Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christian leader killed by militants in J&K

Christian campaigner shot dead in J&K

Rashid Ahmad

Mamoosa (Pattan), November 21, 2006

A prominent Christian campaigner Bashir Ahmad Tantray was shot dead by unknown gunmen in full public view at Mamoosa village in northern Barmullah district on Tuesday.

Local residents said that the gunmen fired three pistol shots at Tantray from a close range at 10:30 am, killing him on spot. The villagers made no attempt to capture or chase the assailants, who escaped from the scene with quite ease and comfort.

Engineer by profession, Tantray had reneged from the Islamic faith and adopted Christianity in 2000. Since then he had emerged as a great evangelist, working for the spread of Christianity across the valley. He had reportedly influenced a large section of his village population with his new faith.

The village hit the newspaper headlines in March 2003 with the reports of mass conversion to Christianity by the residents. The villagers however denied the conversion to the new faith but some village elders privately admitted that several families had converted to Christianity. They said that monetary benefit was the main motivation for them to take to new religion.

With the outrage from various quarters over the conversions, Tantray, a resident said, ran away from the village and settled in Srinagar. Sources said that he continued to remain the part of Christian machinery, and shifted his area of activity to southern Pulwama district. Tantray had come to the village on Monday evening to see his ailing father.

"We were just outside our house. Two young boys passed by us. One of them asked about the timing of the bus. Another took out a pistol from his jacket and fired three rounds on Bashir Ahmad," said Ghulam Rasool Tantray, a cousin of the slain Christian campaigner. He died on spot.

Kashmir has been witnessing a discreet spurt in conversion from Islam to Christianity over the past 15 years. Sources say that some 15000 Muslims across the valley have converted to Christianity during this period. Around a dozen Christian missions and churches based in the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have sent evangelists to the Valley and are pumping in money through intermediaries based in New Delhi, sources.

Parts of Pulwama, Uri, Karnah, Baramullah and outer areas of Srinagar and Kangan are reported to be main centers of Christian missions.

Observers say that the missionaries are getting immediate attention because they reach out to the poor, needy and those affected by continued violence, offering them a lot of money.

Though conversions have not encountered any major resistance from Muslim organisations, it has led to tensions among common people, who are increasingly getting vocal against the Christian missionaries. Hundreds of residents gathered outside a missionary school - Good Shepherded School - in Pulwama, holding demonstration against the school management and staff for "converting Muslim students to Christianity". The protestors attacked the school building causing damage to the building.

Government had to order temporary closure of a missionary school in September this year and ordered probe into the allegations. The school was also target of a grenade attack by militants.

The role of Christian machineries had come under scanner in earthquake-affected areas of Uri also when allegations of luring the quake-affected people to Christianity by offering monetary incentives surfaced. The missionaries, claiming to be members of the Bible Society of India, had to shut their relief business in the area after the government took note of these allegations.

Click here for source

Christian convert killed in J&K

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 23:50 IST

SRINAGAR: Unidentified militants on Tuesday killed a junior engineer of J&K Power Development Department, (PDD) Bashir Ahmad Tantray, who had converted to Christianity ignoring threats from Islamic radical groups.

Tantray was shot dead in his village Mamoosa in Pattan tehsil of Baramulla district. "Two militants enquired about the public transport system. After that they fired at my cousin," said Ghulam Rasool Tantray, cousin of the slain.

Bashir Tantray had migrated from his village, years back after he received threats from militant groups. He was staying in Sonawar but he returned to his village on Monday to visit his ailing father.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, north Kashmir range, Mohammad Subhan Lone said they had received reports that Bashir had converted to Christianity in 1995 or 1996. "As far as the motive is concerned, it is being investigated," he said. Lone said Bashir was buried in his village with Islamic rites. "People offered Nimaz Jinaza. There was no problem," he said.

This is the first time that a Christian convert has been killed in Kashmir, though there have been attacks on Christian missionary schools in the past. Militants had attacked a Christian missionary school with grenades at Pulwama a few years ago.

Militants triggered a car bomb explosion outside the Burn Hall School in July last year. It was followed by a grenade attack outside the Biscoe School at Lal Chowk in which two women died and several students suffered injuries.

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Militants Kill Prominent Christian Worker in India

Convert from Islam shot dead on busy road in terrorized state of Jammu and Kashmir.

