NEW DELHI, July 17 (Compass Direct News) – Unidentified youths early on July 6 harassed girls and launched an arson attack at the orphanage of Emmanuel Mission International in Rajasthan state's Kota district.
The incident took place at 2 a.m. when at least six youths tried to enter the girls' dormitory at the orphanage, Saji Kutty of EMI told Compass.
Kutty said one of the young men climbed on to the drainage pipe, reached the window of a room and knocked with a stick. The girls woke up and shouted, after which he got down and, along with the others, started throwing stones at the window.
Later, the youths set a tire on fire and threw it inside the generator room. A generator panel and transformer caught fire and were destroyed, a loss estimated at 400,000 rupees (US$8,602), Kutty said.
When Kutty went to the Udyog Nagar police station to lodge a complaint, police refused to file a First Information Report (FIR).
"They just received our written complaint and did not even give us a signed copy of it," Kutty said.
The EMI has sent copies of the complaint to concerned district and state authorities, including the Rajasthan State Women's Commission and the State Minorities Commission.
Officials of the social welfare department, who were appointed at the orphanage following a June 13 high court order, claimed that the fire was due to a short-circuit. But Kutty said, "We have fire-safety equipment installed in the building, which shuts off the power as soon as there is a short-circuit."
Kutty said he was concerned that the social welfare department has not appointed any female staff at the orphanage. Dinesh Rajpurohit, allegedly an active member of Hindu extremist organization Matantaran Virodhi Manch (Anti-Conversion Front), is the leader of the official team overseeing the orphanage.
Kutty said that ever since government officials had been appointed at the orphanage, Hindu fundamentalists had been frequenting the compound and harassing EMI staff and inmates.
He also said the contract for food and other items had been given to those close to Hindu extremist organizations.
Another EMI worker, James Abraham, had earlier written to Kota district officials alleging that Rajpurohit visited the orphanage with several members of the Anti-Conversion Front on June 21.
"They [the extremists] went straight into the girls' hostel and into their rooms without knocking on their doors," Abraham had said. "They also passed obscene remarks."
When EMI staff objected, the extremists threatened to file false cases against them and claimed that the girls were "not safe" under EMI management.
The Global Council of Indian Christians has demanded an independent inquiry into incidents of harassment of EMI by administration and Hindu extremists.
Rajasthan Patrika, a regional daily, on July 7 reported that the Rajasthan High Court had issued a warning to the Social Welfare Department and its director, Madan Dilawar, in a petition charging him with instigating people against minorities, including Christians.
The daily stated that Dilawar had been involved in targeting Christians even before he became a minister in December 2003. It reported that he intensified attacks after taking charge of the social welfare department.
Of the July 6 incident, Patrika reported that police were avoiding filing a formal complaint against social welfare official Rajpurohit, accused of bringing raucous disorder to the orphanage and attempting to sexually harass girls.
Hindu extremists have hounded EMI since January. They accused EMI staff members of hurting religious sentiments and breaking government regulations by distributing the book Haqeekat (Reality). EMI President Samuel Thomas and his father, Archbishop M.A. Thomas, were charged with creating "communal disharmony," and both face trial in August.
EMI operates Emmanuel Bible Institute Samiti, Emmanuel Anath Ashram (Orphanage), Emmanuel School Society, Emmanuel Chikitsalaya (Hospital) Samiti, and Emmanuel Believers Fellowship. The organization leads a native church movement and serves over 10,000 children through humanitarian and educational work.
Samuel Thomas was arrested on March 16 on charges of creating "communal disharmony." He was released on interim bail on May 2 but will appear in court on August 1.
His father was also charged but went "underground" and applied for anticipatory bail, before appearing at Udyog Nagar police station in Kota on May 15 to answer to the charges.