EF India: Christian Couple Arrested in Kashmir; Christians Attacked, Burial Service Denied in Chhattisgarh

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We request for the prayers that the church would continue to serve the nation inspite of innumerable suffering and pray also for those who are persecuting that they may experience the love of Christ.

Christian Couple Arrested in Kashmir

The Jammu & Kashmir Police on April 18 arrested a Christian couple and a local girl in North Kashmir’s Bandipora town when they were allegedly distributing some pamphlets on Christianity in the area.

According to information reachng EFI, the police arrested the couple from New Delhi, Rev. Mafford Maharaj Singh and his wife Kusum Singh from Grace Upon Grace Church after they recieved reports that the duo along with a local girl, Sammena Bano were distributing gospel tracts and sharing their faith to some people in the local market.

"On April 17, Rev Singh and his wife went for shopping accompanied by a young girl whose marriage was on April 20. The Christians started sharing their faith and distributed some pamphlets in Urdu when, suddenly a mob gathered, beat them up and dragged them to the head molvi of the local mosque who finally handed them over to the police" reported our correspondent.

The police registered a complaint on the basis of Article. 153a of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) "promoting enmity between groups on grounds of religion, race, birth, residence". The offense provides for imprisonment up to three years and, if the subject is religion, the punishment may extend to five years.

The couple and the girl were detained and questioned in the police station. Police sources said during questioning, they said they were not doing anything unconstitutional or illegal in the town. The mob had alleged that the couple had offered a sum of Rs. One lakh to persons willing to convert to Christianity and that the New testaments being distributed contained Rs. 50 in them as inducement to convert.

When EFI NEWS contacted SP Bandipora Bashir Ahmed Khan he said "We arrested a Christian couple, on charges of 'personal enmity', they were in police custody since April 17. Investigation is on" he said.The local girl, Sammeno Bano who hails from Gamroo Area of Bandipora was released after questioning.

The local bar association and other groups had protested against the grant of bail to the couple and even prevent advocates from appearing on behalf of the couple. However, a bail application on behalf of the couple was moved before the Magistrate on April 23, by an advocate from the Srinagar High Court, and the couple was finally released on bail late Monday evening.

The arrest comes six months after the police arrested a Christian priest in Srinagar in November last year. A case was registered under section 153A and 295A of RPC against Rev Khanna at the Ram Munshi Bagh police station. Khanna was arrested three days after he appeared before the self-styled supreme court of Shairait, headed by the Grand Mufti of Kashmir Bashir-ud-din, who had issued summons to him.

Christians Attacked, Burial Service Denied in Chhattisgarh

Alleged Hindu extremists on April 20 denied the burial of a Christian, beat up the pastor and believers including children and woman till they fell unconcious in Belgal, Kanker, Chhattisgarh.

According to our correspondent, Rev. Akhilesh Edgar, the village head and about 300 villagers instigated by the Hindu extremists refused the burial of Jaikant Pawar, a convert Christian, who succumed to asthamatic problems.

Pawar on the previous day was taken to a nearby village, Pakhanpur, for treatment, however, the next morning he felt severe chest pain and an ambulance was called. However, unfortunately he died before arrival of the ambulance and his body was sent back to his village.

As the local pastor, Dhaniram Nag and the believers were taking the body of Pawar for burial service from his house, the extremists suddenly surrounded his house shouting anti-Christian slogans, verbally abused the Christians and challenge the pastor and the believers to bring life back in the dead body, started beating the pastor, his wife and other believers including children, women and aged ones.

As they continued attacking the small Christian community, the extremists dragged the believers out from their houses and the small children were pushed and thrown. The beating went on till the pastor and the believers fell unconscious, reported our correspondent.

The believers slowly gain their conciousness after one local girl poured water on the heads of them. At about 2 a.m, the extremists threatened the believers to carry the dead body away from the village or kill them. The believers carried the body and reached Bande police station at about 8 a.m. However, the police on duty was not willing to help them, reported our correspondent.

Thereafter, at about 11 a.m when the mobile network started working, Pastor Dhaniram Nag informed Pastor Daulatram Kushwaha, In charge of Bersheba Church of God about the incident. Area Christian leaders including EFI Network intervened and approached the officials. Subsequently, district administration and police investigated the matter.

The officials summoned the attackers but they falsely accused the Christians of beating them up. However the police warned the extremists not to attack the Christians again and worked out a compromise between the two parties.

The officials permitted the burial of Pawar in the village. Moreover, the authorities granted the believers in Belgal a graveyard, where Pawar’s body was laid to rest.

About 10 believers received injuries and received medical treatment. An FIR has been registered. Please pray for Champa, the wife of Jaikant Pawar, the bereaved family and the ministry in this area.

Issued By:
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell,
General Secretary
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India

Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.