Wednesday, May 31, 2006

16 accused Christians released in Alirajpur, Madhya Pradesh

Reported by Vijayesh Lal

31st May 2006 is a date that Christians in Jhabua district will remember for long. For this day, after a period of misery that lasted around two years and six months the 14 Christian prisoners who were held in prison for alleged murder charges and the two accused who had been granted bail were found innocent and were released by the Alirajpur court.

The 16 Christians were put in prison after the infamous Jhabua violence of January 2004 against Christians which left many homeless, many Churches and Christian homes burnt, Christian women raped and one RSS sympathizer dead. Two of them later got bail.

During this period of two years four months and fifteen days many attempts to bail the 14 Christians proved futile as the case was overtly politicized and considered sensitive. However all that is a thing of the past now.

We wish to thank all who stood by these brothers and their families through prayers, moral support and occasional visits.

It is also a victory of the judicial system in India, showing that while the executive and the administration might sometimes fail to do its duty and choose to side along with its political masters, yet there is hope for justice to prevail.

Christian women raped by Hindutva fanatics, Christians beaten up in Madhya Pradesh

Reported by Vijayesh Lal

30th May 2006: New Delhi:

Activists belonging to the Hindutva brigade attacked a group of Christians and gang raped 2 Christian women in the Nadia village, Bhagwanpura block of the Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh on the 28th May 2006. The attack took place around 10:00 pm in the night, while the Christians were in their homes.

The attackers beat the Christians and took hostage two women Baishi Pokharia and Rekha Gyarsiya and dragged them to the nearby deserted area. There they stripped the women by force after which they gang raped them. The names of the alleged rapists as described by the women are: Lulla, Nandla, Kalu, Rewal Singh, and Sakaram. All are from the same village i.e. Nadia.

When the husbands of the women and other Christians tried to protect them from being raped, they too were beaten up with weapons and three men namely Kashiram, Pokharia (husband of Baishi Pokharia), and Ghundia have sustained injuries.

The attack as described by Pastor Kailash Davar of Khargone took place without provocation. The Christians were quietly in their homes and not even involved in worship or prayer during the time of the attack. Pastor Davar further revealed that this is a regular pattern for Christians in the area. Last year several Christians had to pay penalty for 'being Christians' in the same village. The penalties ranged from 2500 (60 USD) to 7000 (170 USD) Indian Rupees depending upon the status of the family.

The attackers further illegally detained by force the injured and the two women so that they would not be able to file a report.

On the 29th morning the local BJP leaders marched to the Collector's office to submit a memorandum to him where they alleged that mass conversions are being carried out in the area by missionaries coming from the nearby state of Maharashtra.

Although the memorandum did not name any missionaries who were involved in the alleged forced and fraudulent conversions, however, as proof of the conversions the memorandum did contain the names of the injured Christians and the Christian women who had been raped the previous night.

"All this was to cover up the violence and rape committed by their own men against the Christian community." Pastor Davar adds.

The Christians, when they were finally released, went to the Bhagwanpura Police station to report the matter, only to face the ire of the Police Inspector Mr. Thakur.

As this is being written they were still in the police station. It was only after several phone calls were made by the author and the Member of the State Minority Commission Mrs. Indira Iyengar to the police station and to the Collector that Mr. Thakur agreed to register the case and file a First Information Report. Last heard the women were about to be taken for medical examination.

Also on the 28th afternoon in village Suklia Kunda, near Khargone, Kashi Ram a local Christian was chased and driven out of his home by local villagers, again for the crime of being a Christian. He too had come to the Bhagwanpura police station and has lodged a complaint against this atrocity. More details are awaited.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

BJP MP reconverts tribals in Jharkhand

BJP MP reconverts tribals, Cardinal Toppo irked


Ranchi, May 26: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, Mr Dileep Singh Judeo has reconverted 15 Christian tribals to their indigenous faith in Jharkhand, but the move has irked Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, the former archbishop of Ranchi.

Mr Judeo reconverted the tribals to their original religion known as Sarna in a ceremony organised on the outskirts of state capital on Thursday. The reconversion took place under the banner of the Sarna Sansthan Rakshak Sammittee (SSRS) and Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra (VKK) at Mahilong village, about 40 km from here.

