Does India target U.S. Christian leaders for deportation? (George Abraham)

Published on 20 September, 2020
Does India target U.S. Christian leaders for deportation? (George Abraham)
 India's future is intrinsically linked with the Non-Resident Indians' (NRIs) population. NRIs have a history with India's independence struggle. Some of India's great leaders, like Gandhi and Nehru, and many others have come from the NRI ranks. We are also profoundly grateful for the Gadar movement's sacrifices that gave a huge impetus to the freedom struggle. India is a country with one of the largest Diasporas that not only connects with the Indian motherland but also enriches it through foreign currency remittances and technology transfers.

However, at the end of the day, the NRIs are primarily economic refugees searching for a better life and opportunities. Although the popular notion is that the World requires our expertise, I still believe we need the World more than they need us. The NRIs provide a visible face for India that has garnered more attention and respect for the Indian culture and traditions worldwide. In Western Countries, India's soft power is displayed every day, whether it is the cuisine, yoga, or various philosophies that have roots in the ancient land. The country is more appreciated for its diversity and coexistence, while people like Gandhi are celebrated icons of such ideas in the West.

We, as Indians, also demand freedom and opportunities wherever we go. One of our top priorities has been to build places of worship and exercise that freedom without any prejudice or hindrance.  We are also quick to react to anyone who denigrates our religious symbols and demands an apology and often restitution. We invite scores of our religious leaders from India for temporary visits and others on religious visas on a long-term basis. Even in diplomatic postings, we are placing religious scholars to familiarize our faith with the western folks who have shown some level of curiosity. It is also known that large sums of money are collected and sent to India from NRIs and other generous Americans attracted to some of these famous religious personalities.
However, it appears that what is good for the goose but not for the gander. While we demand our way around, American Christian leaders are being deported directly from India's airports just because they are Christians. Several months ago, nine leaders from the New York Council of Christian churches headed by Rev. Peter Cook, who traveled to India with valid visas, were denied entry at the Chennai airport in a shocking display of bad faith. And after subjugating them to a grueling 12-hour questioning, they were deported back to the United States. 'The team was there to meet some people and learn,' said Rev. Cook, who is also the Executive Director of the New York State Council of Churches. They were even denied the basic courtesy of making a phone call to their would-be hosts. According to one of the team members, the chief of the immigration at the airport went as far as to pronounce, 'we don't want Christians to come here'!

The ill-treatment of the Christian leadership by the officials is not just limited to American Christians but includes leaders from other countries as well. Considering that India, which has 30 million of its citizens living abroad and more at home are looking for opportunities around the World, what the Modi government has done to a Spanish Nun who lived in India for five decades and serving the poor is deeply shameful. Sister Enedina, 86 years old, a member of the Daughters of Charity, was denied the renewal of her visa and was told by the Government that she had ten days to leave the country. She flew August 20, 2019, from New Delhi to Spain. This shocking behavior is from a country that grumbles when America reduces the number of H-1B visas!

The case of Pastor Bryan Nerren was highlighted by President Trump recently as one of his successful interventions to get American citizens held by foreign countries.  It is a case of not only deportation but also arrest and confiscation of Nerren's funds and travel documents. Senator Alexander and Senator Blackburn of Tennessee have worked hard on this case as well. Let me quote from a letter sent earlier by a multi-faith group to President Trump, highlighting the plight of this American Pastor that shows Religious persecution is not restricted to Indian citizens only. "In October 2019, police arrested U.S. Pastor Bryan Nerren in Bagdogra airport in India. The police arrested him on the grounds of failing to declare funds, this followed after the officers in New Delhi interrogated him, asking him if he was Christian and if the money was for Christians or Hindus, they cleared him at the airport in New Delhi only to have him re-arrested in Bagdogra. The Pastor was compliant and said he would fill out the customs form and pay the penalties if any, but was instead arrested, with the authorities confiscating Pastor's funds and the passport. The boldness of the authorities' arrest and discrimination of a U.S. national because of his faith - shows that actors of religious persecution in India, afforded government impunity, further embolden state and non-state extremists to continue their discriminatory and abusive actions towards non-Hindus".

John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of the Federation of Indian Christian Associations of North America, was a victim himself of deportation despite having a valid visa on the grounds that he had visited Kandhamal, Orissa, where Hindutva extremists staged the anti-Christian riots. Those riots resulted in the deaths of hundreds, including a Catholic Priest and the raping of a Nun in broad daylight. Thousands of homes of Christians were destroyed by rioters. Four others who visited the Kandhamal area Mr. John Hutcheson, an associate of Green Tree Global based in North Carolina, Ms. Virginia Farris, a former U.S. Diplomat and the current Foreign Policy Advisor to the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference, along with Ms. Erin Weston and Ms. Valerie Payne officials of Jubilee Campaign USA, were also put on the blacklist by the Indian Government. Deportation of Mr. Prabhudoss on his subsequent visit to India, though he is of Indian origin, is a prime example of selective punishment for a Christian immigrant to the USA who is unjustifiably denied entry to his motherland just because he empathized with the plight of the fellow Christians.

