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Police in India Force Neighbor of Christian to File Charge

Monday, June 12, 2006 | Tag Cloud

Hindu extremists collude with officers to arrest believers in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh home.

by Nirmala Carvalho

MUMBAI, India, June 9 (Compass Direct) -- Police raided a home in Jabalpur city, Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday (June 6) and arrested the Christians there after officers and Hindu extremists pressured a neighbor to file a charge.

The owner of the home, Meera Bai, 52, said her 19-year-old neighbor, known as Sukhdev and by the alias of Guddu Usram, had filed a complaint with police earlier that day claiming that she had pressured him to become a Christian.

After questioning at the police station, however, Sukhdev visited Bai at her home to tell her that Hindu extremist Dharma Sena members and police officers had forced him to file the complaint against her, she said.

“He said he was eating a meal when some Dharma Sena people, along with policemen, came to his house, took him away forcibly and made him give a statement against me,” Bai said.

In the coerced complaint, Sukhdev told police that Bai had taken him to a Christian healing meeting held regularly at Jabalpur in order to heal a stomach ailment. He further alleged that Bai had offered to pay him 2,000 rupees (US$44) every month if he became a Christian.

Acting on this complaint, some 20-25 policemen raided Bai’s home in the Ranjhi area of Jabalpur at about 10 p.m. The family had guests at the time and had just finished dinner. The police confiscated Bibles and pictures of Jesus Christ from Bai’s house. They then took Bai, along with her son and guests Satish and Leela Bai, to the police station for questioning.

When they arrived, members of the Dharma Sena were waiting in large numbers.

“As soon as we arrived, they started shouting slogans against Christians and threatening us in front of the police, who laughed and cooperated with them,” Meera Bai said. “The Dharma Sena people were openly saying Christians should be kicked to death.”

Witnesses confirmed that Yogesh Agarwal, 35, a key Dharma Sena member, threatened Satish and Leela Bai in the presence of police and said he would burn them alive.

“Yet the police did nothing,” Meera Bai told Compass. “They only said, ‘Don’t panic – at least he has not burned you now.’”

Once inside the station, the police took several calls from people urging them to register a case against Meera Bai and her companions. Sukhdev was then brought to the police station and ordered to sign a document.

“The police also forced us to sign blank papers, and since we had no alternative we did so,” Meera Bai added.

The police registered a case against Meera Bai under the state’s anti-conversion law, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 1968, and released her on a bail bond of 5,000 rupees (US$108).

An official at the Ranjhi police station acknowledged that the evidence against Meera Bai was scant – police recovered only Bibles and a few pictures of Jesus Christ from her house – but complained of a “Christian conspiracy in the area, facilitating conversions.”

‘Deceptions of Missionaries’

The Dharma Sena’s Agarwal, who led the mob outside the police station, has been implicated in several attacks against Christians.

When a Compass researcher spoke with Agarwal, he said conversions had reached alarming levels in the state.

Agarwal acknowledged that recently Christian missionaries had lodged a complaint against him at the Kotwari police station in Jabalpur.

“The common man has become wise and alert to the tactics and deceptions of the missionaries,” Agarwal said. “Every day, I receive more than 25 phone calls from people complaining of activities of conversions taking place.”

Asked if he had police approval to carry out attacks against Christians, Agarwal said only that officers should be enforcing the Madhya Pradesh anti-conversion law.

“Conversions must be stopped, not just in this state but all over India,” he added.

Copyright 2006 Compass Direct

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