The Uttar Pradesh Police stopped a prayer meeting at a church in Maharajgang after members of Chief Minister Adityanath’s Hindu Yuva Vahini alleged forced religious conversions, ANI reported on Saturday. They said foreign nationals were forcing local residents to convert to Christianity under the ruse of a prayer meeting, which had more than 150 people, including 11 United States nationals, in attendance.
The group’s members filed a complaint against the Dathauli church pastor, Yohannan Adam, who has denied the charge, Hindustan Times reported. “The charges are absolutely baseless. The people were attending a prayer meeting voluntarily. We prayed. Nothing else was done,” Adam said. He told ANI that police officers had climbed up on the alter and even taken their Bible. “One of our foreign friends had brought his friends to see the church,” he said.
The police told the daily that an investigation was under way. “No prior permission was taken before the meeting. We stopped the meeting after a complaint was registered. Appropriate action will be taken if the charges are correct,” said police officer Anand Kumar Gupta. However, other reports said no formal case was registered till Saturday, and that the US nationals were allowed to leave after the police verified their documents.
The right-wing group has accused Christian missionaries in the region of forcibly converting locals to their faith. “The presence of US nationals indicates that innocent and illiterate Hindus were being converted by the missionaries, who lured them with money to change their religion,” said Krishna Nandan, a Hindu Yuva Vahini leader.
Earlier this year, the group had accused the Full Gospel Church in Gorakhpur of similar charges and attacked it. Several Hindu organisations have conducted ghar wapsi (homecoming) ceremonies for people who have allegedly been converted under coercion, the English daily reported.