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BosNewsLife (04/21/06) – Amid international pressure, India’s Supreme Court decided to set free on bail Bishop M.A. Thomas, the founder of an influential evangelical mission organization, who had been in hiding as militants and local authorities tried to detain him his alleged anti-Hindu activities, BosNewsLife learned Friday, April 21.

Thomas, 72, the founder of Hope Givers International and its Indian affiliate Emmanuel Mission International (EMI), was told Thursday, April 20, that he is now free to continue his mission activities, officials of the organizations said.

His son and current HI President Samuel Thomas remains in jail in the tense, Hindu-run Indian state of Rajasthan on charges of creating “communal disharmony”, for his alleged involvement in publishing a perceived anti-Hindu book.

The executive director of the EMI orphanage in Kota , Rajasthan, V.S. Thomas, who is not related to the family, was also released on bail, said HI in a “prayer-alert” to BosNewsLife News Center .

“We thank [God] that [both men] are now free and able to openly minister again,” the organization said.

CHRISTIAN LEADERS

The Christian leaders have denied charges of anti-Hindu activities and suggested the real reason for their detention is EMI and HI’s work among Dalits, also known as “the untouchables”, the lowest caste in India ‘s ancient system of Hinduism.

There has been concern among Hindu groups over the growing number of Christians among Dalits and tribals in India , Christian groups say. The wife of Samuel Thomas told BosNewsLife her still imprisoned husband has been persecuted for his faith during recent years.

However she has not giving up hope, yet. “Our hope is in Him,” Shelley Thomas said, a reference to Jesus Christ who she regards as the driving force behind Hopegivers International and Emanuel Mission International.

Samuel Thomas was detained in Rajasthan on March 16. Thomas said before his arrest that Rajasthan’s hard-line Hindu government is trying to shut down EMI operations, including Hopegivers-supported orphanages, the hospital and leprosy or HIV-AIDS outreaches, printing presses, bookstores, churches, schools and other institutions.