Our vision is to create a network of Pakistanis united in Christ, focused on better quality of life, fellowship and religious freedom for Christians in Pakistan and the UK.
Pastor Sanjay and BPCA Officer Pastor Naresh
Two innocent pastors have been caught up in a blasphemy row in India. Both men are charged for being involved in the same incident which involved the burning of images of Hindu gods and smashing Hindu idols, an act they both vehemently deny.
The blasphemy case was registered at Sadar Police Station on 13th November 2014, after a Hindu man named Lalit Dabda from Rajiv Puram Colony, in Karnal presented several affidavits against Pastor Sanjay and Pastor Bajinder both from differing villages in Karnal. The documents stated that Pastor Bajinder was known for converting Hindus to Christianity and using means such as the proffering of gifts to lure the innocent Hindu's from their 'more worthy' faith.
Pastor Bajinder states that on the day of the incident he and his church members were brutally attacked by a mob of Hindus offended by the Word of God being preached at a small service with 30 in attendance. Despite the innocent Christians being attacked and visibly wounded the Police arrested him as a blasphemer and he was jailed for five days till a bail fee was paid. He told the BPCA officer there was absolutely no other provocation for the attack just hatred of Christianity by Hindu zealots.
Text from the affidavit/FIR said:
"Some people from Christian community encourage innocent Hindu men, children and women to change their religion.
"Christian people are doing all kind of illegal thing even giving valuable gifts to Hindus if they changed their religion.
"I have given this information to the BJP Leader and he sent Yuva Morcha, Janak Popli, Nissing and Pardeep kumar Bhatia all residents of Kachwa,Karnal, to travel with me to investigate.
"We reached at the place where people were being converted from Hinduism to Christianity on Sunday 9th November 2014. Christian missionaries were sharing their evil teachings, they used disrespectful words against Hindu gods and goddess and they were praising Christianity.
The preachers told Hindus to bring their deity statues to smash and religious posters to be burnt. They even insulted Hindu gods by hitting the images with their shoes.
We could not bear to watch and tried to stop them and were successful. But the two accused men started to use vulgar words against us. They got into a car and tried to run us over forcing us to run away. The told us that Hindus are ready to sell them selves to us and we are ready to buy...."
The two pages of the Police FIR
The charges laid against the two men are for trying to 'seduce Hindus to adopt Christianity' and for desecrating images and statues of Hindu gods. It seems the false allegation of attempted murder by mowing down with a vehicle was dropped by the police because it was of a less serious nature in their eyes.
Broken statues and burnt images of Hindu gods were also submitted to the police as evidence. Both Pastors deny smashing the idols and believe that it is the Hindu accusers who have falsified evidence and themselves should be tried for a blasphemy and for perjury.
Sign outside church presided over by Pastor Bajinder
Pastor Sanjay and Pastor Bajinder reject the allegations and have said that they have been stitched up. Pastor Sanjay had never been at the outreach event on that date and both men would not contemplate causing the type of grievance to Hindus they have been reported for - they both told us 'We are not suicidal'. Both Pastors say that they have become targets for the BJP because of their ministries and that these fabricated allegations are designed to intimidate them.
Pastor Sanjay who was only arrested July 19th 2017, close to three years after the incident, explained to us that he never knew about the outreach event and was never acquainted with Pastor Bajinder before the allegation. He said:
"The first I heard about the charges was after my father received a call from local police and was told to bring me to the station to sign important papers. I went with my father and wife and was then told I was being arrested for blasphemy without investigation.
"I remonstrated with police asking for permission to get a lawyer and denying the charges but they refused my request. Later I borrowed money for bail and was then set free but this case has been lingering on and I fear for my future."
British Asian Christian Association, representative for India Pastor Naresh Paul, met with Pastor Sanjay and reimbursed the costs he had borrowed from friends for his bail and also paid for a solicitor to challenge the allegation. Our appointed solicitor has advised us that the next hearing date for the case will be on November 15th 2017.
Pastor Sanjay, added:
"These allegations are false I was never present at the location on that date and have proof of this. I have been accused because local Hindus fear Christians, they believe we are demons. However it is not the Christians that are carrying out any atrocity we only share the love of God with others. Please pray for the acquittal of Pastor Bajinder and I."
Pastor Naresh, said:
"This is a very strange accusation the two Pastor's did not even know each other before the allegation. It is a completely false story and we will continue to challenge for the removal of these false charges."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Asian Christian Association, said:
"Why men feel the need to protect God with man-made laws baffles me. Blasphemy laws wherever they are implemented are always just a set of tools for persecution and discrimination. Governments that continue to allow them to create such societal polarization should be shunned by democratic nations."
"It beggars belief that a man who was miles away from the incident could be caught up in blasphemy proceedings, but this is exactly the type of inferior justice you receive in India since President Modi took over. His reign will remain a blight on what otherwise has been quite a succesful and enviable level of progress for post-independence India."
Although BPCA have paid the initial fees for defence lawyer for these two Pastors the costs are expected to rise. If you would like to contribute to our work please donate by clicking (here)
Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code criminalizes insult to religion; it allows up to three years imprisonment and fines for “whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of a class.”
In addition, in 2011 the Indian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology issued new rules requiring operators of social media networks to screen and remove blasphemous content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint.