Chhattisgarh, Pentecostal pastor jailed on false charges
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - For the past four days, the rev. Gigi P. Paul, president of Faith Gospel Mission, has been locked away in a prison in Chhattisgarh on the basis of false accusations made by some Hindu radicals.
Yesterday a court denied him bail. The new hearing to decide his release was scheduled tomorrow. Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told AsiaNews: "The tiny Christian community continues to live without freedom of religion and the increasing intolerance is creating problems of public order."
The Pentecostal pastor was born and raised in the district of Pathanamthitta in the State of Kerala. After completing his theological studies at Bible school, he moved to the north of India. Since 1991 he has worked in the district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh.
Here, in addition to guiding the community of Faith Gospel Mission, he is also the dean of the Faith Bible Training Centre, Director of Faith Child Development Centre and president for the Chhattisgarh Indian Pentecostal Church of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in India.
"Rev. Gigi’s arrest - said Sajan George - took place on 22 June, just three days after the attack on a Salesian Sister ". According to the GCIC president this climate of intolerance is related to Chhattisgarh Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Act 2006, the State anti-conversion.
"The measure - he said - is a tool of intimidation and abuse against the Christian minority. In some districts, the Christian students of the ashram are not allowed to participate in Sunday Mass. In Mahasamund an official has banned Christian missionaries from being called 'father' by their students".