Orissa: Hindu extremists have Christians arrested on false accusations of proselytism,
by Nirmala Carvalho
Since 18 January, two faithful are in prison, following a police raid on a private home. The raid resulted from trumped up charges of local fundamentalists. "Political" pressure preventing their release on bail. Christian activist: project for state "Hinduisation" underway.

Delhi (AsiaNews) - The arrest of "innocent Christians", in jail under the pretext of "false accusations" of "forced conversions", says Sajan K George, president of the activist network Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemning the latest case of violence against the religious minority in Orissa, the Indian state already known for the anti-Christian pogrom of 2008 which killed over 500 people. The fact dates back to January 18, when two followers of a Protestant community were imprisoned on (false) accusations of proselytism and forced conversions, according to the "draconian" - as defined by activists - Orissa Freedom of Religion Act ( Ofra) enacted in 1967, but often used to commit abuses and violations.

Local sources said that the police disrupted a prayer meeting that was taking place in the village of Gudikhamari, Baripada district in the state of Orissa. The raid took place at 11:30 am on January 18, in the house of a convert (from Hinduism), who had always offered his homes to celebrate the functions. At the time of the police raid, inside there were seven families who were forced to stop the service.

Members of a Hindu extremist movement who, previously, had denounced the believers for "proselytizing" in violation of OFRA accompanied the police in the raid against the small Christian community. The charges are unfounded, but were enough to trigger police actions which led to the arrest and imprisonment of Bahadur Murmu, 23, leader of the small Christian community, along with 21-year-old Rama Soreng.

The prayer meeting was held in the home of a former Hindu faithful who, five years ago embraced Christianity. At the time of the attack the extremist Hindu group was drunk and threatened to strike the faithful gathered in prayer. Only the presence of police prevented further violence. Pro human rights groups and Christian movements have called for the release on bail of the two arrested so far in vain because of pressure from local leaders of the judiciary and police.

Christian activist Sajan K George tells AsiaNews that there are many cases of faithful affected by OFRA, jailed on "baseless" charges and allegations made by Hindu extremists who "perpetrate their reign of terror and oppression undisturbed." A situation which continues thanks to the lack of "political will" to resolve the issue, leaving extremists a free hand to implement their project for the "Hinduization of Orissa".

 

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