BosNewsLife - Christian News Agency
By Santosh Digal, BosNewsLife Asia Correspondent

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Christians are a minority in India and can face persecution, rights groups say. Via BBC News



NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Police in India's southern state Karnataka detained a pastor for "forcing" Hindus "to convert" to Christianity, while Hindu extremists exhumed a Christian's dead body saying it "contaminated" a cemetery's soil, evangelical leaders confirmed Friday, March 19.

Pastor M. S. Valsalan of the Bethesda Assembly of God Church was taken into police custody near the port city of Mangalore, under pressure of dozens of Hindu militants and the hard-line Bharatiya Janata Party, said the influential Christian umbrella group Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI).

Some thirty Hindu militants accusing Valsalan of "forceful conversions" had stormed a church member's house visited by the pastor and his family, before turning him over to police, according to local Christians.

"Police arrived on the spot and took the pastor to the station for questioning and later arrested him under Sections 295 (A) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code", EFI General Secretary Richard Howell told BosNewsLife."The pastor was sent to the central jail in Mangalore."

It was not immediately clear if and when the pastor would be released on bail, pending trial. The advocacy group Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) said on its affiliated Website persecution.in it was "in touch with the police officials to get the pastor released as early as possible." 

ANTI-CONVERSION POLICIES

Several states in India have implemented anti-conversion policies, but human rights groups say they have been misused to target minority Christians and to settle personal disputes.

The detention came as elsewhere in Karnataka, some "150 Hindu extremists" were seen digging out the dead body of a Christian and dumped it Wednesday, March 17, about three kilometers (two miles) away from the cemetery in the town of Arsikere, said Walter Maben, chairman of mission group Karnataka Mission Network.

It happened soon after the funeral procession of 50-year-old Isaac, a member of St. Thomas Church, he explained.

"The Hindu radicals forcefully entered into the cemetery, exhumed the body, and tossed it into a tractor while reprimanding the Christians to carry the dead body instead to Rome or America. They said the dead body of a Christian may contaminate the soil," Maben added.

MOURNERS UPSET

Mourners apparently pleaded with the extremists "to spare the dead body" and ran after the truck. The Christians managed to take hold of the body and reported the matter to police, Maben told BosNewsLife.

"However, police advised the Christians to remain silent about the incident and to bury the dead body in another cemetery, to avoid further attacks from the extremists. The body was buried in the Church of South India cemetery at midnight, one kilometer away from the [original] St. Thomas cemetery," he added.

The latest incidents in Karnataka come amid concerns among law enforcement officials that Hindu militants may prepare more violence against Christians in southern India.

In a related development in the southern state of Orrisa police on Friday, March 18, detained the leader of the nationalist group Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), or World Hindu Council, Praveen Togadia, for attempting to enter riot-hit Kandhamal district.

MORE VIOLENCE

Authorities and church leaders said there was concern his visit could spark new violence in the area, where over 100 people died in anti-Christian violence since December 2007.

Most bloodshed happened in the region in August, 2008, when Hindu mobs in Orissa's Kandhamal District attacked churches and Christian homes. The violence broke out after the killing of a Hindu leader.  Although Maoist fighters reportedly claimed responsibility, Hindus blamed Christians.

Togadia was released Saturday, March 19, but VHP said it would plan massive strikes and protests this weekend against the brief detention.

The tensions come at a time when Hindu groups are increasingly vocal against what they view as attempts by active Christians, including church leaders and missionaries, to convert people to Christianity in this predominantly Hindu nation of over one billion people.

Church groups say there is growing interest in Christianity among India's Dalits, the 'lowest' caste in the country's ancient system of Hinduism. There are believed to be about 170 million Dalits, roughly Brazil's population. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife Special Correspondent Ajay Kumar Singh from India. Editing by BosNewsLife's Stefan J. Bos).

18 Responses to “India Pastor Jailed For Converting Hindus, Corpse Exhumed”

  1. anjack Says:

    pastor valvan should be released immediately because in Christianity nothing like force to change your faith, those hindus accepted the christain faith from their own mind

  2. A.S.Mathew Says:

    The same old slogan “forced conversion” is a political strategy of the BJP and other sister
    organizations. Nobody is forcing anybody to convert. How people can be forced to
    convert? If I tell somebody about Jesus and the way of happiness to follow, is that
    forced conversion? Anyway, thousands of Hindus are coming to follow Jesus Christ,
    and the BJP is chronically singing the same old song ” forced conversion”.

