Three Indian evangelists arrested for trying to show Jesus film

Stephen Rajkumar has been arrested with two other Indian mission Gworkers.GEMS

 Three Indian mission workers in the state of Madhya Pradesh have been arrested as they were preparing to show a gospel film.

Stephen Rajkumar (40), Anil Kumar (28) and Harilal 20) work for the Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS) organisation, which operates in India's northern states. They were invited to the village of Motawa near Satna by a local believer, but complaints by members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing nationalist organisation, led to their arrest under anti-conversion laws.

Their equipment was confiscated, including their phones, and they are facing questioning by the police.

GEMS has worked in the northern states, primarily in Bihar, for the last 42 years. Its mission is primarily evangelistic, but it also provides education and medical services for women and children from persecuted families, child labourers, tribal children, orphans and disabled people.

Stephen Rajkumar has previously been abducted and beaten for his missionary activities.

India's nationalist BJP government wants to enact a country-wide anti-conversion law in line with that introduced by several states already, but has hit legal roadblocks. The laws require converts to seek the permission of district authorities.

In India, religion can be a polarising force, with followers of Hinduism increasingly asserting its status as the country's national religion and followers of other faiths feeling threatened and marginalised.