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Probe demanded after Indian woman alleges conversion

An unidentified woman from Madhya Pradesh alleges in a video that she was offered money to become a Christian
A screengrab of the video showing the unidentified woman from Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh alleging she was converted to Christianity by offering money

A screengrab of the video showing the unidentified woman from Damoh district in Madhya Pradesh alleging she was converted to Christianity by offering money. (Photo: Tweeter)

Published: November 21, 2022 11:20 AM GMT
Updated: November 21, 2022 12:44 PM GMT

A federal statutory body meant to protect women’s rights in India has sought action against two Christian men for allegedly converting a Hindu woman in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

A video of the woman from Damoh district claiming she was offered 120,000 rupees (US$ 1,466) to convert to Christianity was posted on a social media platform on Nov. 18.

The woman, whose identity could not be ascertained, said she was in dire need of money and agreed. The duo dipped her in a water tank and told her she had become a Christian.

But when she stopped going to Church the men demanded she repay them four times the amount. She paid 90,000 rupees, but they kept insisting on the rest of the amount.

The woman further claimed that five others were also converted along with her.

Taking cognizance of the video, Rekha Sharma, chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) demanded action against the culprits.

“NCW has taken cognizance [of the video footage],” Sharma stated in a tweet adding that she had directed the Madhya Pradesh director general of police and Damoh district collector to arrest the suspects if the allegations are found to be true.

When contacted, Damoh Superintendent of Police (SP) D R Tenivaar told UCA News that no case has been registered yet. “The police are carrying out a preliminary investigation into the allegation and only then the future course of action will be decided,” he explained.

The Damoh police had on Nov. 13 charged 10 Protestant Christians of alleged religious conversion at an orphanage they ran and launched a probe after a complaint by Priyank Kanoongo, chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Christian leaders in Madhya Pradesh say false charges were being cooked up against the minority community as part of a deliberate strategy to harass them.

“We don’t convert anyone by force or allurement or any other means, but we accept those willing to become Christian out of their free will,” a Christian leader who did not want to be named told UCA News.

Madhya Pradesh is among a dozen states in India where Christians are facing increasing persecution, especially after the state enacted a more stringent anti-conversion law last year.

The campaign against Christians in the guise of alleged conversions may also be part of a strategy for the state elections scheduled for November 2023, a Christian leader said.

The term of the current state assembly is due to expire by January 2024 and the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party is hoping to retain power.

Christians are a minuscule minority making up less than one percent of the 71 million people in Madhya Pradesh.

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