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No arrests for SHUATS VC Prof RB Lal in 2022 religious conversion case, Allahabad HC directs police

In April last year, one Himanshu Dixit had complained that a large number of people had gathered to convert local Hindus to Christianity by luring them with money and other tactics.

The Vice Chancellor of Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology and Sciences (SHUATS, previously Allahabad Agricultural Institute), (Dr.) Rajendra Bihari Lal was last week awarded temporary protection from coercive action by the Allahabad High Court in connection with a case involving widespread religious conversion.

The decision was made by Justice Manju Rani Chauhan’s panel in response to a request for anticipatory bail made by Lal. “If the applicant appears before the investigating officer (10) on February 13 and 15, 2023, and files an undertaking to that effect before the 10 on February 13, 2023, itself surrendering his passport if any, to further the investigation, the 10 shall ensure that neither the applicant be arrested nor any coercive action is taken in the present case till February 15, 2023,” the Court order read.

According to the reports, the FIR, in this case, was filed last year in April in response to a complaint made by a person named Himanshu Dixit alleging that about 90 people of the Hindu religion had gathered at the Evangelical Church of India in Hariharganj, Fatehpur, with the intention of converting them to Christianity through coercion, undue influence, and the promise of easy money, among other tactics.

The government officials arrived at the scene after receiving this information and questioned the pastor, Vijay Massiah, who allegedly admitted that the conversion process had been ongoing for 34 days and was expected to be finished in 40 days.

Earlier, it was reported that another FIR was filed against eight officials of SHUATS including vice-chancellor and two pro-vice-chancellors for allegedly luring Hindus and forcing them to convert their religion to Christianity. The officials were booked under the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance 2020. RB Lal had pled that he was not named in the FIR. However, he was later implicated in subsequent stage on basis of statement given by two witnesses whom he alleged were ‘biased’ against him.

The FIR was filed based on the complaint registered by a University’s former student named Savendra Vikram Singh on January 20 this year. The complainant stated that he was told that in exchange for converting to Christianity, he can have a job, Rs 15 thousand in cash, and ‘marriage to a beautiful girl’ in Fatehpur.

This is after the Uttar Pradesh Police had sent notices to the chancellor, vice-chancellor, and an administrative official of the university in connection with a case of illegal conversion filed in April 2022. The notices back then were issued to Chancellor Dr Jetti Oliver, Vice-Chancellor Bishop Rajendra B Lal and administrative official Vinod B Lal of Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture Technology and Science (SHUATS), an agriculture university in Uttar Pradesh that was set up more than a century ago.

The FIR was filed in accordance with Sections 153A, 506, 420, 467, and 468 of the IPC and Section 3/5(1) of the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act. The current applicant was not named in the FIR, but he was afterward accused of being biased towards the applicant based on allegations made by two witnesses who were interested in the case and the investigating officer.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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