A controversy over the issue of conversions has erupted in the Valley after the grand mufti of Jammu & Kashmir, Mufti Basheer-u-din, has “summoned” a senior pastor to appear before a shariat court in Srinagar to answer the charges of allegedly “luring” young people into Christianity.
Reverend CM Khanna, pastor of the protestant All Saints’ Church in Srinagar, has to clarify his position by November 12. The “summons”, however, have no legal standing and are not binding on the pastor. Shariat law is not on the state's statute book.
Khanna, who is currently in Siliguri in West Bengal, denied the charges. “I have lived in the Valley for 10 years and in Jammu for 14 years,” he said. “I have no problem meeting the grand mufti and explaining my position.”
The mufti has also asked the youth not to go to churches, and claims he has in his possession a video clip showing Khanna urging them to embrace Christianity.
“We have proof that the church is luring the youth with money,’ said Aftab Kakroo, former deputy commissioner and member of the shariat law board.
In a letter to Khanna, the mufti said he would be held personally responsible for the consequences if he failed to explain his activities. Violence will break out in the Valley if the facts are made public, the mufti said.
Regarding the charge of offering money to prospective converts, Khanna said, “We tell them they will have to support the church as we have no money.”
The government, however, is unaware of the incident. “We haven’t heard anything about this so we cannot comment,” said chief minister Omar Abdullah.