Uttar Pradesh Police has arrested a 40-year-old closet evangelist in District Mahoba of Uttar of the state under the state’s anti-conversion law for allegedly attempting to convert his neighbour to Christianity by promising him monetary help.
Investigators said Ashish John, who is from District Ballia, was arrested on 11 September based on a complaint from his neighbour Sachin Dwivedi. The accused was produced before a local court that sent him to judicial custody, said Additional Superintendent of Police RK Gautam.
In his complaint, Dwivedi alleged that about a month ago, John had given him a drink after the latter told him about a persistent headache. Recently, the accused reportedly asked the complainant again about his pain. When Dwivedi said the drink did not help, John allegedly told him to adopt Christianity to make this problem go away.
The accused allegedly told his neighbour that he would receive Rs 12,000 for starting a business, and gave him some books, said the police.
A few days later, John allegedly asked Dwivedi to accompany him to a church. When the complainant refused, John told him that the headache would continue, the police said.
The police acted after Dwivedi filed a complaint and several Hindu outfits held a demonstration outside Panwadi police station demanding strict action against the accused. John was booked under Sections 3 and 5 of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Law, 2020, said the police.
In January this year, Shahjahanpur (Uttar Pradesh) police had lodged an FIR against five people, including two from Tamil Nadu, under the new anti-conversion law for allegedly convincing people to convert to Christianity. Quoting the complaint, the police informed that a few of them were seen convincing people to convert to Christianity with the promise of “good job and good education to children.”
The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh had passed the Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudh Dharmantaran ordinance in November 2020 to curb the menace of forceful religious conversions in the state.