NEW DELHI, November 21 (Compass Direct News) - Two unidentified militants today killed a Christian convert from Islam on a busy road in Mamoosa village, Barmullah district, in the terror-stricken state of Jammu and Kashmir .

"Bashir Ahmed Tantray, a 50-year-old engineer working with the power department of the state government in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, was shot dead seemingly by Islamist militants while he was standing at a busy bus stand near his parents' house in Mamoosa," a local Christian source told Compass.

According to eye-witness accounts, two young men came to the bus stand on their motorbike at about 10:30 a.m. today and started inquiring about the timing of the buses. One of the militants took a pistol from his jacket and fired three rounds at Tantray.

Shot at point-blank range, Tantray died as the militants fled the scene.

Tantray, who had received Christ about a decade ago and had been an active Christian worker ever since, is survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons.

Tantray, who worked as a volunteer with various Christian organizations including the Global Council of Indian Christians, was one of the most prominent Christians in the Kashmir valley, he said.

"There is no doubt among the people, both Christian and Muslim, here that he was killed because of his identity of a Christian worker," the source said. "We fear that we will be killed one by one. However, if we are to be killed, we would like to be killed together at one go."

The slain Christian had come to Barmullah yesterday to visit his extremely ill father.

The people of the village arranged for a funeral according to Muslim rites, fearing further tensions if they buried him according to the Christian tradition, said the source, who added that they respected Tantray.

"There were very few Christians [at the funeral], as an atmosphere of fear gripped the miniscule Christian community of the area after they heard about the killing," he said.

Outrage over Conversions

The source added that The Indian Express daily and a few local newspapers had mentioned Tantray's name in "false and exaggerated reports" relating to "conversion activities" by Christian organizations in 2003.

National daily The Hindustan Times also attributed Tantray's killing to his "Christian activities."

Tantray was "a great evangelist, working for the spread of Christianity across the valley," the daily reported. "He had reportedly influenced a large section of his village population with his new faith."

It added that the village made headlines in March 2003 with reports of mass conversions to Christianity by local residents. The villagers denied conversion to the new faith, the newspaper reported, adding that some village elders privately admitted that several families had converted to Christianity.

The elders claimed that monetary benefit was the main motivation for them to take to new religion, the newspaper reported.

"With the outrage from various quarters over the conversions, Tantray, a resident said, ran away from the village and settled in Srinagar ," the newspaper reported. "Sources said that he continued to remain part of the Christian machinery, and shifted his area of activity to southern Pulwama district."

According to the 2001 Census, there are only 20,299 Christians in the state, which has a total population of more than 10 million.

Jammu and Kashmir has long been hit by the confrontation between militant separatists and Indian Armed Forces, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people since 1990s. The Indian army maintains a significant deployment of troops to maintain law and order in the state.

The northern-most state lies at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute between India, Pakistan and China . India has fought three wars with Pakistan in 1947, 1965 and 1999, and one with China over Kashmir. India, which considers the entire state as its sovereign territory, has control of about half the area of Jammu and Kashmir.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Attack against Carmelite sisters in Bangalore, statue of Our Lady desecrated

The church condemns in no uncertain terms the incident, the latest in a string of violent episodes that is sweeping the whole of Karnataka.

Belgaum (AsiaNews) - The attack against Carmelite sisters and the desecration of the statue of Our Lady in Karnataka are acts of violence that "the Church firmly condemns"; they are "new signs of anti-Christian hatred that must be stopped," said Mgr Bernard Moras, archbishop of Belgaum, who spoke to AsiaNews about the violent aggression perpetrated last Sunday against the women religious from the Carmelite Seminary Campus, in Carmelaram, a suburb of Bangalore.

A group of Hindu fundamentalists attacked the seminary run by the sisters. After smashing their way into the premises through a window, they reached a small grotto dedicated to the veneration of Our Lady. Here they desecrated and then destroyed the statue of Our Lady, eventually fleeing after a student sounded the alarm.

For the bishop the attack and the desecration "are very serious deeds and show the hatred against out faith. I have sought out state authorities, explaining to them that the spiral of violence is getting worse and must be stopped."

"Violence," Mgr Moras said, "is taking place in every corner of the state. Attacking our images is a way of attacking us and our faith".

Click here for source

Monday, November 20, 2006

Karnataka Church leaders appeal for police protection after sectarian attacks

Representatives from several Christian organisations last week urged Deputy Commissioner of Police, MS Srikar to provide urgent security to Christians, in the wake of rising attacks on them in Hubli-Dharwad in Karnataka State in Southern India.

