Six Christians who were involved in conversion activities in Madhya Pradesh have absconded to Kerala. MP police has followed them to the state to arrest the missionaries for forcibly converting and molesting minor girls in Damoh district.
In November 2022, Hindus in Damoh accused a missionary NGO of converting SC Hindus, MP. Hindus had complained to Marahar police about an NGO named Ishu Sanstha, run by Christians from Kerala, luring SC people to convert to Christianity. When there was no response they reached out to the Superintendent of Police and complained that they were forcibly converted to Christianity in 2013 and have been facing abuse and receiving threats since then.
They also accused the missionaries of molesting minor girls. Navbharat reported that police denied the molestation charges initially but later agreed to look into it after the locals’ statement. Meanwhile the matter of a pastor sexually harassing minor girls reached National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairman Priyank Kanoongo who sought an action taken report from the district police.
The investigation was intensified and police found the conversion and molestation claims to be true. Eight people belonging to Ishu Sanstha were booked for illegal religious conversion and under the POCSO Act. Police arrested two of them, Biju and Philip Mathew at that time. But, the remaining six have reportedly fled to Kerala. NCPCR suspects local authorities from the Child Welfare Committee(CWC) and police department helping the accused. It has issued notices to the district administration seeking updates in the matter and directed the district administration to take disciplinary action against the Chairperson of the CWC.
Damoh district in MP has become a hotbed of missionaries. Recently SC Hindus who were lured into converting to Christianity were threatened by a pastor when they decided to return to Hindu dharma. They said that Bishop Ajai Lall of Mid India Christian Society asked them to return 4 times the money they were offered when they converted. A NCPCR team caught a hostel run by Christian missionary organisation converting minor children near Kanti Bypass in Damoh.
The team, including Chairman Priyank Kanoongo, paid a surprise visit to the ‘hostel’ after they received information that a janjati child from Dindori district was brought to be trained as a Christian priest. After the visit Kanoongo revealed damning details about local authorities being hand in glove with the missionaries. Police stalled registering an FIR and the Child Welfare Committee members are also suspected to be helping the missionaries.
Meanwhile, NCPCR has sought the government to launch a cyber forensic investigation on Mid India Christian Mission which runs 3 ‘child care centres’ in MP. These so-called child care centres are suspected to be converting minor children illegally. NCPCR has said in its letter that children staying at these centres are deliberately being kept away from studies and trained to become priests. With growing influence of missionaries in Damoh district Hindu organisations have demanded stringent actions against religious conversion.
(This story has been reproduced here with permission from Hindu Post.)