Teen Arrested For Allegedly Torching Priests' Car In Madhya Pradesh

Two priests and around 30 members of a Catholic choir group were detained in Satna on Thursday over allegations of forcing religious conversions. They were later released after questioning.

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Around 30 carol singers were detained in Madhya Pradesh's Satna over alleged religious conversions

Satna, Madhya Pradesh:  An 18-year-old was arrested on Saturday in Madhya Pradesh's Satna for allegedly setting on fire a car belonging to a group of priests who were accused by rightwing group Bajrang Dal of forcing religious conversions.

The incident occurred on Thursday after two priests and around 30 members of a Catholic group were detained over allegations that they were converting Hindus to Christianity. Father M Rony, social work director of Satna diocese, told news agency PTI that a group of men stormed the venue of a pre-Christmas celebration at Bhoomkar village on Thursday evening, and alleged that religious conversions was being organised there. The event, Father Rony said, had been organised for children by the Syro-Malabar Church.

Eight priests who later went to the police station to ask about those detained were also held back. It was the car they used that was burnt by activists who also allegedly assaulted the Christian group outside the police station.

Those detained were released after questioning. 

A case has been filed against a priest, George M, and five others following a complaint by a local, Dharmendra Dohar, who alleged that he was illegally converted on December 10 and was paid Rs 5,000 for it.

"He was given a holy dip in a pond and his name was changed to Dharmendra Thomas, the complainant said. They also asked him to pray to Lord Christ," Superintendent of Police DD Pandey told IANS on Friday.

Asked if he had, indeed, changed his religion, Dharmendra Dohar - who claimed to have been a member of the Bajrang Dal for a year - told reporters, "I can't speak on this... If I do, I will get embroiled in the issue... it will be said that I'm changing my statement".  The "group", he said, doesn't want "such people (Christians) to come in here".

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