The celebrations were planned for Tuesday and Wednesday by a local organisation called “Masih Shakti Samiti”, who say they had applied in writing for permission to hold the programme to the Collector and the Superintendent of Police. About 30 people had reportedly gathered from nearby villages for the celebrations.
But on Tuesday at around 8:30 pm, when they sat down for dinner, the organisers say a group of people forcefully entered the community centre – where the event was being held – and accused the organisers of carrying out conversions.
The protesters reportedly threw around the decorations and literature which had been collected for the event. The community centre, a government building, is right in front of the Collector and the Superintendent of Police’s office.
The men who barged in were accompanied by the police, say the organisers of the Christmas celebrations.
Two members of the organising committee were taken to the police station for questioning, though no case has been filed against them. They were released at 1:30 am.
The people who had come for the event reportedly left for their villages, scared after the events of last night.
The incident comes days after fringe right-wing groups threatened to disrupt Christmas and New Year celebrations in some Uttar Pradesh towns. In Aligarh, a group called the Hindu Jagran Manch has warned schools against celebrating Christmas, saying they could do so “at their own risk“.
Such activities, says the group, are “a step towards forced conversions” of Hindu students. “We will decide on a course of action on receiving their (the schools’) response,” Sonu Savita, city president of the Hindu Jagran Manch, was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.
Last week, a priest and four seminarians were arrested for alleged forced conversions after they organised a pre-Christmas event in Satna, Madhya Pradesh. The priests said when they were taken to a police station, activists of the Bajrang Dal, another right-wing organization, who had filed the complaint, thrashed them.
Recently, Amruta Fadnavis, the wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, was heavily trolled on social media for promoting a Christmas-themed charity event. Ms Fadnavis had to put out a clarification, where she said, “Love, sharing and empathy have no religion – let’s accept all positivity around us and stay away from negative thoughts and demotivating energies”.