12/11/2019, 09.53
INDIA
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Maharashtra, three Christians arrested for 'forced conversions'

by Nirmala Carvalho

The faithful are accused of insulting Hindu gods. For Sajan K George, "going from house to house, singing Christmas hymns and announcing the birth of the Son of God is not a conversion activity".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Three Christians were arrested in Maharashtra on charges of "forced conversions to Christianity".

According to an officer at Napoli police station, the three men tried to influence some people to carry out religious conversions in Thane district. The arrest took place on December 1 last, but has only recently been announced.

Speaking to AsiaNews Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemns "the arrest of Christians who are accused of the alleged attempt to convert and insult the [Hindu] faith. India is a secular country and the Constitution guarantees the freedom to practice, preach and spread the faith ".

The Christians arrested are Gajendra Maruti Devnoor, 26 and resident in Lokmanya Nagar, near the city of Thane, Ajay Gautam and Amar Wadvav. All three were charged with violating sections 295-A (deliberate and harmful acts intended to offend religious sentiments or the class by insulting religion or belief) and 34 (sectarian intention).

According to officers, the accused would have approached a group of people in Bhiwandi and would have insulted the Hindu gods. Then they would have asked those present to convert to Christianity, adding that they would be rewarded if they spread the Christian message in society.

Sajan K George complains that "the police immediately carried out the arrests only on the basis of a complaint. It is a grave error to insult the faith of the other, but this accusation must be verified. Unfortunately, instead, the growing intolerance against Christians, the false stereotype of conversions and the presentation of false complaints lead to the arrest of innocent people, without first verifying whether the fact is true or not, or if the complaint is the result of a slanderous intent ”.

The GCIC president stresses that the arrests took place on December 1st, on the first Sunday of Advent. "In this period - he notes - many faithful go from house to house, singing Christmas hymns and announcing the birth of the Son of God. These are not conversion activities."

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