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SC protects chairman of a Christian hospital in a forced religious conversion case

The court was hearing the anticipatory bail plea filed by Broadwell chairman Dr Samuel Mathew in a forceful religious conversion case. The bench chaired by CJI DY Chandrachud assured protection and directed the UP government against coercive action against the petitioner.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of India granted interim protection to the Christian community organization which has been accused of practising forceful religious conversion in the state of Uttar Pradesh. The defendant’s advocate held that the community members were being issued death threats and that no police or local administration was issuing protection to the community.

The court was hearing the anticipatory bail plea filed by Broadwell chairman Dr Samuel Mathew in the case of forceful religious conversion at the Broadwell Christian Hospital Society in Fatehpur District of Uttar Pradesh. The bench chaired by CJI DY Chandrachud assured protection and directed the UP government against coercive action against the petitioner.

Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the Broadwell Christian Hospital Society, warned the court that things were going out of control for the Christians. He also pointed to a video in which he claimed someone was openly advocating the killing of Christians.

“What is happening is that things are going out of control. A Christian missionary sent me a video where a gentleman is telling me openly to kill Christians. Magistrate has recorded it and yet remand given, not protected by police and not by the subordinate judiciary. Your lordships can alone save us. these forcible conversion cases…some word from you needed,” Dave said.

In addition to giving notice to the state of Uttar Pradesh, the CJI reassured Dave that the Court would treat the situation seriously. The Court also mandated a moratorium on coercive measures taken against the petitioner. “We are here and that is why we are entertaining all this. Issue notice to the state of Uttar Pradesh. Stay on coercive action against the petitioner,” the Court said.

90 Hindus were being converted at church which manages the hospital

The Kotwali police station filed a First Information Report (FIR) on January 23 of this year accusing the defendants and others of practising and propagating forceful religious conversions. According to the reports, the FIR was registered based on the complaints filed by the members of Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The accused at the hospital including its chairman Dr Samuel Mathew and clerk Parminder Singh were booked under Sections 420 (Dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (Forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (Forgery for purpose of cheating), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation), 120-B (Party to a criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and Sections 3 (Prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, etc.) and 5(1) (Punishment for contravention of section 3) of Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act.

The hospital authorities meanwhile claimed that the hospital had been shut down as a result of continuous police raids at the facility and in the rooms of staff members who were staying there. Due to suspicions of conversion, the employees including the physicians and nurses alleged that they were subjected to ongoing harassment by Hindutva sympathizers and the police.

Reports mention that the hospital was sent two notices under Section 91 of CrPC (summons to produce documents or other things) amid the investigation. One notice was sent in December last year and the other one was sent in January this year.

The saga began in April last year when the church located 10 minutes distance from the Hospital had hosted a gathering allegedly for converting the non-Christians to Christianity. Around 90 Hindus were being forcefully converted in the church in Fatehpur’s Hariharganj area. The VHP took cognizance of the event and lodged 7 FIRs against the church authorities. They stated that the Hindus were being allured and coerced into conversion. Later the Police booked around 56 people in the case and arrested around 41 by November last year.

Church and hospital have connections with the notorious NGO world Vision whose FCRA licence was suspended by govt

At present, out of 56, 36 have attained anticipatory bills and 15 are still serving imprisonment. Reports mention that the hospital in question is managed by the Evangelical Church of India (ECI) and both have connections with the global Christian charity organization named World Vision India (WVI). Reportedly, the reminder notices were put up by the police outside the church and on the walls of the WVI.

It is important to note that the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) in November 2022 suspended the FCRA license of the notorious Christian NGO World Vision India (WVI). According to the reports, the NGO had received funds for ‘religious’ purposes which contradicted the actual purposes declared in their application to the MHA.

Non-Christian patients were provided with free groceries, cycle, confirmed Police

Kotwali police station SHO Amit Kumar Mishra confirmed the case and revealed that the hospital authorities were providing free groceries and cycles to the patients at the hospital. “The hospital has a license for the treatment of patients and administering vaccines, not for distributing goats, cycles, and kirana (grocery) items. Hospital officials admitted that they gave these items to 16 people in different villages of Fatehpur. We have taken a list from them in writing. They have people associated with their mission working in every block, and most of them are Dalits and the poor,” he said.

It is believed that the hospital authorities allured non-Christians from nearby villages as well including Asalpur, Hariyapur, Manipur, Dhundera, Jindapur, Dudua Colony, Sangaon and Brahman Tara.

The accused hospital termed it a ‘charity’

The hospital chairman claimed that providing people with ‘required’ help is part of their charitable activities. “They (police) have interpreted this as an allurement for conversions, which is a completely wrong interpretation. Under the program, a pair of goats are given to the poor villagers for earning a livelihood. Cycles are given so that they can open small shops,” he was quoted.

The SC, however, on Friday granted interim protection to the accused persons and held that the community members were being issued death threats and that no police or local administration was issuing protection to the community.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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