Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Rev. Paul Augustine, Kashmir coordinator for the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), was arrested yesterday in Srinagar while he was attending a Sunday service. The Christian leader is now in jail on charges of "fomenting sectarian clashes."
His family and the Christian community are worried for his life, since the charges against him are false. The incident was reported to AsiaNews by GCIC president Sajan George, who is asking people asking to "pray" for a quick solution to the case.
Accompanied by some Islamic intellectuals, Jammu and Kashmir police raided the Crp Srinagar, where the Christian pastor was leading the prayer service and took him away. Rev. Augustine was arrested under sect. 153 and 295 of the Ranbir Penal Code, the Criminal Code in force in Jammu and Kashmir (the equivalent of the Indian Penal Code, ed).
"In India - Sajan George told AsiaNews - the miniscule Christian population in India is between a rock and a hard place, majoritarianism law prevails and, where the will of the greatest number enforces that the beliefs and practices of the minority remain threatened. The Christians are persecuted in Hindu majority population in other states in India and by the Moulavis in Kashmir. While the Constitution of India guarantees Religious Freedom in reality it is majority’s perceived levels of tolerance that prevails".
Out of a population of over 1.2 billion people, 80.2% are Hindu, 13.4% Muslim, 2.3% Christian. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state with a Muslim majority in India (67%) and the only one with a "special status", that is with its own Constitution, criminal code and flag.