Prison Sentence for Alleged Forced Conversions

Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and Sakshi.
Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and his wife Sakshi.
Photo: Morning Star News

A Christian couple was recently sentenced to prison after accusations were made that they had been involved in pressuring others to convert to Christianity. Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and his wife Sakshi are from the village of Vivek Nagar in Madhya Pradesh. A man had accused the couple of abducting his estranged wife Sapna (who also happens to be Pastor Ramesh's niece) before allegedly pressuring her to convert, holding the woman against her will, and not allowing her to return home to be with him. He also purported that the Christian couple offered to build Sapna a home and give her money each month. The complainant, Abhishek, further claimed that the Christians attempted to convert him as well, offering him a job in return.

During the court hearing, Sapna testified that she was neither coerced into changing her religion nor offered any financial incentives. She stated that the pastor did not, in any way, pressure her to stay away from her estranged husband, but that she did so of her own volition. Despite Sapna's testimony, the district court convicted the two believers and sentenced them to two years in prison, along with a fine. The verdict has since been appealed and the next court hearing is scheduled for April 30th.

While anti-conversion laws have already been passed in 12 of India's states, some Hindu nationalist groups are pushing for nation-wide legislation. Considering that the country's general elections are starting on April 19th, VOMC joins its sister mission, Release International – along with other Christian organizations – in the call for an end to this divisive and widely misused legislation, which has resulted in an increase in violence and arrests against religious minorities. To review previously posted reports addressing the persecution of Christians in this South Asian country, please go to our country report.

As the nation of India holds its national elections in the coming days, pray that the country's voters will be guided by a desire for equality and the protection of human rights for all citizens. Also prayerfully remember Pastor Ramesh and his wife Sakshi, along with the many other followers of Jesus who are facing the threat of violence or incarceration because of the false allegations against them – in hopes that justice prevails in each of their cases. While awaiting judicial and/or governmental intervention, may the Lord grant them divine protection, peace, strength, as well as the provisions necessary to meet their individual spiritual and practical needs. Additionally, please intercede for Abhishek, asking God to work in his heart and mind so that any vindictive motives would cease, and that he will ultimately experience a life-changing encounter with the Living Christ.

India Information

  • Current Ministry Projects

    VOMC assists persecuted Christians with legal support and rehabilitation assistance, and cares for children of martyrs by providing them with a safe place to be nurtured physical and spiritually. VOMC also partners to equip Christians in India with Biblical training and works to strengthen and support marginalized and persecuted Christian women. Additionally, VOMC helps to provide medical assistance to believers who have faced injuries after being attacked.”

    Project Funds: Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Legal Defense, Relief and Development, Women’s Ministry, Medical Fund

  • Country Information

    Population
    1,399,179,585 (2023 est.)

    Ethnicity (%)
    Indo-Aryan (72), Dravidian (25), other (3)

    Religion (%)
    Hinduism (79.8), Muslim (14.2), Christianity (2.3), Sikh (1.7), other (2)

    Leader
    President Droupadi Murmu (2022)

    Government type
    Federal parliamentary republic

    Legal system
    Based on English common law; separate personal law codes apply to Christians, Hindus and Muslims.

    Source: CIA World Factbook

  • Pray for India

    Despite the intimidation and violence that have taken place in many of India's states, may Christians wisely yet unashamedly preach the Gospel. Pray that indigenous Christians and foreign missionaries will minister in ways that do not hint at fraudulent conversions, unmasking the intentions behind the anti-conversion legislation. Intercede for India's leaders, that they may reign with justice and righteousness.

India News

  • Christian Woman Killed by Relatives
    A woman is silhouetted against a sunset.

     

    A Christian woman was beaten to death with a hammer and other weapons on June 24th because of her conversion to Christianity. The murder took place in Toylanka, a village in the state of Chhattisgarh.

  • Young Convert Killed and Widow Forced to Flee
    Jime Kawasi is looking down with her eyes closed.
    Kosa Kawasi's wife, Jime.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    On May 4th, 22-year-old Kosa Kawasi was killed during a violent mob attack while at his home in the village of Kapanar, Chhattisgarh state. The mob, believed to have been led by the young man's uncle and cousin, was angered that Kosa and his wife Jime had converted to Christianity. As a result, the opposing villagers had unsuccessfully tried to force the Christian couple from their home. Following this incident, the angry community members physically confronted the believer – ultimately inflicting a lethal stab wound.

  • Prison Sentence for Alleged Forced Conversions
    Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and Sakshi.
    Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and his wife Sakshi.
    Photo: Morning Star News

    A Christian couple was recently sentenced to prison after accusations were made that they had been involved in pressuring others to convert to Christianity. Pastor Ramesh Ahirwar and his wife Sakshi are from the village of Vivek Nagar in Madhya Pradesh. A man had accused the couple of abducting his estranged wife Sapna (who also happens to be Pastor Ramesh's niece) before allegedly pressuring her to convert, holding the woman against her will, and not allowing her to return home to be with him. He also purported that the Christian couple offered to build Sapna a home and give her money each month. The complainant, Abhishek, further claimed that the Christians attempted to convert him as well, offering him a job in return.

  • Land Dispute Escalates to Violence
    A group of people - including police - is gathered around the hospital beds of people being treated for their injuries.
    Members of the Janwada Methodist
    church receiving treatment in hospital.
    Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide

    For several years, villagers in Janwada, which is located within India's Telangana State, have been demanding that a road in their community be widened. On February 13th, workers moved into the area to start construction. However, it was discovered during the building process that the construction had encroached by several feet onto the property belonging to the community's Methodist Church, which had existed there for 50 years.