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.”