Pastor Arrested in India for 'Offending Hindu Sensitivities'

Police in India's Orissa State, Rourkela District, have arrested a young pastor under charges of "offending Hindu sensitivities", US-based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported.

Pastor Ashish Kumar Muna, 25, has reportedly been in jail in the Rourkela district since November 15, after a Hindu fundamentalist belonging to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) lodged a complaint in Udit Nagar police station in Jhirpani Taluka accusing him of "conversions".

Dr Sajan George of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) explained that Pastor Muna got into trouble when he prayed for a woman suffering from tuberculosis and kidney problems, not knowing that she was the wife of Jibardhana Chouhan, the Rourkela district coordinator of the VHP.

George said, "As Pastor Muna started praying for the lady in her house, her daughters shouted that he was trying to force her to accept Christianity. Immediately, the daughters called the neighbors and made accusations of forced conversion against the pastor," according to ICC.

Family members promptly called the police and handed over Pastor Muna to them.

The police arrested the pastor on charges of house-trespass, use of "criminal force" on a woman and "hurting religious sentiments", under Sections 448, 354 and 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

Muna was consequently produced before a court, which refused his bail application and remanded him in judicial custody.

ICC has requested that all concerned individuals contact the Indian Embassy to respectfully urge the government to release Pastor Muna and to protect religious minorities and enforce religious liberties as entitled under Indian law.

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