Tuesday, June 14, 2005
By BosNewsLife News Center
MUMBAI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Three American missionaries who were reportedly beaten by "Hindu fundamentalists" in Mumbai for preaching the Gospel there, will be deported by India because they "violated" the terms of their tourist visa's, police said Tuesday, June 14.
In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, local police said Philip Allan, Clover Edward and Richard Jenal were "indulging in preaching activities despite holding tourist visas," which "violates visa rules."
Police officials added the three men would be deported on the first available flight to the United States. The three missionaries, who were attacked this weekend, were part of a group of eight American preachers who came to India to preach the Gospel, BosNewsLife established.
There was no evidence that all eight team members "violated" the strict police guidelines, but the group apparently decided that everyone had to leave because of the pressure. Four already left, and the others were due in the US Tuesday, June 12, after staying at a local Foreigners Registration Office where they declined to talk to reporters. They reportedly belong to a Church of Christ congregation in North Carolina and were to be in India for three weeks. The Church of Christ could not be reached for comment.
The troubles began when three team members were attacked by "Hindu fundamentalists" as they tried to deliver a lecture as invited quests at vacation Bible classes in a suburb of Mumbai, known as India's famous film or 'Bollywood' center, local police said. Mumbai is also the capital of the predominantly Hindu state of Maharashtra, in Western India.
"A group of around 40 people attacked the Christian gathering and assaulted the missionaries late on Saturday night," a police statement claimed. Local residents and dozens of Hindu activists who raided the area allegedly accused the preachers of converting Hindus "by luring locals with money and miracle cures,"
Missionaries Allan and Edward, were slightly injured in the violence while Jenal, was abducted by militants but later set free, according to police investigators.
Police said two persons were arrested because of the attack, but later released by a local court for unknown reasons. The latest reported violence against Christian believers came weeks after a team of the US-backed Youth With a Mission group was attacked in India by an angry Hindu crowd.
Evangelicals have defended Christian activities in India, saying there is nothing wrong in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who they believe also loves Hindu people.
But churches and human rights groups fear what they see as growing Hindu hatred towards Christians. They have also expressed concern about the reported massive distribution of weapons among Hindu militants across India, which they say will be used to intimate Christians and other religious minority groups.
John Dayal, President of the advocacy group All India Christian Union (AICU) told the Catholic oriented website AsiaNews that the "US government was too quick to remove India from the list of terrorist countries." He said the AICU "is going to make an independent enquiry into this grave incident. [. . .] Anti-Christian violence is escalating in Maharashtra," state he reportedly said.
On its website, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) condemned the attack on a "peaceful religious gathering" even if it was held "by a neo-Christian group with powerful preachers," AsiaNews reported.
It is very "unfortunate that foreign nationals are not being treated well in our country, which has a rich tradition of [welcoming] guests. It is appalling that...US nationals were attacked—these days any Christian religious assembly is looked upon with suspicion," CBCI spokesman Babu Joseph Svd was qouted as saying. (Satya Sundar Mishra is BosNewsLife India Reporter based in Orissa. Mishra, 26, is a Development Journalist of Orissa working on social and religious issues that are not yet on the radar screen of media and politicians. He has been working for a variety of key publications. The reporter can be reached via e-mail email@example.com )