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 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 17:45 GMT
India to expel US missionary
Missionary Joseph Cooper in hospital
Mr Cooper denied infringing the Indian constitution
An American missionary attacked in southern India last week by right-wing Hindus has been told to leave the country in the next seven days.

Kerala state police said Joseph Cooper had violated his tourist visa by indulging in missionary activity.

Mr Cooper, 68, is still in a private hospital with stab wounds.

Police said Hindu nationalists had been planning to bring a court case based on visa rules.

Ten arrests

A senior police official said: ''The court would have upheld the appeal and the police would have been left shame-faced.''

Church prayer
Attacks on Kerala Christians are rare

Mr Cooper, an ordained bishop of the New Jerusalem church from Pennsylvania, had been given seven days to leave because of his injuries.

Police have arrested 10 members of the hardline Hindu Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) over the attack.

The RSS, which denies involvement, has close ties to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party that heads the federal coalition government.

The attack took place on the outskirts of the state capital, Trivandrum, on 13 January.

Five more hurt

Eyewitnesses said Mr Cooper was surrounded by an armed gang of 10 people as he was returning from a gospel convention organised by the Protestant Friends of the Bible Church.

The gang reportedly attacked Mr Cooper and others with swords, sticks and iron bars.

A local pastor, his wife and two children and one other person were also injured.

Mr Cooper later said he had done nothing wrong under the Indian constitution.

He said he had participated in missionary meetings regularly during 11 visits to India.

About one-third of the population of Kerala is Christian and attacks of this kind are rare.

But local people told the BBC that in recent months some right-wing Hindu organisations had been protesting against religious minorities.

See also:

15 Jan 03 | South Asia
25 Dec 02 | South Asia
06 Dec 02 | South Asia
08 Jun 00 | South Asia
22 May 00 | South Asia
24 Feb 00 | South Asia
30 Sep 99 | South Asia
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