India State Militants Threaten Christian Orphanage; Counsellors Arrested

Friday, January 26, 2007

By BosNewsLife News Center

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- A Christian orphanage and a Christian drug rehabilitation center in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh have come under pressure to close down, shortly after a controversial anti-conversion law came into force, human rights investigators said Thursday, January 25.

UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said Pastor Behal, a retired army officer who runs an orphanage and care home in Kangra, "faced demands by Hindu fundamentalist groups on January 21 to close his establishment and leave."

Police broke up the protest outside the compound, but the assailants "sought to fabricate allegations of abuse and bring charges against the pastor," CSW claimed.

Earlier, in a separate incident on January 17, counsellors working for a Christian-run drug rehabilitation centre in the town of Kullu were charged by police following contrived allegations by Hindu extremists, the group said.


"The charges reportedly include wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement and outraging religious feelings. The counsellors were later released on bail."

News of the incidents came after the state government passed an anti-conversion law on December 29, which Christians fear could increase attacks by Hindu militants against churches and missionaries. The bill is yet to be signed into law.

"Even though the Himachal Pradesh anti-conversion bill has not yet been signed into law, Hindu extremists appear freshly emboldened to harass the tiny Christian minority in that state, said CSW Advocacy Director Tina Lambert.


"One of our main concerns about the anti-conversion laws in India is that they legitimise or even encourage antagonism towards minority religions." Lambert said that the law, "may now be susceptible to the sort of opposition, violence and discrimination widespread in other states with anti-conversion legislation."

Lampert said CSW had urged the international community to rise up against anti-conversion legizlation in predominantly Hindu India. Less than three percent of India's 1.1 billion people are Christians. (With reports from India).

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