When Mr Judeo was going to attend the re-conversion programme, other Christians blocked the road and protested the move. The ceremony was conducted by tribal priests and Mr Judeo washed the feet of the reconverted. Addressing the gathering, Mr Judeo said, "If reconversion had taken place 500 years ago then countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would not have been formed." Mr Judeo also criticised the Pope for his reported statement on anti-conversion bills passed in some states.

"The Pope's remark is an indication of the intolerance of the community towards other religions," said Mr Judeo. He alleged: "European countries and the US are pumping money into India for conversion and it should be checked." Launching a scathing attack on Cardinal Toppo, SSRS president, Mr Ajay Tirkey said, "Toppo claims to be a tribal. Does he celebrate tribal festivals? His only motive is to convert tribals."

Cardinal Toppo, who had supported the Pope's statement on anti-conversion, on the other hand is unhappy with the reconversion. "The reconversion is against the spirit of Christianity," he said. He is the former archbishop of Ranchi and was appointed cardinal by the Pope in 2004.

Cardinal Toppo, who does not hesitate to remark on political issues, has opposed a Jharkhand plan to ban conversions.

Click here for source

Friday, May 26, 2006

Tamil Nadu: Anti-conversion law to be scrapped shortly

The new government led by the democrats of the DMK, has announced it intends "to completely annul, not amend, the draconian law against forced conversions". Meanwhile, redistribution of fertile land favouring the poorest peasants has started.

Chennai (AsiaNews/CBCI) - The new government of Tamil Nadu, led by the democrats of the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) announced yesterday, 24 May, that the "draconian" law against forced conversions will "be annulled shortly". This law had been approved and introduced by the former government led by the ex prime minister Jayalalithaa, but it was amended by an ordinance following strong protests by Christian and Muslim communities.

Human rights campaigners and religious leaders have said several times over that "the amendment was completely ignored by the police and nationalist activists, who continued to act against us as if nothing had changed."

The government's Vision Document presented to the Assembly by the new governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, stated in clear terms that it intended to "completely annul the law, given that the amendments proved useless, and to undo many of the controversial policies of the earlier regime."

The document also said: "The process of redistribution of fertile land has started and soon we will start to reclaim pieces of government land to rent them to peasants." Further, added the text, "new legislation is ready that will guarantee reserved places for religious minorities in the education field and in the labour market."

Defence of minority rights and respect for the secularism of India were the battle cries of the DMK during the electoral campaign. The Archbishop of Madurai and president of the Tamil Nadu bishops' conference, Mgr Peter Fernando, had called on Catholic believers to "back only secular political forces in the upcoming general election to the State Parliament."

Click here for source

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Christians In Madhya Pradesh Appeal For Security, Acknowledge Need For Unity

May 24, 2006
JABALPUR, India (UCAN) -- Church leaders in a central Indian state say Christians need greater unity among themselves to safeguard their community from violence.

Unless various denominations shed their differences and come together, the community will not be able to resist attacks against it, according to Catholic Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur, a diocese in Madhya Pradesh state.

The prelate spoke with UCA News several days after he led a delegation to meet Governor Balram Jhakhar and seek protection for Christians and their institutions. The Madhya Pradesh governor was visiting Jabalpur, site of the state's High Court, 815 kilometers southeast of New Delhi.

During the May 6 meeting, the Christian delegates presented the governor a memorandum asking for withdrawal of what they say are false charges against members of their community.

The memorandum also demanded "a free and fair probe" into cases of alleged religious conversion registered against Christians. The delegation called for the probe to be conducted either by the Central Bureau of Investigation, a federal agency, or by a Supreme Court judge.

Bishop Almeida noted that the state has experienced a spurt of violent attacks on Christians and Christian institutions, especially since the beginning of this year. Jabalpur district alone has had 13 incidents of anti-Christian violence this year.

The bishop stressed the need for greater ecumenical unity but acknowledged that "disciplining different (denominations) is a big challenge."

Church of North India (CNI) Bishop Prem Chand Singh of Jabalpur, another member of the delegation, also stressed interdenominational dialogue to address the current crises facing the Church.

Accusing the police of being biased, the Protestant prelate alleged that police register false cases of conversion against Christians when they go to file complaints against their attackers. "There should be more unity among different denominations to address such issues jointly," he added.

