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After Christian 'conversion attempt' in UP's Shahjahanpur, cops asked to keep watch on prayer meetings

5 people were booked for trying to unlawfully convert people to Christianity

Various minorities in India fear for their safety, says Father Filipe Neri Ferrao in a letter to Christians | Reuters (File) Representational image | Reuters

Police in Shahjahanpur have been asked to keep a watch on prayer meetings after five people were booked for allegedly trying to unlawfully convert people to Christianity.

The instructions to police stations appear to have been issued after a case in which Vishwa Hindu Parishad workers brought the five men to police.

Shahjahanpur Superintendent of Police S. Anand, however, did not specify Christian prayer meetings and also referred to two other cases in which the accused are Muslims.

"After the registration of three cases on religious conversion in the district, instructions have been issued to police stations to keep themselves aware of prayer meetings in their jurisdictions, and act strictly when they are completely sure that conversion is taking place in the garb of prayer,” he told PTI on Tuesday.

Anand said a watch should be kept on people who indulge in religious conversion and action taken when there is complete evidence.

He said local VHP leader Rajesh Awasthi and his workers handed over to police the five people who were part of a prayer meeting organised by a Christian outfit called ‘Swarg ka Shubh Samachar’.

Awasthi alleged that the outfit was indulging in religious conversion through allurement.

The accused included two people from Tamil Nadu, identified as David and Jagan. The three others are local residents have been identified as Ajay Kumar, Rajat Kumar and Shirish Gupta. The five men were let off after furnishing personal surety, the SP said.

"Once the matter is investigated, only then some action will be initiated. The accused persons have been let off on personal surety, and they have been directed to cooperate with police during the investigation," he said.

In an earlier case registered at the same Kotwali police station, a Muslim man was arrested for alleged forcible conversion of a Hindu woman for marriage.

Yet another case under the state’s new anti-conversion law was registered at the district’s Katra police station last month.

There has been a flurry of police action over alleged religious conversions after the promulgation of Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 in November.

The new law punishes religious conversions through "forcible” or “fraudulent” means, including of women who are made to change their change their religion for marriage.

The ordinance requires a two-month notice to the administration by anyone planning to convert. 

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