Satna: The authorities in Madhya Pradesh on Friday arrested a group of Catholic priests in connection with the alleged forced conversion of some Hindus to Christianity in a village here.
According to ANI, the police later detained at least 40 persons for allegedly attacking the Catholic priests outside a police station in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh.
The attack on Catholic priests over the alleged forced conversion of Hindus to Christianity took place last night.
Satna(Madhya Pradesh): Catholic priest arrested, 40 others detained for alleged forced conversion of a group of people from Hinduism to Christianity pic.twitter.com/71eA8AOMvm
— ANI (@ANI) December 15, 2017
Those detained are believed to be members of right-wing group Bajrang Dal, according to PTI.
The reports claimed that several members of the right-wing outfit thrashed some Christians, including 10 priests, and torched their car outside a police station in Satna district.
Satna(MP): The Catholic priest and others who were detained for alleged forced conversion also filed complaint that their vehicles were set ablaze by Bajrang Dal workers pic.twitter.com/7r1zibwQDK
— ANI (@ANI) December 15, 2017
Sub-inspector Mohinee Sharma of Civil Lines Police Station said that a case has been registered against unidentified people for burning the vehicle. However, she denied claim about members of the Catholic community having been assaulted during the incident.
Nobody has been arrested yet, she added.
"They (members of the Catholic group) may have been manhandled outside the police station premises. If they come to us with a complaint that they were beaten up, we will surely book the accused," the police officer said.
The group comprised ten Catholic priests and 32 others undergoing training for the priesthood.
Father M Rony, social work director of Satna diocese, was quoted as saying by PTI that some young men stormed the venue of a pre- Christmas function at Bhoomkar village, 15 km from the district headquarters, around 9 last night and created a ruckus, alleging that religious conversion was going on there.
The function was organised by Syro-Malabar Church of Northern India for children.
After getting information, the police came to the spot and took 32 Catholic brothers (trainee priests) and two priests to the Civil Lines police station, Fr Rony said.
"When they reached the police station, they were beaten up by Bajrang Dal activists on the station campus. Hearing the news, four other priests rushed to the police station, but they were also thrashed and their car was set on fire," he claimed, adding four more priests went to the police station and were assaulted too.
Police let off members of the Catholic group around 3:30 am.
They agreed to visit the police station today morning, Rony said.
"As promised, they returned in the morning, and right now (around 3:30 pm) they (priests and others) are at the police station," he said.
Rony said the diocese was running a seminary at Barakala village in Satna district for the last 20 years and not a single person there had been converted to Christianity.
"We are being persecuted," he said.
Sub-inspector Sharma said a Catholic priest and five others were booked today for allegedly converting a Hindu man to Christianity using force and allurement at Bhoomkar village.
"We have booked (priest) M George and five others on the complaint of Dharmendra Dohar, a local youth who claimed he was illegally converted on December 10," Sharma said.
Rony said he was not aware of who Dohar was.
One of the locals, who was being allegedly converted, claimed the Catholic priests asked them to take holy dips in the pond and embrace Christianity.