“Multiple cases of fraudulent conversions have been recently reported from several districts of Madhya Pradesh. The very recent one was from Damoh in which 10 members of a Christian organisation were booked for executing forceful religious conversions. The case had come to the fore after National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had taken cognizance of the incident and filed an FIR.
On Friday, a novel case of alleged forceful conversion appeared from the Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh after a Dalit victim couple revealed that they were first forcefully converted to Christianity by Bishop Dr Ajai Lall and now were being harassed by the Church authorities. The Legal Rights Observatory happened to share the video in which the woman is heard saying that her family was offered money by Bishop Ajai Lall and his people to convert to Christianity.”
Bishop Ajai Lall Gang converted Dalit couple to Christianity in exchange of Rs 20,000, when they stopped worshipping Jesus; gang sought 4 times money back, complained to police but they didn't act; When @CollectorDamoh @SP_DAMOHMP are compromised what HM @drnarottammisra can do? pic.twitter.com/jiX8xmc8NU
— Legal Rights Observatory- LRO (@LegalLro) November 18, 2022
Church authorities threatened, demanded four times interest
She said that she and her family were also asked to attend Church and follow the Christian religion and its practices. Later they were harassed by the Church authorities for failing to attend Church regularly. The Dalit woman alleged that they also threatened her and her family and demanded four times as much money as they had given earlier during the time of conversion.
“They initially converted us forcefully and gave us money Rs 1,20,000. They also asked us to attend the Church service and stop following the Hindu religion. We initially attended the Church sessions but later we could not. So they began threatening us that if we fail to follow the Christian religion, they’ll recover the amount they had offered earlier, with four times of interest”, the woman said in the video.
She added that she has already returned Rs 90,000 and intends to pay the balance amount soon but the Church members- Thomas, Keviju, Flexen, Rinu, and Sajan were harassing her to pay four times Rs 1,20,000. “They dipped me and my husband in some water tank together and put their hand on our heads. Then they asked me to get my other family members to the Church after conversion”, she said.
Police, Administration failed to take action against Bishop
The woman said that she registered the complaint against the Church authorities and Bishop Dr. Ajai Lall at the Damoh Police Station but the administrative authorities failed to take any action against the Bishop and his followers. The Legal Rights Observatory (LRO) while talking to OpIndia confirmed that Damoh Collector S Krishna Chaitanya, Superintendent of Police D R Tenivaar, and other administrative officers were making attempts to favor and save Bishop Ajai Lall and his followers from the case. “District collectors follow Bishop Ajai Lall and used to work for one of his FCRA license-attained NGOs”, the LRO said adding that Madhya Pradesh Home Minister needs to look into the matter very seriously.
Bishop Ajai Lall anticipatory bail to be heard tomorrow in illegal religious conversion of kids case; DC @CollectorDamoh's wife was working in his FCRA NGO n judges do attend his programs, so he will secure bail; HM @drnarottammisra @GovernorMP shall look into the matter urgently pic.twitter.com/97T1p1gY9j
— Legal Rights Observatory- LRO (@LegalLro) November 16, 2022
The National Commission of Women (NCW) also took cognizance of the incident and has directed the DGP Madhya Pradesh to file an FIR in the case. NCW chairman Rekha Sharma also has demanded arrest of the accused and his gang members once the allegations are confirmed.
Members of Bishop Ajai Lall’s Mid India Christian Society have already been booked in similar case
As stated earlier, this is the second case of alleged forceful conversion appearing from the Damoh district of Madhya Pradesh. Earlier, NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo had filed a complaint against ten members of a Christian organization named Mid India Christian Society in Damoh. Kanoongo in the complaint had said that several Hindu minor students residing in the children’s home of Mid India Christian Society were converted to Christianity and were forcefully being kept away from studies. They were being lured by the missionary authorities to become a pastor in the future.
The matter came to light after Kanoongo conducted a surprise inspection of a children’s home run by the Mid India Christian Society. He said that massive irregularities were found in the working of the organization and the home also failed to produce legal documents. “There were 91 children registered in Mid India Christian Society, of which 45 were present. Most of these children are Hindus and some are Muslims, but they were all being taught teachings of Christianity. The organization did not even have proper documents for its functioning,” the FIR copy attained by OpIndia read.
The Police then registered an FIR under sections 42 and 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act and 3 and 5 of the MP Freedom of Religion Act, along with 370 of IPC against the 10 members. Notably, Lall sought anticipatory bail in the case which the Damoh Court happened to reject on November 17. The investigation in the case is still underway and police’ appropriate action against Lall is awaited.
Journalist who exposed relations between Damoh District Collector and Bishop Ajai Lall threatened
LRO told OpIndia that the Damoh District collector’s wife looked after the accounts of one of the FCRA licensed NGOs which belongs to accused Bishop Ajai Lall. She was also engaged in NGO activities for around one and a half years until the Centre launched an investigation into the financial transactions of the NGO. The Centre in the year 2021 stated that the organization was engaged in evangelism-related activities and had violated the FCRA laws.
#FCRAViolation #MadhyaPradesh Mid India Christian Services with 5 listed FCRA NGOs got Rs 14.50 Cr from sister concern Mid India Christian Mission #HISSowers – A gospel sharing n church growth ministry. Wrote @HMOIndia for scrutiny n cancellation of registration ++ pic.twitter.com/AQJhdn2dpl
— Legal Rights Observatory- LRO (@LegalLro) January 10, 2021
The source added that Bishop Ajai Lall also has maintained good relations with the district administration including Collector S. Krishna Chaitanya. Further, Lall was awarded on August 15 this year at the hands of Minister Govind Singh Rajput for his ‘social service’ activities. According to the information received, he was nominated for the award by Collector S. Krishna Chaitanya in the year 2021 when the former’s NGO was under scrutiny.
Reportedly, one of the IBC24 reporters named Jitendra Gautam who exposed the relations between Bishop Ajai Lall and Damoh Collector was issued threats by DC PRO Y Qureshi. This information was also made public by the Legal Rights Observatory on November 17.
For exposing Bishop Ajai Lall n @CollectorDamoh relations; IBC24 reporter Jitendra Gautam threatened by DC PRO Y Qureshi!
Woman Dalit complainant in fraudulent Christian conversion case threatened by Bishop's goons but @SP_DAMOHMP refused to act; @drnarottammisra is HM or Bishop? pic.twitter.com/h2KgRfXSjR
— Legal Rights Observatory- LRO (@LegalLro) November 17, 2022
In the current case, the Dalit woman who claims to have been forcefully converted to Christianity has filed a police complaint against Bishop Ajai Lall and his followers for the third time. She has requested Damoh SP D R Tenivaar to look into the matter who has assured an investigation into the case.