Cops killed the Christmas spirit for a group of Catholic Christmas carolers in India — detaining them after a man accused them of trying to convert him, according to new reports.
The carolers — 30 seminarians and two priests — were singing as they walked along the main road in the Satna district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh on Dec. 14, on their way to Christian institutions, Matters India reported.
A local resident had complained that the group of carolers had previously asked him to “worship Jesus Christ” and had offered him money to convert, the BBC reported.
But Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, shot down those claims.
“The charge of conversion on which the priests and seminarians [were] detained is frivolous and laughable,” Mascarenhas said in a statement issued Friday to Agence France-Presse, adding that the carolers had been part of Christmas tradition in Satna “for the last 30 years.”
When a group of eight priests showed up at the police station to inquire about the detentions, their parked car was torched — allegedly by a mob belonging to a right-wing Hindu group, Mascarenhas told the outlet.
Mascarenhas called the arson an assault by “terrorists who have taken on the garb of ‘religious police.’”
The eight priests were taken into custody as well — and all 40 members of the group were later released, according to the report. No arrests have been made in the arson case.
The carolers belong to St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna, Matters India reported.
There has been a recent rise in attacks on churches and members of the Christian faith in India. Some have blamed the violence on Hindu hardliners, who they say have become emboldened since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing government took over in 2014, according to AFP.