The Jammu & Kashmir Police on April 18 arrested a Christian couple and a local girl in North Kashmir’s Bandipora town when they were allegedly distributing some pamphlets on Christianity in the area.
It was reported that the police arrested the couple from New Delhi, Rev. Mafford Maharaj Singh and his wife Kusum Singh from Grace Upon Grace Church after they recieved reports that the duo along with a local girl, Sammena Bano were distributing gospel tracts and sharing their faith to some people in the local market.
On April 17, Rev Singh and his wife went for shopping accompanied by a young girl whose marriage was on April 20. The Christians started sharing their faith and distributed some pamphlets in Urdu when, suddenly a mob gathered, beat them up and dragged them to the head molvi of the local mosque who finally handed them over to the police. The police registered a complaint on the basis of Article. 153a of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) “promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, birth, residence”. The offense provides for imprisonment up to three years and, if the subject is religion, the punishment may extend to five years.
The couple and the girl were detained and questioned in the police station. Police sources said during questioning, they said they were not doing anything unconstitutional or illegal in the town. The mob had alleged that the couple had offered a sum of Rs. One lakh to persons willing to convert to Christianity and that the New testaments being distributed contained Rs. 50 in them as inducement to convert.
The local bar association and other groups had protested against the grant of bail to the couple and even prevent advocates from appearing on behalf of the couple. However, a bail application on behalf of the couple was moved before the Magistrate on April 23, by an advocate from the Srinagar High Court, and the couple was finally released on bail late Monday evening.