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Saturday 10 December 2011

Fr. Jim Borst summoned before Sharia Court? J&K pastor leaves valley

Fr. Jim Borst summoned before Sharia Court? J&K pastor leaves valley

December 9, 2011

All Saints ChurchJammu & Kashmir, December 9, 2011:

The CSF has learnt from our own activists and friends in the media that noted educationist Fr. Jim Borst, who has been in the state for the last 50 years has also been summoned by the Sharia court on proselytising charges. You will recollect that The CSF has in the past twice campaigned against the 79 year old Dutch missionary being asked to leave J & K, along with a number of activists and the Catholic Church and both times the order was rescinded.
Sharia courts have no jurisdiction on non-Muslims, but many fear a repeat of what happened to Rev K. M. Khanna, an Anglican clergyman who was summoned by a Sharia court, then arrested on allegations of forced conversions. The CSF learns that The Mufti-Azam of Kashmir, Mufti-Azam Bashiruddin has summoned  the Catholic priest who is normally at Shivpora to explain his stand today (10, December) and explain the allegations. Fr. Jim Borst is reportedly not in the state and had earlier pleaded ill-health for not visiting the Sharia court. “In case they do not respond to the summons, we will pronounce Islamic judgement, in their absence”, the Mufti-Azam is reported to have said.
For years, the Mill Hill missionary, Fr. Jim Borst, who has been the principal of the prestigious St Joseph’s School, has been the target of Muslim scholars. “The Sharia court has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims,” said Mgr Peter Celestine Elampassery, bishop of Jammu and Kashmir. “It cannot interrogate Fr Jim Borst, nor is he is under any obligation to appear.” the Catholic bishop said. As with the Church and Governement, authorities, The CSF is pursuing both these cases and will keep you updated on the same.
For some, envy and jealousy of Muslim scholars are behind the charges of proselytising against Fr Borst. The schools the Dutch missionary set up, including St Joseph’s in Baramulla and Burn Hall in Srinagar, are known for the quality of the education they dispense. What is more, their staff is 99 per cent Muslim.
Many Muslim leaders have attended these schools, including the current chief minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, one of his predecessors, Farooq Abdullah, and the founder of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.
However, local Catholics are concerned by the summons. In early November, the same court had summoned Rev Chander Mani Khanna to answer for baptising seven Muslims. Although the latter had freely chosen to convert, both they and the clergyman were arrested.
Mgr Celestine spoke to Rev Khanna before he went to the Sharia court. “Such things should not happen,” he said. Muslims “should not manipulate the law. The Anglican and Catholic Churches work together for the good of society. Through our social and educational apostolate, we serve the entire population in a state where we are a tiny minority. We work for the common good and the development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir”.
Meanwhile, new elements are emerging about Rev Khanna’s case. “All seven converts have explicitly declared that they had asked to be baptised,” said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).  All the converts are prepared to say on camera that Rev Khanna is innocent and that they did not receive any money in order to be baptised”, George added.
After their arrest, the seven  converts were reportedly beaten and tortured by police, their beard ripped out and their feet beaten. One of them, a 25-year-old, said that he was arrested three days after the birth of his two twin daughters. Sadly, one of them died on Wednesday, less than 30 days after her birth. The wife of another convert is suffering from a heart condition.
No Pastor to lead Christmas prayers at All Saints Church.
There is no priest to lead Christmas prayers in the All-Saints church in Srinagar as pastor C. M. Khanna, who was arrested on charges of conversion and later released, has left the valley and there has been no replacement.
A source close to the priest said he was depressed after his arrest and was in any case retiring from the Church of North India early next year. Khanna was released on bail on December 1 on a personal bond of Rs. 20,000 and directions not to leave the state.
He was charged with forcibly converting 10 Muslim youth the Christianity on November 19. The lawyers in Kashmir valley were allegedly debarred by the bar association from representing his case.
Meanwhile, a four-member team headed by vice-chairman of National Commission for Minority (NCM) D. Sangliana, who visited the valley to take stock of the situation, said Christians there are living in fear after their pastor was arrested.

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