Jharkhand, a Christian doctor arrested for 'forced conversion' of a child
by Nirmala Carvalho

The complaint was presented by the minor's father. An anti-conversion law is in force in the state. The Christian will remain in prison for 14 days. Sajan K George: "The arrest is suspect. The Radicals want to polarize society ahead of next year's elections."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A Christian veterinary surgeon was arrested by the Jharkhand police on charges of forcibly converting a 13-year-old girl by offering her money. The arrest took place in Pakur on October 16, following the complaint filed by the child's father the day before.

Speaking to AsiaNews Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemns "the arrest of the Christian, according to the Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Act [the anti-conversion law in force in the State, ed.]. We are suspicious of the arrest, given that recently Jharkhand is a hotbed of persecution against Christians ".

The arrested person is called Dalu Soren and lives in the village of Sawanlapur. He is a cattle inspector in Chatarpur, in the Pakur district, and he also runs a school in his village. Some report that in the past he has already been accused of forced conversions against minors, and that is why he moved to the place where he resides.

The court upheld the complaint filed by the 13-year-old's father, according to whom the Christian offered her 500 rupees [almost six euros] to push her to repudiate the Hindu faith and promised that the missionaries would take care of her and her education. The man was subjected to precautionary custody for 14 days.

According to Sajan K George, the arrest is "suspect" because Jharkhand is one of the seven Indian states in which anti-conversion laws are in force. Among other things, he adds, "six of these are governed by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party, Hindu nationalists]. Jharkhand was in the media glare with the arrest of two Misisonaries of Charity on the baseless and fabricated charges of baby-selling. This was followed by 88 Christian backed non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) being under police probe alleged misuse of foreign funds which they legitimately acquired under a Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) license. Later a Jesuit Father Alphonse Aind was been falsely implicated for abduction and rape in Jharkhand."

In light of all these incidents, he concludes: " This latest arrest is a systematic ongoing harassment of Christians in Jharkhand is to polarise the society on communal lines, ahead of the general elections. They are even trying to divide the Tribal population, and sow seeds of disharmony in the social fabric for political gains.”