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Compass – Nine Christians in Chattisgarh’s Durg district are on trial for disrupting the peace between two communities by “attempting to convert” Hindu villagers with offers of money. On Monday, September 26, the pastor and eight members of a church in Durg district appeared before a judge of the Durg District Court for the third hearing of their case.

Attorney Ratiq Khan told Compass that the judge offered to dismiss the case if the Christians would agree to stop their activities. “But, since the allegation made against them was false, we refused to do so and instead asked for another hearing,” Khan said.

The next hearing has been scheduled for November 28.

Police in Mohan Nagar village arrested Pastor Jaichand Dongre, another man and seven women on June 6 and charged them with disrupting the peace. (See Compass Direct, “ Hindu Activists Attack Church in Chattisgarh,” June 9.)

Police filed the charges after the Christians were attacked by a mob of about 200 people alleging they were offering money to convert Hindu villagers. The police did not file any charges against the attackers. The names of the other eight accused are: Ishwar Lal Chevat, Meena Bai, Sadhna Bai, Uma Bai, Radha Bai, Champa Bai, Gumpa Bai, and Sojo Bai.

Dongre also alleged that his church members received threats on September 25. “Eight people belonging to the Bajrang Dal threatened my church members, saying they would have to face dire consequences if they did not close down the church,” he said.

Narendra Sharma, police inspector of the Mohan Nagar police station, pleaded ignorance about the threats received by Dongre. “No one has come to me to complain about it,” he said.

Sharma claimed there was evidence that Dongre offered money to villagers, and that Dongre had admitted this to him. “Dongre offered money to villagers asking them to convert, and told them that their diseases would be healed of they converted to Christianity,” Sharma said. “The whole village is against him because of such activities.”

Dongre emphatically denied that he either offered money or confessed this to Sharma. “We are all poor,” he said. “Most of the accused are laborers. How can we offer any money to anyone?”

Meanwhile, two other Christians in Sarguja district, Chattisgarh are awaiting charges against them for their alleged role in “fraudulent conversion.”

“We were told that the court would frame charges against us on September 13,” said Vijay Nikunj, one of the accused. “But the police inspector was away that day, and therefore the matter did not reach the court.”

The allegation made against the two Christians is false and baseless, he added. The case had not reached the court at press time…[Go To Full Story]