Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Christmas Celebration turns Sour as Hindu Fundamentalists disrupt Christian Meeting

Believers Charged with spreading communal hatred
By Vijayesh Lal

Sultanpur, UP -- Christmas Celebration on 25th December 2003 in Ramdaspur Village in Sultanpur District of Uttar Pradesh turned sour as Hindutva Fundamentalists and local politicians disrupted a Christian Meeting. According to reports about a 100 believers were meeting in the house of one Dwarka when the police shut down the meeting on the complaint of the Hindu Fundamentalist Groups.

About eight people among the believers were summoned to the police station and charged with spreading communal tension under section 151 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Dwarka, the person in whose house the meeting was held was arrested and then let off after a day.

Dwarka is a laborer living in a Harijan (Untouchable) Colony in Ramdaspur Village, Sultanpur District, Uttar Pradesh. About a year ago when his daughter was ill and they had tried every cure for her, he took her to a Christian Pastor named Joshua as the last resort. His daughter recovered as the Pastor prayed in the name of Jesus and Dwarka started to believe in the Good news of Jesus Christ.

He was met with opposition from his family but that did not dissuade him from organizing prayer meetings in his home. When the above incident happened about a 100 people from surrounding villages were gathered in his house for Christmas celebration.

Hindutva Fundamentalists incited the locals and they falsely accused Dwarka of robbing wood to make fire for the celebration. This was just an excuse to get the police involved, because no case was registered for the same. Instead a case was registered with the charge of spreading communal tensions and the main allegation was forced conversions by Dwarka and his family.

Dwarka was arrested and then released. The Police also wanted to arrest Pastor Joshua claiming him to be the person who is responsible for the conversions but they were not able to do so.

The Local media was briefed by the Hindutva Fundamentalists and carried article against Christians in not only that area but in the entire district of Sultanpur. The newspapers also named one Ramprakash (also a believer from a Hindu Background) of forcibly converting people. The papers talked about a Christian conspiracy to convert tribals and Dalits to Christians and warned people against it. The Fundamentalists largely influence the vernacular media and this is not the first time that this has happened in Sultanpur.

At the moment the Police has instructed Dwarka not to conduct any prayer meetings in his home for Christians. Pastor Joshua has been restricted and is not allowed to go anywhere for visits without informing the police. Meanwhile no action has been taken against the Fundamentalists who have falsely but successfully carried out a hate campaign against Christians in the area. Dwarka, Pastor Joshua and Ramprakash have been receiving threats, some of them very severe and they request for prayers from the worldwide body of Christ.