A panel investigating allegations of forced conversions by Christians in Indias Madhya Pradesh State concluded that the accusations were baseless and unfounded, according to the head of Indias nation-wide alliance of Christians.
In an official statement, John Dayal, chairman of the All India Christian Council, reported that conclusion was reached after the panel toured Madhya Pradeshs Jhabua district from July 19 to July 21, meeting local representatives of Hindu organizations, Christian missionaries, public and party officials, government officials and social workers.
The panel, which visited Alirajpur, Meghnagar, Aamchoor, Jobat and a number of small villages in the district, stopped at both public and missionary-run schools and hospitals, according to a report by Italy-based AsiaNews.
Most of the people panel members met denied the allegations made by Hindu extremists that Tribals were subject to forced conversions, the report stated.
Even Shri Mahesh Agarwal, a member of several Hindu organizations involved in the anti-conversion campaign, had to admit that in Jhabua many Tribals are drawn to Christianity because of the care and aid they receive from the missionaries and not because they are in any way forced or coerced.
Pintoo Jaiswal, the vice chairman of the Alirajpur Municipal Corporation and a local leader in the Hindu fundamentalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), agreed.
Jaiswal said there was "absolutely no basis" for the allegations of forced conversions, according to AsiaNews. Instead, he said missionaries readily embraced and served Tribals in every way, whereas Hindus were hesitant to even touch them.
The missionaries also play a key role in providing education to the Tribals, so much so that Jaiswal said that even his children were studying in Christian missionary schools.
My children have never complained that any attempt was ever made to convert either them or any of their friends to Christianity, he added.
On July 21, Fr Thomas P.T. from St. Michaels Parish Church was arrested in the district of Jhabua on false accusations that he tried to induce some local Tribals, who wanted to send their children to the school he manages, to convert. He has since been released on bail.