In a memorandum submitted to the DC, Christian leaders listed several incidents that had occurred in the last few days.

Nirmal Nagar Catholic Church at Kalyan Nagar was set on fire at night, parish priest Father Fidelino Araujo reported.

A church in Hubli shut down its Sunday worship service within the city limits after receiving threats.

The Rashtriya Hindu Sena activists threatened a pastor not to visit the Christians at Revadihal Village in Hubli Taluk.

Militants attacked a person and a prayer hall, and desecrated Bibles, at Sangolli Rayanna Nagar in Dharwad.Witnesses allege that the police were present but did nothing.

The leaders have called for an enquiry into the police conduct. They have also demanded that police provide security for all the churches in the twin cities at night.

Mr Srikar assured them that an inquiry would be conducted into the incidents.

Father Fidilino Araujo, Rabort Dadapuri, Father Diric Fernandes, Father Moris Muskaranas, Father Philip Kutti, Father Pramod Dhalabhanjan, Sister Irin and others led the delegation.

Rev Paul Ciniraj,
Salem Voice Ministries

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Himachal to introduce anti conversion law soon

Shimla: Chief Minister, said that the State Government would be exploring the possibilities of bringing about a legislation, after examining all related aspects and in consultation with the legal experts, aimed at banning the forcible conversion of the people in the State. He was discussing the issues relating to the welfare of minorities in the State with Shri Harcharan Singh Josh and Lama Chosphel Zotpa, Members of the National Commission for Minorities, who called on him here today.

Chief Minister said that the Constitution of India provides freedom to its citizens to follow any faith or religion of their choice to uphold the secular character of the nation and it had followers of almost every religion, faith and sect followed in different countries of the world which speak of the religious freedom to the people of the country. He said that people who convert to other faiths willingly and of their own choice were free to do so but no person should be forced to follow one or the other religion by force and through unfair practices which was contrary to the Constitutional Rights of the people. He said that the country was religiously harmonious and every citizen was required to honour the secularity of the nation in right perspective. He said that the religion should not be the means of obtaining benefits and incentives.

Shri Virbhadra Singh said that Himachal Pradesh was known as the land of Gods and Godesses and people had immense faith in the devotional powers and any hindrance by any mean in performance of their devotional duties required to be checked for which the government would be initiating effective steps. He said that the State had devotees of all religions, faiths and sects coexisting harmoniously. He said that the peace and communal harmony of the State would not be permitted to be disturbed at any cost and the State shall continue to remain the land of Gods and Godesses by extending full protection to the religious freedom of the people.

Chief Minister reiterated the resolve of his Government to safeguard the interests of the minorities and provide them equal opportunities to progress and prosper. He said that his Government had constituted the Minorities and Other Backward Classes Development and Finance Corporations which were helping the minorities and deserving sections of the society liberal financial assistance to start their self-employment avocations besides organizing training and awareness camps for their benefit from time to time.

Shri Virbhadra Singh said that Himachal Pradesh was the perfect example of religious and communal harmony and people of every faith had regard for the faith of other people which had made the state most peaceful. He said that however strict vigilance was being kept over the people attempting to disturb the religious harmony and peace of the state and strict action taken against all the anti-social elements.

Shri Harcharan Singh and Lama Zotpa thanked the Chief Minister for the best policies and programmes aimed at safeguarding the interests and upliftment of the minorities in the state and hoped that the other states would get inspiration from the State in this regard.

Click here for source

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NCM sending team to Himachal

New Delhi, Nov 14: The National Commission of Minorities (NCM) is sending a delegation to Himachal Pradesh to discuss various issues including harassment of Christian community and implementation of Punjabi and Urdu languages.

"H S Joshi and Ven Lama Chosphel Zotpa, honorable members of the commission, will be on an official tour to Shimla from November 15 to 18 to discuss the issues with the government," an NCM release said.

"The issues include implementation of Punjabi, Urdu and Bhodi language, harassment of Christian community, allotment of land to Gurudwara Singh Sabha, issue of domicile certificate to minorities and the formation of State Minorities Commission ," the release added.


Local Politician Incites Attack on Christians in India

Pregnant woman in Chhattisgarh state among six beaten for their faith.

MUMBAI, India, November 13 (Compass Direct News) - During a panchayat or village council meeting convened last Thursday (November 9) to address threats against Christians in a village in Chhattisgarh state, a local politician and his associates attacked six believers, including a pregnant woman.

