Twelve tribals arrested under anti-conversion law in Orissa

Published 31 March 2011  |  
Orissa Police on Tuesday arrested twelve tribals for allegedly undergoing religious conversion in an 'illegal' manner.

According to sources, the tribals were arrested after a case was registered at Rasgobindpur police station in Mayurbhanj district for violating Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA).

The arrested, including nine women, were booked under Section 4 of the Freedom of Religion Act . Police are now on the lookout for two Baptist pastors who also have been named by the complainant.

Inspector In-Charge of Rasgobindpur police station, Santosh Das, told Press Trust of India that the twelve tribals arrested from Rasgobindpur area were produced before a court in Bairpada which sent them to jail.

The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act prohibits religious conversions without the prior permission of the local police and a district magistrate.

The order stipulates that a citizen wishing to convert must undergo a police inquiry to explain his or her reasons.

Orissa is one of six states in India that has adopted an anti-conversion legislation which the Church has strongly opposed stating it is against the spirit of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, a Bangalore-based advocacy group condemned Tuesday's arrest and demanded a probe against the police officials "involved in the intimidation of Christians from the tribal background".

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) urged the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to drop the cases against the tribals and stop harassment of Christians in Orissa.

The district of Mayurbanj earlier in the year 1999 had witnessed the brutal death of Graham Staines and his two sons. The same year a Catholic priest, Fr. Arul Doss, was chased and attacked with arrows while attending a local function at the village.

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