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India State Releases Jailed Pastor and Church Members

Thursday, March 16, 2006 | Tag Cloud

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife) -- After nearly a month in jail in the tense Indian state of Rajasthan a Gospel for Asia (GFA) missionary and several other Christians have been released after allegedly being falsely charged with the murder of a child, BosNewsLife learned Thursday, March 16.

Although their court case is still pending, the news was welcomed by GFA, which supports thousands of native missionaries and plants churches in India and across Asia. GFA told BosNewsLife the problems began after a 16-month-old child suffering from a prolonged illness died while under medical care.

"When the child died, a group of Hindu fundamentalists saw an opportunity to place the blame on local Christians, including GFA missionary Kasota, who has planted a church in the area," GFA added.

The organization claimed that "apparently members of the group advised the parents to dash their dead child's body against some rocks, breaking its bones. They then took the body to a doctor for a post-mortem examination. Under pressure from the extremist group, he reluctantly filed a false report, citing murder as the cause."

FILING CHARGES

After the parents filed charges, Pastor Kasota and nine other church members were arrested and imprisoned. The case was reportedly brought before a judge this weekend, who released the Christians, but GFA President K.P. Yohannan said a new hearing is expected. Officials were not immediately available for comment.

However Rajasthan, a Hindu controlled state, has seen a dramatic rise in violent attacks against Christians. The leadership of Hopegivers International and Emmanuel Mission International, which are among the largest mission groups in India, is in hiding for fear of assassinations, officials told BosNewsLife.

Hindu militants have also threatened to take over all dozens of orphanages and church buildings of these groups. In a separate incident, GFA said it had learned that last month an angry mob of Hindu militants violently interrupted the showing of a Christian film in Haryana, India, where a crowd had gathered in the courtyard of a believer's home to watch the Man of Mercy film on the life of Jesus.

MILITANT VIOLENCE

Militants "suddenly approached with threats and started beating the two young missionaries," who led the gathering, GFA said. "Other believers tried to intervene but were unsuccessful in driving away the violent mob. The beatings and threats continued until finally, about 45 minutes later, police came and took control of the situation."

Soon after another mob of nearly 1,000 people surrounded the believer's house, "yelling out anti-Christian slogans and threatening those inside," but later "miraculously" left without incident, GFA said.

Despite setbacks, GFA said it believes that thousands of students in across will be able to graduate this month at GFA Bible colleges and begin "a full-time ministry and set foot on their mission field." (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from India).

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Worthy Christian News » Christian Persecution » Christian Persecution - Asia » India State Releases Jailed Pastor and Church Members