08/12/2021, 13.47
INDIA
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Madhya Pradesh: 28 cases of forced conversions since March

by Nirmala Carvalho

The State Home Affairs Minister makes such a claim while reporting on state-wide femicides and rapes. According to the Global Council of Indian Christians, police make such accusations against Muslims. Meanwhile, tribal Christians continue to be discriminated.

Bhopal (AsiaNews) – Madhya Pradesh Home Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra told the State Legislative Assembly that at least 28 cases of forced conversions were reported since the new anti-conversion law was approved in March. Some 37 people have been arrested on charges related to forced conversions.

On 8 March, the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly approved a law that penalises religious conversion through marriage or any other "fraudulent" means with a penalty of up to 10 years.

According to Minister Mishra’s report, in 2017 there were 26,708 cases of rape, 2,663 femicides and 27,827 cases of kidnapping of underage girls in the state.

Mishra, who belongs to the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Hindu nationalist party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, noted that more than 1,000 people have not yet been arrested for these crimes.

For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "The Freedom of Religion Act has become a tool for suppressing religious minorities under the guise of conversion.”

“Police slap charges of kidnapping, rape, obscene acts and intimidation against Muslims, or accuse them of practicing the 'love jihad',” George explained.

Police often act under pressure from politicians. “Far-right groups break into homes, then go to the police station and force officers to write a First Information Report.”

In Madhya Pradesh, districts where tribals live, extremists regularly beat Christians accusing them of converting people in exchange for money.

“Hindu radicals use such false accusations to target the most vulnerable Christians,” the GCIC president added.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu organisation, claims to have a list of 56 missionaries who actively practice “illegal conversions” in the districts of Jhabua and Alirajpur.

“Christians,” George laments, “are arrested just for attending birthday parties or other social events. The social fabric of the country is gradually eroding.”

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