The Madhya Pradesh Police on Wednesday arrested the parents of a Hindu woman and seven others under a new law, which attempts to criminalises religious conversions through fraudulent means, for allegedly forcing her to convert to Christianity, the Hindustan Times reported. The accused were produced before a court, and sent to judicial custody.
A first information report was registered at the Bhanwarkuan police station based on a complaint by the woman, identified as Shalini Kaushal, Indore Deputy Inspector General of Police HN Mishra told the newspaper. The case was filed under Section 3 and Section 5 of the MP Freedom of Religion Ordinance.
In her complaint, Shalini Singh alleged that her parents, Rakesh Kaushal and Rani Kaushal, lured her on the pretext of taking her to her grandmother’s place on Tuesday, and took her to a Christian community centre in Indore for a prayer meeting, the FIR said. The Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra is located just behind the Bhanwarkuan police station, according to PTI.
“Some women pulled my hands and legs and beat me up there,” the woman’s complaint added, reported PTI. “I was forced to sit in a hall.”
The woman alleged that she was forced to convert to Christianity. “I was born a Hindu and I practice the same religion but my mother and those present there were forcing me to convert my religion,” she stated, according to the FIR. “Like me, there were two more people, who were being forced for conversion.”
Nine people, including the woman’s parents, were arrested, and search was on for two other accused, Bhanwarkuan police station in-charge Santosh Kumar Dudhi told PTI.
Deputy Inspector Mishra said the police were also checked the background of the accused in the case. “We are also investigating to know whether it was a mass conversion programme or not as most of the participants were Hindu,” he told the Hindustan Times.
The Director of Satprakshan Sanchar Kendra, Father Babu, Joseph distanced himself from the incident, and said that he was not present at the centre when the programme took place. Joseph said the hall was given to a Christian community group for a prayer and meeting. “But, some anti-social elements entered the hall forcibly, alleging that religious conversion was taking place there,” he claimed. “They threw away a mike set and a photo mounted on the wall and created ruckus.”
Joseph added that after he found out what was allegedly happening there, he informed the police, who reached the spot and brought the situation under control. The community centre, however, did not file a complaint in the matter, he said, according to PTI.
Meanwhile, a widely circulated video on social media reportedly showed some members of Bajrang Dal, creating a ruckus at the community centre. The Hindutva group’s Indore unit chief Tannu Sharma alleged that nearly 300 people from Indore, Khandwa, Burhanpur, Jhabua and other districts of the state were forced to convert during the event.
However, Bhanwarkuan police station in-charge Dudhi said the majority of those who took part in Tuesday’s programme told the police that they came there on their own. “Only the woman complainant said her parents took her to the programme for religious conversion,” the official told PTI.