Three Swedish nationals were apprehended in Assam’s Dibrugarh on charges of violating their visa conditions by preaching and luring people to convert to Christianity, police officials said on Wednesday.
As per local media reports, they were released from police custody after paying USD 500 or Rs 41,500 in fines.
Hannah Mikaela Bloom, Marcus Arne Henrik Bloom and Susanna Elisabeth Hakannson came to India on a tourist visa but indulged in religious preaching their religion and luring many people to conversion to Christianity.
The action against them was initiated suo moto by the local police.
They were taken into custody while running a proselytization event in the tea garden area of Naharkatia town. As per the conditions laid down for tourist visas, foreigners are not allowed to indulge in any other kind of activity.
The three foreigners were attempting to convert locals to Christianity under the guise of the “Peace and Healing Prayer Festival” scheduled to take place at Achabam Ghinai No. 1 playground in Naharkatia town between October 25 and October 27. United Churches Fellowship and Bless Assam Mission Network are organising the event.
“We had information that they were involved in missionary activities and were preaching at a church in Namrup. According to the information, we collected photo and video evidence and found the allegation to be true,” Dibrugarh superintendent of police (SP) Swetank Mishra reportedly said.
According to him, the accused violated the tourist visa norms and section 14 of the Foreigners Act.
They will be sent to Delhi on Thursday and then deported to Sweden.
This is not the first case of conversion attempts in Assam on the pretext of healing prayer. In July last year, the Dibrugarh Police arrested Christian evangelist Ranjan Chutia from his healing centre at Moran for misusing the religious and cultural creations of Srimanta Shankar Deva for conversion.