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Delhi church attack: Culprits remain unpunished

New Delhi: Justice delayed is justice denied to a priest, who was attacked and his church burnt by religious fanatics a decade ago in the national capital. The case has been pending in Delhi West Court for the last 10 years without any justice being given to the victims and punishment to the culprits.

According to Rev Paul R Prasad, a 60-years-old priest from Sitapuri near Dabri, New Delhi, a group of 12 stick-wielded men in their 20s dressed in white T-shirts and khaki shorts interrupted the Sunday Prayer Service at Bethany Christian Assembly at Sitapuri under Dabri Police Station, New Delhi on 6 May 1996 at 10.30 am.
Mid Day reported on 4 June 1996 that Suraj Bhan, a member of Rashtriya Swayamseva Sangh, led the group and manhandled church members and stopped the religious function. The mob attacked Rev Prasad with a sharp-edged lethal weapon repeatedly.

Church member Suresh Masih, a resident of Sitapuri also got injuries and the mob burnt copies of the Bible and religious songbooks. When the neighbours came out to rescue the priest, the mob fled from the spot. Church members took the priest to Safdurjung Hospital for treatment where he was admitted for two days. His abdomen bore deep wounds and it still remains unhealed.

The case was reported to Dabri police station and the then Station House Officer Raj Singh Chouhan refused to file an FIR (First Information Report) for one week. West Delhi Christian Fellowship approached the higher authorities through a memorandum with copies marked to the then Lt Governor of Delhi, the Chief Minister of Delhi and the Commissioner of Police, Delhi.

The then Joint Commission of Police Maxwell Pereira initiated the proceedings and thereafter Chouhan registered the complaint. The police arrested Suraj Bhan and his colleagues and freed them on bail without any judgment since then.

According to Mid Day, Chouhan contended that the attack led by RSS member Suraj Bhan was not communal in nature. It was a matter of personal rivalry over some property dispute.
A case FIR No 332/96 under section 147/148/149/153A/294/298 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against the culprits which is still pending in the court of Vijay Shankar – Metropolitan Magistrate, Dwarka, New Delhi.

The Metropolitan Magistrate had summoned Rev Prasad and Suresh Masih to deposit their statements on 22 July 2010. Dr John Dayal, a member of the National Integration Council and Secretary General of All India Christian Council said, ”The attack on Rev Prasad and his church happened during the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule at the Centre.

At the same time, many other organised attacks on Christians broke out across the nation.” Mid Day reported two more attacks on Christians at Janakpuri adjoining Dabri on 27 and 30 May 1996 allegedly by RSS members. “The Christian communities across India were shocked and frightened,” Dr Dayal said.

All India Christian Council has approached the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Minorities through a memorandum to take up the matter and  conduct an independent enquiry on why the case is still pending.

(Source: news from Aicc leader)

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