Friday, November 25, 2011

Pastor’s Arrest Stirs Anti-Christian Sentiment In Kashmir, India

A Christian trys to convert people to his faith and what do you do when all else fails? Stir up hostility against the Christian faith.

11/23/2011 India (CDN)-Charges that a pastor in Jammu and Kashmir state “lured” Muslims to Christianity by offering money are false and have put the lives of the clergyman and other Christians in danger, according to Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy of the Church of North India denomination.

Following the arrest on Saturday (Nov. 17) of the Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of All Saints Church in Srinagar, Bishop Samantaroy told Compass by phone that the time has come for the church to speak up against the “discriminatory action” by authorities in India’s Kashmir Valley.

The bishop of the Amritsar Diocese said the pastor told him his life was in danger, as the charges have angered area Muslims. The government must provide protection to the pastor, churches and Christian institutions “immediately,” he said.

The allegations of allurement appear to have turned Muslim clergy and separatist leaders against the Christians. Kashmir lies at the heart of a bitter territorial dispute between India, Pakistan and China, even as many Kashmiris call for separation from India. Two prominent leaders of the separatist movement, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, have met religious leaders to prevent “conversions.”

A court in Srinagar on Sunday (Nov. 18) remanded Pastor Khanna to judicial custody for 15 days, a representative of the Evangelical Fellowship of India’s advocacy wing told Compass. Pastor Khanna was arrested for creating “enmity” between religious communities and hurting religious sentiments.
Bishop Samantaroy said the allegation made by Kashmir Grand Mufti Bashir-ud-din Ahmad, the state’s highest official of Islamic law, that Pastor Khanna had converted Muslims by offering money was “totally baseless and untrue.”

Ahmad has a video of Muslims being baptized in Pastor Khanna’s church, which he said was evidence on which to file a police complaint of fraudulent conversion, although the video only shows a baptism ceremony. The Constitution of India grants religious freedom to all, allowing them to propagate and change their religion or have no religion at all.

Superintendent of Police of East Srinagar Sheikh Zulfkar Azad, however, told Compass there was “certain evidence” of allurement by Pastor Khanna, though he did not specify it.
“I am in hospital for treatment, and that’s all I can say at the moment,” he said.

Seven youths who were baptized, as shown in the video, have denied to police that they were offered money to convert, a local Christian told Compass. But some local newspapers have quoted anonymous police sources as claiming the converts were given money.

A source who requested anonymity previously told Compass that police beat the converts from Islam when asking them if Christians had given them money for their conversion (see “Police Detain, Beat Converts from Islam in India,” Nov. 10).

Police arrested Pastor Khanna two days after the mufti held a hearing on conversions in the sharia (Islamic law) court he heads. Although sharia courts in India deal only in civil matters with community people’s cooperation and do not have any legal authority, the mufti had summoned the pastor to appear for the hearing. The pastor agreed in an effort to maintain peace(Source).

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