Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Christians in Punjab Victimized for Exercising Their Civil Rights inState Election & Pastor Beaten in Rajasthan

New Delhi, March 12, 2007 (All India Christian Council)

Three pastors have been arrested and charged with attempts on thelives of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) activists in Bathinda, Punjab.They were sentenced by a district magistrate to 24 days policecustody under section 307 of Indian Penal Code. Sources told the AllIndia Christian Council the allegations are false and the factscontradict reports by local media which carried fabrications from VHPand Bajrang Dal activists. Another pastor was beaten in Rajasthan andpolice refused to take his complaint.

Fifteen women were having prayer in Pastor Amit Sidhu's home inBathinda, Punjab on March 10, 2007, when a group of VHP and BajrangDal leaders came and asked them to stop. The matter was brought tothe attention of other local Christians and there was a clash betweenthem and VHP and Bajrang Dal activists.

One source told the All India Christian Council that a VHP activistwas severely injured and later Pastor Kulwan Raj, Chootta Singh andHarfool Singh were booked with an attempt on the lives of VHPactivists.

On the following day, Vijay Bhardwaj, the general secretary of theVHP, and Sumit Kumar, co-coordinator of the Bajrang Dal, led a group50 Hindutva activists and attempted to attack the occupants of PastorAmit Sidhu's house. Police forces had to disperse the crowd withlathi charges and it has been reported that some of them sufferedinjuries.

Gurjit Romana, Station House Officer of city police station, whoprotected the Christians from VHP and Bajrang Dal attack has beensuspended.

The three accused pastors were produced before magistrate today andthey have been put in police custody for 24 days.

"Christians were targeted because they exercised their rights offranchise, and the VHP and Bajrang Dal activists were angry thatChristians voted against their political alliances," one victimizedChristian said.

Christian women have given a complaint to local police against VHPand Bajrang Dal leaders for abusing them.

This incident took place less then a month after Akali Dal and itsBJP alliance won the state Assembly election. The Christian communityof the state live in fear of religious fanatics' attack might occuredas it happens in BJP and its allience Government rule states.

Another Pastor Brutally Beaten in Rajasthan

In another incident, Pastor Reginald Howell of Good ShepherdCommunity Churches was brutally beaten by a fanatic group inHanumangarh, Rajasthan, on March 7, 2007. Pastor Howell went there topray for sick people along with other Christians. He was beaten withan iron rod and suffered severe injuries on his back.

He told the All India Christian Council that police refused to takehis complaint against the culprits and forced him to leave the place.He sought medial attention as he was bleeding and doctors refused togive him First Aid in fear of attack from religious fanatics. Hehired a taxi and managed to reach his hometown in Punjab.

The All India Christian Council (, birthed in 1998,exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, andthe oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indiandenominations, organizations, and lay leaders.

Source: AICC