Church leaders demand justice for Christians held in Jharkhand prison

Published 13 September 2019  |  
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Two Catholic priests and a catechist accused of forced conversions to Christianity and illegal occupation of land detained in Jharkhand prison since September 6.

Fr. Binoy John, Fr. Arun Vincent and Munna Hansda, the catechist, are part of the Rajdaha mission, in Bhagalpur diocese.

Lakhiram Besra, one of the villagers, lodged a complaint against the two priests accusing them of exercising constant pressure on the locals to convert to Christian faith.

President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), Sajan K George said, "Jharkhand wants to target the Christian mission in the state. The majority community uses false propaganda to damage all the health, welfare and educational services of Christians, accusing them without proof of having the goal of converting.

"The diocese is located in Bihar, although the mission is located in Jharkhand. In 2019, this state approved the anti-conversion law which, basically, is a law on land ownership and a draconian rule made to harass and intimidate Christians," George added.

Concerning the incident, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, Card George Alencherry is demanding for justice and immediate release of the accused.

"It is clear that those who are not happy with the social and educational activities of the missionaries among the villagers are behind this," Card Alencherry said. "Christians of the country have always valued and strived for maintaining religious and social harmony. Christianity does not believe in forced conversions and the Church in India does not practice forced conversions.

"The activities of the Church among the weaker sections of the society are appreciated by all irrespective of political differences. The Christian community of India is shocked about the arrest of the priest and the catechist based on the accusations fabricated with ulterior motives," the cardinal added.

The church leader also opposed the way the three Christians were arrested. The police entered the house without any explanation and told the three to report to the station where they were formally charged and arrested.

While Fr. Vincent was released, the other two Christians still remain in prison.

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