The incident took place in Bamhni village, in Bastar district. Puran Patel, who has strong connections with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state, has subjected Christians in the village to harassment and humiliation for more than a year, according to local sources.

"The believers in Bamhni have been terrorized by Patel for the past year," Pastor Pramod Paul of the local Brethren Assembly said. "He has threatened me, too, and warned me to keep away from the village."

The council meeting was convened after Christian residents appealed to panchayat members for protection.

A week earlier, on November 3, Patel and a few other Hindu associates had confronted 27-year-old Ashok Baghel, an evangelist from neighboring Mardapal village, as he waited at the bus stop. Baghel was returning home from a prayer meeting in Bamhni.

"They had rods in their hands," Baghel explained. "One of them raised his hand clutching a bicycle pump. He was ready to strike me, saying 'Stop coming here to spread your faith among these villagers!'"

Baghel's bus arrived at that moment, and he was able to jump on and escape harm.

On November 5, Patel and his associates gathered around the prayer hall in Bamhni village as the Christians assembled for Sunday worship and verbally abused them. The frightened Christians appealed to the village council for protection, with little response.

On November 8 (Wednesday), the Christians wrote a letter to the village council, asking members to address the threatening situation.

Attacked Instead of Protected
The village council called both parties to a meeting at 3 p.m. on Thursday (November 9). When all had gathered, the council chief read out the complaint letter submitted by the believers.

Witnesses said Patel then stood up and shouted at the Christians, using abusive and derogatory language.

He then walked over to them and began slapping them. His associates joined in, hitting both men and women in the group.

The village council remained mute as they watched the attack.

Patel and his friends severely beat Anup Mandavi, Mani Korram, Jaisingh Patel and Krishna Patel. They also pushed Havan Patel, the wife of Krishna Patel, against a wall - and kicked Sukbati Mandavi, the pregnant wife of Anup Mandavi, in the stomach.

When the Christians fled to nearby Kondagaon police station, the policemen refused to help them. "Even though the marks of the beatings were clearly visible, the police would not file a complaint," Arun Pannalal, general secretary of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, told Compass.

On Friday (November 10), Pannalal called the police station and asked why the police had refused to listen to the Christians’ complaint. He also said the Christian Forum would hold demonstrations throughout the district if the complaint was not treated seriously.

In response, officer-in-charge G. S. Johar filed a formal complaint against Patel. Johar also told Compass that investigations were underway and said the Christians had been sent for a medical examination.

At press time, however, no arrests had been made.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Villagers in India Forced to Bow to Hindu Deities

Christians terrorized in same Karnataka state district where recent incident took place.

MUMBAI, India, November 7 (Compass Direct News) – Hindu extremists yesterday forced Christians in the remote village of Bevainahalli, in the southern state of Karnataka, to bow down before Hindu deities and applied the vermilion mark to their foreheads. It was the second such incident in Chitradurga district in a little over a week.

At about 5 p.m. on November 6, two Hindu priests accompanied by a group of 20 to 25 Hindu extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, entered Chitradurga district’s Bevainahalli village and knocked on every home’s door.

Leaving Hindu residents untouched, the extremists shouted threats at those in Christian homes, ordering them from their houses to a site near the village temple. Christians who questioned why were slapped and ordered to start walking.

When the Christians were gathered together, one of the Hindu priests, or Swami, began speaking against Christianity and told them to “reconvert” to Hinduism.

The extremists then marched the Christians off to the village temple, forcing them to bow down before the Hindu gods and goddesses. As a mark of acceptance of the Hindu faith, the Hindu priests applied the kumkum or vermilion mark on the foreheads of the men and women and compelled them to eat the Hindu offering called prasad.

Police Spectator

Police Inspector K.L. Krishna only watched as the Hindu extremists violated the Christians’ constitutional right to freedom of religion with this “initiation rite.”

“I ensured the safety of the Christians and personally made certain no violence took place,” Krishna told Compass.

The Rev. Samuel Jacob, a pastor of Harvest India who ministers in Bevainahalli, told Compass that this was the second time Hindu extremists had targeted Christians in the village.

“Last month, the Bajrang Dal held a huge meeting in this village, where the fundamentalists berated Christianity as western and alien to the Indian people and its rich culture,” Rev. Jacob said. “These right-wing fundamentalist also told the villagers that Christianity was corrupting the Hindu faith. Later, they had played a CD denouncing Christianity.”

