Indian police arrest Christian priest after complaint by Hindu group


Verghese said the Hindu group raised slogans and called up the Civil Lines Police Station.

Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and has strict religious conversion laws.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in. The Christians were also roughed up by Hindu nationalists, who also burned down a auto belonging to the priests while police allegedly looked on. Both were arrested on Saturday, a police officer said.

Though police confirmed the arrest of father George Mangalapilly, they denied allegations that members of the clergy were assaulted at the police station. "Police reached the spot and rounded up 32 seminarians and carol singers".

The news comes as India's Christian minority sounds the alarm over a recent rise in attacks on churches and members of the faith, blaming the violence on Hindu hardliners, who they say have become emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing government swept to power in 2014.

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On Friday, M George, who teaches at St Ephrem's Theological College, and five unknown persons were booked under the Freedom of Religion Act and Sections 153-B and 295-A of the IPC on a complaint by one Dharmendra Dohar, who alleged he had been offered money to convert to Christianity.

"Our members have registered a criminal case because we have proof to show how Christian priests were forcibly converting poor Hindus", Abhay Kumar Dhar, a senior member of the Bajrang Dal in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, told Reuters. "Hearing the news, four other priests rushed to the police station, but they were also thrashed and their vehicle was set on fire", he claimed, adding four more priests went to the police station and were assaulted too.

Satna's Bajrang Dal leader Sachin Shukla claimed district Bajrang Dal convener Yatindra Pathak informed police about the Christian missionaries indulging in conversion activities in the village. Instead of taking action against the attackers, police detained the Christian singers, a priest told IANS in the Madhya Pradesh town.

"The charge of conversion on which the priests and seminarians (were) detained is frivolous and laughable", Mascarenhas said in a statement on Friday. "They gave us a Bible and Rs 5000 in cash", he said.