Church in India denies reports that Christians converted Kashmir Muslims
The Catholic Church has denounced as "dangerously motivated", a series of media reports that accuse Christians of "converting" Muslims in violence-torn Kashmir.
According to Fr Babu Joseph, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, the reports reflect "a motivated agenda of certain groups" aimed at "destroying the communal harmony" in the Kashmir Valley.
Since 1989, conflicts between Muslim insurgents and Indian security forces in Kashmir have killed 70,000 people and forced thousands of Hindus to leave the area.
In a series of articles beginning on 5 April, the Indian Express daily claimed, "Amid booming guns and endless violence, Kashmir is witnessing a discreet spurt in conversion - from Islam to Christianity."
The multi-edition English-language newspaper asserted, "Christian groups are putting the number of neo-converts at over 10,000."
Church records say that Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, has about 15,000 Catholics.
Kashmir Christians say reports on money-for-conversion are 'wild' (Ecumenical News International)
CBCI welcomes peace initiatives between India and Pakistan (CBCI)
6 May 2003