Updated: December 27, 2021 9:46:11 pm
In a case of alleged religious conversion, Madhya Pradesh Police on Sunday night arrested three people, including a Catholic church priest and a pastor, at Bicholi village in Jhabua district for allegedly luring tribal villagers into Christianity by offering free education and treatment in missionary-run schools and hospitals.
An FIR was registered based on a complaint at Kalyanpura police station in which the complainant, identified as Tetiya Bariya (26), stated that Father Jam Singh Dindore, pastor Ansingh Ninama and a person named Mangu Mehtab Bhuriya allegedly tried to convert tribals to Christianity.
Kalyanpura police inspector Dinesh Rawat confirmed the arrest. “Based on the complaint, an FIR for alleged conversion was registered. The police, on its part, have recovered a Bible and a pot to hold water from the spot,” he said.
Tetiya Bariya, in his written application, claimed: “On December 26, at around 8 am Father Jam Singh Dindore called me and Surti Bai (another villager) to their prayer room and made us sit in a weekly meeting called for conversion. They sprinkled water on us and read the Bible to us.”
Tetiya Bariya said that they were asked to convert to Christianity, and in return, their family were promised free treatment at hospitals and children free education at missionary-run hospitals and schools. He said that they refused to accept the priest’s alleged offer and walked out of the prayer room. They subsequently called up the police and informed them about the matter, he said.
A police team visited Father Jam Singh Dindore’s house on Sunday afternoon and detained the three. An FIR was registered against them under Sections 3, 5 and 10 (2) of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021.
Jhabua, one of the tribal-dominated districts of Madhya Pradesh, is witnessing an uptick of cases against Catholic church members, alleging religious conversion.
Last month, in a written application by Azad Prem Singh Damor, convenor of Adivasi Samaj Sudharak Sangh, an affiliate organisation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), urged the district administration to remove the names of 56 priests and pastors of the Catholic church from the district’s list of tribals.
Damor also demanded that they should not be allowed to hold prayer meets. This application was forwarded by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Meghnagar, for further action.
Meanwhile, another case of religious conversion was registered in Ashoknagar district on December 25 against a man named Javed Khan, based on the complaint of a woman he was in a relationship with. The woman alleged that Javed Khan had introduced himself as Rakesh and the duo got into a relationship. They lived together for five years and had three children, she said. She learned Rakesh was Muslim when he insisted on her embracing Islam along with their son, she alleged.
Earlier, on September 17, members of the Christian community wrote to the collector and superintendent of police, with a copy to the President of India, saying false cases were being filed against them and they were facing attacks from workers of the VHP, Bajrang Dal, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Adivasi Samajh Sudharak Sangh and Hindu Yuva Janjati. One of the people the letter named was Prem Singh Damor, who runs the Adivasi Samajh Sudharak Sangh.
Madhya Pradesh, until December 15, has reported 62 cases under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, popularly known as the anti-conversion law, of which at least eight were against Christians. The law came into effect in February this year.
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