By BosNewsLife News Center
NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- Schools, bank accounts and offices of Emmanuel Mission International (EMI), one of India's largest evangelical mission organizations, have reopened in the tense state of Rajasthan after being closed for over four months, BosNewsLife learned Friday, June 30.
Operating licenses were “temporarily” restored, pending a judicial hearing next week, July 4, at the High Court in the state capital of Jaipur, said EMI’s American sponsor, Hopegivers International (HI).
"We urge all Americans to join the churches of India in prayer on July 4, asking that the licenses will be permanently restored,” said HI Executive Director Michael Glenn.
An appeals court judge on the Jaipur High Court reportedly asked the Rajasthan State Government this week to appear in court next Tuesday, July 4, to explain the reasons for canceling the licenses of EMI/HI institutions in Jaipur.
Glenn suggested that the judge’s ruling confirmed the Indian Christian community’s widespread view that the attempted takeover, as well as the license revoking, was illegal and without merit.
"This means that our bank accounts started to operate today. We praise God for this breakthrough. We have been anxiously awaiting some relief. Now we can finally send money openly to all our Hope Homes that are in desperate need," he said.
Backed by militants, hard-line Hindu authorities froze bank accounts and revoked licenses to operate humanitarian outreaches in February, although officials said most of the institutions remained open despite the official bans.
EMI is involved in several humanitarian activities and leads a native church movement that supports 10,000 orphans, including many ‘Dalits;, also known as the "untouchables," as they are considered "the lowest caste" in India’s ancient system of Hinduism.
"The restrictions took a toll on our 66 schools and 16 Hope Homes throughout Rajasthan, but this ruling has come in time for the new school session,” said Glenn.
School were expected to officially open Saturday, July 1, but “with hundreds fewer students” because of what HI described as “a highly publicized propaganda campaign aimed at deterring parents from sending their children to Christian schools” operated by EMI and HI.
As an example, lawyers and other officials said the local government from the Department of Social Welfare this month falsely announced a “takeover” of the Kota orphanage, which houses 2,500 homeless children.
Rights groups have linked the reported crackdown to concern among Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity, especially in rural areas of India and among Dalits. Reports that the courts have overruled the government’s attempt to close down EMI operations came as a boost for EMI founder Archbishop M.A. Thomas and his son, EMI President Rev Samuel Thomas, who could be re-arrested.
Samuel Thomas was released in May on bail after 47 days in prison under charges related to alleged anti-Hindu activities and "forced conversions" along with other workers, while his father had received an arrest warrant on similar accusations, including the publication of a perceived anti-Hindu book.
The book 'Haqikat' or "a bunch of truths", was written by a Kerala attorney, M.J. Matthew. He is currently in hiding in South India after death threats, BosNewsLife learned from a source on condition of anonymity. (With BosNewsLife reports from India and the US and BosNewsLife Research).
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