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The Evangelist's Living Hell

The Evangelist's Living Hell
The timing could not have been more ominous. As RSS sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudershan arrived in Wynad, Kerala, to open a vanavasi convention, his swayamsevaks targeted 67-year-old Joseph Cooper, a Protestant evangelist from the US preaching to Harijan converts at Kilimanoor, 30 km from Thiruvananthapuram. The police claim that at least 10 swayamsevaks were involved in the attack on the bishop and six others returning from a Bible convention at the Koppam Harijan colony.

Doctors operated several hours to join Cooper’s right palm, which was nearly cut in two. Pastor Sam Benson, 37, was in hospital with a cut on the forehead. His wife Sally Benson, children Joy and Judith and choir members Jayakumar and Mercy Christudas were also among the injured. The police has already arrested six suspected assailants, "who are all regulars at RSS shakhas", Thiruvananthapuram SP (rural) Vinod Kumar told Outlook.

RSS zonal chief K. Rajasekharan has denied Sangh involvement. Cooper, who has visited Kerala several times before, told journalists that he had already forgiven his tormentors. Pastor Benson recalled that there was no provocation either in word or deed at the convention. But rss sources said a few Harijans were angry over the miracle cure of a woman. Kumar said this was a red herring to deflect attention.

Prof Ninan Koshy, a former director of the World Council of Churches, however, sees a link between Sudershan’s anti-conversion call at the vanavasi meet and the violence perpetrated by the swayamsevaks at Kilimanoor.

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