Cathnews, January 23, 2012

Christian leaders in Kashmir say they are worried following recent directives from an Islamic court ordering the expulsion of four missioners and demanding Christian schools provide Islamic studies for all students.

Catholic Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of JammuSrinagar said Monday that Christians in Kashmir are uneasy as they all see themselves as being targeted by the state’s Shariat court.

In recent rulings, the court found Church of North India (CNI) pastor Reverend C M Khanna and his associate Gayoor Masih guilty of “luring” and “forcing” Muslims to Christianity, and ordered their expulsion.

It also ordered the wives of the two Protestant pastors to leave.

A similar conversion charge has been laid against Catholic missioner Mill Hill Father Jim Borst.  

“The Church cannot do anything since we are minority in the state,” the Capuchin bishop said Monday.

His diocese covers the entire state.

Bishop Elampassery said he is meeting the federal Minority Commission tomorrow to urge it to take up Christian concerns with the state government.“Our institutions are serving Muslim people. We have never been involved in forced conversions or proselytizing,” he asserted.He said Islamic courts have no jurisdiction or power over Christians in the state and expressed little hope the government would take action against them.

Kashmir is the only Muslim-majority state in India.

Reverend Khanna, who has moved to the state’s winter capital Jammu, said the court order has put his life and those of the other three missioners in peril.

“The government has not done anything to protect us,” he said.

Kashmir comes under the CNI’s Amritsar diocese and its prelate, Bishop P K Samantaroy said the court’s order put Christians on edge and disturbed peace in the state.

“Nobody has the right to expel us from the state or country,” he asserted.

It is “unfair” to question the integrity of Christians who “have played a major role in building peace and harmony in the state,” he
said, calling on all people with goodwill to protest discriminatory actions.