  3. weavo4 Says:

    There are many extreme religions in the world. Viewing the articles concerning this subject, it appears that the missionary movement is part of the problem. While Islam wants all to covert to their teachings, the Christian groups have missionaries in countries like India, hoping to covert a few. Time to realize that reglion in itself, is the problem on the world stage. Whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc, each religion seems to believe that they are the true religion. Western countries should withdraw their missionaries, withdraw aid to these countries, withdraw totally. Many will argue that the world is to “connected” to perform an action such as this, but what gain is there to continue a dialogue, when ignorance in these countries is the order of the day. These countries should be left alone, let them destroy themselves, just let them be. These folks cannot be forced to change, they will not change. As the worlds population increases, with the increase in poverty, the only solution will be a few countries in the world, who have an environment, in which they chose to consider their own fate, rather than worry about nations who will in the end, destroy themselves anyway.

  4. weavo4 Says:

    There are many extreme religions in the world. Viewing the articles concerning this subject, it appears that the missionary movement is part of the problem. While Islam wants all to covert to their teachings, the Christian groups have missionaries in countries like India, hoping to covert a few. Time to realize that reglion in itself, is the problem on the world stage. Whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc, each religion seems to believe that they are the true religion. Western countries should withdraw their missionaries, withdraw aid to these countries, withdraw totally. Many will argue that the world is to “connected” to perform an action such as this, but what gain is there to continue a dialogue, when ignorance in these countries is the order of the day. These countries should be left alone, let them destroy themselves, just let them be. These folks cannot be forced to change, they will not change. As the worlds population increases, with the increase in poverty, the only solution will be a few countries in the world, who have an environment, in which they chose to consider their own fate, rather than worry about nations who will in the end, destroy themselves anyway.

  5. Sam Says:

    I don’t think that you could prove a “forced” conversion. If these people choose to become Christians they will probably be beaten, abused, kicked out of their family, house or village. They will be ostrisized and possibly even killed. Knowing what they will face; why would any choose to become Chrstian? Maybe there is something that goes beyond suffering that they can not find anywhere else. True Hope.

  6. Douglas Says:

    Any human being should be allowed to practise his or her religious belief and focuse attention into something productive. I just happend to read take dead bodies to Rome or America. Millions of Indians live in US practicse there religious belief with no restriction they build temples spread there belief live and work freely. Hindu saints visit US to make and collect money. Millions of dollars are send back to India to build temples and support political parties. America is not a christain nation. This is a country people of different faith, culture, nationality live together freely. Can India be the same.

  7. James Robertson Says:

    The persecution of Christians reflects the hypocritical and stagnant ideologies of an stagnant nation.

    We in the West will not tolerate this and India will have to pay dearly for it’s newly found Anti-Christian image.

    You’re not fooling anyone India.

  8. nasir masih Says:

    hioll pastor , may name nasir masih, I am pakistan , I love you pastor you E – mail and name , ok pastor,

  9. Carly Maccheyne Says:

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  10. Good Forex Says:

    ooohh, Good article Thank you so much :)

  11. mikedowley Says:

    the hypocritical and stagnant ideologies of an stagnant nation may be a little harsh!

  12. sankar Says:

    When Prime Minister Vajpayee was in the US in September (2000) , the National Association of Asian Christians in the US (whom nobody had heard about before), paid $ 50,000 to the New York Times to publish “an Open Letter to the Honorable Atal Bihari Vajpayee, prime minister of India.”

    While “warmly welcoming the PM,” The NAAC expressed deep concern about the “persecution” of Christians in India by “extremist” (meaning Hindu) groups mentioning as examples “the priest, missionaries and church workers who have been murdered,” the nuns “raped,” and the potential enacting of conversion laws, which would make “genuine” conversions illegal. The letter concluded by saying “that Christians in India today live in fear.”

    The whole affair was an embarrassment (as it was intended to be) to Mr. Vajpayee and the Indian delegation, which had come to prod American businessmen to invest in India, a peaceful, pro-Western and democratic country.

    I am born a Christian and I have had a strong Catholic education. I do believe that Christ was an incarnation of Pure Love and that His Presence still radiates in the world. I also believe there are human beings who sincerely try to incarnate the ideals of Jesus and that you can find today in India a few missionaries (such as Father Ceyrac, a French Jesuit, who works mostly with lepers in Tamil Nadu) who are incarnations of that Love, tending tirelessly to people, without trying to convert them.

    But I have also lived for more than 30 years in India, I am married to an Indian, I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and I have evolved a love and an understanding of India, which few other foreign correspondents have because they are never posted long enough to start getting a real feeling of this vast and often baffling country (nobody can claim to fully understand India). And this is what I have to say about the “persecution” of Christians in India.

