Christian Groups Seek Intervention for Jailed Ministry Head in India

One of the largest Christian ministries in India went to Capitol Hill at the end of last week to seek intervention for the charity’s president.

WASHINGTON – Hopegivers International, one of the largest Christian ministries in India, went to Capitol Hill at the end of last week to seek intervention for the charity’s president, who remains in jail over a controversial book that allegedly contains critical statements against Hindu gods.

The group went to Washington last Friday to meet with the State Department, senators, and Christian friends in the city after Dr. Samuel Thomas’s arrest on Mar. 16. The trip to the nation’s capital is part of a campaign to free Thomas that includes a Legal Defense Fund and a letter writing campaign.

The controversial book, Haqiqat, was published by Thomas and his father, Bishop M.A. Thomas, founder of Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) and has angered radical Hindus. Some claim the book slanders Ram, Krishna, goddess Sarawati and Swami Dayanand. The book was initially sold in Rajasthan state but was stopped following widespread protests.

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According to news reports, the police have also arrested its Hindi translator, Dennis Nathaniel, and three EMI employees. In addition, police have revoked the mission’s charity license while local authorities have sealed EMI’s offices and frozen their bank accounts, claiming that they had recovered all evidence that suggest the entire exercise of publishing the controversial book was carried out by the EMI, according to a Christian Post correspondent in India.

The arrest has been strongly condemned by several Christian advocacy groups and human rights watchdogs, including the All India Christian Council (AICC), the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) and All India Confederation of SC/ST.

“The Rajasthan Police in the most cruel manner and in violation of all established Human Rights conventions and protocol accorded to a religious leader, arrested Bishop Samuel Thomas from Noida, near Delhi this morning. By pointing a revolver at his head while arresting him the police humiliated a man of such stature and caliber and equated him to a criminal of a dangerous character,” said AICC general secretary, Dr. Abraham Mathai, according to Christian Today India.

“[Haqiqat is a book] they have neither authored nor published. It just happens to be one of the thousands of titles available at the Emmanuel Missions’ book store in Kota, Rajasthan. The police have registered non-bailable offence against the Bishop and their staff and are all out to and humiliate him and the organization,” he added.

Reacting to Thomas’s arrest, All India SC/ST Confederation President Mr. Udit Raj said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) were terrorizing and intimidating Christians with “impunity.”

He alleged that RSS activists led by Mr. Madan Dilawar, Rajasthan’s minister for social welfare, have been vandalizing orphanage, schools and hospitals run by the Emmanuel Mission over the last month.

“The BJP-led (Bharatiya Janata Party) Rajasthan government has arrested [Dr.] Thomas like a common criminal instead of putting behind bars the goons who attacked the institutions for orphans and weaker sections,” Raj said.

According to Sajan George, president, GCIC, the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi should take "appropriate action" to ensure the safety and well being of Dr. Thomas whose life is being threatened by Hindutva extremists.

The lawyers for Dr. Thomas and Bishop Thomas are appealing to the High Court in Rajasthan's capital of Jaipur to set bond for the staff being held without charge in Kota jail.

Hopegivers began a legal defense fund and a letter writing campaign that can be found at the Hopegivers website (

Michelle Vu reported from Washington for this article. Surojit Chatterjee contributed reporting from New Delhi.

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