Police in northern India told a pastor to stop worshipping inside his home and forced him to sign a document assuring that he won’t do it again.
Morning Star News reports that on Aug. 25, a group of drunken Hindus were yelling disrespectful comments about Christianity outside the home of Pastor Sugriv in Tarkulwa village, Maharajganj District.
The pastor’s son, 19-year-old Pawan Kumar, went outside to speak with the Hindus and requested that they stop making the rude remarks.
The next morning Pastor Sugriv told the village president about the incident and the Hindus were warned not to harass the pastor again. However, they returned that night and yelled more profanity at the pastor and his son.
“We had no other option but to inform the police,” the pastor said. “It is not safe for us to have these drunkards come by whenever they want and start picking fights with us, shouting at the top of their lungs. We have women in our house, and it was beyond what we could tolerate.”
Then two police officers came to their home on Aug. 29 and asked Kumar to show them where the Hindus lived.
“We thought they came to take action against them for our safety and allowed our son to go with them,” Pastor Sugriv explained.
But, the police arrested Kumar instead and falsely charged him with harassing a young woman in their village.
The pastor pleaded with police to release his son but he was unable to persuade them. He said it was difficult to leave his son in jail, but he found hope in God.
“I entrusted my son to my Lord’s hands and left the police station that midnight after the officer retired from his duties,” Pastor Sugriv said. “God gave me the strength at that moment to be prepared for the worst.”
The legal team with Alliance Defending Freedom India stepped in and arranged for Kumar’s release without any charges.
But before they would release Kumar, police officers then forced Pastor Sugriv to sign a document promising that his family would stop worshipping and praying inside their home or discuss the good news of Jesus with anyone.
The pastor told Morning Star News he was stunned by the order, saying, “Don’t we have the freedom to pray even within the four walls of our home?”
“The officers at Shyam Deurwa police station joined hands with the assailants and forced us to sign a document vowing that we would never conduct prayers in our home, and that we would not share gospel with anyone,” Pastor Sugriv said. “I was forced to sign it. What kind of justice is this?”
Police Inspector Singh said the document signed by Pastor Sugriv does not violate India’s religious freedoms and that it only forbids fraudulent conversion.
“Villagers have been opposing them since they have been propagating Christianity in the area, so I had only taken their signatures on a document vowing that they will not forcefully convert or allure anyone to convert,” Singh told Morning Star News.
India is ranked 10th on the Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.