EFI News: Persecution Report from Karnataka and Chhattisgarh

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November 18, 2009

Christian woman arrested in Karnataka

On 1 November (Sunday), Karnataka police barged into the children hostel of Christianity Outreach Ministry (COM) and arrested the manager on charges of forceful conversion in Udupi.

EFI correspondent Rev. Noel Kotain reported from Bangalore that COM hostel provides shelter, food and clothing to 65 girls from various castes and religious backgrounds. On June, two girls who need shelter went to see Mrs. Helen, headmistress of Christian High School and she recommended the COM hostel. The hostel manager, Saroja Margaret gladly accepted the two girls.

Speaking to EFI, Rev Joseph Jamkandi, husband of Margaret said, “The two girls were two of our best students, they were on their best behavior within the four months of their stay here and we have been very happy with them.” Their accusation against my wife came as a great shock for us too, he added. These two girls lodged a complaint against Margaret of forceful conversion and of criticizing Hinduism.

At about 8 a.m, Margaret was cooking for the girls when the police stormed in to the hostel and dragged her to Kapu police station. She was detained in the police station for the entire day.

In the meantime, at about 10 a.m. a group of police went to COM hostel and made a thorough investigation on the hostel. They questioned the children, neighbors and checking all the hostel facilities. No one testify against Margaret.

The 63 girls claimed that there never was an instance when they were forced to read the Bible or participate in the devotion and criticism of any religion was never uttered in the hostel, according to reports.

At about 3:30 p.m., the Deputy Superintendent of Police informed Kapu police to produce Margaret before the Magistrate as First Information Report was already registered against her. She was arrested under Section 298 of the Indian Penal Code and 153 Part 1(b) for uttering words with intend to hurt religious feelings of others and for creating problem in the community respectively.

Margaret was taken before the magistrate; judicial custody was decided against her. At about 5:30 p.m. she was sent to Mangalore District Prison.

Margaret was released on bail on Nov 3. Kindly pray for her as the incident left her shaken and also pray for all the girls in the hostel.

Christians attacked in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh

Hindu extremists on November 8 beat up Christians till one fell unconscious in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh.

Our correspondent Akhilesh Edgar reported that a Christian, Tekchand invited a couple Keshup and Suneeta Baghel to his home to pray for his sick child.

At about 8 p.m., about 50 extremists stormed the house, accused Baghel and his wife of forceful conversion and started beating the Christians not even sparing the women. They hit Tekchand on his head and he fell unconscious on the floor.

The extremists dragged Baghel and his wife to the police station and filed a complaint against them of forceful conversion. About 100 extremists’ pressured the police to file a case against the Christians.

In the meantime, four Christians who went to the police station to give support to the Christians were mercilessly beat up upon their arrival by the intolerant Hindu extremists.

Tekchand lodged a police complaint against the attackers and police filed First Information Report against the extremists. The Christians were taken to a hospital for medical treatment.

No case was registered against the Christians. Kindly continue to pray for Chhattisgarh where violence against Christians becomes a common occurrence.

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell

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