Hindus burn Christian church and shops over allegations of forced conversion

A church and several Christian-owned shops in Jammu and Kashmir state in India have been torched by Hindus after a family accused its son-in-law of killing their daughter after allegedly trying to get her to convert to Christianity.

(REUTERS / Adnan Abidi)A man climbs down after partially chipping out the cross from the entrance of his house, after taking part in a religion conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism, at Hasayan town in Uttar Pradesh August 29, 2014.

Police in the Rajouri district have been on alert after the burning of the church and a number of Christian-owned shops sparked tension on Jan. 16. The incident was considered unusual in the Muslim-majority area, as Christians have not been the target of hostility from the Hindu community, UCA News noted.

According to police, 25-year-old Hindu woman Seema Devi and her Hindu partner Rinku Kumar settled in the northern Punjab state after getting married two years ago. When he took her body back to Kashmir for a Christian burial after she died, her family accused him of murder.

Devi's family alleged that Kumar had become a Christian and had murdered their daughter after she refused to do the same. In the end, her family cremated her body in a Hindu ceremony.

"We came to know about it last month when she told us over the phone that her husband took her to Christmas prayers at a church in Punjab," Devi's uncle Joginder Singh told UCA. "He must have coerced her to convert to Christianity."

The violent incident last week left 12 people wounded, among them some policemen. The attack drew condemnation from the local church, which called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Meanwhile, human rights advocate Pastor Joseph D'Souza told CBN News that being a Christian in India has become more dangerous than ever. He said Hindu extremists were putting out false news that believers were forcing people to convert to Christianity.

Pastor D'Souza's statement came just after persecution charity Open Doors released its 2018 World Watch List of the top 50 countries where being a Christian was most difficult. India clinched the 11th spot on that list.

Aside from that, Pastor D'Souza denounced the lack of control on the crimes and attacks that Hindu extremists were carrying out against Christians and even other minorities including Muslims. Nevertheless, he said God was still working in the country as the persecution has caused the church to grow and become stronger.