station were investigating the matter, they were pressurized by the local radical groups who demanded that the three be booked for forceful conversion under Sections 295 A, 143 and 149," GCIC said.
The pastor and the two ladies spent the night in jail. They were released on bail on July 20.
In the second incident, four evangelists from the city of Bangalore were held on similar cooked-up conversion charges.
The arrests, which were even aired by TV news channels and reported by local newspapers, occurred on July 18 when the Christians were distributing tracts at a neighborhood.
The four were dragged out of a house where they were praying and were beaten and threatened for about an hour, GCIC reported.
"After this, they were taken to the Gnanabharathi Police Station at 8:30 p.m. At 11:00 p.m. they were produced before a magistrate and at 12:30 p.m. they were sent to the Bangalore Central Jail," the Bangalore-based advocacy group stated.
Karnataka is the only southern state ruled by Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Recently, there have been growing sporadic incidents of violence on minorities and communal clashes instigated by fringe groups. Anti-Christian violence was rampant in Karnataka last year.
The arrests come weeks after six prominent Hindu leaders urged the Chief Minister of Karnataka to enact law banning conversions in hopes of stopping Hindus from converting to Christianity.
The National Council of Churches in India earlier told Christian Today India that the Church is against forceful conversion.
"It is unethical and unChristian. We never believe nor recommend forceful conversions. It is plainly used to accuse Christians who are part of 'growing development' in this nation,'" the council said, while expressing concerns over the continual allegations of forced conversions.
"We always maintained these allegations to be false nonetheless a task force at the World Council of Churches is being set up to study the issue and settle the controversy once in for all."