- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 21, 2003

TRIVANDRUM, India (AP) An American missionary wounded in an attack by Hindu nationalists has been ordered to leave India within a week for preaching illegally.
Joseph William Cooper had preached several times even though it wasn't allowed under the terms of his visitor's visa, said Vinod Kumar, police superintendent in Trivandrum, capital of the southern state of Kerala.
Mr. Cooper, 67, of New Castle, Pa., was told to leave India after being released from a hospital yesterday, Superintendent Kumar said. He underwent surgery for a deep cut on his right hand.
Mr. Cooper wasn't immediately available for comment.
Police believe Hindu nationalists attacked Mr. Cooper and seven others last week after the missionaries left a church gathering on the outskirts of Trivandrum, 1,300 miles south of New Delhi.
Mr. Cooper suffered severe head and hand injuries when he was attacked with swords and sticks, U.S. consulate spokesman Helen LaFave told Agence France-Presse.
Superintendent Kumar said four members of a hard-line Hindu group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, are accused of the attack. The group, allied with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), says Christian missionaries spread Western influence in India.
R. Santhosh, a local leader of the group, said his organization was not involved in the attack, but he accused Mr. Cooper and other Christians of insulting Hindus.
Hindu hard-liners have attacked Christians more often since BJP came to power in 1999.
They accuse the missionaries of converting poor Hindus by offering them money, a charge Christian groups deny.


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