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ICC Note:

32 Christmas carolers in India’s Madhya Pradesh state were attacked and arrested on Thursday. The Christians were detained by police after Hindu radicals attacked the group and accused them of engaging in forceful conversions. Church leaders in India have called the forced conversion ‘laughable’ and claim the police allowed radicals to rough up the Christians before police took them into custody. Attacks on Christians and false claims of forced conversions are becoming more and more common in India. Will the central government take notice of this situation and seek to provide justice to those Christians effected? 

12/17/2017 India (The Indian Express) – More than 30 priests and seminarians singing carols at a village near Madhya Pradesh’s Satna town were detained on Thursday after Bajrang Dal activists accused them of forced conversion. One priest was also arrested under the state’s anti-conversion law on Friday.

Some of the priests and seminarians, released in the early hours of Friday, alleged they had been roughed up by members of the right-wing group on the police station’s premises. Both the police and the Bajrang Dal activists denied the allegations.

Eight priests who had come to the Civil Lines Police Station on Friday to inquire about the previous day’s detentions were also detained, while their car was torched. Police said they were unaware of who torched the car, and added that they had registered a case under IPC Section 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance) in connection with the incident.

On Friday, M George, who teaches at St Ephrem’s Theological College, and five unknown persons were booked under the Freedom of Religion Act and Sections 153-B and 295-A of the IPC on a complaint by one Dharmendra Dohar, who alleged he had been offered money to convert to Christianity.

A resident of Bhumkahar village, the 21-year-old alleged that missionaries were active in his village for the last two years, and that he had been given “Rs 5,000, a cross and a Bible” after he took a dip in a pond to change his faith.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) denied allegations of forced conversion, and said that 30 seminarians and two priests from the Theological College were detained by police when they were conducting a carol singing program — a routine practice during Christmas season for the last 30 years.

Sub-inspector Mohini Sharma of the Civil Lines Police Station said George, 60, was released on bail, and police are yet to identify the five others allegedly involved in converting Dharmendra.

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