Thursday, March 23, 2006

From WEA RLP: In India, an arrest and trial not so publicized (digest version)

"Elizabeth Kendal, WEA RLP:


Rajasthan, northwest India, is a BJP-ruled state (Hindu nationalist) with anti-conversion laws. Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) runs a Bible institute, 13 orphanages, 65 schools, a hospital along with leprosy and HIV centres, churches, a bookshop and a printing press in Rajasthan. EMI ministries have been the focus of Hindu militant attacks. Most serious is the militant siege on the Emmanuel Hope Home in Kota. Sympathetic locals are risking their lives to deliver food to the 2500 orphaned and abandoned children who live there. The state has frozen all EMI's bank accounts and declared it intends to seize all EMI's properties. Hindu militants have placed bounties on the heads of EMI founder, Archbishop MA Thomas (71) and his son, EMI president, the Rev Dr Samuel Thomas. Other Christian leaders associated with EMI have been harassed by police. This persecution also affects EMI's other ministry, Hopegivers International, which provides humanitarian and educational services to more than 20,000 children in India and Africa.

Hindu extremists have accused the Thomases and EMI of distributing a controversial book which they allege denigrates their religion and deities. The official complaint was registered on 14 February under Sections 153(a) and 295(a) of the India Penal Code. Compass Direct explains that Section 153(a) deals with hurting religious sentiments, whilst Section 295(a) is for deliberately outraging religious feelings or insulting the religious beliefs of a community. Moreover according to a Supreme Court ruling truth is not a defence under Section 153(a). Both offences are punishable with up to three years imprisonment. EMI is not a major distributor of the offensive book. However, Hindu nationalists found a few copies for sale in the EMI centre in Kota. The book, 'Haqeeqat' by attorney MJ Matthew rebutts a highly offensive and controversial RSS (Hindu nationalist paramilitary) text. On 16 March plain-clothed police arrested Samuel Thomas at gun-point and took him to Kota jail. There is also a non-bailable warrant out for the arrest of Archbishop Thomas who is in hiding. This is a blatant and aggressive politically motivated attack on an amazing and much needed Christian ministry. The response of the central government is absolutely critical.


* Rev Dr Samuel Thomas in jail in Kota, Rajasthan, India, that God will protect his body, mind and spirit, draw him closer to Him in prayer, increase his faith, and fill him with peace, courage and hope from the Holy Spirit.

* God to give insight and courage to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and India's PM Manmohan Singh, that they will each be able to see through all devious plots, discern what is right, and make a decisive, strong and courageous stand for justice and religious liberty.

* God to make all things work together for good for Samuel Thomas (Romans 8:28), that the testimonies of this man would come from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:19) and be used by God for great effect in the hearts of individuals and for the future of his nation (Isaiah 55:9-11; Philippians 1:12-14).

'Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine...' (Ephesians 3:20)

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