Madhya Pradesh is one of five Indian states in which religious conversion is regulated by law, with moves underway in two more states to do the same. Church leaders here say the government increasingly uses the police to muzzle Christians, who form less than 1 percent of the 60 million population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (Indian people's party) now rules Madhya Pradesh. Many people consider it the political arm of groups trying to turn India from a secular country into a Hindu nation.

The Indian Constitution allows people to profess, practice and propagate the religion of their choice, but Hindu extremists depict Christianity and Islam as imported religions that do not respect Indian culture and tradition. They strongly oppose religious conversion, claiming it would endanger the country's unity because Christians owe their allegiance to an outside authority.

Bishop Almeida said the delegation was happy with its meeting with the governor. He quoted the governor as saying, "Don't worry bishop, everything will be done, and go in peace."

Reverend Cyril Cornelius, a Methodist delegate, told UCA News the governor immediately instructed a senior police official present to probe the charges and report back. He said the governor was furious about the way the police handled the situation and directed officials not to register any cases of conversion against Christians without proper investigation.

Cornelius said he suspects the government orchestrated these attacks as a prelude toward making the existing anti-conversion law more stringent. A person charged under the existing law is able to arrange bail from the police station, but Cornelius predicted the government would try to amend the law so that a person charged with conversion would be jailed immediately.

Later, the Christian leaders formed a coordination committee with Bishop Almeida as president to foster more cooperation among various denominations.

Click here for source

Chhattisgarh govt. proposes stringent punishment for conversion


The BJP government in Chhattisgarh is considering to make anti-conversion law more stringent with provisions for 10 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10 lakh for any one involved in illegal conversion.

"There are certain shortcomings in the existing Chhattisgarh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam 1968 and we wanted to change that," Home Minister Ram Vichar Netam told PTI here today.

"We wanted to change that and yesterday only I had a discussion with the Law Secretary on the issue," he said.

The BJP government is determined to stop any conversion in the state, which are taking place either by force or by allurement, he said.

Meanwhile, speaking about the draft proposal on the issue, official sources told PTI that amendment was being considered to check any conversion by force, allurement or by any fraudulent means.

"There is provision of minimum imprisonment of seven years which may be extended upto ten years and also with a fine of Rs one lakh, which may be extended upto Rs 10 lakh, if any one is found guilty under the proposed amendment," the sources said.

"The draft is under consideration with the Home Department and even it was taken once to the cabinet for discussion," the sources said.

PTI news

Anti-conversion law may be amended in Madhya Pradesh

Anti-conversion law may be amended in Madhya Pradesh: Chouhan

Bhopal: Warning of stern action against religious conversions through force or allurement, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said amendment to existing law to check conversion may be considered, if needed.

"A law to check forced religious conversion already exists in the state with adequate provisions, but if required amendments could be considered to make it more effective", Chouhan told PTI here.

Refuting charges of discrimination against any particular community and implementation of "Hindutva agenda" by the BJP government, the Chief Minister said people belonging to all religions and castes are being respected and given complete independence to follow their faiths.

Affirming BJP's commitment to safeguard the interests of all communities and castes and maintain harmony in society, Chouhan said, "at the same time, we do not believe in appeasement of any particular community".

"If we receive any complaint of religious conversion through force, pressure or allurement, strong action will be taken against those indulging in such activities", he said.

Regarding the Centre's proposed move on OBC quota in elite educational institutions, Chouhan said the issue is under close scrutiny of BJP's central leadership.

Asking the UPA government at the Centre to deal with the matter in such a way that social harmony remians intact without giving scope for divisive tendencies, he said the state government is making all efforts to tackle the situation arising out of stir by some junior doctors.

PTI News

Hindu Group Burns Pope's Effigy In Protest Against Comments On Indian Laws

May 23, 2006

NEW DELHI (UCAN) -- A right-wing Hindu group has burned effigies of Pope Benedict XVI in central India, as Hindu leaders nationwide criticized the pontiff for his remarks about Indian laws and religious freedom.

On May 20, members of Dharma Sena (religious army) set fire to the pope's effigy in the district headquarters of Balaghat, Chhindwara, Jabalpur, Mandla, Narasinghpur and Seoni in Madhya Pradesh state, central India. The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people's party) rules the state.

