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Christian Couple, Pastor, Arrested on 'Forcible Conversion' Charge in Jharkhand

Wednesday, June 20, 2018, 20:07 (IST)

A Christian couple in Jharkhand, who was about to get married, was arrested on 'forcible conversion' charge after the bride's drugged father filed a complaint.

According to Morning Star News, the bride, Tripti, 18, said her villagers drugged her father and used him to falsely frame the pastor and the couple.

On May 28, Bolba police in Simdega District arrived at the wedding site and arrested the bride and groom, along with a pastor, Sudarshan Manjhi, who was to officiate, and a Christian woman invited to attend, the couple's relatives told MSN.

According to FIR, the bride's father, Somaru Manjhi, alleged that Christians beat him and threatened to kill him if he did not convert to Christianity, allegations which his daughter, Tripti, said were false.

The complaint charged the Christians with forcible conversion under the state's new anti-conversion act.

"My father was drugged with alcohol that day, and the Sarna tribals, including the village president, abetted him to submit the false complaint in the police station pending the wedding so there won't be a Christian wedding in the village," said Tripti.

"He [Somaru Manjhi] is now repentant for what he has done, but it is too late," she added.

An attorney representing Christians told MSN on the condition of anonymity that a family clash has turned into a nonbailable offense by the "draconian" anti-conversion act.

"The fact that an irrelevant law has been pulled in needlessly in a family dispute that could have simply arisen from difference of opinions between the members is unfortunate and must be condemned," said the attorney.

"It is very unfortunate police registered the FIR without enquiring or verifying into the matter under a law that contains harsh provisions," the attorney added.

The chief judicial magistrate denied bail for the couple. Another bail petition before the district sessions judge is awaited.

Section 4 of the Jharkhand's anti-conversion law, ironically titled a "Freedom of Religion Act," punishes a person guilty of forcible conversion of a minor, woman or a person belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes by imprisonment of four years and fine up to 100,000 rupees.