Rev. Jacob said the poor and illiterate Christian villagers were terrified by the aggression and threats of the Hindu extremists.

Also in Chitradurga district on October 29, Lambini tribal villagers in Kurumaradikere prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping and forced them to worship Hindu deities (see Compass Direct News, “Christian Villagers Forced to Worship Hindu Deities in India,” November 1).

In that case, three of 11 Christian families at a church in the village refused to bow before the idols or partake of the prasad offering, and the local council chief ordered the community to ostracize them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arrests of Christians Continue in Karnataka, India

Hindu extremists get four youths detained for 'forcible conversion.'

NEW DELHI, November 3 – Police in the southern state of Karnataka have arrested four more Christians on charges leveled by Hindu extremists.

Police in Udupi district on October 27 arrested four Christian youths, including three girls, for forcibly converting Hindus.

According to Dajiworld News Network, the Christians, identified only as Robin, Karen, Asha and Flavin, are from the Mabukal area near Brahmavar.

Police made the arrests after Girish Kundapur, the leader of a Hindu extremist organization, filed a complaint with police alleging they were "visiting the houses of Hindus and misleading the people."

Kundapur also accused the Christians of forcibly converting people to Christianity. The youths refuted the allegation, saying they were not encouraging conversion but only preaching their beliefs.

"We have not forced anyone to get converted - we do not believe in forceful conversion," Dajiworld quoted one of the arrested as saying.

Police are investigating the conversion charges against the accused.

Udupi district has a strong presence of Hindu extremists. The September 2006 issue of a monthly journal, Communalism Combat, said that anti-Christian incidents had occurred in several places across the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts.

"At some places, huts belonging to Dalits have been destroyed, photographs of Christ have been burnt and Hindutva activists have attacked prayer meetings, all on the pretext of stopping forcible conversions," it stated.

Karnataka police had earlier, on October 14, arrested eight Christian workers at a home for the destitute in Thyagarathi village, near Sagar, on charges of wrongful confinement and abduction after 500 villagers stormed the facility following false television news reports. (See Compass Direct News, "Police in India Arrest Workers at Home for Destitute," October 17.)

After the arrest, the workers at the Lourd Matha Seva Ashram home for the destitute were remanded to judicial custody by the Shimoga district court for "unlawful assembly, wrongful confinement, abduction and cheating."

On August 4, 15 Hindu extremists of the Bajrang Dal entered a district jail in Mardala and attacked Chetraven Rajan, a Christian businessman who had been falsely accused of compelling his wife to commit suicide. Prison authorities made no attempt to protect Rajan, nor did they file a case against the attackers. (See Compass Direct News, "Hindu Extremists Attack Jailed Christian," August 14.)

Many Christians say anti-Christian attacks and arrests have increased in Karnataka since the government of the Janata Dal-Secular party, in coalition with the Bharatiya Janata Party, took power from the Congress Party in February.

Most recently, Lambani tribal villagers in Karnataka's Chitradurga district prohibited Pastor Revanna Naik and his congregation from worshiping on Sunday (October 29), instead forcing them to bow down and worship Hindu deities. (See Compass Direct News, "Christian Villagers Forced to Worship Hindu Deities in India," November 1.)

Three of the 11 Christian families at the church in the remote Kurumaradikere village refused to bow before the idols or partake of the prasad offering that would indicate allegiance to the Hindu deities. The local council chief ordered the village to ostracize those families.

On September 3, extremists attacked a 60-year-old evangelist in Guttigar village in Subramanaya district, Varghese Thomas, and his wife. (See Compass Direct News, "Hindu Extremists Trap, Beat 60-Year-Old Evangelist," September 8.) On his way to a meeting, the couple saw the apparent victim of a motorcycle accident lying in the middle of the road, and Thomas left his car to assist the victim.

As soon as Thomas bent over the victim, however, the man threw red chili powder into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. A group of around 15 extremists hiding in the bushes nearby then jumped out and assaulted Thomas, accusing him of tricking people into coming to prayer meetings.

On August 20, about 10 extremists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh disrupted a Sunday service of the Good Shepherd Community Church in Kolar district. On August 15, a police inspector and a large crowd of Hindu extremists disrupted a prayer meeting in Ambedkar Beedhi, Malur town, in the same district. Inspector Shiva Kumar stormed the house of David Narayanaswamy, where the prayer meeting was going on, along with extremists.

