Mathura (Uttar Pradesh): A court in India sent seven Christian preachers to police custody Tuesday for their alleged involvement in “inciting communal feelings.” According to a local news agency, the five will be kept under custody for 2 weeks.
7 Indian local missionaries were reportedly distributing Bibles and preaching in the village of Irauli, Gurjar in Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh. The missionaries were then arrested Monday on charges of “uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of others and issuing threats or criminal intimidation to several persons (under IPC Section 295A),” said Superintendent Police (rursal) Aditya Shukla.
The arrested preachers were produced in court on Tuesday and remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
According to officials, a woman named Mamta, who recently moved to the village after getting married to a local resident named Pradeep Singh, called the missionaries to her house for prayers on Monday. Mamta’s sister, Anita, who lives in Hathras, had recently converted to Christianity.
“Mamta’s family members falsely alleged the missionaries and approached local residents, who in turn informed police about the incident. Later, Pradeep’s uncle Lal Singh filed a formal complaint against seven people after which the arrests were made,” said an official.
BN Singh, in-charge of Surir police station, where the case was registered, said, “The accused have been identified as Stanlee Jacob from Tamil Nadu, David from New Delhi, Vijay Kumar from Odisha, Amit from Mathura, Sumit Varghese and Anita from Hathras, and Dinesh from Rajasthan. Jacob claimed the missionaries had not forced anyone to convert. He said that the Bible was distributed to those who had asked for it.
Anti-conversion laws is in effect in many states of India, under which those “forcing” or “alluring” individuals to convert are subject to criminal action, however sources say what constitutes forced conversions or allurement is not specified.