19 March 2018
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  • » 02/16/2018, 10.24


    Madhya Pradesh, Pentecostals sentenced to 6 months in prison for 'forced conversions'

    Nirmala Carvalho

    13 convicted include a vision impaired couple. Most Pentecostals are day laborers. The government led by Hindu nationalists "arrests Pentecostal Christians with groundless imputations".

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A court in Madhya Pradesh has sentenced 13 Pentecostal Christians to six months in prison for alleged "forced conversions". The condemned include Balu Kesu and his wife Bhuri, both of whom are vision impaired. Their defense attorney Kamlesh Patidar tried to obtain a reduction in the penalty for their handicap, but the judges were adamant.

    Speaking to AsiaNews Sajan K Gerge, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), laments "the vulnerability of Pentecostal Christians, including the two visually impaired tribals. They are victims of harassment, intimidation and arrests on the basis of allegations made in our secular India ".

    The convicted were arrested in January 2016. At least seven of the Christians are daily laborers. The court magistrate [the second level of criminal courts in India, ed.] accepted the complaint filed by some inhabitants of the village in which they reside, in the district of Dhar. The residents accused the Pentecostals of trying to convert the tribals with the offer of [economic] rewards.

    Govind, one of the plaintiffs, told the police that one day he was sitting at home with a friend when the condemned Christians came in to visit him. The Pentecostals would have told him: "We were also Hindus of the Bhil tribe in Bhilala, but we converted to Christianity. If you too convert, we will give you food, medicine, and we will help you invade the lands of the government because your gods and goddesses are weak ".

    The Christian leader explains that the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act "requires anyone who wants to change religion to obtain permission from the state administration. In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the state is governed by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party, right-wing Hindu nationalists - ed] who, armed with the law and [with the support] of majority groups, arrests Pentecostal Christians with baseless charges. In this case the money supply was used, which is false and unfounded. But the majority groups have the best and the Christians are instead incriminated ".

    Sajan K George calls for reflection: "The daily wage earners, eke out a living, with hard labour, and it is physically impossible for them to allure others. How does one describe, “inducement” or “allurement” it is contentious, and this is used as a weapon for harassment. Regrettably, the Tribals and the Dalits suffer the most under the administration, who are only interested in their subjugation and retaining them in the oppressive hierarchical social structure".

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    See also

    13/09/2011 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: Pentecostal pastors and 11 Hindus who wanted baptism arrested
    Five activists of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the police tried to convince the faithful to file a false complaint against the pastor, on charges of forced conversions. The 11 rejected. GCIC: " Madhya Pradesh is a rogue state with the Christian community."

    16/05/2017 10:35:00 INDIA
    Karnataka, Pentecostal Christians assaulted by Hindu extremists for 'forced conversions'

    The episodes of violence occurred at Ramamurthy Nagar and Lingarajapuram, suburbs of Bangalore. In both cases, the extremists attacked the Christians and burned brochures with Gospel songs. Sajan K George: "The only goal is to foment sectarian tensions."

    07/09/2017 10:29:00 INDIA
    Karnataka, two Pentecostal Christians arrested for forced conversions

    Mercy and Rosaline guilty of distributing religious material. Hindu activists surrounded them and handed them over to the police. The police did not find the Christians in possession of religious materials. Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

    13/12/2017 14:09:00 INDIA
    Four Pentecostals arrested in Madhya Pradesh, they were praying for Christmas

    Rev Karan was among those detained. Police broke into Bethel Church and stopped Advent prayers. For Sajan K George, "In small remote areas, Jesus is the only refuge".

    14/06/2017 11:40:00 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh, a sister arrested (and released) for 'forced conversions'

    Sister Bina Joseph and four girls remained in police custody for 12 hours. Released after interrogation. The denunciation of the young Hindu fundamentalists of Bajrang Dal and Matrushakti. Bishop of Bhopal: "The attitude of the police officers is to be condemned".

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