They dragged guest speaker Rev. Peter Muniappa, Narayanaswamy and a few others outside and punched them in the face. The officers and Hindu extremists then took the Christians to the police station, where they severely beat Rev. Muniappa. (See Compass Direct News, "Extremist Attacks Against Christians Mount," August 28.)

Amit Kumar Released

Amit Kumar Roul of Kandhamal, Orissa, who was arrested on the 26th October on charges of selling religious books, was released on bail by the Sessions court on the 3rd November 2006, GCIC reported.

He was selling the books in order to save up some money for the upcoming marriage of his sister.

His bail application was initially rejected by the Judicial Magistrate (First Class) - Trial Court on 1st November 2006. However he was able to secure a bail and be released on the 3rd November 2006 at about 6:30 in the morning. According to GCIC, their people accompanied him to his home and while they were on their way the Sangh Parivar also tried to kidnap him.

Please keep him in your prayers.

Village Leader in India Seeks to Demolish House Church

Gujarat High Court to hear tribal Christians' complaint on Monday.

NEW DELHI, November 2 (Compass Direct News) – The high court of the western state of Gujarat on Monday (November 6) will hear a complaint by tribal Christians of Surat district that their village head has ordered them to demolish their house church.

Vasantbhai Somabhai Chaudhary, head of Hindoliya village in Surat district's Bardoli Taluka area, on October 4 sent a notice to Rameshbhai Chaudhary accusing him of forcible conversion and ordering him to demolish his house where Christians meet for prayer, Bible study and worship. Along with the complaint against the village chief, Rameshbhai Chaudhary also accuses local police of harassing him.

At a hearing on October 12, Justice S.R. Brahmbhatt asked the police department to inform the court should the Christian complainants be subjected to further harassment from local police and villagers in Hindoliya village.

Rameshbhai Chaudhary and a guest, Bipin Joseph Mehta, a non-resident Indian from the United Kingdom, on October 6 filed a complaint in the high court against the Bardoli police station and the village head of Hindoliya after the police refused to file their complaint, according to Samson Christian, joint secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC).

The AICC leader explained that the trouble started on September 28, when two officers of the Bardoli police station barged into Rameshbhai Chaudhary's house during a Christian meeting. The police arbitrarily searched the house to see if any "conversion activity" was taking place, Christian told Compass.

Those attending the four-day meeting, which started on September 26, were Rameshbhai Chaudhary, Mehta, another guest from Italy (a Catholic identified only as Luigi), and 28 local tribal Christians. After the meeting was over, the policemen took Mehta and Luigi to the police station; there Hindu extremists and some media representatives also arrived.

A police inspector identified only as Chavda accused the two visiting Christians of coming to India to convert Hindus. He also threatened that he would stop them from leaving the country, Christian said, and confiscated their passports.

The extremists and reporters interrogated the Christians and took their pictures before allowing them to leave the police station, he added.

Conversion ‘Deplorable'

The following day (September 29), local newspapers repeated the accusation of forcible conversion against the two visiting Christians, but Mehta and Luigi attended a meeting at Rameshbhai Chaudhary's house as scheduled. At about noon, inspector Chavda and other officers stormed the meeting – ordering Mehta and Luigi to stand on a table – and searched through all literature in the house, said Christian.

"Soon after this, about 15 people, including extremists and reporters, also arrived and told the tribal Christians that their conversion out of Hinduism was deplorable," Christian said. "They also threatened them."

Police again took the two Christians to the police station, where they told them that they should not leave the village without permission. The extremists also followed them to the station and again threatened them, Christian said.

The inspector called the 28 tribal Christians to the police station and took their statements, "which created a sense of insecurity among them," he said.

After the intervention of the AICC, the inspector returned the passports to Mehta and Luigi on October 2.

"AICC demands legal action against the police officials who harassed the Christians of Hindoliya village and the village head who ordered demolition of the house church," Christian said.

He added that apparently the minority Christian community has become the target of the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Gujarat, which is preparing to incite Hindu sentiment against Christians before state assembly elections in November 2007.

Fabricating of conversion cases rampant in Gujarat

In a significant development, the High Court of Gujarat has issued notices to the Government of Gujarat, Director General of Police, District Superintendent of Police in Dahod, Inspector of Police of Devgarhbaria Police Station and others in the case of allegedly fabricating a firing case against a Christian priest in Divya village of Dahod district.

