India: Persecution of Christians in Himachal Pradesh

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EFI News

Pastor Ram Lal and his wife were reconverted in a ceremony on February 27th, 2008 in a reconversion ceremony in Rampur, Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh by the RSS and VHP activists.

Pastor Ram Lal was first offered a bribe of Rs. 15,000 a year on the condition that he would reconvert to Hinduism and preach Hinduism instead of Christianity. However when he showed unwillingness to accept their demands, he was threatened that he would wither be jailed or will be killed if he continued to preach Christianity. Under duress he finally underwent a Hindu ritual welcoming him back to Hinduism.

Speaking to the Christian Legal Association, after the conversion ceremony he regretfully said “It is better for me to die then to leave Jesus but I was under so much pressure (from the local villagers)”. He has returned home and wants to continue to preach Christ.

This is not an isolated case. Media reports suggest that on February 25th 2008, over 60 families were reconverted to Hinduism. In a programme to honor them in the Satyanarayan Temple, which is situated in middle of a township of Rampur, Bushar. They were made to drink gangajal (water of Ganges River) as part of purification rites.

These families were further made to undergo fire purification ceremony organized by a person identified as Mahant Lal Dass.

Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act was enacted in Dec. 2006. The rules were framed in August 2007. The Act prescribes the procedure which has to be followed before any conversion ceremony is to be undertaken.

The police officials informed Christian Legal Association that no permission had been sought from them for this reconversion ceremony.

Due to such reports there is fear and apprehension among the Christian community in Himachal Pradesh.

Local sources told EFI that the reconversion ceremony as performed by the RSS and VHP was just the tip of the iceberg. On February 28th, 2008 VHP and RSS activists went to the Hindu converts with the idea of establishing a small ‘mandir’ (temple) in their homes. When these families objected against the idea (sensing their trickery), clashes followed between them and the VHP activists.

These families were forcefully reconverted against their will. Presently the situation is very tense in the area.

Evangelical Fellowship of India condemns conversion by force, fraud and allurement and urges the administration to take necessary action to ensure the safety of minorities in the region.

Please mail or fax to the below mentioned addresses to express your concern:

Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh
Fax: 0177-2653207, 0177-2625011
E-mail: [email protected]

Governor of Himachal Pradesh
Phone Number: (O)0177-2624840 (R)0177-2624440

District General of Police, Himachal Pradesh
Phone Number: (O)0177-2626222 (R)0177-2626938
E-mail: [email protected]

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations