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ICC Note:

Two more Christians in India’s Madhya Pradesh have been arrested under false charges of forced conversion. The Christians were arrested as they were accompanying ten children to a train station in Indore. A local Hindu radical group accused the Christians of abducting the children and attempting to take them to Mumbai where they would be converted to Christianity. Following the arrests, police investigations have shown that all the children are from a Christian neighborhood and that the parents had given permission for the children to go with the Christians. False charges of forced conversion is common in India. Hindu radicals use these accusations to openly harass Christian communities across the country. 

10/28/2017 India (UCAN) – Police have arrested two Christian women in central India on charges of kidnapping children for conversion, which church leaders say is the latest example of Christians being harassed.

However, there have been admissions that in some such cases sloppy record keeping played into the hands of church opponents.

Anita Joseph and Amrit Kumar appeared Oct. 25 before the Indore district magistrate in Madhya Pradesh state a day after their arrest and were ordered to remain in judicial custody while police investigate further.

Indore police official Kunwarlal Warkade said the women were arrested after a group called Dharma Jagran Manch (Vigilant Group for Hindu Religion) complained that the children were being taken to Mumbai by train for conversion to Christianity.

Warkade told ucanews.com that the charges include kidnapping of minors and violating a state law restricting religious conversion activities.

The women could be jailed for seven years or more if convicted of the offenses, which Warkade said involved four girls and six boys aged below 14.

Families allege the women lured the children with promises of toys and overseas schooling, Warkade added.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has governed Madhya Pradesh state for the past 14 years.

Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore said the arrests constitute an attempt by hard-liners to intimidate missionaries.

“We are always on their radar and it is quite scary,” he told ucanews.com.

The state has experienced three other such incidents so far this year.

In one episode four months ago, police arrested and temporarily detained a Catholic nun and four tribal girls travelling with her by train on conversion charges.

Bishop Thottumarickal said Church people are aware of the dangers.

He has asked priests, nuns and lay people engaged in social work to keep all their documentation up to date and to be transparent in their activities.

“We have to be extra cautious in managing our homes for children, women and aged people as even a minor mistake can cause big problems for us,” the Divine Word prelate added.

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