An impoverished pastor in India has been jailed, just for possessing a Bible. He’s the latest victim of false accusations by Hindu extremists under widespread “anti-conversion” laws.
Police found no witnesses to testify against Pastor Bajarang Rawat, so they presented his Bible as evidence of charges that he offered “allurements” to encourage Hindus to convert to Christianity.
Morning Star News reports the magistrate reprimanded the officers, saying it was not a crime to possess a Bible and that he had one himself, but he still sent the pastor to jail.
The convert from Hinduism was freed on bail three weeks later after Christian leaders heard of his plight. They found his wife and two children starving in a rundown shed with no home or money. He also lost his business running a stall during his ordeal.
Pastor Rawat’s congregation of about 60 followers faithfully supported him during his court appearances, rejecting all claims he had tried to convert anyone and praising his leadership. Even local police officers acknowledged he was doing a “noble job.”
He’s now in hiding, but his parishioners continue to visit him. “Families are still coming for fellowship, prayer and to hear God’s Word, but they all come individually and not in a group,” the pastor explained to Morning Star News.
The police have not returned his Bible and songbooks. When one of his church members asked how he would teach, and how they would sing praises, he said: “God’s Word fills my heart, and His songs are on my lips – even if they have taken away my Bible, I can still preach.”
India has seen more than 500 people detained under anti-conversion laws this year according to a recent survey.