Catholics detained in India. PHOTO | FILE

Catholics detained in India for singing Christmas songs. The Indian government seized their instruments and banned any Christianity activities conducted publicly.

Indian police detained dozens of Catholics singing Christmas carols for allegedly trying to convert people, officials said Friday, as fears grow over religious freedom in the South Asian nation.

Police said 32 people were detained for trying to convert people to Christianity in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh late Thursday, with a leading Catholic association condemning the accusations as "laughable".

Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India said 32 Catholics, including two priests, were detained while "conducting a routine Christmas carol singing programme".

"The charge of conversion on which the priests and seminarians (were) detained is frivolous and laughable," Mascarenhas said in a statement on Friday.

The Indian Government issued a warning to its citizens that any religious group that will try to subvert the Indians faith will be dealt with.

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