Madhya Pradesh 'forced conversion' incident: Catholic priest, Bajrang Dal activist held in Satna

Suspected workers of the right-wing group had allegedly beaten up priests and seminarians over forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity in Satna in Madhya Pradesh three days ago.

Published: 17th December 2017 08:55 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2017 02:32 AM   |  A+A-

Picture posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India website as part of a statement condemning “the attack on carol-singing priests and seminarians in Madhya Pradesh”.

By PTI

SATNA: A Catholic priest and a Bajrang Dal activist have been arrested from Satna in Madhya Pradesh, police said today, three days after suspected workers of the right-wing group had allegedly beaten up priests and seminarians over forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity.

Father M George was arrested for forced religious conversion under the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act, 1968. Vikas Gupta, the activist, was arrested in connection with the torching of a vehicle on the night of December 14.

Both were arrested yesterday, a police official said.

That night, suspected Bajrang Dal activists had allegedly beaten up a group of Christians, including 10 priests, and set their car on fire outside the Civil Lines police station over alleged conversion of Hindus to Christianity.

Father George and five others were booked on the complaint of a local youth, Dharmendra Dohar, who claimed that he was lured with money to convert to Christianity on December 10, Superintendent of Police, City, V D Pandey said.

He said Gupta was arrested on the complaint of Father George Joseph, who was among the 10 priests and who has alleged that a group of activists had burned down their car.

A detailed investigation was underway, Pandey added.

Father M Rony, social work director of Satna Diocese, had told PTI that a group of young men had stormed the venue of a pre-Christmas function at Bhoomkar village, about 15kms from the district headquarters, on Thursday night and created a ruckus, alleging religious conversion.

The function was organised by Syro-Malabar Church of Northern India for children.

After receiving a complaint, police had taken 32 Catholic brothers (trainee priests) and two priests to the Civil Lines police station, Father Rony had said.

"When they reached the police station, they were beaten up by Bajrang Dal activists on the station campus. Hearing the news, four other priests rushed to the police station, but they were also thrashed and their car was set on fire," he had claimed.

Police later let off the Catholic group members, Father Rony had said.

Civil Lines police station sub-inspector Mohinee Sharma has denied that members of the Catholic community were assaulted during the incident inside the police station campus.

Denying allegations of conversion, Father Rony had said the Diocese has been running a seminary at Barakala village in Satna district for 20 years and not a single person has been converted to Christianity.

Father Rony had said he was not aware who Dohar was.

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