Indian evangelist Christian denied refugee status will be deported

November 24, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Zealand, November 24, 2016: An Indian Christian will be deported from New Zealand despite claiming Hindu extremists in his homeland were threatening to kill him.

The man, an evangelist in his 40s identified only as BD, was arrested and imprisoned in 2012 for overstaying his visa.

He has been fighting his deportation order on humanitarian grounds ever since.

His first claim for refugee status was rejected by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal in 2015.

However, he made a subsequent claim on the basis that a stint in jail had strengthened his Christian faith so much that the preaching he would be compelled to do when back in India would put his life in danger.

That has been rejected in the High Court at Auckland.

In a decision released this week, Justice Peters said the man had initially been rejected as a refugee because his risk of danger would be low if he returned to India, but noted Indian police’s “sometimes lacklustre” response to hostility against Christians, who make up 2.3 per cent of the country’s population.

But the man’s lawyer said a “rising tide of Hindu extremism” under India’s government, coupled with his client’s intensified will to convert heathens, meant circumstances had changed enough for the High Court to reconsider his entitlement to refugee status.

International media have reported increased attacks on churches by right-wing Hindu groups in the past two years, as well as mass conversions of Christians to Hinduism.

Hindu and Christian leaders in Auckland’s Indian community, however, labelled BD’s religious claims a “baseless” excuse to remain in the country.

Veer Khar, a Hindu and the president of the Indian Central Association, said all faiths were tolerated in India.

However, the practice of converting others to one’s own faith could be frowned upon as a form of “blackmail”.

“If I have Hindu faith but am starving and you come to me saying ‘forget about [Hindu deities] because I can give you food if you follow Jesus’ … I might do it but it would be a sort of blackmail or exploitation,” he said.

He said that violence towards such evangelists, however, was “very rare” and a “poor reflection on the perpetrators”.

“It would be an unusual case between bad individuals, not Hindus as a group against Christians as a group,” he said.

Justice Peters acknowledged the situation for Christians in India had “deteriorated” under the new government, which was elected in 2014, but not since the man’s initial bid for refugee status was rejected a year ago.

He also noted “whether or not [the man’s] faith has intensified” did not increase his risk of attack, because he was already a well-known evangeliser.

The latter judgement stemmed from the fact that BD had already “completed many years of work as a religious worker and undertaken paid work as an evangelist in India”.

BD had claimed that his brother, back in India, had received telephone calls from Hindu extremists threatening the man in question’s life – but Justice Peters dismissed those claims.

Evidence of similar calls were deemed “not true” by the Immigration and Protection Tribunal earlier, undermining the latest batch’s credibility.

The man’s lawyer cited the Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad as a threat for Christians, like his client, in India.

The organisation views conversions as an intolerant practice that “creates social tensions”, but urged Hindus to resort to legal action before violence if feeling provoked by evangelists.

Ilamgo Krishna Moorthy, the president of the New Zealand Hindu Temple Association, said “a lot of evangelists” visited India regularly and the man would not be stopped.

“Ask him not to convert anybody when he gets back though,” he said.

“Then life is easy for everybody.”


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2 Responses to “Indian evangelist Christian denied refugee status will be deported”
  1. Shanti says:

    On Humanitarian grounds, BD should be given refugee status, Christians in many parts of India face persecution, many have died for their Faith.

    Though conversion under compulsion and aggressive attitude is wrong.

    But however Mr. BD needs to be given a chance.

    Justice Peters kindly consider this plea.

  2. Shanti says:

    Many face persecution in India, but it goes unreported.

    The other side also many Christians live peacefully among other communities.

    India is a diverse cultural, linguistic, religious, cosmopolitan society.
    Indians basically are peace loving people, who are intelligent and hardworking.
    This is the reason they are spread across the globe.

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