He addressed Christian convention despite police request
William Lee, the U.S.-based evangelist, who went into hiding after police spotted him violating visa norms by addressing a gospel convention in the city on Wednesday, was arrested and produced before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court-I here on Saturday. He was remanded in judicial custody till October 18.
Mr. Lee arrived on a multiple-entry tourist visa, which was valid till March 20, 2012.
Following information that he would be addressing the convention named ‘Musical Splash 2011,' organised by the Thiruvalla-based Faith Leaders Church of God at the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium in Kaloor here, police officials landed at the venue and asked him not to do so.
Even though the organisers accepted the request, Mr. Lee addressed the gathering soon after senior police officials left the scene. When the police team reassembled, Mr. Lee left by the back entrance of the stage and managed to give the police the slip.
The police team rushed to the hotel where he was staying, but he had left by then. Subsequently, police registered a case at Palarivattom police station, under which the stadium came, against Mr. Lee and also against Roy Daniel, Daniel Mathew and James George, organisers of the show, on charges of abetment.
Three teams of the City Police were assigned to track the evangelist and organisers, who went missing immediately after the incident. The police finally traced Mr. Lee to a prominent city hotel by Saturday morning. He was arrested by 8.30 a.m. The three others, against whom cases have been registered, were still to be traced. Police sources said their mobile phones, one of which was a Singapore connection, remained switched off since the incident.
City Special Branch sources said the police have decided to clamp down on rampant violation of visa norms by preachers and evangelists. Quoting the visa regulation manuals, the sources said “visas should not be issued to preachers and evangelists who desire to come to India on propaganda campaign whether on their own or at the invitation of any other organisation in India.”
Preachers bypass this by coming on tourist visa and then address conventions. Even though the violations have been noticed and violators were often stopped from addressing meetings, this could be for the first time a case has been registered in connection with such an incident, a senior official with the City Special Branch said.
The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) condemning the police action against Mr. Lee, stated that the moral policing, sectarian violence and the selective arrest of Christian evangelists demonstrated the failure of secular institutions in the country.
“GCIC appeals to all secular forces to see the grand designs of the fascist force corroding the roots of democratic India,” said Dr. Sajan George, President, GCIC in a release.