Days after they stormed a church and stopped a wedding, right-wing activists in Satna town of Madhya Pradesh have announced that they will campaign every Sunday to dissuade Hindus from attending Sunday prayers because pastors “trick them into conversion”.
On Wednesday, a group of Bajrang Dal and VHP activists, accompanied by police, reached the Church of God (Full Gospel) in India in the Sidhharthnagar locality of the town, about 450 km from the state capital, and stopped the marriage between Arun Kushwaha and Subhadra Kushwaha.
Both Arun and Subhadra come from OBC families.
The groom and several pastors were booked under the state’s anti-conversion law and for hurting religious sentiments of Hindus. They were also booked under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act because Subhadra’s marksheet suggested that she was 10 days short of 18 years.
On Sunday, a group of right-wing activists visited every household in the seven mohallas near the church and raised slogans to “awaken people to the design of Christian missionaries who trick people into conversion by offering to exorcise them”.
“No one attended the Sunday prayers due to our campaign,’’ Bajrang Dal leader Rajbahadur Mishra told The Indian Express. He added that they also raised slogans outside the church.
Pastor Sam Samuel, who was among those arrested and released on bail, said police called him up Sunday and asked him to stay away from the church for the day to “avoid trouble”. “I took their advice and returned only at night,’’ he said.
The right-wing activists said they had shared their contact numbers with people living near the church and asked them to inform if they spotted “strangers and outsiders’’ visiting the prayer hall.
Meanwhile, member of MP Backward Classes Commission Laxmi Yadav claimed that Arun and Subhadra had given a written undertaking that they were willing to return to Hinduism and marry according to its rituals. Arun, however, denied giving any such undertaking.
Yadav said he had sought legal opinion on whether sedition charge could be invoked against Christians who engage in conversion. “If the lawyers agree with me, I will soon call a meeting of the commission and recommend to the government to invoke the sedition charge in such cases,’’ he said.
Samuel said he would react to Yadav’s comments after seeking legal help.