Indian police stop prayer meeting after Hindus accuse Christians of forcibly converting people

Police officers interrupted a prayer gathering in Uttar Pradesh state in India after members of a Hindu youth group demanded an investigation into alleged forced religious conversions being carried out by a group of American Christians.

(REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)Hindu devotees take part in Holi in Nandgaon village, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. March 13, 2017.

On Friday, 25 members of the group Hindu Yuva Vahini (Hindu Youth Brigade) stormed St. Andrew's Church in Dadhauli village bearing a written request for police to investigate what they believe were forced religious conversions being done by the American Christians. However, police found no evidence of the accusation when they arrived at the church, The New York Times details.

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Anand Kumar Gupta, who led the group of police officers, said they did not file an official complaint against the Christians since they found no evidence that the American tourists were converting Hindus to Christianity. They merely checked the passports of the nine foreigners inside the church and ensured that their visas were valid.

Dev Raj, a Christian who took the nine foreigners on a tour around northern India, said they were shocked because of what happened. Two of his friends were from Ukraine and the remaining seven were Americans.

"We were all shocked," said Raj. "My friends said: 'Is this what normally happens in India? That you visit a church and are mobbed by a group of men?'"

The Hindu Youth Brigade was established by a hard-line Hindu priest and lawmaker Yogi Adityanath in 2002 to promote nationalism and to protect Hindus' welfare. In 2015, its founder defended the Hindu mob that killed a Muslim man who allegedly slaughtered a cow, saying the victim's family ought to be prosecuted for what the man did.

Last month, Bos News Life learned that a man died after angry villagers forced him and his wife to spend the night immersed in frigid water for refusing to renounce their Christian faith. According to the couple's son Beneswar, his father had suffered paralysis because of the nerve damage caused by the 17 hours he spent in the water.

The Christian man's relatives already reported the incident to police, but the officers only chalked it down to a natural death. Police also organized "peace talks" among the villagers in an effort to stop the attacks targeting the Christian family.

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