Satna (Madhya Pradesh), Dec 15: Right-wing Hindu activists attacked Catholic carol singers in Madhya Pradesh's Satna district and also set a priest's car ablaze, accusing them of religious conversion. The police detained over 30 members of the Catholic choir group, including priests.
The incident occurred on Thursday evening. Instead of taking action against the attackers, the police detained the carol singers, a Catholic priest said.
Father Rene Verghese told IANS on Friday: "A group of students training to become priests was moving around Satna town, visiting Christian institutions and singing carols.
"Some 15 km from here in Dara Kalan village church they were getting ready for the Christmas celebrations, when a group of people attacked them, accusing them of carrying out religious conversion."
Verghese said the Hindu group raised slogans and called the Civil Lines police station.
All 32 carollers, accompanied by two priests, were taken to the police station. Eight priests who later went to the police station to enquire into the matter were also taken into custody, he said.
The mob attacked the Christian students inside the police station, and set fire to the priest's car parked outside.
Verghese denied any attempt at religious conversion. He said singing carols is a common practice around the time of Christmas. "We were just doing that and preparing for the Christmas celebrations."
However, City Superintendent of Police D.D. Pande told IANS: "One Dharmendra Dohad has registered a complaint with us that he was paid Rs 5,000 and converted to a Christian.
"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," he said.
A case has been registered against one identified person and five unknown persons in the conversion case, Pande said.
They are also investigating the vandalism carried out by the mob.