India's Rajasthan State Prepares "Re-arrest" Of Evangelical Leaders

Friday, June 2, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- The administration of Rajasthan state's Kota district has leveled fresh charges of "exciting . . . disaffection towards the government of India" against a major evangelical mission organization, a move that could lead to the re-arrest of its leaders, news reports said Thursday, June 1.

Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) founder Archbishop M.A. Thomas and his son, EMI President Rev Samuel Thomas, are among those expected to be re-arrested, their attorney said.

Samuel Thomas was released last month on bail after 47 days in prison under previous charges related to alleged anti-Hindu activities and "forced conversions" along with other workers, while his father had received an arrest warrant on similar charges, including the publication of a perceived anti-Hindu book. The leaders have denied any wrong doing.

In a statement published by news agency Compass Direct, Attorney Mohammad Akram said he feared that the additional charges "could lead to the re-arrest of Samuel Thomas…and other workers, and the re-issue of an arrest warrant against the senior Thomas."


The new accusations are apparently based on Kota police reportedly charging that the map of India shown on the Web site of US-based Hopegivers International (HI), which funds EMI, excluded Jammu and Kashmir states, an offence that can lead to imprisonment for life. BosNewsLife had difficulties accessing the site Thursday, June 1. HI told BosNewsLife it was still investigating the charges.

It meant a further setback for HI-supported EMI, which leads a native church movement receiving for humanitarian and educational work with over 10,000 children as well as running orphanages, hospitals, churches and Christian schools.

The Hindu-led government already froze bank accounts and refused to give new permissions to EMI and HI. Christians have accused the government of supporting militants who oppose the spread of Christianity among 'Dalits', the lowest caste in the ancient system of Hinduism, but the main target group of EMI.


The move comes amid reports that police forces prepare a "data bank of churches and missionary organizations" in Rajasthan state’s Udaipur district, adding to fears of renewed pressure on the state’s Christian minority.

A questionnaire reportedly asks the "ideology of the priest of the church or the head of the organization" and seeks detailed descriptions of Christian institution activities, sources of income, fixed assets, and information on residents of any hostels they may run.

“The tone and tenor of the questionnaire is as if it were aimed at illegal immigrants,” Sajan George, national convener of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said in published remarks. "The survey’s content violates basic human rights and equality assured to all citizens by the constitution of India." (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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