    Firstly, it is necessary to bring about a little bit of a historical flashback, which very few foreign correspondents (and unfortunately also Indian journalists) care to do, which would make for a more balanced view of the problem.

    If ever there was persecution, it was of the Hindus at the hands of Christians, who were actually welcomed in this country, as they have been welcomed in no other place on this planet. Indeed, the first Christian community of the world, that of the Syrian Christians, was established in Kerala in the first century. They were able to live in peace and practice their religion freely, even imbibing some of the local Hindu customs, thereby breaking the Syrian Church in two.

    When Vasco de Gama landed in Kerala in 1498, he was generously received by the Zamorin, the Hindu king of Calicut, who granted him the right to establish warehouses for commerce. But once again, Hindu tolerance was exploited and the Portuguese wanted more and more. In 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque seized Goa, where he started a reign of terror, burning “heretics,” crucifying Brahmins, using false theories to forcibly convert the lower castes, razing temples to build churches upon them and encouraging his soldiers to take Indian mistresses.

    Indeed, the Portuguese perpetrated here some of the worst atrocities ever committed in Asia by Christianity upon another religion. Ultimately, the Portuguese had to be kicked out of India, when all other colonisers had already left.

    British missionaries in India were always supporters of colonialism. They encouraged it and their whole structure was based on “the good Western civilized world being brought to the Pagans.” Because, in the words of Claudius Buchanan, a chaplain attached to the East India Company, “Neither truth, nor honesty, honour, gratitude, nor charity, is to be found in the breast of a Hindoo!” What a comment about a nation that gave the world the Vedas at a time when Europeans were still grappling in their caves!

    And it is in this way that the British allowed entire chunks of territories in the East, where lived tribals, whose poverty and simplicity made them easy prey to be converted to Christianity. By doing so, the Christian missionaries cut a people from their roots and tradition, made them look westwards towards a culture and a way of life which was not theirs.

    And the result is there today for everyone to see: it is in these eastern states, some of which are 90 per cent Christian, that one finds the biggest drug problems (and crime) in India. It should also be said that many of the eastern separatist movements have been covertly encouraged by Christian missionaries on the ground that “tribals were there before the ‘Aryan Hindus’ invaded India and imposed Hinduism upon them.”

    The trouble is that the latest archaeological and linguistic discoveries point to the fact that there NEVER was an Aryan invasion of India –it just was an invention of the British and the missionaries to serve their purpose. Aryanism is a synonym of Vedic culture.

    Secondly, Christianity has always striven on the myth of persecution, which in turn bred “martyrs” and saints, indispensable to the propagation of Christianity. But it is little known, for instance, that the first “saints” of Christianity, “martyred” in Rome, a highly refined civilization which had evolved a remarkable system of gods and goddesses, derived from Hindu mythology via the Greeks, were actually killed (a normal practice in those days) while bullying peaceful Romans to embrace the “true” religion, in the same way that later Christian missionaries will browbeat “heathen” Hindus, adoring many gods into believing that Jesus was the only “true” god.

    Now to come to the recent cases of persecution of Christians in India at the hands of Hindu groups. I have personally investigated quite a few, amongst them the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh, nearly two years ago. This rape is still quoted as an example of the “atrocities” committed by Hindus on Christians.

    Yet, when I interviewed the four innocent nuns, they themselves admitted, along with George Anatil, the bishop of Indore, that it had nothing to do with religion: It was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Today, the Indian press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of atrocities against Christians.

    Or take the burning of churches in Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, which was supposed to have been committed by the “fanatic” RSS. It was proved later that it was actually the handiwork of Indian Muslims, at the behest of the ISI to foment hatred between Christians and Hindus. Yet the Indian press, which went berserk at the time of the burnings, mostly kept quiet when the true nature of the perpetrators was revealed.

    Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the hundred other accused do. What is more probable, is that like in many other “backward” places, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village-feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what — it should be said — are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and Seventh Day Adventist missionaries, known for their muscular ways of conversion.

    Thirdly, conversions in India by Christian missionaries of low caste Hindus and tribals are sometimes nothing short of fraudulent and shameful acts. American missionaries are investing huge amounts of money in India, which come from donation-drives in the United States where gullible Americans think the dollars they are giving go towards uplifting “poor and uneducated” Indians.

    It is common in Kerala, for instance, particularly in the poor coastal districts, to have “miracle boxes” put in local churches. The gullible villager writes out a paper mentioning his wish such as a fishing boat, a loan for a pucca house, fees for the son’s schooling. And lo, a few weeks later the miracle happens! And of course the whole family converts, making others in the village follow suit.

