Six Christians, arrested last month in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, have been charged with kidnapping and attempted forced conversions for attempting to take 72 children to a vacation Bible school. According to the parents of the 72 children, all of them are practicing Christians and had given permission for their children to attend the vacation Bible school. Authorities have disregarded these statements and instead have insisted the parents and children are still Hindu since they did not go through the proper government procedure to change their religion. Local Christians claim the situation has been perpetrated by local Hindu radicals seeking to harass the Christian community.
06/28/2017 India (Christian Post) – Six Christians who were arrested in May for taking 72 children to a Vacation Bible School camp in Madhya Pradesh state, India, have reportedly been charged with kidnapping and forcible conversions as police refuse to recognize the children as Christians.
Sources told Morning Star News in a report published June 23 that along with the six Christians, a 15-year-old boy was also held in a juvenile detention center for nearly a month, before finally being released last week.
“I missed my home so much — I cried every day, and prayed and prayed,” Akash Gundia said. “Finally, the Lord heard me. I am happy to be back home.”
Gundia was reportedly one of the 72 children detained by Ratlam Railway Police on May 21 as they traveled to the VBS camp in Nagpur. Eight supervisors were also arrested, and despite explanations that all the children had Christian parents, they were accused of trying to convert the children.
Authorities claimed at the time that the parents hadn’t followed the proper procedures in converting to Christianity, and insisted that the children will be treated as Hindus under the law.
“For changing to another religion, one needs to submit a written application to the district collector and only after the stipulated process, a person can change religious identity, which didn’t happen in the case of any of the parents claiming to be Christians,” police superintendent Krishnaveni Desavatu said at the time.
“This is why the children and their parents will be officially treated as Hindu tribals and not Christians,” he added.
Morning Star News noted that the children had permission from their Christian parents to go to the Bible camp program, however.
“I told the police I am a Christian by birth, and we are going to attend the VBS, but they did not listen to me and took us to the police station,” the 15-year-old boy said.
“Children as young as 6 were also in police custody, but when their parents came, the police handed them over to the parents. I was produced in court a day later, and from there was sent to a juvenile detention home,” he added.
Hartesh Singh Gundia, the boy’s father, insisted that Hindu extremist groups put pressure on officials to punish Christians, and blamed them for his son having to spend 25 days in judicial custody