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India Hindu Leaders Threaten Deportation of Foreign Missionaries

BosNewsLife (11/01/06) – Leaders of one of India ’s largest Hindu parties have urged the arrest and deportation of Christian missionaries, and several of them have been attacked in tribal areas, BosNewsLife established Wednesday, November 1.

In published remarks S.V. Seshagiri Rao, a vice president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said those on his blacklist include 68 foreigners from mainly Canada and the United States, who he claimed converted 6,000 tribals to Christianity in several areas of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where the BJP is in power. Tribals are India ’s most ancient and impoverished groups.

He reportedly said about 4,000 persons had converted to Christianity in 30 villages in Nalgonda and Guntur districts and a 2,000 in Nidamanooru, Anumola and Gurrampodu areas.

“Teams of Christian missionaries have fanned out in various tribal areas of Nalgonda district and are forcibly converting tribals to Christianity,” he said. “The 68 foreigners in the area divided into several teams that are visiting villages with the help of locals for their conversion work. The matter was reported to the Nalgonda police but no action was initiated.”

ACTION URGED

The politician, who spoke to reporters with the party’s secretary and legal consultant, said the missionaries “promised those who converted free medical treatment, homes, education and 100 rupees per day”. The officials urged “official action by the government who should arrest and deport the missionaries instead of remaining indifferent to the problem”.

Evangelicals have often denied forced conversions, saying this would be against the Bible which they say stresses a free choice for Jesus Christ as “Personal Lord and Savior.”

In a statement monitored by BosNewsLife, the The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), a major advocacy group, said it fears a further “imminent attack on Christians.” Already Indian missionaries and other church leaders have been attacked in several parts of India, and several of them were rushed to hospitals, the GCIC and other influential Christian groups say,

POLICE ARREST

In one of the most recent incident, last Friday, October 27, police reportedly arrested a 25-year-old believer for “causing communal disharmony” after Hindu militants allegedly harassed him for selling Christian literature at an evangelistic event in the eastern state of Orissa.

He was apparently still jailed Wednesday, November 1. Baliguda Police detained Amit Kumar Raul after a Hindu group apparently harassed him during the “Peace Festival and Healing Crusade” in Gudripadri village, near Udayagiri town, in Orissa’s Kandhamal district. Over 10,000 people attended the four-day festival, according to estimates.

Analysts have linked the violence to concern within the BJP and other Hindu groups about the spread of Christianity among groups such as Dalits also described as ‘the untouchables’ as they are considered the ‘lowest caste’ in India ’s ancient system of Hinduism. Most of the country’s roughly 1.1 billion people are Hindu’s, Christians comprise less than 3 percent of the population. (With reporting by BosNewsLife Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos and reports from India ).