Six men were yesterday arrested on charges of allegedly forcing a woman to convert to Christianity in India.
The men were arrested after a man identified as Bablu Jaatav, a resident of Gopalpur village, alleged that six Christians had been visiting his sister-in-law’s home in the absence of his elder brother to pray for her and persuade her to adopt the Christian faith.
According to the Times of India, the man raised the alarm and called the local villagers, who handed the men over to police.
Ashok Kumar Singh, the local deputy superintendent of police, said: ‘During our investigation, the six men accepted that they came to offer prayers at Sunita Jaatav’s home as she was going through hard times.’
The Times of India reported sources as saying that Sunita’s daughter is about to get married in April but the family is facing a financial pressures.
‘Based on the written complaint of Bablu Jaatav, we have arrested the men and booked them under IPC section 153B (Imputations and assertions prejudicial to national-integration),’ a police statement said.
The accused were named as Michale of Icchapur in Chattisgarh, Sanjay Lodhi of Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh, Brijesh Jaatav from Kashmiri Gate in Hathras district, Suraj Balmiki of Rakabganj, Sundar Singh Jaatav of Nagla Ajeet and Mahesh Chand Jaatav of Shahganj in Agra.
Christianity is the third largest religion in India behind Hinduism and Islam, with nearly 30 million Christians, constituting 2.3 per cent of India’s population.
The rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism has seen increasing pressure on minority faiths, with frequent attempts to ‘re-convert’ Christians to Hinduism, seen by adherents of the ‘Hindutva’ ideology as the default faith of all Indians.
Several states in the country have passed anti-conversion laws aimed at preventing conversions away from Hinduism.