Fourteen Indian Christian Evangelists Imprisoned In Bangladesh

Monday, March 24, 2008

By BosNewsLife Asia Service

DHAKA/NEW DELHI (BosNewsLife) -- Some fourteen Indian Christians remained detained in Bangladesh Saturday, March 22, weeks after completing a three-month sentence for unwittingly crossing the border while evangelizing, because India has not request their repatriation, news reports said.

"Their jail terms was finished on February 28," said the Bangladeshi Inspector General of Prisons, Zakir Hasan, in published remarks. "We applied to our home ministry on February 9 about their repatriation to India, but so far, we did not get any information about their repatriation," Christian news agency Compass Direct News quoted him as saying.

Bangladeshi officials are willing to send the prisoners back to India, but cannot do so unless Indian authorities make arrangements, he added. "If we release them without their high commission’s initiative, they will be caught again in Bangladeshi territory for not having any valid documents and passport. They will be put in jail for another crime."

Indian officials have not yet commented. Bangladeshi border patrols reportedly arrested the 14 evangelists on November 27 of last year.


The Christians appeared in court on November 29 for allegedly illegally crossing the border, a senior police official said.

"Those Christian people were actually preaching Christianity in that mountainous terrain," said Sub-Inspector Babar Ali in a statement. "They could not understand the demarcation line of the border between India and Bangladesh. In actual fact, there is no demarcation line of border there."

Ali said the Christians had no illegal purpose for entering the country, but "entered mistakenly while preaching their religion in a predominantly tribal locality." Investigators found only Christian literature on them, he reportedly added.

India and Bangladesh share a 2,545-mile (4,095-kilometer) border that is largely unfenced, according to observers.

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