Seven Christians are still in custody after Christian holiday camp arrests

June 2, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Madhya Pradesh, June 2, 2017: Seven Christians including a child remain in custody after last week’s detention of 71 Christian children and carers who were on their way to a Christian camp.

The police action on 21 May 22017 against two separate groups on their way to a Christian summer camp organised at Nagpur, Maharastra, was greeted by international protests. The arrests and detention took place at the Ratlam Railway station and Indore bus stand in Madhya Pradesh.

The seven have been charged under sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to kidnapping and under state laws on freedom of religion. An appeal has been lodged with the Indore High court requesting bail for the seven Christians on 31 May 2017.

The 59 children at Ratlam and the 12 children at Indore were safely handed over to their parents on the fourth day of their detention, but their carers, including a pastor, were not granted bail on the the pretext of further questioning.

Alkesh Ganawa and Harun Dawar arrested at Indore, were released on bail on 25 May and Alkesh Ganawa was immediately arrested by the Ratlam police outside the Indore jail.

“As Alkesh’s name was in the Ratlam case, the police immediately arrested him, as he stepped outside the jail,” said an eye-witness who does not want to be named.

The two female teachers of the Sunday School, Sharmila and Savita were granted bail on 29 May at the fine of Rupees 25000 each.

Pastor Amiya Jal, Alkesh Ganawa, Vijay Meida, Pangu Singh Vasuiya, Nitin Mandod, Lallu Bhabhore and a juvenile Akaash Gundiya (about 15 years-old) remain in Ratlam jail.

A rally marking a silent protest by the Christian community in Ratlam was organised on 27 May 2017. It was attended by Christians from in and around Ratlam and some people from the Muslim community joined the protest as well.

A local source from Jhabua, who does not wish to be named informed Global Christian News that the Ratlam police had been visiting the area police stations of the villages in Jhabua and calling the Christian parents of the children going for the ‘Summer Camp’ for questioning once again.

“These parents have been already questioned several times in the police station in Ratlam/Indore and at various stages before handing-over their respective children to them. The police have again started to target the home of each child and are visiting their area police station and calling for the parents of the child.

“The parents are questioned about their Christian faith, the reason for their belief. The police are trying hard to obtain some evidence of ‘forceful conversion’ in any such case,” said the source.

The parents though continue to tell the police that they are all Christians and in fact some of them are third generation Christians.

The authorities insist that the children will still be considered ‘Hindus’ as their parents have not followed proper procedure in changing their official religion from Hindu to Christian.

Krishnaveni Desavatu, the police superintendent was reported as saying, “For changing to another religion, one needs to submit a written application to the district collector and only after the stipulated process, a person can change religious identity, which didn’t happen in the case of any of the parents claiming to be Christians.”

The families of the Christians arrested await in anticipation as to the outcome of the bail application forwarded to the High Court.

– global christian news

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