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Police said 32 people were detained for trying to convert people to Christianity in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh late Thursday, with a leading Catholic association condemning the accusations as “laughable”.
When a group of priests went to the police station to enquire about the detentions, their parked car was torched, allegedly by a mob belonging to a right-wing Hindu group, said Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India.
The news comes as India’s Christian minority sounds the alarm over a recent rise in attacks on churches and members of the faith, blaming the violence on Hindu hardliners, who they say have become emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government swept to power in 2014.
Mascarenhas said 32 Catholics, including two priests, were detained while “conducting a routine Christmas carol singing programme.