Sunday, December 21, 2014

MP police book Christian convention organiser under anti-conversion law

A week after insisting that there was no evidence of conversion, forced or otherwise, the Ratlam Police has booked the organiser of a Pentecostal convention under the state’s anti-conversion law.

The convention, organised by the Indian Pentecostal Church of God and the United Christian Council (UCC) on December 12, at Ratlam was attended by ailing tribals from nearby areas who were promised free treatment.

Alleging that the organisers had promised the tribals jobs and money to convert them to Christianity, activists of Hindu Jagaran Manch informed the authorities and brought the convention to a halt.

Station Road Police Station in-charge Rajesh Chouhan told The Sunday Express that Jose Matthew of UCC and others had been booked after preliminary investigation and after recording statements of some tribals who attended the convention.

However, he said no one has been arrested so far. The police have booked Matthew, a resident of Bajrang Nagar, under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968.

The police were initially reluctant to register a case but the right-wing organisation threatened to stage protests if the police failed to act. The organisers had denied the allegations about conversion claiming that it was a spiritual event.

Ratlam-based RSS leader Dr Ratnadeep Nigam, who is Prachar Pramukh of Ujjain Vibhag, alleged that the police were acting under pressure from missionaries and had tried to dismiss the case but were forced to act after “honest statements by tribals” and solid evidence.

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Coverage from NDTV

Ratlam:  The police in Madhya Pradesh's Ratlam on Saturday booked Josh Mathew, Secretary of the United Christian Council, for allegedly luring local tribals to convert to Christianity.

On December 12, the Indian Penticoastal Church of God, along with the United Christian Council, had reportedly organised a spiritual programme. Members of various tribal groups from interior parts of Ratlam were reportedly brought to the event.

Members of some right-wing groups, who reportedly reached the venue after they got to know of the programme, alleged that the organisers of the event were trying to lure the tribals to convert to Christianity with promises of miracle cure and jobs.

The police identified one Josh Mathew, who was allegedly part of the group.

"A case has been registered under the Freedom of Religion Act, Sections 3,4 and 5. We had received a complaint about an attempt to lure tribals to convert to Christianity. We have booked the organiser in the case and are trying to identify the other members who were part of the organising team. As soon as they are identified, we will book them and arrest them," Superintendent of Police, Ratlam, Dr Ashish told NDTV.

Josh Mathew, secretary of the United Christian Council, told media personnel," During the festive season, we organise such spiritual programmes. That was just a spiritual upliftment programme. I do not have information about how the tribals came to the event. In such programmes, we just conduct prayers. We do not guarantee a miracle cure to anyone."

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