A woman from Indore in Madhya Pradesh (MP) has filed a case against 11 people including her parents and a Christian Missionary Programme for forcing her to convert to Christianity on Tuesday (26 January). The police have registered a case against the accused under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance 2020 and nine of the accused including the woman’s parents have been taken into custody and sent to jail.
As per the 24-year-old woman Shalini Kaushal’s complaint, her parents Rakesh and Rani Kaushal took her out under the pretext of visiting her grandmother but took her to Satyaprakashan Sanchar Kendra in the Indrapuri area of the city. She has further alleged that there she was beaten up by some people in a bid to force her to accept Christianity. The woman was also compelled to attend a Christian prayer meeting being held there late on Tuesday evening.
Following this, the woman approached the Bhanwarkuan police station and registered an FIR against her parents and others under sections 3 and 5 of the Ordinance informed Indore police’s DIG (Deputy Inspector General) HN Mishra. The accused were produced in court on Wednesday before being remanded to judicial custody.
Hindustan Times report quotes the FIR which reads:
According to the FIR, “Shalini said that her parents Rakesh and Rani lied to her and took her to a church Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra, Indrapuri, Indore to attend a programme of Christian missionary. In the programme, the accused were saying that God will help you…Some women beat me up. They were forcing people to adopt Christianity. I am Hindu by religion but my parents and others were forcing me to convert. Like me, there were two more people, who were being forced for conversion.”
The meeting was supposedly organized by a Pentecostal church. The director of the Kendra Father Babu Joseph said that they rent their space to various groups including Hindus and Muslims. Joseph also denied having knowledge of any conversion programme having taken place at the centre.
Dr. Chacko Thottumarickal, Bishop of Indore Diocese said that conversion activities do not take place at such prayer meetings and people belonging to other religions are allowed to attend of their own free will. Christian leaders alleged that Bajrang Dal workers vandalized the centre. Chacko even condemned Bajrang Dal workers for having taken law into their hands. However, the police has denied this charge and said that no violence took place.
Reports also state that Indore Bajrang Dal leader Tannu Sharma had reached the Kendra after learning about the forced conversion bid. Sharma said that it had been brought to their notice that close to 300 people had been called to the centre from Indore, Khandwa, Burhanpur, Jhabua and other districts of the state for the purpose of religious conversion.
DIG Mishra has also issued a statement saying that they are investigating the background of the accused and also probing the extent of involvement of the Kendra’s office-bearers. Further, investigations are ongoing to ascertain whether it was indeed a mass conversion programme since most of the participants happen to be Hindus.
While the police are conducting further investigations in the case, Bhanwarkuan police station in-charge Santosh Kumar Dudhi said that the woman had raised a complaint because although the woman is a Hindu, the woman’s parents are inclined towards Christianity.
Madhya Pradesh is one of the states that has an anti-conversion law in place under which the punishment could be imprisonment of up to 10 years in certain cases.
(Featured Image Source: Swarajya Mag)
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