FOLLOWING A complaint from a 25-year-old woman, Indore Police have arrested nine people, including her parents, under the newly passed Freedom of Religion Ordinance 2020 for allegedly forcing her to embrace Christianity.
In her complaint to Bhanwarkaun police station on Tuesday, Shalini Kaushal said she was tricked into visiting an alleged conversion event at a Christian community hall – Satyaprakashan Sanchar Kendra. She told the police that her parents, Rakesh Kaushal and Rani Kaushal, took her there on the pretext of visiting her grandmother’s house.
She alleged that at the Kendra, she was made to sit through the ceremony where people forced her to embrace Christianity. “They told me that now I am under the guidance of Lord Jesus and that all my problems will be resolved,” she said in her statement.
She named Ganesh Ninami, Lavina Hatesingh, Jitendra Meda along with six others as organisers of the event, who told the gathering that Lord Jesus will cure everyone. “When I tried to leave, I was forced to sit through it and was told that people come here of their own will but are not allowed to leave on their own,” she alleged.
The complainant alleged that there were many other Hindus like her who were forced to embrace Christianity at the event.
The incident came to light Tuesday afternoon following a complaint by Bajrang Dal workers who barged into the Kendra and created a ruckus alleging that religious conversion was being carried out.
Bajrang Dal’s Indore city in-charge Tannu Sharma told The Indian Express that a fellow member, Pappu Chandel, got information that a programme was being conducted at the Kendra to convert people and it was only after confirming it that they informed the police and then entered the community centre.
“We saw that around 250 people had assembled. They were being brainwashed by constantly being told that Christianity is a better religion and it provides all answers. Everything will be done by Jesus. They even lured people into embracing Christianity by offering to provide for them. All these people coming from different districts were called there by issuing pamphlets,” alleged Sharma.
He said that he had informed the Bhanwarkaun police station and when the police came in, Shalini told them about it.
According to Santosh Kumar Doodhi, town inspector of Bhanwarkaun police station, while there were around 250 people, an FIR was registered against 11 people based on Shalini’s complaint. Nine of them were arrested under relevant sections of the MP Freedom to Religion Ordinance 2020.
Father Babu Joseph, the in-charge of Satyaprakashan Sanchar Kendra, said, “We give out the hall for various events and in this case, it was given to Jitendra Meda for a prayer service and a leadership programme. But Bajrang Dal workers barged in and began shouting ‘conversion’ and began breaking things inside the hall.” However, he said he was himself not present at the event.
Maria Stephen, PRO of Christian community in Madhya Pradesh, said, “Hindu right-wing groups are misusing the newly passed law and manipulating the word conversion to harass the Christian community. There is no regard for one’s human rights or even law and order.”