Similar protests had been planned in Jharkhand, a BJP-ruled state in eastern India, but the plan was abandoned without any reason given. However, some Hindu leaders there criticized the pope for his comments.

On May 18, the pope expressed concern about attempts to legally restrict the right to religious freedom when he welcomed Ambassador Amitava Tripathi, India's new representative to the Holy See. Some television channels and newspapers in India later characterized the pope's speech as a "tirade."

Some Hindu groups reacted sharply to the papal speech as inappropriate criticism of laws restricting religious conversion that exist in five Indian states including Madhya Pradesh. The Jharkhand government also plans to introduce such a law.

Uma Bharati former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, told media the pope's statement was a direct intervention in the internal affairs of India. According to her, the pope is trying to exert pressure on the Indian government to save Christians accused of conversion charges. She wants the federal government to take the pope's speech seriously.

Dharam Sena leader Sudhir Agrawal, who organized the effigy burning in Jabalpur, 815 kilometers southeast of New Delhi, said the pope's words proved that the Church engages in conversion in India. He told UCA News the Church lures poor Hindus through social services. This is why some state governments introduced laws to restrict conversion activities, he added.

Church leaders in India have defended the pope's comments.

Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi told UCA News May 22 the pope did not intend to interfere in India's internal matters. Cardinal Toppo, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, is based in the Jharkhand capital of Ranchi, some 760 kilometers east of Jabalpur.

The cardinal charged that the Hindu groups protested without reading the pope's speech. "There is nothing wrong in it. I have the original text of his speech," he said.

The Indian Church leader quoted the sentence at the center of the controversy: "The disturbing signs of religious intolerance which have troubled some regions of the nation, including the reprehensible attempt to legislate clearly discriminatory restrictions on the fundamental right of religious freedom, must be firmly rejected as not only unconstitutional, but also as contrary to the highest ideals of India's founding fathers, who believed in a nation of peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance between different religions and ethnic groups."

According to Cardinal Toppo, the pope "wishes good for India" and wants to have a good relationship with India, "and nothing else."

The pope's speech also "contained praise" for India and its democratic system, the cardinal continued, but the Hindu groups "could not see anything positive in the speech and interpreted it negatively."

Meanwhile, Jesuit Archbishop Pascal Topno of Bhopal urged Christians to remain calm at the Hindu group's protests. "I am not surprised at (the Hindu groups') behavior," Archbishop Topno told UCA News.

Bhopal, some 310 kilometers west of Jabalpur, is the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Archbishop Topno heads the regional bishops' group for the state.

Describing the Hindu protests as "a display of hatred," Archbishop Topno has asked people to exercise restraint and ignore the protests. The Church "does not believe in tit-for-tat behavior," he said.

Archbishop Topno asserted that the protests would not affect the Church's work in the country. "We will continue to work in the area in accordance with the constitutional right we are given," he added.

Regarding the effigy burning, Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur told UCA News that Christians can "only pray for the good conscience of those who are indulging in such activities."

Enos Ekka, the lone Christian minister in Jharkhand, condemned the BJP leaders' negative stand. "(The pope) is the head of the Church and he has the duty to think for Christians in the world. I don't find anything wrong in his speech," he told UCA News May 22.

Narotam Das, a Hindu priest in Ranchi, agreed that the "pope has done nothing wrong." According to him, the pope only expressed his concern for Catholics since he is their religious leader. "As a Hindu priest, I would express my concern if Hindus face discrimination in some countries," he told UCA News the same day.

On the contrary, a Hindu ascetic in Madhya Pradesh, Acharya Indrabhan, described the pope's statement as "a real threat to national integrity." He said the pope's speech infringed upon India's internal matters.

In the view of BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, the pope's remarks were not relevant to India, which he said India has more freedom than many countries. "The state laws are not against conversion by conviction. But if people convert en masse, motives have to be there," he was quoted as saying by The Indian Express, a daily based in New Delhi.

Click here for Source

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Rajasthan religion bill rejected

Rajasthan religion bill rejected

The state governor of India's western state of Rajasthan has refused to sign a contentious religious freedom bill.

Pratibha Patil's refusal comes amid widespread criticism of the bill, which would ban people from being converted to religions against their will.

The state assembly passed the bill, which would see offenders fined or imprisoned, last month.

Members of Rajasthan's BJP-led government say the move by the governor is unconstitutional.

