04/18/2006, 00.00
INDIA

Two Christian women arrested and charged with conversion

The arrest followed a report filed by someone who remained anonymous. The two women were distributing flyers about the Bible.

Bhopal (AsiaNews/ICNS) – Indian police have arrested two Christian women in Madhaya Pradesh, accusing them of "attempting to convert people by distributing pamphlets on the Bible". The women were arrested on Friday 14 April, Good Friday.

Mariamma Mathew, 36, and B. Godwil, 65, were arrested after a person, who remained anonymous, reported them for "explaining to people how they can have a peaceful life following Bible teachings".

Local police sources said there was a state law barring religious propaganda by individuals or organizations without authorization from district officials. "The women had no such permission for their action. So they are in prison now," added the sources.

Christian leaders said this was not an isolated incident, but "only the latest in a string of such arrests". "Christians have been consistently harassed for the past two-and-half years in the state since the Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP – India's largest political party with nationalistic and Hindu leanings] government came to power."

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