Madhya Pradesh police have arrested the parents of a woman and seven other people under the state's new law which penalises religious conversions through fraudulent means, an official said on Wednesday. Before the arrest of the accused, some Bajrang Dal workers on Tuesday created ruckus at a centre of the Christian community here, while alleging that many persons there were being forced for religious conversion.
Earlier this month, the state government promulgated the Freedom of Religion-2020 ordinance, which provides for 10 years in jail in some cases. The state police last week also arrested a married man in Barwani and a mechanic in Bhopal in separate cases under the new law.
In the latest case, a 25-year-old woman in her police complaint alleged that her parents, on the pretext of taking her to her grandmother's place, took her to a Christian community's centre in Indore for a prayer meeting, Bhanwarkuan police station in-charge Santosh Kumar Dudhi said. The centre, named as 'Satprakashan Sanchar Kendra', is located just behind the Bhanwarkuan police station.
"Some women pulled my hands and legs and beat me up there (centre). I was forced to sit in a hall," says the FIR registered by police on the complaint of the woman, who belongs to Gujarkheda village near here. "I was born a Hindu and I practice the same religion...but my mother and those present there were forcing me to convert my religion," the woman mentioned in the FIR.
According to Dudhi, based on the woman's complaint, the police registered a case on Tuesday under relevant provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act against her parents and others present in the meeting organised on the occasion of the Republic Day. "Nine people, including the woman's parents, have been arrested and search is on for two other accused," he said.
Meanwhile, the centre's director Father Babu Joseph said the hall was given to a Christian community group for a prayer and meeting. "But, some anti-social elements entered the hall forcibly, alleging that religious conversion was taking place there," he said.
They threw away a mike set and a photo mounted on the wall and created ruckus, he alleged. Joseph claimed he was not present at the centre on Tuesday, and that they have nothing to with the programme that was organised there.
He said after getting information about the incident, he informed the police who reached the spot and brought the situation under control. He also said so far they have not filed any police complaint in the matter.
Meanwhile, a video has gone viral on social media in which some Bajrang Dal workers are purportedly seen raising religious slogans at the centre. Bajrang Dal's local unit head Tannu Sharma alleged that nearly 300 people from Indore, Khandwa, Burhanpur, Jhabua and other districts of the state were called to the centre for religious conversion.
However, Dudhi said majority of those who took part in Tuesday's programme at the centre have told the police that they came there on their own and do not have any complaints about the event. "Only the woman complainant said her parents took her to the programme for religious conversion," the official said.
Dudhi claimed the woman's parents are inclined towards the Christian religion. The police are conducting a probe into the case, he added.