Bhopal. Suspected Bajrang Dal activists were claimed to have beaten up some Christians, including 10 priests, and torched their car outside a police station in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh last night over alleged conversion of Hindus to Christianity.
Sub-inspector Mohinee Sharma of Civil Lines police station said a case has been registered against unidentified people for burning the vehicle, but denied claim about members of the Catholic community having been assaulted during the incident. Nobody has been arrested yet, she added.
“They (members of the Catholic group) may have been manhandled outside the police station premises. If they come to us with a complaint that they were beaten up, we will surely book the accused,” the police officer said.
The group comprised ten Catholic priests and 32 others undergoing training for priesthood.
Father M. Rony, social work director of Satna diocese, told PTI that some young men stormed the venue of a pre- Christmas function at Bhoomkar village, 15 km from the district headquarters, around 9 last night and created a ruckus, alleging that religious conversion was going on there. The function was organised by Syro-Malabar Church of Northern India for children.
After police got information, they came to the spot and took 32 Catholic brothers (trainee priests) and two priests to the Civil Lines police station, Fr Rony said.
“When they reached the police station, they were beaten up by Bajrang Dal activists on the station campus. Hearing the news, four other priests rushed to the police station, but they were also thrashed and their car was set on fire,” he claimed, adding four more priests went to the police station and were assaulted too.
Police let off members of the Catholic group around 3:30 am. They agreed to visit the police station today morning, Rony said.
“As promised they returned in the morning, and right now (around 3:30 pm) they (priests and others) are at the police station,” he said.
Rony said the diocese was running a seminary at Barakala village in Satna district for the last 20 years and not a single person there had converted to Christianity. “We are being persecuted,” he said.
Sub-inspector Sharma said a Catholic priest and five others were booked today for allegedly converting a Hindu man to Christianity using force and allurement at Bhoomkar village.
“We have booked (priest) M George and five others on the complaint of Dharmendra Dohar, a local youth who claimed he was illegally converted on December 10,” Sharma said. Rony said he was not aware of who Dohar was.
Satna superintendent of police Rajesh Hingankar could not be reached for comments despite repeated calls.