Concerned about problems in Kashmir (related to the arrest of Rev. C.M. Khanna and the order of the Sharia Court demanding the expulsion of certain Christians), the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) undertook a special visit to Srinagar. In such a situation, it is natural for members of the Christian community to experience a sense of isolation and helplessness. At the same time some Muslims can get very agitated about the reported evangelistic activities of Christians. The NCCI visit was aimed at building confidence among both the communities. The NCCI interacted with a cross-section of people that included civil society, political parties, college faculties, and leaders from the Christian and Muslim communities.
The local communities are very much appreciative of the work of Christians in the field of education and health. They wholeheartedly agree that it is contributing to the development of Kashmir. The Muslims in general are not opposed to Christians practicing their faith in the Valley. However, they have reservations about conversions through inducement.
Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front Chairman, Yassen Malik, assured NCCI on Saturday that the Christian community can live without fear and perform their religious duties in Kashmir. The NCCI welcomes his positive statement.
The NCCI reaffirms that Indian Constitution articles 25, 26, 27 and 28 affirm the Right to freedom of religion to all citizens of this country. However, NCCI does not approve of conversions through inducement; they are contrary to the values of Christianity.
We demand that the State Government should not allow right-wing Muslim groups to take the law in their hands. This will make the situation worse for communal harmony in the state.
We also appeal to the media and Christian groups not to create prejudice against the Kashmir Muslim Community. We urge Christians to responsibly witness to Christ and the gospel in the valley. Christians must live alongside their Muslim brothers and sisters in peace and harmony.
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