Allahabad HC grants bail to Pastor accused in Illegal Mass Religious Conversion Case

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Allegedly, people were lured to convert to Christianity by offering them free medical assistance, job as well as monetary benefits. 

The Allahabad High Court recently granted bail to a Pastor who allegedly indulged in luring Hindus for unlawful conversion to Christianity by offering them monetary and other benefits. 

The bench of Justice Sameer Jain allowed the bail application moved by Vijay Masih- the pastor, in the case lodged under Sections 153A, 506, 420, 467, 468, 471 IPC and under Section 3/5(1) of U.P. Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act, 2021, at Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh. 

The FIR in the case was lodged by one Himanshu Dixit who alleged that on April 15, 2022, around 90 Hindus had congregated at the Evangelical Church of India, Hariharganj, Fatehpur for the purpose of their conversion to Christianity.

When this information was received, Government officers reached the place and interrogated the pastor–Vijay Massiah who disclosed that the said process for conversion was going on for the last 34 days and would complete within 40 days.

The Government officers found 35 persons (named in the FIR) and 20 unknown persons as having been involved in this conversion matter. 26 persons were arrested on the spot.

The allegations against the accused persons also included that they had been trying to convert even patients admitted to the Mission Hospital and the employees of the hospital played an active role in it. 

One of the witnesses in his statement under Section 161 CrPC had said that during the medical treatment of one of his family members, he got acquainted with a woman named Lily See, who advised him to convert to Christianity for after that he will be given medical assistance free of cost all his life and his kids will be given jobs as well as money.

The witness had also stated that Lily See then took him to the Evangelical Church of India, Hariharganj, and introduced him to the accused persons.

Recently, one of the co-accused persons namely Bhanu Pratap Singh was denied pre-arrest bail by the high court. 

However, considering the fact that similarly placed other accused persons as the Pastor had already been released on bail, court allowed his plea. 

Case Title: Vijay Masih (Pastor) v. State of U.P.