Anita Joseph and Amrit Kumar were stopped at the Indore Railway Station. Hindu radicals accuse them of abducting six children. A Christian activist reports that those arrested were accompanying the children to a prayer meeting with their parents’ consent.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Police in Madhya Pradesh arrested two Christians, charging them with abduction and forced conversion of minors, the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a Christian advocacy group, has reported.
GCIC president, Sajan K George, told AsiaNews that the state's anti-conversion law – the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act – is used by extreme right-wing (nationalist) groups as a tool to harass and intimidate the vulnerable Christian minority."
Anita Joseph, 50, and Amrit Kumar, 51, were stopped by agents at the Indore Railway Station yesterday.
Speaking to Indian Express, Inspector Kunwarlal Warkade said that the police had been alerted by Hindu groups, who complained that Christians had abducted six children to take them to Mumbai and convert them.
After the arrest, the children were taken to Childline, an NGO that advocates and protects children and street kids.
The police said that both accused and the children live in ‘"Scheme 78’, a Christian colony in Indore.
One of the two people arrested, Amrit Kumar, said he was with the children for the sole purpose of accompanying them to a prayer meeting.
The agents admitted that some of the children’s parents were aware of the reasons for the trip.
Sajan K George notes that in the state Christians represent a tiny minority, about 1 per cent compared to more than 90 per cent who are Hindus.
"Christians are treated as second-class citizens,” he explained. “They are denied the right to move freely and to practice their own religion. No one broke the law and the children were travelling with their parents’ consent."
"India is a secular country," he added, "but Christians do not have constitutional protection."