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Christian couple arrested day before wedding under anti-conversion law

by Tola Mbakwe

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the accusations are false and stem from animosity from local police in the district of Simdega, Jharkhand state and villagers.

Ms Sumanti Kumari and Mr Rupash Manjhi were scheduled to be married on 30th May. However, local villagers and some from neighbouring villages voiced their opposition to the Christian ceremony.

CSW said when the couple sought help at a local police station; villagers brought the girl's father to the police and alleged that the couple had forcefully tried to convert him.

The police then contacted their pastor and requested that he present himself at the station to conduct the marriage.

However, when he arrived there, the pastor, his assistant and the couple were charged with religious conversion.

The four of them are facing up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $560.

Ramnath Purti, a social activist from the district of Chaibasa, Jharkhand Sate, told CSW there is now a lot of fear among the Christian community.

He said: "Most of the people who were falsely accused are just laymen.

"The government is clearly on over-drive with anti-Christian propaganda to terrorise not just Christians but other minorities in Jharkhand."

This case comes after eleven Christians were accused of converting the local community in Manoharpur. Their case is due to be heard on 2nd June.

Listen to Steven Selvaraj, CSW's South Asia team leader speaking with Premier's John Pantry and Rosie Wright: 

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