District Magistrate Orders Christian Prayer Meeting to Stop for One Month in India: By Madhu Chandra
06 Apr 2007
New Delhi, April 5, 2007 (All India Christian Council) A large Christian prayer meeting at Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, was attacked Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists on March 25, 2007. Many people were injured and Pastor Rajendra Chauhan and a colleague were arrested under false allegations of forceful conversion. District Magistrate Mr. Anurag Yadav later ordered the prayer meeting to be halted until the state elections finish on May 3, 2007.
A fact finding team of the All India Christian Council led by Mr. Sushil Kumar, Public Relations Officer, UP Chapter, along with Mr. Damodar and Mr. Pravals met the victims. The fact finding team reported that police and district authorities remained silent spectators to the cries of Christian minority.
Sources told the All India Christian Council that a group of RSS activists in jeeps arrived in the company of police forces and attacked Pastor Rajendra and his colleague Mr. Subhas Patel. They were involved with a Christian prayer meeting held at Jaunpur where nearly 7000 villagers attend on regular Sunday Services. Sick family members are prayed for by pastors.
Pastor Rajendra and his friend were arrested on charges of fraudulent conversions and supposed to be jailed for 14 days and then appear before a Magistrate. However, both of them were bailed out with help from other Christians. They are summoned to appeared for the court on April 8, 2007.
Sources told the All India Christian Council that RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) activists stamped on Pastor Rajendra and Mr. Patel when they appeared before the District Magistrate. Pastor Rajendra and Mr. Patel were harassed throughout the night in Jaunpur police station..
Pastor Sivapal from Varnasi told the All India Christian Council that two cases were filed against Pastor Rajendra and his colleague on charges of forced conversion. He said that Christians filed a complaint against RSS activists but police refused to register the complaint. When Christians requested protection of the Sunday prayer meetings, the District Magistrate ordered them to stop until the Uttar Pradesh elections finish on May 3, 2007.
"Attacks on the Christian minority in the state only days before an election seems to be an attempt to repeat the Hindutva experiment which was tried in the Gujarat Election in 2002. That provoked a genocide against Muslim minorities. We are deeply concerned," said Mr. Sushil Kumar.
Mr. Pravals - an eye witness the attack, reports that about 450 of the prayer meeting attendees stormed the police station demanding the release of Pastor Rajendra. Police lathi charged the crowd and nearly injured nearly 250 people.
Pastor Shivapal also told the All India Christian Council that District Magistrate Mr. Anurag Yadav refused to grant the permission to conduct Easter Sunday service. For Christian Easter Service is important as it marks the day of Lord Jesus` resurrection.