India Police And Hindu Militants Besiege Christian Convention

Monday, October 22, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center with BosNewsLife' Stefan J. Bos

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Police forces and Hindu militants interrupted a major Christian convention in India's state of Chhattisgarh and forced a pastor to hand over names of people who "accepted Christ", a Christian official told BosNewsLife Sunday, October 21.

Police and Hindu militants attempted to storm the "59th General Convention [of the] Church of God held in the church" in [the area of] Rajatalab Raipur in the vicinity of state's capital Raipur, said Sajan George, National President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy group.

The convention, which began Tuesday, October 16 and was due to end Sunday, October 21, is apparently aimed at setting out a vision for the church, which has over one thousand members, and to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

George said that troubles began Saturday, October 20, when the church had a baptism service in the morning which he claimed was "clandestinely" filmed by members of the militant Hindu group Dharam Sena.


They were "sitting on a tree near the baptism tank and they went and showed the video to the police saying the Church of God indulged in converting people," he said. The Hindu militants apparently successfully "filed a case against the church and the pastor."

During a worship service local police leaders, prosecutors and about eight Dharam Sena members tried to enter the meeting premises "forcefully" but the "sisters of the church blocked them at the entrance," said George, which has close contacts with the church.

"On hearing the commotion Pastor Thomas Mammen came out and took the officials and the radicals to his office. The visitors demanded the pastor to furnish them with a list of persons who accepted Christ," apparently during the baptism service.

"Officials told the pastor to call some of the believers who accepted [Jesus] Christ" as personal Lord and Savior for questioning, George said. "After completion of the interrogations the officials told the pastor that they would return Sunday, October 21, for further investigations."


He said the pastor and local believers urged local authorities not to the disturb the convention after Dharam Sena were heard talking about plans to further disrupt the convention.
George suggested that the latest incident has put pressure on the pastor, a married 36-year-old father with a two-year-old son.

The state of Chhattisgarh is currently governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), known as a Hindu nationalist grouping that opposes the spread of Christianity in India.

In a memorandum published over the weekend, the well-informed GCIC said it has recorded 464 "cases of atrocities against Christians" in the last 20 months. India's state of Karnataka has allegedly the worst record in this period with 87 cases, followed by Madhya Pradesh with 30 cases. The Council said it has urged Indian authorities to carry out an independent inquiry into the incidents.

The memorandum links the rise in atrocities in Karnataka to the Bharatiya Janata Party coming to power in the State. "After the BJP came into the coalition, there has been a climate of impunity for any acts of violence that are committed in the name of Hindutva," the memorandum said. Many of these attacks "occurred inside homes in the places of worship of Christians, as people were worshipping within the privacy of their homes and churches," said the GCIC.

Copyright 2007 BosNewsLife. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without our prior written consent.