//Elderly pastor in Jammu prison for false charges of religious conversion

Elderly pastor in Jammu prison for false charges of religious conversion

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)– An elderly Indian pastor was beaten and abused by local olice while serving 20 days in prison on “false” charges of “bribing Hindus to convert,”
according to Christian rights investigators. The respected advocacy group International Christian Concern (ICC) said Pastor Captain Samuel,  70, was detained last month in the village of Bashi Nagar in Jammu, a region in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, following complaints from “Hindu radicals.”

After briefly detaining him April 2, police returned six days later to his hom where they arrested him” before dragging the pastor through the street to the local court, saying “he
was a terrorist”, ICC told BosNewsLife in a statement monitored Friday, May 15.

“Three false witnesses testified [in court] that they were paid money to become Christians. The court remanded Samuel’s case to the local police, who put him in prison for 20 days,”
added the US-based group, which investigates cases of religious persecution.

HINDU ANGER

ICC linked the court ruling to Hindu anger over his 350-member church, which he has led or some 20 years. In prison police allegedly tortured the elderly pastor. “His head was completely shaved; he was kept in a dirty cell without a toilet; and he was forced to wash all the bathrooms and sweep all the rooms in the prison. In addition, police officers beat him repeatedly,” ICC said.

Samuel was reportedly released from after posting bail of 20,000 Rupees, some $420, but must be present in court on May 25, according to trial observers. Local police reportedly also ordered him to stop all his mission work in Jammu. Police officials could not immediately be reached to confirm these reports.

ICC said tensions began four months ago when, in two separate instances, a group of ‘radical Hindus” apparently attacked him. The Hindu mob allegedly hit him “more than 15 times
on the head” and threatened the pastor “with a knife and gun.”

LOCAL POLICE

Unsatisfied with the results of their attacks, “the radical Hindus started pressuring local police” which eventually led to his arrest, ICC said.

The latest incident comes amid concerns among international human rights groups and diplomats over a reported increase in attacks against Christians, who comprise just over two percent of India’s mainly Hindu population of over one billion people.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is expected to be re-elected following the outcome of India’s month-long mammoth general election, is under pressure to further
improve religious rights for minorities.

May 15, 2009, BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos