Rev Ramlal Kori, a Pentecostal minister, and a friend named Nandalal were abducted by Hindu radicals in the village of Gadra, dragged into the forest and beaten with sticks. The police found them eight hours later tied to a tree. Instead of arresting the criminals, the authorities detained the Christians on the basis of the state’s anti-conversion law.
Bhopal (AsiaNews) – Rev Ramlal Kori, a Pentecostal minister, and his friend Nandalal were abducted in Madhya Pradesh, dragged into the forest, tied to a tree and brutally beaten by a group of Hindu radicals.
The two were found several hours later by police who, instead of punishing the attackers, arrested the two Christians on charges of "forced conversions" and offending the religious sentiments of Hindus.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemned "the attack against innocent Christians with false and baseless accusations of forced conversions”.
In Madhya Pradesh, extremist thugs use the state’s famous anti-conversion law to harass and intimidate the state’s tiny Christian community.
The two men were grabbed on 21 July in the village of Gadra, about 400 km east of the state capital Bhopal.
Rev Kori had gone to his friend's house in Mauganj (180 km away) to pray together. At night, upon hearing the news of the death of Nandalal’s father in Gadra, the two set off for the village on a motorcycle. When they arrived, a group of 15 Hindu radicals from the Bajrang Dal (the paramilitary youth wing of the Vishva Hindu Parishad) attacked them and dragged them away.
The Christians were beaten with wooden sticks, kicked and punched for allegedly trying to convert Hindus. Both men denied any wrongdoing. The minister’s wife called police, who found the victims after eight hours, tied to a tree and took them to jail.
"Police held them all day (22 July) on the pretext of providing them protection. But then in the evening sent them to prison,” said Rev Ram Yesh, a friend of the two.
Witnesses report that police detained the two for a long period in order to give the attackers time to file a complaint of forced conversions.
"In secular India even praying to Jesus in private is deemed a criminal activity,” lamented Sajan K George.
The Christian leader repeatedly warned that the law legitimises discrimination against Christians by Hindu radicals.
The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, recently amended to make it even more restrictive, came into force in 1968 in order to stop conversions obtained by force or money.
However, this measure is used to persecute Christians through false accusations of forced conversion and those who decide to embrace religions other than Hinduism.