Kashmir, false accusations on Facebook: mob tries to lynch 12 tourists
Srinagar (AsiaNews) - On the basis of false allegations of forced conversions, more and more Christians in Kashmir are victims of persecution. This according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after the attempted assault on a group of 12 foreign tourists, accused via Facebook of practicing forced conversions in Tangmarg area north of Jammu and Kashmir. The incident occurred late in the evening of 2 February.
Around 10 pm a crowd of people gathered in front of a hotel in Srinagar, the capital, throwing stones against the walls and asking for the immediate trial of foreigners, eight Americans and four Koreans. Intervening on the spot, the police searched luggage and documents of the tourists. On finding nothing, the officers dispersed the protesters. When checking their passports, the police reported that the group has also visited other Muslim countries, including Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
The violent reaction was triggered by a photo published on the Facebook page Gulmarg News. The image shows three oriental girls, while the caption warns, "Caution Kashmir! Islam in Kashmir is under attack, Christians trying to convert Muslims," recounting the testimony of a boy, who in exchange for chocolate would have been forced to recant Islam and convert to Christianity.
Sajan George notes, "The life of Christians in the country is difficult, and increasingly they are being forced to practice their religion in secret." According to a report released by the GCIC, 2012 in Jammu and Kashmir has recorded five anti-Christian accidents. An exemplary case dates back to 2011, when Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, pastor of All Saints Anglican Church, was arrested for having baptized seven Muslims and then indicted by an Islamic court for proselytism and forced conversions.