12 tribals arrested for alleged religious conversion

Baripada: Twelve tribals were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly undergoing religious conversion in an illegal manner in Orissa`s Mayurbhanj district while efforts were on to nab two pastors and another tribal.

The arrest came three days after a case was registered on Saturday against 15 persons – two Baptist pastors and 13 tribals – for alleged involvement in illegal conversion in, Mayurbhanj district, police said.

The case was registered after it was found that 13 tribals of Rasgobindpur area had been converted in an illegal manner by the two pastors, Inspector In-Charge of Rasgobindpur police station, Santosh Das said.

The 12 tribals arrested from Rasgobindpur area were produced before a court here which sent them to jail, while the pastors and another tribal were yet to be traced, he said.

The pastors, identified as Samuel Mohapatra and Manuel Mohapatra of Balasore, as well as the tribals were found to have violated the provisions of Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, he said adding permission of the district authorities is mandatory for undertaking any religious conversion.

The conversion of the 13 tribals, belonging to four villages, had taken place during the last two-three days, police said.