ASIA/INDIA - Persecution of Christians in Madhya Pradesh, accused of "forced conversions"

Bhopal (Agenzia Fides) - Two episodes of persecution against Christians which occurred in recent days in the state of Madhya Pradesh (Central India) have alerted the local community. This was reported to Fides by the association "Isai Mahasangh", ecumenical Federation of Christian movements of the state, promoted by the Catholic Church.
The first incident occurred on Sunday, March 25, in Chindwara district, where three Christians were arrested during a prayer meeting held in a house in the village of Bichua, in a very remote area. Vijay Mohar, community leader said: "The members of my church, were falsely accused of forced conversions. The police arrested them and did not allow them to use any means of communication".
The local police intervened on the basis of the complaint that "these people were trying to convert with illegal means, creating tension between the communities". They are accused of violating the law on freedom of religion ("Religious Freedom Act", approved in Madhya Pradesh in 1968) and will remain in custody for 12 days. According to the local faithful, "the police acted under pressure from Hindu fundamentalist groups", given that "the faithful were just praying".
In another incident, which occurred in Barwani district, the police interrupted a three-day convention, held last weekend by local Christian communities. Pastor Kiran told Fides: "We had the permission of a three-day event. For this reason we opposed to the order of the police, because we were in perfect legality". The incident created much tension among Christians, the police and the Hindu extremist groups, who put pressure to cancel the event.
The Christian community in Madhya Pradesh has announced a protest march to be held on 14 April. The ecumenical federation "Isai Mahasangh", associations and other Christian politicians will take part in the march, and will report the situation of religious minorities to the Governor of Madhya Pradesh. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 28/3/2012)

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