New Delhi, May 16, 2007 (All India Christian Council) Two missionaries from the Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM) were attacked by Hindutva activists in Chhatapur, Madhya Pradesh on May 14, 2007. Police charged them with performing forced and fraudulent conversion.
Sources told the All India Christian Council (aicc), "Pastor Kunal Paricha and Pritam Verma went to screen the Jesus film in a village on May 14, 2007. During the film show, a group of about 15 people led by Muna Tiwari of Shiva Sena came in three vehicles and attacked them. Both missionaries were badly beaten and later forcibly taken to the Orcha Paricha and Verma's screening of the Jesus film was falsely called a fraudulent, forced conversion attempt under section 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Law, 1968. They were also accused of provoking enmity between different religions under section 153 of Indian Penal Code.
Rev. Ramesh of IEM told aicc that Pastors Paricha and Verma have yet to be produced before a Magistrate nd a lawyer applied for anticipatory bail today. He also said that Mr. Tiwari and his gang hired 5 lawyers to support them.
"On the same night Pastor Paricha and Verma was attacked and arrested under Orcha Road police station, the media were called in the night. The next day their photos were flashed in local papers with false allegations and fabricated stories to mislead the public," said Rev. Ramesh.
Rev. Jonathan Chaudhury of IEM told aicc, "Police forces are so quick to book and arrest innocent pastors without investigating the charges leveled against them, however police never take actions against those culprits who attack pastors.
The Intensity on Christian Attack is Increasing
The recent televised attack on Pastor Walter Masih at Jaipur, Rajasthan, on April 29 and Ramesh Gopargode and Ajit Belavi at Kolhapur, Maharastra, on May 8 openly indicates that Christian attacks are increasing.
All India Christian Council President Dr. Joseph D'souza in his open letter to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, said, "We fear this overwhelming cloud of hate and violence has in it the seeds to lead further attack on Christians. Centre Government must not leave the law and order to state alone."
"The Christian Communities in India are shocked and fear of repetition of 1999 like attack on Australian Missionary Staine Graham and his two minor sons and 2002 Gujarat attacks," said Dr. D'souza.
In another recent incident, two unidentified miscreants shot a Catholic priest, Fr. George Philip, head master of St. Vincent Palloti Primary School at his school office at Sangam Vihar in Delhi on May 15 at around 12 noon. He suffered a bullet wound in his upper chest. He was admitted at Batra Hospital. The bullet from his chest has been removed and he is out of danger.
In response to the Kolhapur attack, a delegation called on Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on May 15 and urged him to enact legislation to curb Sangh Parivar terrorism against Christians and other religious groups. The delegation, facilitated by former Minister Naseem Khan, MLA, consisted of Bishop Angelo Gracias of the Mumbai Catholic Archdiocese; Mr. Lawrence D`Souza, Maharashtra President of the All India Catholic Union; Dr Abraham Mathai, President of the Indian Christian Voice and General Secretary of the All India Christian Council; Dr John Dayal, member of the Similarly, a high level fact finding team visited Jaipur earlier and appealed to the state authorities to book the culprits and mastermind behind the televised attack on Pastor Masih.
Dr. Abraham Mathai, leader of aicc Maharastra said, "Measures to protect the Christian minorities from the hands of Hindutva forces, including special provisions like Schedule Caste/Tribe Atrocity Prevention Act 1989, must provided to Christian members."