Ten Christians in India’s Madhya Pradesh state have been arrested after being accused of converting 71 children to Christianity. According to reports, the parents of these 71 children are practicing Christians and had given their consent for their children to be taught Christianity. Local authorities have ignored this and have “rescued” these 71 children because the parents did not request permission from the local magistrate to convert to Christianity. Laws regulating religious conversions are often misused by radical Hindu nationalists and local authorities to harass Christian leaders and curb the growth of Christianity among India’s low caste peoples such as Dalits and tribals. Will these arrested Christians remain imprisoned for a “crime” they likely did not commit?
05/23/2017 India (India Today) – Madhya Pradesh Police today arrested 10 people for allegedly trying to convert tribal children of Jhabau and Alirapur region to Christianity. All the 71 children have been rescued and the arrested have been booked under Section 3/4-4 of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act 1968.
Out of the 71 children, 60 minors–32 boys and 28 girls– were rescued by the Ratlam GRP and the other 11 minors–including 7 boys and 4 girls–were rescued from around the Choti Gwaltoli police station in Indore.
Bibles have been recovered from the minors who are claiming that they have been reading the holy book for a long time.
The parents of the minors in Jhabua and Alirapur have been summoned by the Ratlam GRP and Indore police. Parents claim that the children were being taken to Nagpur with their consent and that they too were practicing Christians.
The state government however is treating this as a case of religious conversion. “There is a law for conversion. The law ensures that people are not enticed and lured to religious conversion. A proper procedure has been laid down in which a magistrate has to be informed before taking any such step.