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Police discreetly profiling Christians in central Indian state

A controversial questionnaire seeking details of churches and other Christian institutions was leaked in the media
Christians participate in a nationwide protest against the violation of their religious and socio-political rights by pro-Hindu governments and hardline groups who have been openly threatening minorities in the country, in West Benga statel's capital city Kolkata on Jan. 20, 2020

Christians participate in a nationwide protest against the violation of their religious and socio-political rights by pro-Hindu governments and hardline groups who have been openly threatening minorities in the country, in West Benga statel's capital city Kolkata on Jan. 20, 2020. (Photo: AFP / UCAN files)

Published: July 18, 2023 09:38 AM GMT

Police in a central Indian state have been asked discreetly to collect information on Church institutions, an officer has admitted after the media leaked details of the questionnaire.

An exercise to profile Church institutions is said to have been going on in the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Madhya Pradesh state since the beginning of July.

Indore city’s police commissioner, Makrand Deoskar, on July 15 confirmed that a questionnaire was sent out.

But “it is an internal communication for the station house officers [SHOs] of local police stations and not for Church officials.”

The questionnaire was “inadvertently shared with Church officials,” the city’s top cop explained.

“It was withdrawn after opposition from the Christian community,” Deoskar claimed.

The SHOs were reportedly asked to gather details such as the name of the missionary institution, its work and purpose, details of foreigners involved in mission work, and details of activities in the past three months.

It also asked to collect the institution's bank details and see if the institution was involved in religious conversion or political activities such as helping people in agitation. It wanted to know if the institution was getting foreign funds.

“Some of our churches and other institutions got such official communication from the police department,” said Father Alfred D’Souza, the newly appointed public relations officer (PRO) of Bhopal archdiocese.

“We will soon decide about the future course of action after taking it up with higher officials in the police department and if needed with the minister concerned,” D’Souza told UCA News on July 17.

The priest, who is also the PRO of the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh with nine dioceses, said the questionnaire has some 15 major queries that cover almost every activity of missionary work for the welfare of the people in the state.

“Our work is totally in the public domain. But still, we are being targeted because of our religion,” he said.

D’Souza wondered what the purpose was behind the exercise.

“We don’t do any illegal activity. And like people from other religions, are we not citizens of this country?” he asked.

Besides in Indore, Church officials from dioceses such as Jhabua and Jabalpur among others have got similar notices, indicating that the questionnaire was sent across the state for collecting details of Christian missionaries.

“Our priests have got such notices from the police seeking details of our activities,” a diocesan priest from Jabalpur who did not want to be named told UCA News.

“Unlike in Indore, there is no information of withdrawal of the notices in our diocese.” the priest added.

He further said that being a citizen of India, his credentials are available to the government.

He said that many people and non-government bodies belonging to other religious communities were getting foreign funds.

“We don’t get any foreign funds without the approval from the federal government, still this kind of religious-specific profiling gives the impression that we are doing something illegal,” he said.

The bishops, priests, nuns and others working for Christian institutions in Madhya Pradesh are often targeted with false accusations of religious conversion and some are even arrested.

Christians make up 0.29 percent of the 72 million people in Madhya Pradesh, where assembly elections to elect 230 lawmakers are to be held at the end of this year.

Christian leaders suspect the profiling exercise was meant to polarize the voters and shift the focus from the performance of the BJP government in power ahead of the assembly election.

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12 Comments on this Story
JOHN MASCARENHAS
IS THERE ANOTHER PURPOSE FOR PROFILING CHURCHES AND ITS MEMBERS? IS THIS THE NEXT STATE AFTER MANIPUR FOR CHRISTIANS TO BE KILLED AND THEIR PROPERTIES DEMOLISHED?? HOW COULD THE MEITEIS OF MANIPUR BE ABLE TO BURN DOWN OVR 300 CHURCHES WITHIN 36HRS IN THE HILLS, IF THEY WERE NOT HELPED WITH POLICE AND GOVT INTELLIGENCE, BESIDES POLICE GUNS???
OLGA B NORONHA
Our work is totally in the public domain, entirely under legal conditions. But still, we are being targeted because of our religion, by certain elements. It is rank injustice and a criminal trend of activities.
SANJOY RAYCHAUDHURI
then why are you worried
H.HLUOTHANG KEIVOM
No temples were profil3d.why?
VARADARAJAN
It is a fact missionary are hand in glove with Naxels, also they openly support all anti Hindu extremist groups. For missionaries service means conversion. They never do any help / service if there is no chance of conversion. To call their activities service is a sin. Even in their hospitals before giving treatment to poor patients they first talk to them on religious conversion.
SACHIN
Wrong info by vardhsrajan.
PRANITHA
Don't share wrong information Produce evidence before blaming blindly Open your eyes to true facts
ALWIN
Mr Harshwardan I am glad you are commenting in English.the gift of foreign language was also given by the missionaries. If conversation was their focus by now the whole of India would be converted. Christians don't even make 2% of the population of India. I am sure you or your parents may have taken their service in your life atleast once in your life through education, medical services and many more which I don't want to mention. The best part is you still remain a Hindu. It is not about cast , religion it is about humanity.
JOHN MASCARENHAS
english? who taught you? as an educated man, why do you comment like an IDIOT? when you write something, use facts NOT ALLEGATIONS. there are plenty of allegations about conversions from your fellow uneducated andh bhakts. NOT A SINGLE FORCED CONVERSION HAS BEEN FOUND TILL TODAY. EVERY ADULT IS FREE TO CONVERT ACCORDING TO THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION. do you think 80% hindus can get converted by 2% christians? there must be something wrong in your religion or in your head! what are hare krishnas and babas doing overseas, if not converting christians to hinduism??? why do those people not have a problem? as an educated you should know the difference. churches/schools/hospitals are built by DONATIONS FROM CHRISTIANS. WHY DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH WHAT THEY ARE RUNNING AND CHARGING FEES FOR? do you go to a private shop and demand govt run co-operative prices?? if you dont like their fees or their better standards, opt for govt run schools/hospitals. dont like batata, eat tomato. MOST OF THE PEOPLE IN THESE CHURCH RUN SCHOOLS/HOSPITALS ARE HINDUS. STOP BEING AN IDIOT AND MAKING FALSE SHAMELESS ALLEGATIONS!
DR AUSTIN PRABHU
Good citizens of India should condemn these stupid acts of BJP governments. Corrupt power hit their brain and they act like monkeys in a la la land! Same idiot come to Western countries and build their temples, propagate their faith to others! Shame on these half brain people!!
VARADARAJAN
1. Why don't you first condemn the anti social activities of missionaries. It is fact churches do shelter anti social elements & also finance anti state activities. The bad acts of missionaries are in millions & are documented. 2. In India Education was never for profits & was never a commercial activity. Thanks to missionaries today it is. The land comes free, someone donate building, part of staff are their own, they collect huge foreign donations & They don't have to pay any tax. Still the fee in missionary schools are day time loot. Where is charity in this?
SHIRLEY SHETTY
Vardarajan, you are a liar and a jealous man. Clean upto your brains and talk sense. Jealousy is the main reason of targetting the missionaries and you seem to be a jealous man. Let us see if you or your followers can do service in education health and other fields instead of talking rubbish
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