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Court Extends Bail of EMI Founder, President

Compass Direct News (08/07/06) – The Rajasthan High Court today extended the interim bail of Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) founder Archbishop M.A. Thomas and his son Samuel Thomas, EMI president, to November 30.

The court also granted them anticipatory bail in another case.

EMI attorney Mohammad Akram told Compass that the court extended the interim bail, which was to expire on August 1, by four months. The extension was in relation to two cases filed in February against the two men and other EMI staff for allegedly distributing a controversial book, Haqeekat, which supposedly denigrated Hindu religion and deities.

Akram said the court also allowed anticipatory bail to the EMI leaders in a third case lodged against them and eight other EMI workers for allegedly illegally confining children of EMI’s orphanage in Kota. The complaint was lodged by Savita Krishna, a staff of the state Social Welfare Department, also in February, in a police station in Rajasthan’s Kota district, where the EMI is based.

Akram applied for anticipatory bail after learning from sources that Section 153(a) of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with hurting religious sentiments, had been added in the complaint regarding illegal confinement in order to pave the way for arresting Archbishop Thomas and his son. (See Compass Direct, “New Charges Leveled Against EMI Leaders in India ,” June 1.)

Police had arrested Samuel Thomas, administrator V.S. Thomas, Bible college student Vikram Kindo and chief operating officer R.S. Nair, a Hindu, in connection with the book.

Samuel Thomas was arrested on March 16 but released on interim bail on May 2.

Archbishop Thomas was also charged but went “underground” and applied for anticipatory bail, before appearing at Udyog Nagar police station in Kota on May 15 to answer charges.

Poor Care

Akram said officials of the social welfare department recently deployed at the orphanage were not looking after the children well.

“Last week, several boys and girls fell sick, but the officials merely gave them pain-killers without sending them to a doctor or hospital for proper check up,” he said. “Even the water tank that stores drinking water has not been washed for a long time, which is one of the reasons why children are falling sick.”

Earlier, on July 6, unidentified youths had allegedly tried to molest girls and launched an arson attack on the orphanage leading to a loss of more than $8,600. (See Compass Direct, “Youths Set Fire to Orphanage, Harass Girls,” July 17.)

Dinesh Rajpurohit, allegedly an active member of Hindu extremist organization Matantaran Virodhi Manch (Anti-Conversion Front), is the leader of the official team overseeing the orphanage.

EMI workers have complained that ever since government officials were appointed to the orphanage, Hindu fundamentalists had been frequenting the compound and harassing staff and children.

The Rajasthan Patrika newspaper on July 7 reported that the high court had issued a warning to the Social Welfare Department and its minister, Madan Dilawar, in a petition charging him with instigating people against minorities, including Christians.

Acknowledging that Dilawar had been involved in targeting Christians even before he became a minister, the newspaper reported that he intensified attacks after taking charge of the social welfare department.

The officials were appointed at the orphanage following a June 13 high court order that dismissed five writ petitions EMI had filed challenging the revoking of registration of five of its institutions by the Registrar of Societies of Kota district.

Later, on June 28, the high court temporarily restored the registrations of the five institutions and restored access to their bank accounts.

EMI operates the Emmanuel Bible Institute Samiti, Emmanuel Anath Ashram (Orphanage), Emmanuel School Society, Emmanuel Chikitsalaya (Hospital) Samiti, and Emmanuel Believers Fellowship. The organization leads a native church movement and serves over 10,000 children through humanitarian and educational work.

The Kota Registrar of Societies had alleged that board meetings of the institutions were not being held regularly and that the chairman and president were blood relatives – contrary to government regulations for societies.

On these grounds, the registrar revoked the registrations of EMI institutions on February 20 and froze their bank accounts.

Tensions in Kota began on January 25, when Archbishop Thomas and his son received anonymous death threats warning them not to hold the annual graduation ceremony for hundreds of orphans and Dalit Christian students scheduled for February 25.