Lawyers barred from representing arrested pastor

November 25, 2011 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

All Saints Church, KashmirJammu and Kashmir, November 24, 2011: Lawyers in Kashmir valley have been allegedly debarred by the bar association from representing the case of a pastor, who was arrested on charges of proselytization.

Pastor C.M. Khanna of the All India Saints Church in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was arrested November 19 on charges of forcibly converting 10 Muslim youth to Christianity.

“The bar association has threatened to debar the lawyers from practice if they represented pastor Khanna’s case,” Church of North India (CNI) Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samantaroy of Amritsar told yesterday.

He said “we have arranged for a lawyer from the Jammu region and are planning to file his bail application today.”

Meanwhile, a three-member delegation yesterday met Federal Minister of State for Home Affairs Mullapally Ramachandran in this regard.

General Secretary of CNI synod Alwyn Masih, who was part of the delegation, told that “we have demanded government’s immediate intervention for the release of the pastor and protection of churches and Christians in the state,” Masih told

He said the minister claimed the issue was “very sensitive in nature,” but said that he will look into the matter.

Masih said that he has also written to President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah about the issue.

“The issue is beyond the arrest of the pastor as the Special Investigation Team has asked for records of all the Christian institutions in Srinagar,” he added.

Roger Gaekwad and Advocate Koshy of the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) were the other members of the delegation.

The pastor was held after a video showed him converting a group of Muslim youth and booked for disturbing peace and hurting people’s religious sentiments.

Maintaining that the allegations against the pastor are concocted and framed, Bishop Samantroy said “the youth were baptized but they were not forced to convert.”

He said that “these youth have been coming to the church for more than a year and I myself had seen them in the church.”

The prelate said that they are trying to meet the chief minister on the issue.

– ritu sharma

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