The Islamic Supreme  Court in Kashmir has incriminated the Catholic missionary Father Jim Borst and the Protestant Pastor Chander Mani Khanna for their alleged involvement in fraudulent activities of proselytizing and conversion to Christianity.

The Islamic court has officially announced that it will publish in the next few days the verdict of the sentence against the accused, with grounds for the decision taken. The court had summoned Pastor Khanna: his statement was recorded and a CD was shown to prove his involvement in the issue of conversions. The pastor was arrested and charged with having converted and baptized 15 young Muslim boys.

According to Mufti Muhammad Nasir-ul-Islam, "during the hearing, Khanna confessed he drew the attention of Muslims to convert them to Christianity" and "was proved beyond doubt that the Pastor has been doing this work for years, along with other accomplices".

Fr. Jim Borst, a Catholic missionary of the Society of St. Joseph of Mill Hill, has been working for almost 50 years for human development of the Kashmiri people. "The accusations against him are false: Many Muslim leaders were formed in schools run by him", notes Catholic Secular Forum. CSF, a nongovernment organization, recalled that Fr. Borst received an expulsion order last year.  Christian activists involved with CSF expressed alarm, saying "The situation in Kashmir is at a critical stage for the individual liberties and religious freedom. The Islamic Court has no jurisdiction over Christians. We ask the government to intervene to protect the rights of citizens and to stop these extremist elements".

According to the ecumenical organization "All India Christian Council", which has carried out a mission in Kashmir, Christians suffer severe persecution in Kashmir by  Islamic extremist groups in the Muslim majority region of India, Islamists also control politics and the judiciary, eliminating the rule of law. The 400 Christians in the capital Srinagar "are in a state of panic in the uncertainty of their future", says the All India Christian Council, adding that "the police act on behalf of political leadership" - meaning the Muslim majority.  The report by the Council denounces the total absence of organizations to protect human rights and the absence of a Commission for Minorities in Kashmir. The Christian presence in the Kashmir valley has been documented since the mid-nineteenth century, with the advent of the first Catholic and Protestant missionaries. Currently there are about 18,000 Catholics, and 15,000 other Christians in Kashmir, out of a total population of 9.4 million. Christians in Kashmir, and elsewhere in India, are also targetted by Hindu nationalists.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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