Bhopal, India, May 7, 2019 / 15:18 pm
A Protestant pastor in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has been acquitted of charges held against him under India’s state-level anti-conversion laws.
Pentecostal Pastor Balu Saste, his wife, his son, and members of his community were violently attacked by Hindus, later detained by the police and accused of trying to convert people to Christianity by force, according to ADF International.
The group announced May 6 that a court had dropped all charges against Balu and his family.
“The acquittal of Pastor Balu and his family is a vital step towards the protection of religious freedom and the right to freely live out one’s faith,” said Tehmina Arora, Director of ADF India.
“Now he can continue to tend to his small community of Christians without interference from the state. Unfortunately, this is not the only case in India where Christians have been falsely accused under anti-conversion laws.”
A group of nationalists stormed Balu’s church three years ago during a service and began beating and harassing worshipers, ADF International reports.
The police came and arrested Balu, his wife, and his six-year-old son, stripped them of their clothes, beat them, and kept them detained without bail for three days, finally convicting the family in March of this year of forcing conversion to the Christian faith.
The right to choose one’s own religion is found in Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.