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02/21/2012 India (MNN) – There’s a bright spot amongst all the news coming out of India’s Jammu and Kashmir states.
According to Lee DeYoung with Words of Hope, Rev. Chander Mani Khanna–accused of bribing Muslim young people to convert to Christianity–is free, and the case against him is dismissed for lack of evidence.
The bad news is: the stress silenced the pastor. “He retired officially from the only open church in Kashmir, (that is the All Saint’s Church in Srinagar), in mid-January. The church is still there, but at this point, it seems as if Christian activity has been driven completely underground and has been severely curtailed.”
DeYoung confirms the Compass Direct News report saying because no charges were filed against him, the state’s High Court on Feb. 11 halted proceedings in the police complaint of “promotion of religious enmity by conversions” against Khanna.
Khanna can now travel because the order binding him to the state was lifted, as well. The court asked the government to file its response by March 14, and then it will set the date for the next hearing.
What’s odd is that while Kashmir’s sharia (Islamic law) court has no legal authority in India, the committee charged and convicted three church leaders of “luring the valley Muslims to Christianity.” As part of their sentence, the trio was ordered to leave the state, and the state government was told to take over the management of all Christian schools in the region.
DeYoung says, “Local Christians say that the Sharia court is continuing to pursue Christians. Newspaper announcements are posted, naming suspected or known Christians and urging people to turn them in.”
As a result, life has been extremely difficult for Kashmir’s Christians since the verdict. First, there’s the intimidation. “They’re also seeking to prevent conversions and to re-convert Christians,” says DeYoung. “Committee members of this Islamic Sharia court are visiting Christian homes and allegedly pressuring them and their families to return to Islam.”
Then, there are the threats, which have to be taken seriously. DeYoung says they’re taking steps to keep the staff safe. “Words of Hope’s radio broadcasts in the Kashmiri language, which had been on the air for a number of years, are going to be suspended at the end of March–in part, because the people who have been recording the programs, the production effort has been disrupted by this persecution.”

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