According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), India’s Supreme Court has dismissed charges of forced conversion against a Catholic priest from Madhya Pradesh. The charges stem from a false accusation made against the priest in December 2017 as he and 32 others were out singing Christmas carols in Satna.

On December 14, 2017, Father George Mangalapilly and 32 seminarians from St. Ephrem’s Theological College were out singing Christmas carols while visiting Christian homes. Hindu activists, mostly members of the Bajrang Dal, attacked the carolers, accusing them of attempting to convert Hindus to Christianity.

Police charged Father Mangalapilly under the state’s anti-conversion law, claiming he offered a bribe of 5,000 rupees to Dharmendar Dohar to convert to Christianity. The case against Father Mangalapilly was allowed to go forward even after Dohar denied the claim that he was offered the bribe.

The case against Father Mangalapilly moved through India’s court system, with the trial court and high court refusing to dismiss the fabricated charges. On September 13, a three-judge bench of India’s Supreme Court dismissed the charges due to lace of evidence.

It was a really a harrowing experience,” Father Mangalapilly told UCAN. “I was sure justice would be done to be as the charges were fabricated and I was falsely implicated.

Radical Hindu nationalists often used false accusation of forced conversion to justify attacks on Christians and harass Christian leaders. In many cases, police accept the false accusations against Christians, often beginning lengthy legal battles for those Christians accused.

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