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.