Scenes of joy were witnessed at the Ratlam District & Sessions Court on February 18, 2020 as 8 Christians were acquitted of all charges. They had been falsely accused in May 2017 of kidnapping 60 children. It was alleged that they intended to fraudulently convert the children to Christianity at Nagpur, Maharashtra, a neighbouring state with no anti-conversion law in place. The State of Madhya Pradesh, to which the accused and the children belong, has had an anti-conversion law in force since 1968.
ADF India allied lawyers successfully defended the Christians against charges of kidnap under the Indian Penal Code and charges of attempting fraudulent religious conversions under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. The final judgement in the case State v. Amiya Jal & Others was delivered late that afternoon.
On May 23, 2017 they were escorting the children to a Bible camp in Nagpur when the railway police separated the young children from them. What followed was a tale of unspeakable harassment of the children and the accused at the hands of the authorities.
ADF India allied lawyers had secured bail for all the accused three months after their arrest, overcoming stiff resistance from the State at the High Court. This was despite the pleas by the parents, on affidavit, that they were Christians themselves and that they had willingly sent their children to the Christian camp.
The accused were portrayed as fraudsters by biased authorities who bought into a false narrative that is frequently used to target Christians. The 6 men and 2 women from Ratlam, Jhabua and neighbouring areas remained graceful in the face of all the disgrace that was directed against them. They showed exemplary courage against all odds and never lost faith in the judiciary. They were confident that the Courts would ultimately deliver justice.
At the trial, the prosecution’s case fell flat on its face as witness after witness testified truthfully that there never was any force, fraud or inducement involved. The Court also found charges of kidnap ludicrous.
“Justice has finally been done!” reacted human-rights lawyer, Mrs. Tehmina Arora, Managing Trustee of ADF India. She went on to add, “But we must not forget the toll that such false cases take on the families. No one should be targeted for their faith. The anti-conversion laws are tools to harass and target Christians and should be repealed since they restrict the freedom of religion guaranteed under the Constitution of India.”
Three other Christians who were also booked in connected cases in Ratlam and Indore are hopeful of being similarly acquitted. They are also being defended by ADF India allied lawyers. To support the work of ADF India, donate here. Your financial gift today will transform a life tomorrow.