Ten Christians, including five women, were arrested from Borgaon-Bujurg village, about 35 kms from Khandwa, for insulting Hindu religion on a complaint from a right-wing activist who accused them of converting the local.
In-charge of Pandhana Police Station P S Maravi told The Indian Express that the allegations that the Christians had offered money or clothes or tried to force the local to convert were prima facie found to be untrue.
The Christians had gathered in the house of one Shyamlal whose daughter had reportedly been cured of illness at a Changai Sabha in Pune. He told the police that he had invited the Christians to celebrate it.
Ashok Bhavsar, a right-wing activist, informed the police that some villagers were being converted in Shymalal’s home by missionaries who were offering gifts and clothes to whose who were ready to change their faith.
The police, however, found no evidence about alleged conversion attempt. The complainant and some villagers accused the Christians of insulting the Hindu faith by talking ill about their gods and goddesses.
While the complainant wanted the police to book the Christians under the state’s anti-conversion act, the police booked them under Section 295 (A) of the IPC (deliberate and malicious act intended to hurt religious feelings).
Maravi said if further investigations provided proof about Christians having offered money or used force the police could invoke the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act.
Dhurubhai Bharatan, a Christian resident of Borgaon told The Indian Express that right-wing activists pelted stones at the house and tried to bring down a wall. “The police told the Christians that they will be provided protection but arrested them.’’
An eight-month-old child and two girls, both aged less than six, were with the accused when they were presented in a court in Khandwa on Saturday. The court sent them to judicial custody.