Critics of the bill say it could curb religious freedom.

Protect rights

Rajasthan's law minister Ghanshyam Tiwari said "it was the constitutional obligation of the governor to sign the bill that was passed by the legislative assembly".

It is believed Ms Patil did not sign the bill because of complaints by religious minorities, the BBC's Narayan Bareth says.

Human rights agencies and minority groups are opposed to the bill, saying it has been brought in to appease radical Hindu groups.

Critics called on Ms Patil to protect the rights of religious minorities such as Christians, Muslims and lower-caste Hindus.

However, the BJP-led government says the bill has been brought in to stop religious conversion by means of allurement, greed or pressure.

Under the proposed law, any person caught trying to convert people could face between two and five years in jail and a fine of 50,000 rupees (US$1,100).

'Insult to democracy'

'We are happy that the governor took a bold step. There is no need for such a law in Rajasthan as there are no conversion activities taking place here", Rajasthan Christian Fellowship's Father Coelho said.

Jamat-e Islami Rajasthan's chief Salim Engineer also said the law was designed to harass religious minorities.

Some Hindu groups, such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) have criticised Ms Patil's decision, with its state chief Jugal Kishore saying sending back the bill unsigned was an insult to democracy.

The bill was introduced to into the state assembly after Hindu groups began opposing a Christian Mission - Emmanuel Mission - in Kota.

Christians make up 0.11% of Rajasthan's population.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Govt mulls bill to check conversions

HT Correspondent
Jabalpur, May 17, 2006

CHIEF MINISTER Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said his government would think over bringing in a bill to check conversions. His statement assumes significance in the light of the incidents of attacks on Christian assemblies and police cases forcibly registered by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists against Christian priests alleging conversion attempts.

In Jabalpur, more than a dozen such incidents have occurred in the last two months. In one of the incidents, the police booked a 75-year-old woman on the charge of propagating Christianity through pamphlet distribution.

The Chief Minister was in the town to visit the residence of Minister of State for Fisheries Moti Kashyap, whose mother recently died.

Talking briefly to reporters at Kashyap's residence Chouhan ruled out the possibility of an early Cabinet expansion. “As of now there is no plan to expand the Cabinet”, he remarked.

About the BJP candidate for the Vidisha parliamentary by-elections, he said the concerned committee of the party would decide the name.

On health service hit by the medical students' protest against reservation quota, the Chief Minister said he had directed Health Minister Ajay Vishnoi to ensure that the patients get adequate medical attention. He said that the unrest has been caused following the Centre's action.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Church Attacked, Pastor Arrested in Madhya Pradesh, India

Church Attacked, Pastor Arrested in Madhya Pradesh, India
At least 15 similar incidents have occurred so far this year, say local Christians.

NEW DELHI, May 15 (Compass Direct) - Hindu extremists yesterday vandalized an independent church in Gauri Nadi village, about 12 kilometers (seven miles) from Jabalpur city in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh. The mob beat a church member and lodged a police complaint against a pastor for "forcibly converting" Hindus.

About 50 members of the Dharam Jagran Sena (Army for Religious Revival) threw stones at the Anant Jeevan Marg church after the Sunday worship was over, a local Christian leader told Compass, requesting anonymity. After throwing stones, the mob entered the church and vandalized furniture and equipment - all the while shouting anti-Christian slogans and accusing the church of illegal conversions.

The attackers beat Dinanath Tiwari, 35, a new believer whose wife was recently healed of cancer after Christians prayed for her; the mob said Tiwari should not have converted to Christianity. Tiwari received injuries on his face, hands and knee. He was taken to a government hospital for first aid and a full medical examination; the doctor’s report had not yet been released at press time.

The mob also roughed up Pastor Munnu Kujur, who repeatedly denied that his church was forcibly converting people. The Hindu extremists threatened to throw acid on Kujur's face and bomb his church if he did not stop converting Hindus to Christianity.

Following the attack, the mob took away all the Bibles kept in the church as "evidence" that the church was indulging in illegal conversions by distributing them. They then took Kujur in their vehicle to nearby Barela police station to lodge a formal complaint against him.

When they reached the police station, the police promptly arrested Kujur on charges of illegal conversion under the Madhya Pradesh Dharma Freedom of Religion Act and put him in a holding cell.