As Dr. Christo Philip from Houston found out, one of his frequent trips to India turned out to be a nightmare. He was stopped at the airport and deported back to Spain, where the flight originated, ending up in prison for a day and losing his Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) status. He was falsely accused of evangelizing though, as a medical doctor, his primary interest was to serve the needy people over their health concerns at some of India's remotest parts. Although the Delhi high court has finally restored his OCI status, the Judge involved may have paid a higher price and said to have been reassigned since then.

Considering all these horrific incidents that threaten the very essence of democracy and religious freedom in India, our Diaspora remains silent. While the 'conversion' is being blamed by the critics for all the ill will, they were celebratory in cheering Tulsi Gabbard, a Hindu convert, who took the oath of office as a Congresswoman placing her hand on Gita. They seem to have little problem with any American joining the Hare Krishna movement or becoming followers Satya Sai Baba or Mata Amrithandnamai.  Many do not even show any qualms in promoting Yoga and Vegetarianism with its religious underpinnings. The duplicity displayed by a segment of the Indian Diaspora merely seems to have no limits.

It is widely believed that there are standing instructions with Indian embassies to deny religious visas and even to deny tourist visas to folks directly associated with any Christian Organization. It is just unfair, to say the least, that while many of the Hindutva leaders who have blood on their hands travel to the United States or Europe freely while the Christendom in India that has a 2000-year-old history of peaceful coexistence is forbidden to receive fellow Christians from around the World. It is not only unfortunate but a grave injustice to a minority community that has contributed so much to the enlightenment of the country through Education and the upliftment of the poor and the downtrodden via Social Services. 
 (The writer is a former Chief Technology Officer of the United Nations)


