India Court Hears Christian Missionaries Accused Of "Forced Conversion"

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- The high court of India's western state of Gujarat heard a counter complaint Monday, November 6, from eight Christian missionaries accused of forced conversion and attempted murder. The Christians said police tortured them after they were attacked by Hindu militants.

The eight believers, who work for the Indian Missionary Society (IMS) reportedly, filed a petition September 28 against nine Hindu extremists who allegedly for attacked them in Vankadi village in Dahod district on September 20.

“The honorable court accepted the Christians’ petition seeking inclusion of more sections of the Indian Penal Code in their counter complaint, and filing of a fresh complaint against a policeman for subjecting them to mental and physical torture,” Samson Christian, joint secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC), told Compass Direct News agency.

The Gujarat High Court was conducting the first hearing of a “special criminal application,” with the next hearing scheduled for November 16. The Christians reportedly asked the court to add to their complaint the charges of using deadly weapons, criminal intimidation, wrongful confinement and extortion.

"Tomorrow, the victims will file another petition seeking quashing of the false complaint against them," Christian was quoted as saying. The eight were arrested on charges of forced conversion, attempt to murder and carrying fire arms on September 24.


Kanji Budha Nayak, the complainant and one of the reported attackers, claimed that when he resisted IMS attempts to "forcibly" convert him, one of them opened fire at him.

However on October 15, after the intervention of the high court, police reportedly filed a "counter complaint" against nine Hindu militants, including Nayak, for the attack and against a police official of the Devgarhbaria police station for allegedly torturing the Christians. One of the eight attacked and tortured Christians, Madhu Jagan Bari was recovering in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Monday, November 7, for a broken leg.

The Christians say that the attack took place September 20 when Pastor A. Arul Daniel and his family, along with other workers of IMS, were returning from Divya village, where they had attended a house warming ceremony of a widow identified only as Gujiben.


On the way they allegedly found the road blocked with branches of trees and stones. As they slowed down their motorcycles, around 10 people carrying sticks and other "lethal" weapons attacked them, the complaint claims. They put a sharp knife on Pastor Daniel’s neck and threatened to kill him if he resisted,” Christian told reporters. "They took away his mobile [phone] and some cash, besides snatching his wife’s gold chain."

The attackers also took away other mobile phones and personal belongings. "Then they led them to the main road, abusing and manhandling them all the way," Compass Direct News quoted Christian as saying. When the believers later wanted to file a complaint, police detained them, September 21, Indian Christians said.

The AICC has expressed concerns that the state government may justify the actions by referring to the controversial anti-conversion amendment bill, the so-called Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill 2006, by registering "false cases" against members of the Christian minority community. Besides Gujarat, several other states have similar legislation, BosNewsLife monitored. (With BosNewsLife Monitoring and reports from India).

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