According to sources, the Gujarat Government has become active in fabricating cases of conversion by force and threat with the help of the police. In fact a First Information Report (FIR) was filed by the police in Dahod against the Christian priest for allegedly opening fire at the Inspector of Police of Devgarhbaria Police Station and eight other people.

In a press release issued in Ahmedabad on 31 October 2006, National Executive Member and Joint Secretary of All India Christian Council (aicc) Samson C Christian said Pastor A Arul Daniel, the manager of a hostel for poor children and priest of a local church run by the Indian Mission Society at Vankadi village of Limkheda taluka in Dahod district, was a victim of police duplicity.

According to him, Gujiben, the widow of Lulabhai, had arranged the inauguration of her new house in Divya village on 20 September 2006 with a prayer service, followed by lunch. The priests of the Indian Mission Society and their family members from the neighbouring villages were among the invitees. Soon after the ceremony and lunch, Pastor Arul Daniel, his wife and their daughter started off on their motorbike, along with other Christian leaders in toe, for Vankadi village.

A little ahead they found the road blocked with branches of trees and stones. As they slowed down their vehicles, around 10 people rushed towards them, carrying sticks and lethal weapons. Pastor Madhubhai of IMS Church was the first one to be attacked. They took away his mobile and other personal belongings. Then they attacked Pastor Arul Daniel. They put a sharp knife on Pastor Arul Daniel's neck and threatened to kill him if he resisted. They took away his mobile and cash worth Rs 3500. They also took away his wife's gold chain worth Rs 6000. Another worker Valabhai, a tribal Christian missionary, was also beaten up and looted.

The attackers collected the addresses of the IMS leaders. Then they led them to the main road, abusing and manhandling them all the way. By the time the pastors reached Vankadi village, it was very late and they preferred to file a complaint the following morning.

As they were preparing to go to police station in the morning, Police Sub-inspector Patel of Limkheda taluka arrived in the village with other policemen and inquired about the IMS Pastors. He took all of them to Devgarhbaria police Station. The Pastors pleaded with him to register their complaint and also give them medical treatment. Inspector of Police Devgarhbaria Police Station RS Sharma said since the Pastors were the accused, their complaint could not be entertained. Ignoring him, the Pastors prepared a complaint and handed it over to him. This time he asked them to delete the mention about the looting of money and mobiles. When they insisted on getting the complaint registered, the police officer threatened them with dire consequences.

Aicc leaders also contacted the police urging them to register the complaint but they refused to do so. They also did not allow them to have medical treatment. They were detained in the police station till late in the evening. Kanji Budha Nayak, a resident of Divya village filed false complaints against Pastor Arul Daniel and other workers alleging that Arul Daniel and other workers were indulging in forcible conversions. When he resisted, the Pastor opened fire at him.

On 22 September 2006, when Pastor Arul Daniel went to Godhra Civil Hospital for treatment, Resident Medical Officer Dr Anil Parmar said without the police list he would not give him any treatment. Then Pastor Arun Daniel proceeded to Ahmedabad on the same day and with aicc leaders’ help, got treatment from Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital, Ahmedabad under medico-legal case.

Since the police refused to file the complaint, the Pastor filed a Special Criminal Application (No 1628/2006) in the High Court on 28 September 2006. Justice SR Bramhbhatt issued notices to the Gujarat Government, Senior Police Sub-Inspector RS Sharma of Devgarhbaria Police Station, the Home Secretary of Gujarat, Director General of Police of Gujarat, District Superintendent of Police of Dahod district and others and ordered them to file their reply on 6 November 2006.

Earlier Devgarhbaria Police Station registered FIR No 142/2006 against Pastor Arul Daniel and other local Christian workers. In the said case, the Indian Penal Code Section 143, 307, 323, 504, 298 Arms Act had been applied wrongly against Pastor Arul Daniel and his people. They were arrested on 24 October 2006 and produced before the Judicial First Class First Magistrate of Devgarhbaria Court. The police sought five days of remand for them, which the court refused to grant. They were later released on bail on producing a security of Rs 5000 each. When they were in police custody, the police threatened them and took their signatures on blank papers.

Condemning the incident, All India Christian Council appealed to the Gujarat Government to follow raj dharma “as such incidents are taking place with the blessing” of the Government. “If the Government tries to get the Anti-Conversion Bill (Amendment – 2006) by registering baseless and fabricated cases against the minority community, the Christians would not sit quietly. We will organize mass agitations at the national level to draw the attention of the Central Government and the global community.”


