A visually-challenged couple was among13 people sentenced to six months’ rigorous imprisonment by a Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) for attempting to convert tribals to Christianity in Dhar district. The 13, including Balu Kesu and his wife Bhuri, both visually-challenged, and five other women, were arrested in January 2016 after some villagers accused them of converting tribals by offering them inducements. At least seven of the accused are daily-wagers.
Complainant Govind had told the police that he was sitting at home with his friends when the accused visited him and said, “we too were Hindus like Bhil and Bhilala (tribes) but have converted to Christianity. If you too convert to Christianity, we will provide you food, medicine and help you encroach government land because your gods and goddesses are feeble”.
JMFC, Kukshi, N S Tahed delivered his judgement last month, but a copy was made available to The Indian Express by public prosecutor Shyamu Yadav only recently. Defence advocate Kamlesh Patidar said that citing the couple’s handicap and the fact that they have a five-year-old child, he moved an application under the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958, but the court rejected it. He said that he will appeal against the verdict because there were discrepancies and violation of procedures in the probe. The judge said the accused can’t be given the benefit of an irregularity in probe.