The Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an outfit founded by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, allegedly disrupted a prayer service at a church in Maharajganj district on Friday, alleging it was converting locals to Christianity.
The police, though, said they did not find any evidence and are still investigating the case.
Church pastor Yohannan Adam alleged that the police came to the church in Dathauli village along with HYV activists, who desecrated the place.
“When the police team and HYV arrived at the church, we were in the middle of prayers. More than 150 people were present there,” he said. “HYV activists walked into into the sacred place with their footwear on, and hurled abuses at us. The group even took away the Bible.”
The police personnel who came with them allegedly verified documents of people present there, the pastor claimed, adding that the police and HYV activists were in the church for nearly four hours.
The police claimed HYV activists were already at the church when they arrived. Around 150 people, including nine foreigners from the US and Ukraine, were at the church when the incident took place.
“The team did not find anything suggesting conversion going on at the place,” Maharajganj Superintendent of Police Pramod Kumar said. “Locals at the prayer meeting told police that they visited the church frequently. Documents of foreigners were found valid. A notice has been sent to the church pastor to inform us whether any foreigner had visited the church to take part in prayer.”
“Most of those present at the prayer were local residents. I don’t know anything about foreign nationals,” claimed Yohannan.
HYV leader Ganesh Gehrwar lodged a complaint against the pastor and others, alleging that they are involved in converting locals.
Station Officer of Kothibhar Anand Kumar Gupta said an inquiry is on.
Yohannan said, “I will register an FIR registered against HYV soon.”
HYV Maharajganj district vice-president Sanjay Yadav said, “We had gone to the church following information about conversion. Police caught some person involved in the practice and brought them to the police station but later allowed them go.”
Aware of incident: US embassy
The US embassy spokesperson in New Delhi on Saturday said, “We are aware of the news reports concerning this incident. The protection of American citizens overseas is our highest priority. Due to privacy concerns, we cannot share anything more at this time.”