2009-10-01 17:43:50

Increasing detention of Christians worries Church leaders in India

(October 1, 2009) Church leaders have expressed concern over the increasing number of Christians being detained in Madhya Pradesh on suspicion of engaging in religious conversion. The latest incident occurred on September 27 when police detained a group of 45 Catholic pilgrims in Jabalpur, a major town in the central Indian state. The group comprising men, women, children, nuns and a priest were travelling on pilgrimage to Ghoreghat in Mandla district. They had stopped for dinner at a CMI seminary in Jabalpur and when they returned they found the police waiting for them near the bus. After interrogating them, the police released the group. Police have said that such actions are to ensure that a state law regulating religious conversion is not violated. However, Church leaders such as Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur see such incidents as part of radial Hindu groups' "continuous campaign to insult the Christian community." The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, which has ruled the state from 2003 and has witnessed scores of attacks on Christians and other minority groups. Christians are less then 1 percent of the state's 60 million people.

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