Monday, June 05, 2006

Pastor arrested in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh

Pastor Jagdish Bharti was arrested at 11 am on June 4, 2006 in Ujjain from the home of Ramesh Thakur, where a prayer meeting was going on. He has been charged under the section 295A of the Indian Penal Code in the neighbourhood of Hira Mill ki Chawl, in the Mayapuri area of Ujjain. When last heard he had not been granted bail and was still behind bars.

A total of fifteen people, including Pastor Jagdish had been taken to the prison in Ujjain along with Ramesh Thakur, in whose home the prayer meeting was being held.

These included: Miss Kiran, Miss Kaushalya, Miss Aruna, Ms Sarla, Ms Anita, Ms Prem Bai, Ms Sharda, John DeCosta, Ramesh Thakur, Miss Lakshmi, Jagdish Bhai, Ms Bhagwati Bai, Ganju Bhai and Stuti (small child). Ramesh and thirteen others were let go on bail after four hours of interrogation at 3 in he afternoon.

We spoke with Ramesh Thakur after his release from the police station and got to know how the fundamentalists had come and attacked their prayer meeting in the morning prior to the arrest.

As was the custom, the prayer meeting began at 10 in the morning. There were 25 people who had gathered together for prayer. However, in an hour's time a big crowd of men belonging to the Bajrang Dal of the RSS gathered outside the premises of Ramesh’s home. They were a group of fifty men shouting slogans and raising their voice against Christians. They knew that the prayer meeting was going on, and that Pastor Jagdish was there for this meeting. He was asked by the fundamentalists to come out and meet with them.

Wanting to quieten them down, Pastor went out to ask them the matter. He was instantly hurled with accusations and asked to answer why Christians were bent upon destroying the Hindu faith. They asked him to relinquish his faith in Lord Jesus and instead look upon their god 'Bajrang' or 'Hanuman' as the one to be worshipped. Not content with Pastor's reply, they barged inside the house and forced the people inside to go with them to a temple nearby. They forced them to bow down before the temple gods. Among those present for the prayer meeting were nine women and a small child who were roughed up as well. The women were threatened with dire consequences including rape if they did not stop attending the Christian prayer meetings.

In the big commotion taking place, a police Thana Inspector came to find out the matter. A lady whose son is an RSS activist lodged a complaint with the police against Pastor Jagdish accusing him of forceful conversions and causing social disharmony on religious grounds.

The police are investigating the matter. It seems that the Hindu fundamentalists are carefully planning their strategies to come against Christians in Ujjain. Pastor Jagdish and Ramesh had been receiving threats for the last three months to stop their prayer meetings. Every Sunday since the last couple of months, it was noticed that a group of fundamentalists would come and observe the goings on of the prayer meetings; they would make a note of who all were attending these meetings.