Jharkhand records first arrests under new conversion law

September 17, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Ranchi, September 17, 2017: Police in Jharkhand on September 16 arrested six persons for allegedly violating a new law the eastern Indian state passed recently to check religious conversions.

The arrests took place under the Thethaitanagar police station in Simdega district, sources told Matters India requesting anonymity.

The arrested are Sanjay Manjhi, Balmuni Kumari, James Baa, Dashrath Kerketta, Kalinda Manjhi and Jagdish Manjhi.

The alleged conversion occurred in a remote hamlet in Simdega district, some 150 km southwest of Ranchi, the state capital.

The arrests took place within a month of the newly-enacted Jharkhand Freedom of Religion Act-2017 that prescribes as much as a 4-year jail term with fines as punishment for forced conversions.

Simdega SP Rajiv Ranjan Singh claimed they acted on the basis of a complaint filed on September 15 by the local village chief, but explained that they booked the six under Indian Penal Code since the new anti-conversion law was yet to be notified.

The six, all between 30 and 40, were arrested from Bansitoli, about 10 km from Tethaitangar police station. They are booked for offences such as deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage one’s religious feelings and spread communal hatred.

“We were told that the situation was tense which could lead to altercations. It’s good that we got a tip-off on time and were be able to swing into action and prevent a flare-up. I had ordered local policemen to take any action with utmost sincerity to maintain law and order,” Singh said, describing those arrested as missionies.

Tethaitangar police station OC Brij Kumar said he was alerted at 11.30 pm on September 15 by Bansitoli village council chief Brij Kumar that a few people were camping in their village and were trying to lure tribal people with money with the intention of converting them.

“The gram pradhan (village chief) has given us in writing that they were camping in the area for long and were trying to convince tribals to Christianity by offering them money. We reached the village around midnight and detained six persons. We visited the village, a tiny hamlet of 40-50 households, in the morning today and interacted with several residents to verify the allegations. It was only after that did we decided to file an FIR,” Kumar said.

The six were sent to a local jail September 16 evening.

SP Singh admitted, however, that this was the first time in his three years in Simdega that people were arrested for allegedly trying to convert tribals. “But I can’t say off-hand if in the past, any cases pertaining to conversion was registered or not in the district,” he added.

Details of the arrested such as their Christian denomination have not been revealed.

– matters india

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