The Jammu and Kashmir police on Sunday interrogated the pastor of the All India Saints Church after booking him for religious enmity and forced conversions of Kashmiri Muslims through allurements.
The police said preliminary questioning revealed that around 15 local Muslim have been converted to Christianity by the pastor.
“Investigations into the reports of alleged conversion by Khanna are on. Some arrests are expected soon,” said senior superintendent of police (SSP) Srinagar Ashiq Bukhari.
Earlier this month, a video clip surfaced on social networking sites showing locals converting to Christianity. Later, Kashmir's grand mufti (priest) Mufti Bashir-ud-Din sought presence of C.M. Khanna in a sharia (islamic) court following allegations of his involvement. Khanna, however, denied his role in the conversions.
"He (Khanna) admitted to it after he was shown evidences and has converted 15 youth so far. He has agreed to provide the details soon," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.
Khanna was arrested late on Saturday night from his residence at a Srinagar's church premises near Ram Munshi Bagh area.
SSP Bukhari said the pastor was booked under Section 153 A, which amounts to religious enmity, and 295 A, religious conversion under duress and in lieu to allurements, have been registered against Khanna.
The video clip of the conversion had sparked protests from Muslims and also from moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who already held a meeting with several other pastors over the issue this week.
“It is very unfortunate what is happening. We are in touch with Christian missionaries. We can’t remain silent over the issue,” said the Mirwaiz. The Mirwaiz is holding a meeting on upcoming Wednesday to deliberate upon recent reports of conversions by Christian missionaries in the state with Islamic leaders and priests in Srinagar.
The protests by locals forced the government to promise swift action in the controversy. Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Sagar said the government will not allow any person or group to create disharmony. “J&K is known for communal harmony and co-existence of religion. Any person who will try to create hatred or ill will against any religion will not be spared, but will be dealt under law,” Sagar said.
Saying there was freedom to every person whatsoever his religion is, Sagar appealed to people to cooperate to maintain the peace. Meanwhile, a minor protest broke out on Sunday near Maisuma over the issue.