KOCHI: Cardinal George Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, demanded the immediate release of Fr Binoy John and catechist Munna Hansda, who are under unjust judicial custody in Jharkhand, and added that prolonging their judicial custody amounted to abuse of the country’s legal system.
Last week, Jharkhand police arrested John, Fr Arun Vincent and Munna Hansda from Rajdaha mission in the diocese of Bhagalpur on grounds of engaging in forced conversions to Christianity. The police came to their residence and asked them to report at the police station, giving no explanation. Once they reached the police station, the police recorded their arrest charging them of engaging in forced conversions. Later, Vincent was released.
According to the Cardinal, this is a classic case of misusing the provisions of Freedom of Religion Act which was always apprehended by the Church. This is the denial of freedom of right to propagate religion and right to freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution. Even after taking legal steps to get bail for the duo, it was not granted by the CJM Court Godda for want of clarity.
“It is to be suspected this is a deliberate move to prolong their detention. It is clear that those who are not happy with the social and educational activities of missionaries among the villagers are behind this,” said Fr Antony Thalachelloor, secretary of Syro-Malabar Media Commission, in a press release issued on Thursday.