MUMBAI, India – A leading Catholic priest in India says it is “very unfortunate” that Hindu organization groups do not know about Christianity after over 25 people were detained in Rajasthan state on July 5 over allegations of “forced conversions.”

According to reports, the incident took place when a group of Christians had gathered for a prayer meeting at a private residence in the city of Bharatpur.

The mob of “Hindutva” outfits, led by a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Rajesh Singhal, barged into the house when prayers were organized, alleging that some people were lured to attend the religious celebration.

Police said the activists of a right-wing group entered the house and attacked some of the participants.

The mob left the attendees, including women, with grievous injuries. On receiving information about the fight and religious conversion, a team of police reached the spot and detained 28 people, including 20 women.

Father Stephen Rawat from Udaipur in Rajasthan told Crux the incident was “very unfortunate,” and highlighted the fact Hindu groups do not understand Christianity.

“Activists of the Hindu organization groups are active. They are vigilant over Christian activities. Any convention, any prayer meetings are associated with conversion activities for these groups – Christians means conversions,” the priest said.

India has a population of over 1.4 billion people, and the vast majority – around 80 percent – are Hindu. Christians make up just 2.3 percent of the population, a number that has remained unchanged for decades despite accusations of “forced conversion” by Hindu nationalists.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has also ruled India since 2014. The BJP is linked with the the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist group. The VHP is also associated with the RSS.

Hindu nationalists often accuse Christians of using force and surreptitious tactics in pursuing conversions, and such “illegal conversions” can be punished with fines and jail time.

The state of Rajasthan has an even higher average number of Hindus – nearly 90 percent – and it Christian population is just 0.14 percent. The state is also ruled by the BJP.

Speaking about the July 5 incident in Bharatpur, a police spokesperson said a complaint was received that people had gathered at a house in the area “for religious conversion following which some people have been detained for interrogation.”

“Investigation has been initiated into the matter,” the police representative added.

VHP’s District President, Lakhan Singh, told the media they received information that forced conversions are happening in a house in the city.

“The Christian missionaries were luring Hindus to convert to Christianity. When they sent a VHP member to the house for confirmation, a woman there claimed they were running a library, but a religious conversion event was taking place,” Singh said.

Rawat, who himself was arrested in 2016 for taking parishioners to Catholic homes to sing Christmas carols, said Hindu nationalist think Christian charity is just an attempt to make converts.

“The good work of Christian missionaries for uplift of downtrodden, work for poor, education apostolate is synonymous with conversions for these Hindu organization groups,” he told Crux.

“There are other denominations and pastors organize meetings and conventions. There is no forced conversions at all. Christianity is a religion to be practiced. One who doesn’t practice cannot be called Christian,” the priest said.

“We have Constitutional guarantees to practice, preach and propagate the Faith. Government should take steps to protect the Christians,” he said.