Sunday, February 20, 2005

GFA Student Attackers Arrested

Police have arrested five men involved in last Sunday's attack against six Biblical Seminary students in India’s Kerala State. Gospel for Asia—the mission agency that the students are members of—reported Friday that the attackers were arrested after a raid conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police.
According to the Hindustan Times, those arrested were affiliated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an armed militant Hindu group hostile to Christianity and other religious minorities. Formed even before India's independence, its leaders call for "national reconstruction" and seek to establish "uncompromising devotion" to a purely Hindu nation.
In the weeks before the attack on Feb. 13, the RSS men in Kerala’s Thiruvalla Municipality had reportedly warned the seminary students to stop witnessing in the area where they went as part of a regular weekly outreach.
“The seminary students had been regularly visiting a community of laborers on previous weekends, praying for the sick, caring for the needy, sharing the love of Christ and offering hope,” GFA reported. “Seventy percent of the family problems in this community are directly related to poverty, drug use and alcohol addiction. As a result of their regular visits and compassionate outreach, people's hearts were beginning to respond.”
"The ministry there was bringing fruitful results due to our students' continuous visits," according to a GFA field correspondent.
When the students arrived at a bus stop last Sunday, a gang of men began abusing and assaulting them before pushing them into auto rickshaws (three-wheeled taxis) and driving them to a secluded location, where they were repeatedly beaten. All the students suffered from internal pain and headaches, some severe. One was diagnosed with a broken left eardrum and facial bruising.
"Their heads are still hurting from getting hit so hard," said one GFA pastor who visited them there. "The brother whose eardrum was broken is doing better. He has lost about 30 percent of his hearing in that ear, but it should come back as his ear heals."
GFA reported that the students are recovering from their injuries in a local hospital. They are expected to return to the seminary later this week.
Meanwhile, the Chennai Online news service reports that India's National Commission of Minorities (NCM) will investigate the attacks in response to the arrests.