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ICC Note:

Thirty two Christians in India’s Madhya Pradesh state have been attacked and arrested while singing Christmas carols in Satna. The local church has called the charges against the Christians ‘laughable’. The arrested were based on a false accusations of forced conversion. Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have dramatically increased in recent years. False accusations of forced conversions are often used as a tool to harass Christian leaders. Will Indian authorities see through these ‘laughable’ charges? 

12/15/2017 India (Daily Mail) – Dozens of Catholics have been arrested by Indian police while singing Christmas carols after claims they were trying to convert people.

Police said 32 Christians were detained in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh yesterday, with a leading Catholic association condemning the accusations as ‘laughable’.

When a group of priests went to the police station to enquire about the detentions, their parked car was torched, allegedly by a mob belonging to a right-wing Hindu group, said Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.

A local said the group of Christians – which included a professor from a theology college – had previously asked him to ‘worship Jesus Christ’ and even offered him cash to convert.

The news comes as India’s Christian minority sounds the alarm over a recent rise in attacks on churches and members of the faith.

They have blamed the violence on Hindu hardliners, who they say have become emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government swept to power in 2014.

Mascarenhas said 32 Catholics, including two priests, were detained while ‘conducting a routine Christmas carol singing program’.

‘The charge of conversion on which the priests and seminarians [were] detained is frivolous and laughable,’ Mascarenhas said in a statement today.

He said carol singing had been a part of the Christmas season in Satna ‘for the last 30 years’.

Police in Satna told AFP they had detained the group for questioning after a resident complained about being ‘lured by a group of Christians to convert’.

Eight other priests who went to the police station to look for the detained group were also taken into custody, investigating officer Mohini Sharma told AFP.

During their detention, a mob allegedly set fire to their car outside in an attack condemned by Mascarenhas as an assault by ‘terrorists who have taken on the garb of ‘religious police”.

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