After a three-month battle against the imprisonment of six Christians detained on 21 May this year for taking 71 Christian children and carers to a Christian camp, the High Court on 24 August has granted bail to six adults who have been in custody the whole time.
These six adults were detained in the Ratlam jail despite protests from the Christian community in India and pressure from the Church elsewhere. Nine Christians including two females were arrested for taking 71 Christian children from Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh to Nagpur in Maharashtra for a Christian camp. The two females Sharmila and Savita were released on bail, while Akaash Gundiya, the youngest and the only minor in custody was bailed a month later.
The arrests and detention took place at the Ratlam Railway station and Indore bus stand in Madhya Pradesh. The seven have been charged under sections of the Indian penal code relating to kidnapping and under state laws on freedom of religion.
“I am so happy today that my husband will be back home soon,” said Priya Jal, the wife of Pastor and school teacher Amiya Jal and a mother of three children to Global Christian News immediately after she received news of the verdict.
Despite strong criticism of the arrest of the Christians, the six were kept under
remand for 95 long-days. Pastor Amiya Jal, Alkesh Ganawa, Vijay Meida, Pangu Singh Vasuiya, Nitin Mandod and Lallu Bhabhore are in Ratlam jail and have been granted bail on Thursday but have yet not been released , being a holiday on Friday and a weekend. They are expected to be released on Monday (28 Aug).
“We as a family were very disheartened at the continual rejection of the bail plea that was made before. I know the six Christians in custody have done nothing wrong to be locked up in jail and their families made to suffer in this way.
“My husband was not directly involved in the program that was taking place in Nagpur. He was asked to arrange transportation for the children from Ratlam to Nagpur and he had made bus arrangements for them. He had neither travelled with the children from Meghnagar nor was he going to go with them to Nagpur. He had only gone to receive the children from the railway station and had to safely escort them to the buses,” recounted Priya.
After Amiya was arrested by the police, the Hindu extremists visited the school authorities where Amiya was working for many years as a teacher and objected to the continuation of his service as a teacher. “I received a letter from the school informing us that Amiya would not be taken back into the school till his case is resolved,” she said. She revealed that the family would suffer financial losses as Amiya is the only member of his family earning.
Priya also revealed that Amiya was beaten by the police during initial investigations, “The police hit Amiya with such a force that one of the Christian women in the police custody collapsed by witnessing the cruelty,” said Priya.
Though the police keep these Christians in remand for more than three-months, the relatives who visited these Christians regularly disclosed to Global Christian News that there has been no further questioning by the police.
“Police was pressurised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the political parties in power deliberately to delay the bail. Creating trouble for the Christians is their sole motive. Forceful conversion cannot be proved, as it is not true,” said Priya.