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Christian Workers Attacked, Arrested for Being Victims in Rajasthan , India

3/29/07 New Delhi, India (International Christian Concern) – Two Christian workers who were visiting Rajasthan state were brutally attacked by Hindu fundamentalists and later arrested on alleged false charges of conversion on March 23.

The incident took place in Jawahar Nagar area in Ganganagar district when Rev. Philip Abraham, an independent worker and Prof. Jacob Thomas, a respected social worker, were returning from a Christian meeting arranged by an independent local church.

A group of fundamentalists, allegedly from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or National Cadet Volunteers) and its political wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stopped the vehicle of the Christians, accused them of “forced conversion,” pulled them out and beat them.

The police arrived a little later, but instead of arresting the attackers, they took the two Christians to the police station and locked them up.

Abraham, who lives in Noida town near Delhi , told ICC that the attackers hit him with their hands and shoes. He received several bruises all over his body. Prof. Thomas, who is from the Railway College , Kalyan, in Maharashtra state, suffered a nose fracture and spinal injury.

Thomas was given an award by the President of India for a computer literacy programme last year.

The two are still recovering from their injuries.

Abraham denied that they were indulging in “forced” conversion.

Sub-Inspector Ramji Lal of the Jawahar Nagar police station told ICC that the two were arrested after a local man, Umesh Kumar Agarwal, lodged a complaint alleging that they were insulting Hindu gods and trying to convert Hindus.

“We have confiscated the laptop and literature belonging to the Christians and we will see their content to know if they were making an attempt to convert people,” he said, adding that they were insulting the Hindu religion for the past three months.

When asked if the complainant belonged to a Hindu organization, Agarwal said he was only a local resident. Local Christians, however, maintain that he was from the RSS.

The police arrested the Christians under Section 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code for “insulting religious sentiments.”

The police kept them in the lock-up overnight and produced them before a magistrate the following day. The magistrate granted them bail.

ICC noted that the police did not register any complaint against the people who attacked the Christians.

The All India Christian Council condemned the incident and appealed to the Rajasthan government to protect the fundamental rights of the people.

The Christian Legal Association said the police behaved in a partisan manner by not taking any action against the attackers.

The Global Council of Indian Christians deplored the Rajasthan government, saying it was known for its anti-Christian stand.

The BJP-government in Rajasthan has been in the news for the last few years for harassing the Emmanuel Mission International in Kota district.

Rajasthan has a population of over 56.5 million, out of which only 72,660 are Christian. The state government, however, passed an anti-conversion bill last year alleging that Christians were converting Hindus by the use of “force, allurement and fraudulent means.”