Two Christians were arrested on Wednesday for alleged attempting forced religious conversions at an event in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district.

Videos on social media showed members of a Hindutva group disrupting a Christian event in the Un village of the district.

The two men, Mehram Malloi and Satyam Nagar, had organised the event to allegedly convert those attending the event to Christianity, a police official told Scroll. They have been booked under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 2021, the official said.

“Mehram Malloi, an Adivasi who had converted to Christianity 15 years ago, had organised an event for religious conversion,” the official said. “Three to four men objected that they would not convert.”

The police said that those who protested the alleged conversion attempt approached the Sakal Hindu Samaj, a collective of several Hindutva outfits. The members of the organisation then staged a protest, the police said.

Madhya Pradesh is among the nine states, several of them ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, that have either passed new anti-conversion laws or updated existing ones after 2017 that put in place stricter punishments and newer grounds for restricting conversions. The other states are Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.

Attacks on Christians

Over the last few years, there have been several instances of Hindutva groups allegedly attacking churches and Christian prayer halls after accusing them of engaging in forced conversions.

On July 4, the principal of a school in Maharashtra’s Pune district was assaulted allegedly by members of a Hindutva outfit who claimed that students had been asked to sing a Christian prayer.

On April 30, members of a Hindutva group allegedly disrupted a Christian prayer service and vandalised the venue in Chhattisgarh’s Durg district, alleging religious conversion.

On March 2, a group of men vandalised a book stall at Delhi’s World Book Fair as they allegedly objected to the distribution of copies of the Bible. The stall was run by a Christian non-profit organisation named Gideon International.

On February 28, a pastor and his wife were arrested in Ghaziabad on complaints filed allegedly by members of the Hindutva group Bajrang Dal. They claimed that the pastor and his wife were converting residents to Christianity through persuasion and allurement.

The Supreme Court is hearing pleas filed by Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado, the National Solidarity Forum and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, alleging an increase in attacks on Christians in India.

The petitioners have alleged that a similar pattern has been observed in cases involving instances of violence against Christians.

“In over 90% of the incidents, a prayer meeting would be taking place in a private residence or a church premises,” the petitioners said. “As if on cue, a large group of persons from a well-known communal organisation force entry into the premises, disrupt the prayer meeting, assault the congregation, including women, destroy property, drag the pastor and others to the police station, register FIRs against the victim community and in many cases put the pastor in jail.”

It further argued that in most cases the assailants are accompanied by the local police, giving them confidence to resort to violence.