Buddhists beat up blind 'Christian' teacher

by Tarun Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, September 06, 2010

Leh, Ladakh (India) -- A blind teacher at a Buddhist school in Choglamsar town in Leh district was beaten up by Buddhist activists for allegedly carrying out conversion activity on the behest of Christian missionaries.

Solomon Rai alias Ram Kumar was teaching at the Maha Bodhi International Meditation Centre for last two years. He had allegedly registered himself under the Hindu name Ram Kumar in the school service book.

He and his wife Junita (32), who is also blind, were teaching six blind students in the school. The school authorities had provided them residential accommodation.

"He was picked up by our boys on Wednesday when he was trying to influence Nepalese Sherpa labourers staying at Choglamsar to accept Christianity. This sort of conversion is not acceptable and we will not allow it," said P.T. Kunzong, general secretary of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA).

He, however, regretted the use of violence by LBA members.

"The incident has given Buddhism a bad name. We are known as a peace loving community," Kunzong said.

Rai has filed an FIR against LBA activists, the police said.

"He filed an FIR on Thursday. But as he is blind, he is not able to identify the people who attacked him. We are seeking help of his friend who might have seen the attackers," the station house officer of Leh said.

LBA activists allegedly took Rai to Gompa Soma monastery in Leh town where he was beaten in presence of many onlookers.

"How could they beat a blind man? This is disgusting and totally unacceptable. We are living in a secular country," one of Rai's friends said, on condition of anonymity.

LBA alleged that Rai was being paid Rs 3,000 by Christian missionaries for organising a meeting of 15 people where he could give sermons on Christianity and Rs 150 for bringing any individual to Church.

"We have recorded his statement and will distribute the CD soon," Kunzong said.