02/27/2019, 17.28
INDIA
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Christian doctor back in India after three years, has the right to engage in mission

The Christian doctor arrived this morning at Delhi International Airport with his children. The Indian-born US citizen can return to treat the poor in Bihar.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Dr Christo Thomas Philip, a Christian doctor, is back in India after three years. He will now be able to treat poor patients in the Bihar hospital where he used to work, said AC Michael speaking to AsiaNews.

Michael is a member of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an association that acts on behalf of persecuted Christians. Thanks to the tireless work of its lawyers, Dr Philip now has a visa allowing him to work again in India after he was forced out in 2016 on false charge of forced conversions.

This morning the doctor landed at the Delhi International Airport on a Jet Airways flight. As soon as he left the T3 terminal with his three children (pictured), he was welcomed by his supporters, who placed the traditional garland of carnations around their necks.

A wide smile painted on his face, the Christian doctor now can resume his work to serve the poorest of the poor of Indian society.

Born in Kerala in 1982, Dr Philip became a US citizen after his family moved to the United States when he was 10.

In 2011 he specialised in Emergency Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. Three years later, he returned to India to work at the Duncan Hospital in Raxaul, Bihar, with an OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) card.

The card is a lifelong visa for overseas doctors, nurses and dentists of Indian origin, which allows them to keep their foreign citizenship whilst working in India.

In 2016 Indian authorities stripped Dr Christo of his visa, following complaints that he was engaged in "evangelical and subversive activities" and performed forced conversions “leading to unrest and law and order problems.”  

As a result of this, he was deported to Turkey but later moved to Nepal to be closer to India where his case was before the courts.

In January of this year, the Delhi High Court ruled in his favour and ordered that his visa be reinstated. More importantly, the court made a historic ruling, recognising the petitioner’s right to engage in mission in India.

"India is a secular country,” the judgment says. “All persons in this country have a right to practice their faith in the manner they consider fit so long as it does not offend any other person. If the petitioner’s faith motivates the petitioner to volunteer for medical services at a hospital, there is no law (certainly not of this land) that proscribes him from doing so.”

For Tehmina Arora, director of ADF India, “Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. It [the court ruling] certainly is a landmark judgement protecting the rights of foreign nationals working in Christian organizations to freely live out their faith in India.  It restricts the arbitrary action of the Ministry of Home Affairs targeting foreigners merely because they are Christians.”

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