On Sunday, September 1, activists from the Bajrang Dal, a youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad, forcefully ended a Christian prayer gathering in Worli Naka, located in Mumbai, India. According to initial reports, the nationalists falsely accused the Christians of practicing “forced conversions” and disturbing public order to pressure local police into breaking up the gathering.
The gathering was organized by the New Life Fellowship Association, a local Pentecostal Christian community. The organizers of the event received permission and rented space from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation School where 80 Christians gathered to pray and sing worship songs.
On the day of the event, however, Bajrang Dal activists, led by Dinesh Shrivastav, infiltrated the gathering and began filming. Shivastav then reported to local police that the Christians were engaged in forced conversions and that the gathering had disturbed social harmony and would cause public disorder. When the police arrived on the scene, they agreed with the Bajrang Dal activists and ordered the Christians to disburse.
“We were all shocked,” Rev. Allen Salins told Asia News. “We had organized the event to pray and sing. There was no threat to public order.”
When the Christians explained that they had received permission to hold the gathering at the school, the police still disagreed. “They said we should have received permission from them,” Rev. Salins continued. “They said we cannot hold religions events of this type.”
Across India, radical Hindu nationalists use false accusations of forced conversions and threats to public order to harass Christian communities. At times, these accusations are even used as a justification for physical violence metered out on Christian leaders in India.
Date published: 07/09/2019
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