The ruling BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has found itself in the midst of a controversy following the coming to light of a police order seeking specific details of Christians in the State.

The March 22, 2011 order, a copy of which is with The Hindu, was issued by the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Bhopal and instructed station in-charge officers to gather details about “activities of Christians”.

An internal probe, headed by Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) R.K. Shukla, has been ordered by the Police department to find out who issued the controversial order, State Police Headquarters spokesperson S.P..Dixit told The Hindu.

The order, seeking meticulous details of Catholic and Protestant members of the Christian community at the district and tehsil levels, was subsequently withdrawn following protests from Christians.

The details sought include the number of Christian missionaries, amount of foreign aid received by them, criminal elements associated with Christian organisations and the political protection available to them, convent schools with details of enrolled students, sensitive Christian populated areas with details of people's percentage wise economic status and their income sources etc.

However, neither Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan nor higher police officials had any knowledge about where the order came from.

“The order was issued by someone at the junior level without my knowledge. It was not meant to target any community in particular and the intention was to get these details for better protection to Christians in the State,” Madhya Pradesh Director General of Police S.K. Raut told The Hindu.

“As of now, the order stands withdrawn and no such details will be gathered,” he said.

The Christian community in the State has been enraged by the order. “There seems to be a sinister plan behind all this and if the CM and other officials say they are not aware, it is all the more shocking,” Archbishop of Bhopal Leo Cornelio said.

“If it is someone inside the government, the government should apologise and if not it should find out and punish the culprit. This is clear targeting and profiling of the minority community and a violation of the Constitution and principles of a free and fair democracy,” he said.

The Archbishop further asked why the police would go about gathering these details right after the national census during which all relevant details have already been recorded.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has demanded an enquiry into the matter.

“Is there a secret RSS cell within the Police Headquarters in Bhopal?” asked CPI-M State secretary Badal Saroj.

“Merely revoking the order is not enough. The government should name those behind this and take action against them,” he said.