On the same day the anti-conversion law was notified by the Karnataka Government, a pastor and his wife from Kerala were arrested for forcing tribals to convert. They reportedly converted more than 1000 people working in the coffee estates of Kodagu district. They were caught trying to convert a tribal Hindu couple and are accused of converting coffee estate laborers.
Pastor V. Kuriyachan, 62, and his wife Selenamma, 57, have been arrested by the Karnataka police after Hindu organisations caught them red handed while trying to convert a tribal couple. The pastor couple from the border district Wayanad have been visiting the coffee estates in Kodagu district often and converting many families. They were caught trying to get Paniyaravara Mutha, a tribal, and his family to pray with them after handing over copies of the Bible.
In a written complaint Mutha said that the pastor and his wife tried to convert them to Christianity in the same way they converted his nephew and niece-in-law earlier. The nephew and his wife have been visiting a church in Tholpetty, a village in neighbouring Kerala’s Wayanad district regularly. The pastor showed his nephew as an example to get him to convert to Christianity.
Bajrang Dal members had got a tip-off about the conversion attempt and went to Mutha’s house in Kutta village. Sajan Ganapathy, the local leader, told The Telegraph, “The couple had come ready to convert them and even had a list of people whom they had already converted in the area. So we handed them over to the police”. He also said that the pastor has converted nearly 1000 people from the neighborhood who are predominantly from the Yerava community to which Mutha belongs.
The pastor had a list of names he had converted in his person. He accused the pastor of taking the people to the church in Tholpetty every Tuesday and Sunday with the sole aim of converting them. Even though the anti-conversion law has been notified, local police said that they haven’t received any information yet to book the pastor couple under the new law. They have been booked under relevant sections of Indian Penal Code for now and will later be charged under the new law based on the instructions of higher-ups if necessary.
Under the new law those accused of converting people from general categories will get a jail term of 3-5 years and a fine of Rs 25,000. For people converting minors, women and persons from the SC and ST communities a jail term of 3-10 years will be awarded and a fine of Rs 50,000 will be imposed.