Members of the Hindu radical outfits, the Shiv Sena, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) have threatened a local pastor of Himachal Pradesh with dire consequences unless he closed down his orphanage and a Bible Training center although local authorities have found nothing wrong with them.
Pastor Behal and his wife, by setting up the orphanage at Kangra, have been serving the destitute children for many years after he retired from the army.
Pastor Behal had also set up a Bible Training Center for equipping the believers with the word of God.
However, the local Hindu radicals have challenged his activities and have accused him of forcibly converting the children and local Hindus to Christianity.
The radicals had also assaulted Pastor Behal and his family on January 21, 2007, following which a probe was ordered on Pastor Behal's orphanage by the District Collector.
However, when the District Collector could not find any fault in Pastor Behal's work, the members of the radical outfits decided to take the matter in their own hands.
Accusing Pastor Behal of sexually exploiting the orphan children, forcing them to pray to Christ and persuading them to read the Bible, the Hindu fanatics have demanded that the children be made to undergo necessary medical tests.
Pastor Behal has denied all these allegations as totally false and baseless.
On February 19, State Governor of Himachal Pradesh gave his assent to the anti–conversion law passed by the state legislature on 29 December 2006. The bill has now passed into law.
This has now given rise to new fears that Hindu radical groups, emboldened by the move, will launch fresh attacks on Christian–managed institutions in the state and persecute the minority community.
Hindu fanatics oppose Christian–run orphanage and Bible center in Himachal Pradesh
Published 18 February 2007 | Jacob Chaterjee