    American missionaries (and their government) would like us to believe that democracy includes the freedom to convert by any means. But France for example, a traditionally Christian country, has a minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects.” And by sects, it is meant anything that does not fall within the recognized family of Christianity — even the Church of Scientology, favoured by some Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta, is ruthlessly hounded. And look at what the Americans did to the Osho movement in Arizona, or how innocent children and women were burnt down by the FBI (with the assistance of the US army) at Waco, Texas, because they belonged to a dangerous sect.

    Did you know that Christianity is dying in the West? Not only is church attendance falling dramatically because spirituality has deserted it, but less and less youth accept the vocation to become priests or nuns. And as a result, say in the rural parts of France, you will find only one priest for six or seven villages, whereas till the late seventies, the smallest hamlet had its own parish priest.

    And where is Christianity finding new priests today? In the Third World, of course! And India, because of the innate impulsion of its people towards god, is a very fertile recruiting ground for the Church, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Hence the huge attention that India is getting from the United States, Australia, or England and the massive conversion drive going on today.

    It is sad that Indians, once converted, specially the priests and nuns, tend to turn against their own country and help in the conversion drive. There are very few “White” missionaries left in India and most of the conversions are done today by Indian priests.

    Last month, during the bishop’s conference in Bangalore, it was restated by bishops and priests from all over India that conversion is the FIRST priority of the Church here. But are the priests and bishops aware that they would never find in any Western country the same freedom to convert that they take for granted in India? Do they know that in China they would be expelled, if not put into jail? Do they realize that they have been honoured guests in this country for nearly two thousand years and that they are betraying those that gave them peace and freedom?

    Hinduism, the religion of tolerance, and spirituality of this new millennium, has survived the unspeakable barbarism of wave after wave of Muslim invasions, the insidious onslaught of Western colonialism which has killed the spirit of so many Third World countries, and the soul-stifling assault of Nehruvianism. But will it survive the present Christian offensive?

    Many Hindu religious leaders feel Christianity is a real threat today, as in numerous ways it is similar to Hinduism, from which Christ borrowed so many concepts. (See Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s book: “Hinduism and Christianity”)

    It is thus necessary that Indians themselves become more aware of the danger their culture and unique civilization is facing at the hands of missionaries sponsored by foreign money. It is also necessary that they stop listening to the Marxist-influenced English newspapers’ defense of the right of Christian missionaries to convert innocent Hindus.

    Conversion belongs to the times of colonialism. We have entered the era of Unity, of coming together, of tolerance and accepting each other as we are, not of converting in the name of one elusive “true” god.

    When Christianity accepts the right of other people to follow their own beliefs and creeds, then only will Jesus Christ’s spirit truly radiate in the world.

    [The author, who writes "The Ferengi's Column" in The Indian Express, is the correspondent in South Asia for Le Figaro, France's largest circulating daily. He has just published "Arise O India" (Har-Anand).]

  13. SHANKAR Says:

    this christain bastards are saying about bjp who the fuck gave them the right to speak about bjp. the bjp is fighting for the cause of hindu. if you are uncomfortable then get out of our country you christains .this are making advantage of india secular.these people are fooling poor hindu by giving money .

  14. Stefan Bos Says:

    Dear Shankar,

    While we believe in freedom of expression, we do not appreciate some of the words you use. Could you please provide us with some concrete evidence, places, names etc. of Christians “fooling poor Hindu by giving money” to convert? In a democratic country people can say whatever they think of a political party, including the BJP. I thought India promotes itself as a the biggest democracy of the world? You apparently disagree…?

    Best regards,

    Stefan J. Bos, BosNewsLife

  15. Kathi Metzga Says:

    Good blog! I truly love how it is simple on my eyes and the data are well written. I am wondering how I might be notified when a new post has been made. I’ve subscribed to your feed which must do the trick! Have a great day!

  16. naveen Says:

    In Tamilnadu Dalit christians are following pentacostal, preaching, shouting, disturbing all the public during the days of hindu worship i.e. Fridays, Sundays, Tuesdays, Pooja holidays. These are highly reprimanded and should be avoided. Forcing the poor people by giving mutton/chicken biriyani during their festival season, giving them biscuits, dress materials etc. to convert christianity still continuing in slums.

  17. govindanmail.com Says:

    Yes really a good article and respondants, I was the one the sufferers of dalit conversions……………… they are fooling dalits and taking them to such a way which cannot be retracked………..really the missioneries are killing dalits..

  18. Christian Says:

    I read this post completely concerning the comparison of most recent and previous technologies,
    it’s awesome article.

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