No Evidence
Church members and Christian leaders soon reached the police station and lodged a counter-complaint against the attackers, with Tiwari as the complainant.

Their complaint named four of the attackers - Yogesh Agarwal, Sudhir Agarwal, Kedar Namdev and Indra Bhan - who had earlier attacked a house church belonging to the Assemblies of God and lodged a complaint against seven church members in a similar fashion on April 7. (See Compass Direct, "Christians in India Attacked, Charged with Illegal Conversion," April 13).

Local Christians immediately drove to the police station and signed the bond for Kujur, who was released at 7 p.m. Police were investigating the complaint made against him at press time.

The pattern of extremists attacking a church and then lodging a complaint to get Christians arrested on charges of "illegal conversion" has become common, a local source told Compass.

He said that at least 15 such incidents had taken place since the beginning of the year in Jabalpur alone.

He also said that despite several assurances from Srinivas Rao, the superintendent of police of Jabalpur, and from District Collector Sanjay Dubey, the incidence of attacks and false charges against Christians continued to increase.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Woman Accuses Family of Attempted Forced Conversion in India

Woman Accuses Family of Attempted Forced Conversion in India
Extremists issue death threats to Assemblies of God pastor in Uttar Pradesh state.

NEW DELHI, May 11 (Compass Direct) - A woman in the city of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh state, has accused six of her uncles and their pastor of trying to forcefully convert her to Christianity.

The men involved say the accusations are an attempt to get revenge after a dispute erupted over a drainage channel.

The tension began three months ago, when Saroj Maurya, the 35-year-old niece of six brothers who attend prayer meetings at the home of Assemblies of God Pastor Mehboob Masih, fought with them over a government drainage channel that flowed past the door of her room.

Maurya is the daughter of the seventh brother, who passed away a few years ago.

She blocked the channel with a brick, but later found the brick had been removed. Blaming her uncles, she apparently locked up one of her aunts for several hours in a fit of anger.

One of the brothers, who works in Delhi, came back to solve the dispute. Maurya, however, rejected his intervention and approached local newspapers with a statement accusing her uncles and Pastor Masih of attempted forced conversion.

Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Uttar Pradesh immediately launched a campaign against Masih.

Death Threats

Three local leaders of the Hindu nationalist BJP came to Masih’s house on Saturday (May 6) and warned him not to hold the prayer meeting, Masih told Compass.

Masih holds a prayer meeting every Sunday in his house at Fateh Ganj, a suburb of Bareilly.

The BJP members apparently told Masih he would meet the same fate as Australian missionary Graham Staines and two of his children, who were burned alive in Orissa state in January 1999, if he continued to hold the meetings.

“They also said if I gathered people for prayer, they would instead hold a Hindu worship ceremony in my house,” said Masih.

Later that day, at 11 p.m., a senior officer of the Fateh Ganj police station came to Masih’s house and ordered him not to hold the prayer meeting the following day. According to Masih, the officer said his men would not be held responsible for any “untoward incident” – and that in the event of any resulting disturbances, police would arrest Masih.

Masih submitted a complaint on Sunday morning, but the police refused to give him a signed copy as required by law. Instead, they informed Masih that a case had been filed against him for attempted forced conversion.

When Compass spoke to Station House Officer Rajesh Singh Solanki, however, he denied advising Masih not to hold the prayer meeting. He further denied any knowledge of the case filed against Masih, claiming the sub-divisional magistrate was handling it.

“This is a gross violation of the right to religious freedom of the Assembly of God church in Bareilly,” said Jose Sam, a representative of the All India Christian Council (AICC) in Delhi.

The Assemblies of God church is a member of the AICC. Sam will assist in defending Masih against the allegations.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Update on the Kota Situation

Dr. Samuel Thomas, President of Emmanuel Ministries, was granted bail by the Jaipur High Court, and is scheduled to be released from the Kota Central Jail May 2, India time. Emmanuel Ministries' Founder, Bishop M.A. Thomas, was also granted bail on the same charges of "fomenting communal disharmony" by India's Supreme Court on April

Emmanuel still awaits the decision of the Court concerning the unfreezing of the ministries' bank accounts and the renewing of the ministries' permits to operate its many schools and orphanages.

Courtesy: Persecuted Church of India Yahoo Group.