By Nirmala Carvalho / Crux Now
MUMBAI, India – Rightwing Hindu nationalists in India harassed a group of children as they were on their way to a Catholic school event on Monday.
The incident happened in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, which has seen a spate of anti-Christian activity over the past few years.
A vehicle was carrying a group of Tribal children to a program being organized at Saint Pius School in Khandwa, a city of around 200,000 people.
According to eyewitnesses, the Hindu nationalists belonging to Vishwa Hindu Parishad, (VHP) stopped the vehicle, alleging the children were being taken to the school for religious conversion.
The VHP is aligned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) an umbrella Hindu nationalist organization that is also affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party at both the national level and in the state of Madhya Pradesh.
The VHP said the program at the school was being conducted without permission, and called the police to the area.
The priest in charge of the event said only Catholic children had been invited, and efforts to seek permission from the authorities were unsuccessful.
Police said they are investigating the incident.
Madhya Pradesh is over 90 percent Hindu, and Christians just make up 0.3 percent of the population, compared to 2.3 percent in the nation as a whole. The state passed a Religious Freedom Bill last year, which despite its name is an “anti-conversion” law aimed at keeping Hindus from joining other religions.
Under the provisions of the new law, a “forced” religious conversion could lead to a one-to-five-year jail term and a minimum fine of around $350. If the person converted was a minor, the jail term and fine could be doubled.
This story was originally published in cruxnow.com . Read the full story here