Pastor Santosh John and his wife Gigi John were arrested by the police on February 26, based on the complaint of Bajrang Dal, an extremist Hindu organization, that they converted people in to Christianity in Uttar Pradesh, a state of northern India where there is an anti-religious conversion law. The couple appeared before a magistrate on February 28 and were denied bail. Pastor John and his wife are currently lodged in Dasana prison in the state. A case has been registered against Santhosh and Gigi under Sections 3 and 5(1) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Religious Conversion Act, 2021. If found guilty, the punishment is one to five years in prison.
Pastor Santosh John and his wife, who were called to the police station on the morning of the 26th for questioning, were released in the evening but were arrested due to pressure from the crowd.Police have seized laptops and mobile phones from their house. But Meenakshi Singh, a Christian social activist, told UCA News that no one has yet produced evidence to substantiate the Bajrang Dal’s claims of forced conversions.
Pastor John , who has lived in the area since 1996, works in a church called Sharon Fellowship. Bajrang Dal leader Praveen Nagar filed a complaint against Pastor Santosh John and his wife for inciting people to convert. But the residents are denying this. They say that although they know that they are running a shrine, they do not know that the couple is converting. But Praveen Nagar alleges that the couple approached him and his friend and offered money for conversion.
Indirapuram Assistant Commissioner of Police Swatantra Singh told the media that the two were inciting the needy people of the community to convert to Christianity. A case was registered against them on Sunday under the Uttar Pradesh Unlawful Conversion Act and minor children were also participating in their prayers, ACP said. But the Church denied this allegation and alleged that the arrest was due to pressure from Bajrang Dal.