Srinagar (AsiaNews) - "All
Christian missionaries must immediately leave the Kashmir Valley. If they do
not, they will suffer the consequences," warned Sadagat Hussain Syed, spokesman
for the United Jihad Council, an umbrella organisation for Jammu and Kashmir jihadist
groups. The words of the Islamic fundamentalist, "show the gravity of the
situation in which Christians live in the only Indian state with a Muslim
majority," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian
Christians (GCIC), as he spoke to AsiaNews.
Recently, Sadagat issued a press release
in which he accused Christian missionaries who live in Kashmir of "exploiting
the poor and needy, offering them economic aid to convert them to
According to the Islamic extremist,
this attitude is "highly regrettable" because "Islam is a
religion of peace and harmony, which protects minorities. However," he warned, "anti-Islamic
activities cannot be tolerated."
Created in 1994, the United Jihad
Council and its armed militants have been fighting for the independence of
Jammu and Kashmir from India.
According to the GCIC president, such
statements lead to discrimination against the Christian minority. One of the latest
examples of religious intolerance occurred on Monday in Lasjan, a village near
Srinagar (the state capital).
Two South Koreans were
distributing Bibles and other Christian materials to passers-by, who could freely
take them or not. When a mob gathered and beat up the two Christians, police arrived
to arrest the two who are now in a safe place receiving medical care.
For Sajan George, this "is a clear
case of discrimination against the Christian faith and shows the double
standards with which our minority is treated."
In India, he noted, "it is
very common to encounter foreigners wearing saffron-coloured clothes," which symbolises
Hinduism, "distributing the Bhagavad Gita," the Hindu Sacred Book," at train
stations. They enjoy full religious freedom, as enshrined in our Constitution,
and no policeman will arrest them, ever."
By contrast, in Jammu and Kashmir,
Islamic militants will often go after foreign Christians and missionaries. In
January for example, a group
of foreign tourists was almost lynched after the publication of a few
posts on Facebook.
A similar case occurred in 2011, when
Rev Chander Mani Khanna, a pastor with the All Saints Anglican Church, was
arrested for baptising seven Muslims and then charged
by an Islamic court (which has no legal authority in the state, nor elsewhere in
India) for proselytising and forced conversions.