സെക്കുലർ മാൻ 2020-09-20 15:53:32
ശരിയാണു. ബിജെപി goverment നടത്തുന്നതു മത പീഢനമാണ്‌. എവിടെപ്പോയി ഇന്ത്യയിലെ സെക്കുലറിസം? ഇതിനേ UNO യിലും ഉന്നയിക്കണം. ഇന്ത്യയിൽ നിന്നു ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ പ്രേച്ചേർസിനെ പുറത്താക്കുക. എന്നിട്ടു ഈ ബിജെപി RSS കാർ USA യിൽ വന്നു ഇവിടെത്തെ ലാവിഷ്‌ ആയ സെക്കുലറിസം മുതലാക്കുക. അവരിവിടെ വന്നു ധാരാളം അമ്പലങ്ങൾ പണിയുക, അവിടേയും RSS സ്റ്റഡി ക്ലാസുകൾ നടത്തുക. പണം പിരിക്കുക. ആപണം ഉപയോഗിച്ചു ഇന്ത്യയിൽ ഇതര മതസ്ഥരെ അടിച്ചൊതുക്കുക. എന്തര് വിരോധാഭാസം. സ്വാമികൾ സ്വമിജികൾ വന്നു "മുത്തി ചുംബിച്ചും " പണം പിരിക്കുക..ഹൗഡീ മോഡി സംഘടിപ്പിക്കുക, ഓവർസീസ് RSS സങ്കടിപ്പിക്കുക. എവന്മാരെ വിസ കൊടുക്കാതെ ഇവിടെ നിന്ന് ഓടിക്കണം. UN കുഞ്ഞുമോൻമാർ ഒറ്റകെട്ടായി ഈ അനീതിക്കെതിരായി നിന്നു പൊരുതണം. ഞങ്ങളുണ്ടു കു‌ടെ
amerikkan mollakka 2020-09-20 18:51:33
എന്തിനാണപ്പ ഇങ്ങള് ഈ മതപരിവർത്തനത്തിന് നടക്കുന്നത് . എല്ലാബരും നല്ലബരാണ്. കൃസ്തു മതത്തിൽ ചേർന്നാൽ മാത്രമേ മനുസ്സൻ നന്നാകു എന്നുണ്ടോ? ഓരോ മതത്തിൽ ബിശ്വസിക്കുന്ന അനേകർ ജീവിക്കുന്ന ഇന്ത്യയിൽ കുറേപേർ ചെന്ന് എല്ലാബരുടെയും മതം സീത്തയാണ് കൃസ്ത്യൻ മതം മാത്രം നല്ലത് എന്ന് പറയുന്നത് കർത്താവ് പോലും പൊറുക്കില്ല. എല്ലാബറും സ്നേഹത്തോടെ ജീവിക്കുക. ഇമ്മടെ ആൻഡ്രുസ് സാഹിബും അന്തപ്പനും കളത്തിൽ ഇറങ്ങാൻ സമയമായി.
Tom Abraham 2020-09-20 17:29:33
Unfortunately, we Christians cannot convince Hindus the credibility of all Bible stories of Adam and Eve. Solomon s wisdom with 1000 concubines, or the mythological elements in Revealation. Let us be truthful, and do good work for our neighbors, profess the commonalities of our imagination.
നബീസ 2020-09-20 19:35:34
മൊല്ലാക്ക ബിളിവില്ലെതെ എന്തണു മൊഴിയിന്നതു. കൃത്യനികൾ അങ്ങേനെ പറഞ്ഞിട്ടില്ല. എന്നിട്ടും അവർ ഇന്ത്യയിൽ ബെറും 3 പെർസെന്റ് ആണു. അമേരിക്കയിലും ഹിന്ദു സന്യാസികളും മുസ്ലിം മുള്ളകളും എത്ര ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികളെ വന്നു മതം മാറ്റി അബരുടെ കാസും മേടിക്കുന്നു. എന്നിട്ടും USA goverment tolerate ചെയ്യുന്നു.
christian 2020-09-20 21:21:14
Hindu sanysins come and convert people freely here. Taking the money of Christians and use it to attack Christians in India. It should stop. There is no Christian agenda. Only we ask freedoms for all.
christian 2020-09-20 21:24:01
first allegiance to your country? what do you mean? Before 1947, I belonged to a country called Travancore. Belief in God and religion has nothing to do with country. This is another lie created by sanghis.
Bobby 2020-09-20 19:59:47
They are preaching the message of Jesus. They are not converting anyone. When they find the real god if they change, who can stop them?
FormerCongressNowBJP 2020-09-20 20:58:44
Sir, first of all appreciate the vigor with which you pusue your Christian agenda, My question is , how does your conscience allow/allowed you to be in top position of the overseas Congress(supposed to be secular ) and still carry on with your Chrisstian agenda? Wasn't people like you shamelessly pursuing and exploiting Congress party the reason for the rise of anger among Hindus and BJP coming to power??? now you are crying wolf? sorry sir. People can see through your agenda and that is exactly why new rules are in place. Also will you please be able to confirm your first allegiance is to your country ( you know the country of Nehru / Gandhi - you always refer to us we we ) or American Missionaries now stuck with money for conversion, now that they don't know how to spend as Modi has put a full stop to it.
True Indian 2020-09-20 22:40:30
Those men are spying on our country. They must be kicked out. What difference they have from the Maoists. They are converting Hindus. They must be jailed for treason. Jai Hindustan, Jai Ram,
secular Indian 2020-09-20 23:47:56
You call our president Nazzi, illicit. but we cannot call sanghis anti-humanity people. as for IP address, who is afraid of sanghis
Prof. Raman, Thiruvananthapuram 2020-09-20 23:36:04
Dear American malayalees; we here in India are not kicking anybody out. If they come here & preach your religion, we will kick them out. We are a secular Nation by the people and for the people. If we find they are spying, we will deal accordingly. Don’t forget; it is your leader who wants to kickout Muslims, Hispanics, Blacks, Chinese & Indians. If he wins a 2nd term, he will do much damage with the help of his white KKK racists who wants ethnic cleansing like his Hero Hitler. We read what is published in newspapers, we read your comments. Some of you boys are fanatic Christians and wants to be and keep repeating America is a Christian country & all other go back, these are men from Kerala who keep saying go back to your country. We are tracking your comments and deal with you when you come back to visit India. We have a database for that. White racists attacked several Hindus, we are not going to tolerate that. he called Ganapathi Bhagavan a vacuum cleaner. If you elect trump again or if he captures power with Russian help as he did last time, he will start attacking Hindus. His armed men will declare a civil war and we are afraid they will kill Indians. So; you have a choice, kick your racist president first. Let us see what you do. Jai Hindustan, Jai Ram, Jai BJP -Prof. of Politics.
True BJP Patriot Indian 2020-09-20 23:53:58
Are these christian men here to preach, then we do have a problem. They were fooling our villagers by saying their Gods can float in water and fake Hindu gods will sink, they hade statues of jesus & mary made of wood and statues of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama made of metal, They put them in water and were fooling our poor Village people. Are these men here to preach like your Christian leader Jerry Flawell with open fly. the Christian preacher who watches his wife having sex with pool boy. Shame on you Hypocrites. I am an Inian and I am proud of it.
മലയാളത്തില്‍ ടൈപ്പ് ചെയ്യാന്‍ ഇവിടെ ക്ലിക്ക് ചെയ്യുക