Evangelical Fellowship of India News Persecution Watch, August 20, 2011

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August 20, 2011

Pastor Arrested in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh police arrested Pastor Diwarkar Kumar after one advocate filed a compliant against him of forceful conversion on 29 July in Bilaspur, Kawardha district.

According to our correspondent Rev Akhilesh Edgar, on 28 July a Christian girl, Rani Matle expressed her desire to join a seminary to Pastor Diwaker Kumar of Believer's Church. The Pastor advised her to submit an affidavit to the church, stating her wish to study Bible. Matle approached one advocate to prepare an affidavit for the same.

When another advocate Naval Kishore Pandey learned that Rani Matle was advised by Pastor Diwakar Kumar to make the affidavit, he filed a complaint against Pastor Kumar of forceful conversion to the area Tehsildar and Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM).

On the same day, the SDM summoned Rani Matle, her father Bharat Matle and Pastor Diwakar Kumar to his office and registered their statements. Rani Matle explicitly stated that there is no case of forceful conversion and "that she chose to follow Jesus by her own free will". Thereafter, the police released the pastor without charges. The SDM advised Rani Matle to get the affidavit the next morning.

Subsequently, Rani Matle approached her lawyer to complete her affidavit, along with her father, Pastor Kumar and local believers on the next day. However, advocate Naval Kishore Pandey contacted a local extremist groups and caused an uproar.

The police soon arrived on the spot and one constable slapped the pastor. They took him to the local police station along with Rani Matle and her father for questioning.

The police forced Rani's father Bharat Matle to sign an FIR that was lodged against Pastor Diwakar Kumar under section 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs and under sections 3&4 of the Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religious Act.

The pastor was sent to Bemetara Jail but after the intervention of the leaders of EFI Networks and Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, the pastor was released on bail on 5 August.

Christians Attacked in Chhattisgarh

Hindu extremists on July 3 disrupted the Sunday worship of a Believers Church in Pali, Korba, tearing up Bibles and gospel literature and beat up Pastor Sunil Masih as they accused him of forceful conversion.

Our correspondent Rev. Akhilesh Edgar reported that the extremists from the Bharatiya Janata Party forcefully entered the worship meeting at about 11:30 a.m., took the pastor and church members to a police station.

The church members told the police that they had not been converted by force or fraud and attended church services willingly. The police detained the pastor for about six hours, and after area leaders' intervention, he was released without charges.

In another incident on July 2 in Dhantulsi, Hindu extremists attacked a Christian's wedding reception and subsequent worship service, beating those at the gatherings and leaving their food in ruins.

According to our correspondent, about 60 extremists beat women and children among those they attacked after barging into the wedding reception of tribal Christian Dhurau Kachalam from Althea Indian Mission. They also burned Christians? vehicles.

The Christians submitted a complaint at Kanker police station, but the extremists continued threatening them, telling them to either stop Christian activities or leave the area. Sources said police pressured the Christians to withdraw their complaint and refused to take any action on their behalf.

An Appeal to write to Authorities

As concerned people, kindly write to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh appealing to them to safe guard the rights of the minority communities and to give protection to churches against attacks and to take immediate action against the perpetrators of violence.

Dr. Raman Singh

Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh
Chief Minister Niwas, Raipur
Email: [email protected]

(O) Tel: (0771) 2221000 ; 2221001 ; 2331001
(O) Fax: (0771) 2221306
(R) Tel: (0771) 2331000

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