The Madhya Pradesh Police on Thursday evening detained a group of carol singers, including two Catholic priests, for several hours in Satna after members of a right-wing group accused them of forcing religious conversions. The right-wing activists allegedly set a car used by the carolers on fire while they were inside the police station, The Indian Express reported.
Eight priests, who visited the Civil Lines Police Station after their colleagues were detained, were also held, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India said.
The carolers were detained after a resident of Bhumakahar village, Dharmendra Dohar, alleged that he was being forcibly converted to Christianity, police station in-charge Mohini Sharma told The Indian Express.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference has condemned the incident and demanded that the administration penalise the accused. At least 30 seminarians and two priests from St Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna were detained, the Catholic organisation said.
A case has been registered against six carolers others under sections 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 295A (outraging religious feelings). The police said they had lodged a case against unidentified people for torching the car.
Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas refuted allegations of forced religious conversions as “frivolous and laughable”. He also accused the police of being complicit during the incident.