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Christian Arrested at Healing Festival in India

Hindu extremists harass 25-year-old before he is detained for 'causing disharmony.'

MUMBAI, India, October 31 (Compass Direct News) - Police last Friday (October 27) arrested a 25-year-old believer for "causing communal disharmony" after Hindu extremists harassed him for selling Christian literature at an evangelistic event in the eastern state of Orissa.

Baliguda Police showed up to arrest Amit Kumar Raul of Sutahat, Cuttack, after a group of Hindu extremists harassed him at the booth where he was selling literature at the "Peace Festival and Healing Crusade" in Gudripadri village, near Udayagiri town, in Kandhamal district. More than 10,000 people attended the four-day festival.

As a healing service was taking place on Friday, the last day of the event, at about 3 p.m. a group of men from the extremist Hindu Jagaran Samukhya came to Raul's stall and looked through several books, paying particular attention to a book entitled, Oh, You Hindu, Awake.

The Hindu extremists began shouting and waving the book in the air. Using foul language, they hurled curses at Raul and repeatedly slapped him.

Soon after this attack, members of the Hindu extremist Sangh Parivar, who had filed a First Information Report, came to the book stall along with police. Officers arrested Raul under the Indian Penal Code, section 153(A), for "causing communal disharmony."

Asit Mohanty, state coordinator of Global Council of Indian Christians in Orissa, told Compass that Raul's bail plea was rejected by the Judicial Magistrate First Class Court
at Baliguda court on Saturday (October 28)..

"The complainants are backed by strong political influences of the state," Mohanty told Compass. "The area is currently very tense. The local Christians are terrified, anticipating an attack from the Sangh Parivar radicals."

Baliguda Superintendent of Police Satish Gojvie told Compass, "We arrested Amit Kumar Raul because an offensive book was being sold. The local Hindu leaders had lodged a complaint, and they had even demanded the arrest of the Christian leaders, but we arrested only him to prevent communal violence."

Two senior attorneys have been appointed to secure Raul's release from the Session's Judge Court of Kandhamal district headquarters, according to Mohanty, but at press time he was still in jail as the judge went on leave today for an unknown period.

Prior to the evangelistic rally, local Hindu extremists had issued threats to organizers of the festival, led by Christian Jana Kalyan Samaj. The organizers, however, had obtained permission from the state administration for the event.

Raul's was just one of many book stalls up selling Christian literature at the festival, where healings and decisions to receive Christ were described as "many." The rally featured as main speakers S.R. Manohar and his wife, Madhu, of Rays of Love Trust, along with Sam Taylor of Eternal Light Ministries.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hindu leaders call for arrest and deportation of Christian missionaries

30th October 2006
Andhra Pradesh
The vice-president of the BJP - composed of nationalist Hindus - has accused 68 foreigners in the area of converting 6,000 tribals through fraud. He urged police to intervene instead of just looking on.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) - The ruling party in the southern State of Andhra Pradesh, made up of nationalist Hindus, has accused missionaries coming from Canada and the United States of organizing conversions to Christianity through fraud among local outcastes, and has called for their arrest and deportation.

S.V. Seshagiri Rao, vice-president of the Bharatia Janata Party [BJP, India's biggest political party of nationalist-Hindu inspiration] made this allegation last week during a press conference in the capital. He said: "Teams of Christian missionaries have fanned out in various tribal areas of Nalgonda district and are forcibly converting tribals to Christianity."

The politician, who addressed the press conference together with the party's secretary and legal consultant, said the missionaries "promised those who converted free medical treatment, homes, education and 100 rupees per day".

The nationalists said that "according to information in their possession", already about 4,000 persons had converted to Christianity in 30 villages in Nalgonda and Guntur districts and a further 2,000 in Nidamanooru, Anumola and Gurrampodu.

Rao continued: "The 68 foreigners in the area divided into several teams that are visiting villages with the help of locals for their conversion work. The matter was reported to the Nalgonda police but no action was initiated."

Some experts say this last phrase is very dangerous because it often marks the prelude to attacks by fanatical Hindus who "feel duty-bound to intervene personally given the indifference of the armed forces".

The three leaders ended by urging "official action by the government who should arrest and deport the missionaries instead of remaining indifferent to the problem".

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