Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pastor abducted and Shot in Manipur

Pastor abducted and shot at in Manipur town, bandh observed in protest

From our correspondent

Life in the border town of Moreh was paralysed on 10 January 2006 following a lightning bandh called by the Moreh Pastor Fellowship in the wake of the abduction of Moreh Hindi Baptist Church Pastor Mohan Lal and church secretary Kishan Yadav by unidentified persons. While the kidnapped men were released shortly before noon, Pastor Mohan Lal was shot on the left hand by his abductors and had to be hospitalised.

Pastor Mohan Lal (45) and Kishan Yadav (26) were kidnapped around 9 am on 10 January 2006 by two unidentified persons at Moreh Ward No 3. The armed men reportedly accosted them near JS Photo Studio and at gunpoint bundled them into an auto-rickshaw.

Pastor Mohan Lal, along with Kishan Yadav, was kidnapped by militants suspected to be members of the United Liberation Arm Front (ULAF) on the charges that they were informers to security personnel about the militant movements in Moreh town. They were taken into their custody and accused with the charges of informing the whereabouts of the militants.
In the wake of the abduction, the Moreh Pastor Fellowship called for a lightning bandh that lasted till 4 pm. A rally, participated by some 500 people, mostly Christians, was also taken out through Moreh town to protest against the incident.

In the meantime, the two kidnapped men were released by their abductors at around 11:30 am. While Kishan Yadav was unharmed, the abductors shot Pastor Mohan Lal on his left hand. The latter was given first aid at the Moreh community health centre upon his release and was later referred to Regional Medical Institute of Science in Imphal.

Owing to the bandh, nearly all shops and business establishments in the border town stayed shut till evening. The roads were deserted. No buses left the town for Imphal, while buses coming from Imphal had to wait at the Moreh small town gate till the end of the bandh.

Pastor Mohan Las has been pastoring a small Hindi speaking congregation at Moreh for last two years supported by Kuki Baptist Convention based in Imphal. He along with the church has been involved in evangelisation among Hindi-speaking communities and Nepalis of Moreh town.

Relating their experiences, Kishan Yadav said their abductors, who were altogether five in number, had accused them of frequenting the local Army camp and acting as informers. They were also told to leave Moreh.

He said the abductors had taken them to the Chavangphai area, where they were manhandled. However when he clarified that he had come to Moreh only two years back and was serving as staff at Hindi Baptist Church, he was allowed to go unharmed. The abductors spoke both in Manipuri and Hindi, Yadav said.

Moreh Pastor Fellowship chairman Rev Thongam issued a press release strongly condemning the kidnapping and the shooting of Pastor Mohan Lal. The release demanded a clarification on the reasons behind the incident and further appealed to all underground groups not to harass religious workers.

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