Christians in Kashmir Targeted and Accused of Forcing Conversions

Bishop Says Some Fear a Sort of Religious «Propaganda» Under Way

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JAMMU, India, JUNE 12, 2003 (ZENIT.orgFides).- Christians in Kashmir are on edge about recent violence in this border region.

«We fear for the future,» said Bishop Peter Celestine Elampassery of Jammu-Srinager in Indian Kashmir. «Christianity has been present in Kashmir for 200 years and has never had any difficulty with Muslims or Hindus.»

Yet, «today in Kashmir there are many new Christian groups that are very active in missionary work,» he said. «These are causing alarm among Hindu and Muslim people and also the local authorities, who fear a sort of ‘Christian propaganda.’ This has broken the existing harmony and explains the episodes of violence in recent times.»

The local press has reported rumors of thousands of conversions by the new Christian groups.

In May a number of schools were attacked: St Luke’s at Anantang, run by a Protestant group, and Good Shepherd School in Pulwama, run by the Mill Hill missionaries.

Kashmir is at the center of a quarrel connected with the Muslim secessionist movement, which has generated a 50-year conflict resulting in more than 70,000 killed.

«For Kashmir, our hopes for peace depend on an improvement in relations between India and Pakistan,» Bishop Elampassery explained. The people have had enough of the war, but on both sides, India and Pakistan, militant groups are very active, he said.

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