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Uttarakhand: Hindu Mob Disrupts Christmas Celebrations, Attacks Pastor Over Alleged 'Conversion'

The police detained the Pastor and his wife over allegations of forced conversions but later released them, saying the matter had been amicably resolved.

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A mob of at least 30 young men armed with sticks attacked a Christmas celebration event in Purola village in Uttarakhand's Uttarkashi district on Friday, alleging that forced religious conversions were underway in the programme. 

As per a report published on NDTV, the men claimed to belong to a Hindu organisation and targeted Pastor Lazarus Cornelius and his wife Sushma Cornelius. 

The police detained the Pastor and his wife over allegations of forced conversions but later released them, saying the matter had been amicably resolved. 

The attack at Hope and Life Centre in the village, which is around 150 km from state capital Dehradun, took place around noon two days prior to Christmas. The pastor belongs to Union Church, Mussoorie, and was leading prayers when the mob barged in and disrupted the celebrations, NDTV reported.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government had recently passed an anti-conversion Bill in the assembly. A spate of such taregtings against religious minorities, mainly Christians and Muslims, have been reported in the state in recent times.

The Uttarakhand Assembly on December 1 passed the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act, 2022, making unlawful religious conversion a cognisable and non-bailable offence punishable with imprisonment for a term of at least three years and a maximum of 10 years. Besides, an offender will be liable to pay a fine of at least Rs 50,000 and a compensation of up to Rs 5 lakh to the victim.

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