Srinagar: A self-styled sharia court of Kashmir on Thursday issued fatwa asking three Christian priests to leave the state for "luring the valley Muslims to Christianity". The court also directed Jammu and Kashmir government to take over the management of the Christian missionary schools, besides monitoring their activities in future.
Last summer, a controversy arose over the conversion of some Muslim youths to Christianity after they were allegedly lured by the pastor MC Khanna of All Saints Church in Srinagar. The video clips were distributed across the valley, showing conversion of local youth to Christianity, which made the Mufti Azam of Kashmir, Mufti Bashir-ud-Din, to summon the pastor for explanation. Mufti Bashir runs a sharia court in the valley and is promptly known for announcing appearance of moon on the occasion of Eids in Kashmir.
According to Nasir-ul-Islam, a deputy of grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din, four Christian priests were involved in alluring the Muslim youth in Kashmir to Christianity. An investigation against the principal of the local Christian missionary school Parvez Sameul Koul is going on.
The Naib (deputy) Mufti Nasir said: Punjabi M C Khanna, Dutch national, Jim Borst, and Gayoor Messah were directed to leave the valley forthwith for their involvement in the conversions in the valley. "However, the case against the principal of Tyndale Biscoe school Parvez Sameul Koul is under investigation and judgment will be announced in due course of time," Naib Mufti said.
The Christian pastors have already migrated from Kashmir valley soon after CM Khanna was released on bail on December 1, 2011 after Jammu and Kashmir police arrested him on November 19,2011 on charges of fomenting communal trouble in the state.
Besides, the decree of the sharia court said that Jammu and Kashmir government should involve itself in the management of the missionary schools and renowned Kashmiri educationists should form the part of the management.
The sharia court even directed the school management to allot a class for Islamia studies as well for the students of other faiths. "Given the Muslim majority character of the valley, the Muslim students should be taught Islam and daily prayer written by Syed Mohammad Iqbal should also be sung in the morning prayers," Naib Mufti Nasir said.
All India Christian Council at in New Delhi on January 13, 2012 had expressed its apprehensions that the community members may face backlash by the verdict of the self-styled Srinagar's Islami shariat court against Christian pastors Jim Borst, C M Khanna and Gayoor Messah for their alleged involvement in luring the people to convert to their religion across Kashmir valley.
The Deputy Mufti,Azam Nasir-ul-Islam, and son of grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din, Mufti Muhammad Nasir-ul-Islam, in a statement on January 11, 2012, had said that it was proved beyond doubt that the accused pastor Khanna, who is putting up in Kashmir for past many years, was along with other accomplices luring Muslim people to change religion.
Dr John Dayal, the spokesman of the Indian Christians, has rejected that that any conversion took place by force.
"A fact finding team which went to Srinagar in the wake of the arrest of Rev Khanna, and interviewed Church personnel, Ulema, school authorities and the police, found no evidence of force or fraud in baptisms that have been carried out over a period of time. Each baptism has been proved to be voluntary," John Dayal said.