Christians in Madhya Pradesh state, central India, are outraged after government agencies began profiling Christian religious leaders working among indigenous people.
A revenue department official in the tribal-dominated Jhabua district summoned Christian leaders and asked them to provide personal information such as their appointment as a priest and the document related to their conversion. The official letter also asked them to certify if they were converted through allurement or force as the government wants to initiate legal proceedings against illegal conversions.
A state law criminalizes religious con-version through allurement or force, making it an offense punishable with up to 10 years in prison. The letter issued on Sept. 13 has also directed them to present details regarding their work in person before the official on Sept. 22 at noon.
“Our 16 pastors have received similar letters,” said Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of Protestant Shalom Church in the district.
Christian leaders say their people face increased hostilities from right-wing Hindu groups opposed to their work in the district in their work among tribal people.
Earlier on Aug. 26, the additional superintendent of police, in a letter to police stations under him directed to assist activists from Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing Hindu outfit in their drive to close illegal Christian prayer halls and to contain illegal religious conversion activities in the district.