» 11/30/2011, 00.00
Kashmir: Anglican pastor who baptised seven Muslims to be released
The clergyman’s release has been delayed for three days because of obstructionism by the state’s bar association, which has threatened lawyers in the state. The Global Council of Indian Christians calls on the state government to guarantee Rev Khanna’s safety.
Srinagar (AsiaNews) – Chander Mani Khanna, the Anglican clergyman from All Saints Church arrested for baptised seven Muslims, will be released on bail, a court in Sranigar, Kashmir, ruled this morning. The pastor’s son, Nathan, said, “We are waiting for his arrival in Jammu. He is in custody but safe, but not outside.” Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), pleaded with the Kashmir government to guarantee the pastor’s safety after his release. Rev Khanna has been in prison since 19 November.
Twice (on 27 and 28 November), a gaggle of lawyers stormed the courtroom where the pastor’s case was being heard. The presiding judge was forced to postpone the bail hearing. The Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association has called on its members not to provide Rev Khanna with legal counsel.
A threatening poster was hanged in the courtroom promising any transgressor of possible consequence, such as expulsion from the association and ban from practicing law in the State of Kashmir.
Sajan George warns that Anglican clergyman’s life “is in serious danger. Six years ago, Bashir Tantray, GCIC coordinator in the Kashmir, was gunned down in broad daylight, in front of his father’s home. The government has to guarantee Rev Khanna’s safety when he is released.”
A few days ago, the pastor’s wife, Kanta Khanna, spoke with her husband by phone. “I was concerned about his health,” she told AsiaNews
. “He’s diabetic and his eyesight is deteriorating. Nevertheless, his thoughts are for our children and me. He continued to reassure us, saying that God is with us. He told me to find strength in the Scriptures, to read Chapter 10 in the Gospel of Matthew and the Act of the Apostles. He is frail in body but firm in his faith.”
Kashmir pastor arrested for baptising seven Muslims
The region’s grand mufti accused Rev Chander Mani Khanna, of All Saints Church, after a video appeared on YouTube. Police beat the seven young converts to get them to accuse the pastor of forced conversions. In early November, the grand mufti summoned Rev Khanna to appear before a Sharia Court.
High Court in Kashmir stays proceedings against Rev Khanna, but his life is in danger
The authorities had laid charges against the Anglican clergyman after an Islamic court accused him proselytising and forced conversions. For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), the life of the Anglican pastor “is still in danger”. Three of the seven converts Rev Khanna had baptised have gone back to Islam after the Sharia court issued threats against them.
Kashmir Islamic court charges Rev. Khanna and Fr. Jim Borst with proselytizing
Final sentence within days. Grand Mufti of the region claims the two men are guilty of forced conversions. Rev. Khanna: "I fear for my life." John Dayal of the All Indian Christian Council (AICC): "Islamic Court has no authority, India is a secular and democratic state".
Kashmir, clergyman’s wife accused assisting in conversion
Two national newspapers have launched a smear campaign against Kanta Khanna, wife of the pastor targeted with a fatwa for having converted young Muslims. The Anglican clergyman: "My wife's health has worsened." The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) urges the central government to intervene in order not to create "a dangerous precedent."
Christian leaders for the release of Kashmiri pastor arrested for forced conversions
Rev. Channa Mani Khanna is in prison for having baptized seven Muslims. Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "We must stop the Talibanisation of the only Indian state with a Muslim majority." Anglican Bishop P.K. Samantha Roy, of the Diocese of Amritsar, "he officiated valid baptisms, he has not done anything illegal."
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