South Asia

Christians deny charges of insulting Hindu idols

Four Christians including a Pastor have been charged with insulting the Hindu religion in Sidhi in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh last month. They have been accused of defiling Hindu idols and treating them with disrespect. The accused completely denies the charges and calls it an “evidence planted story”.

Pastor Geeta Dixit

Pastor Geeta Dixit, 46, Rajpal Gharwaar, his wife Asha Gharwaar and another Christian Ruby Toppo have been falsely blamed of the act according to Pastor Geeta Dixit.

All four have been booked under Indian Penal Code 295 (Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 294 (obscene acts or words in public), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

A first information report (FIR) was filed against the four in the month of April, wherein Rajpal Gharwaar was detained by the police for two days before he was bailed out.

This is the second time in the end of last month that another FIR has been filed against the four with Geeta Dixit named as the main accused. Both the times, the complainants were Rajpal Gharwaar’s mother, elder brother and his wife and younger brother. “They all live next door to Rajpal’s house,” said Geeta Dixit while narrating the complete story to Global Christian News.

Asha and her husband come from a Hindu ‘Rajput’ family. Asha became a follower of Christ 10-years ago after she started to visit Geeta’s church along with her ailing sister, who was also the wife of Rajpal’s elder brother, in the year 1993. Asha and her sister committed their life to Christ and faced opposition from their families. Unfortunately, Asha’s sister passed away after two years and Rajpal’s brother remarried.

“Rajpal’s younger brother was at the verge of dying, when he was carried to my Church on a stretcher. He was prayed-upon by the Church members and God healed him completely. Rajpal’s mother and other family members have been coming to Church occasionally, whenever they were facing difficult times and wanted prayers.

“Asha’s husband Rajpal regularly got his wife to Church but never entered the Church himself until two months ago, when he saw a dream one night that Jesus descended from the sky and Asha and his children were lifted up above the ground and carried by Jesus and Rajpal was left all alone. He also saw Jesus raise a dead man to life.

“Rajpal woke very restless and wanted answers. He spoke to Asha and then to me about his dream. I advised him to repent for his sins and explained him the meaning of his dream,” narrated Geeta.

It was when Rajpal took baptism early April that his mother and brothers started to raise questions and registered a false case against Geeta, Ruby, their own son Rajpal and Asha.

“They got a Hindu idol and putting mire on it, presented it as a witness to the police, blaming me and the others of disrespecting Hindu gods,” said Geeta.

Geeta denying the allegations said, “It is completely a fabricated story. We have not desecrated the idols.”

Geeta, who is a widow and has three daughters, feels harassed and mentally traumatized because of the false case that she has to fight along with the three others.”

Geeta and the others have to appear for their first court hearing on 17 August, 2017.

The Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam (Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act) prohibits religious conversion through force, allurement and fraudulent means. Changing one’s religion without informing the authorities is also punishable under the Act.

Madhya Pradesh is one of the five states in India besides Gujarat, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh which has enforced the anti-conversion laws.