False accusations of forced conversion against Kashmir pastor

November 10, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Jammu and Kashmir, newsletter-india, Persecution

Rev M Khanna

Rev M Khanna

Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, the Presbyter-In-Charge of the All Saint’s Church in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, has been summoned by the Mufti-E-Azam (or the Grand Mufti) of the state to appear before a Sharia Court to answer charges of conversion.

Rev. Khanna has been accused “motivating the Muslim youth for conversion from Islam to Christianity.” The Mufti has claimed that he has sufficient proof to back up the allegation including a video footage.

The video clip, also present on many social media sharing websites including youtube and facebook, shows Khanna baptizing people. According to reports with EFI News, the video has since been copied on CDs in large numbers and was distributed by Muslim hardliners in the valley, calling people to strike against Christianity.

Rev. Khanna was first summoned to appear before the Mufti on October 28, 2011. The letter from the Mufti to him said, “..law and order problem at large scale shall erupt in the entire Jammu and Kashmir state”, if he did not appear before “the Supreme Court of Islamic Shariet” for clarifications. The letter ends with a veiled threat that in failing to do so Rev. Khanna will be “personally responsible for the consequences thereof.”

Since Rev. Khanna was out of station, the Mufti set a date of 12th November 2011. Rev. Khanna wrote an email to the Mufti asking for fixing a date later than 12th November, since he was pre-occupied. Hence a second letter from the Mufti setting the date of the appearance for 17th November. The letter demands an appearance “failing which we shall be constrained to initiate action against you (Rev. Khanna) strictly as per Shariet Law.”

On 30th October 2011, a Police Inspector from R.M. Bagh police station came to Rev. Khanna’s residence in the Church at 11 pm and placed the family of Rev. Khanna under house arrest. The police however later denied that he was under house arrest, but said that he was detained for his own safety. But Rev. Khanna or his family members still have been unable to move outside the Church premises because of threat to their life.

Meanwhile the Police arrested 7 people in connection with the conversion. These people were the same who were shown in the video as being baptized by Rev. Khanna. According to reports, these 7 were beaten up severely by the police in order to obtain a confession against Rev. Khanna that he gave them money to convert to Christianity.

They were let out after two days but are still being summoned daily by the Intelligence Bureau and the police and pressured to give a statement against Rev. Khanna.

The situation remains tense in the valley and the statements against Rev. Khanna continues on social networking sites. There is every apprehension that some hardliners may attempt to take his life.

On 8th November Rev. Khanna reported that the leader asked him must to report to the Shariat Court on 17 November. Police official have advised him not to move outside at any cost. We have also informed from Rev. Khanna that he should submit a letter to the concerned IG as well as the SSP for further actions.

Please pray for the safety of Rev. C M Khanna and also pray that his meeting with the Mufti may go well and the result will be peaceful. Christian workers have had a commendable record in Kashmir Valley in the education and medical care fields. Rev. Khanna himself has been personally responsible not only for rebuilding of houses following the earthquake in the valley, but also for many peace and reconciliation initiatives.

Do also write to the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Omar Abdullah for an intervention in the matter. Mr. Abdullah has been silent on the matter so far.

Shri Omar Abdullah
Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir
Civil Sectt., Jammu-Tavi – 180 001
Email: omar@sansad.nic.in

(O) Tel: Jammu – (0191) 2546466 ; 2546766
(O) Tel: Srinagar – (0194) 2452224 ; 2452228
(O) Fax: Jammu – (0191) 2545529
(O) Fax: Srinagar – (0194) 2452120

– EFI

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