09/20/2019, 10.14
INDIA
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Jharkhand, priest accused of "forced conversions": They wanted me to die in prison

Fr. Binoy John denounces that the prison guards gave him the wrong drugs "with the intention of killing me little by little". The priest has heart problems, but was treated for a simple fever. He will be transferred to Kerala, where he comes from, as soon as his health permits.

New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "They wanted me to die in prison. They tried to kill me little by little ": denounces Fr. Binoy John, a Catholic priest arrested in early September in Jharkhand on charges of forced conversions and released on bail this week for health reasons. The 42-year-old priest has heart problems, for which he has had a pacemaker implanted.

In an interview with the newspaper Malayala Manorama, Fr. Binoy complains that the prison guards planned to kill him, giving him drugs for fever instead of heart disease. "I implored them to tears - he says - to take me to the hospital, which was just two minutes away, but they refused me".

The priest is originally from Thodupuzha, in Kerala, but serves in the mission of Rajadaha, in the district of Godda (diocese of Bhagalpur). He was arrested along with a second priest - immediately released - and a catechist - still in jail.

In addition to the charge of practicing forced conversions, the three were charged with illegal land occupation. "When we showed all the documents to the police - he says - they let us go. But then they returned on charges of religious conversions".

At the moment Fr. Binoy is being treated at the St. Luke Health Center in Lalmatia, where he was transported after his condition became critical. Bishop Kurian Valiakandathil, local bishop, said he would be transferred to Kochi, Kerala, as soon as possible.

In 2017, Jharkhand enacted an anti-conversion law that provides for up to three years in prison and a fine of 50,000 rupees (600 euros) for those who practice forced conversions to Christianity through deception, money supply and persuasion .

According to Card George Alencherry, senior Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, who pleaded for the release of the priest, the reason for his arrest is obvious: "It is clear that behind those are those who are not happy with the missionaries social and educational activities among the villagers ".

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