Report from Maharashtra:

In February, 1989, Nagpur was privileged to have miracle-workers descend on the city on behalf of a Christian organisation called Global Network. A global con, in fact, where disease was to be cured by prayer. The wonder workers were Rev.Mike Huggins, Rev. Roger Jude and Sister Judy Such of the USA, along with Rev. Martin Bullhman of Switzerland. These were ably assisted by Rev. Satish Rathore and 30 other experts. The venue of this miracle mela was Kasturchand Park. It was to extend from February 15th to 19th, but, thanks to the determined efforts of the Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samithi, it fizzled out in a somewhat unspectacular way.

Large ads in local dailies, posters, banners and sign-boards announced the event. The promoters claimed that all physical disabilities, skin disease, cataract and blindness - anything that had defied medical remedy - would be cured instantly by prayer. Even persons attending the meetings were assured of better health - probably with residual blessings rubbing off on them too.

When the skeptics (ANS) noted this false propaganda, the secretary, Mr. Harish Deshmukh, submitted a written complaint to the Sadar Police Station. He pointed out that instant cures by prayer is not possible, and such publicity merely helps spread blindbelief and superstition. It must therefore be stopped at once.

The police did nothing. So a procession was organised against the godmen. Marching with the volunteers were physically handicapped people, the blind and deaf, and even some dwarfs. They carried banners appealing for a cure for their disabilities by prayer. The committee offered the godmen Rs.3,00,000 in prize money to demonstrate their miracles. Shouting slogans, they converged on Kasturchand Park and the police promptly arrested all 63 of them.

However, a similar march and demonstration was organised next day. This time the police visited the venue where prayer meetings were in progress. They saw a healer touch a blind man's eyes and assure him he could see, when he couldn't. A lame man's leg was touched and he was told he could walk. Convinced this was all a con, the police arrested the Christian faithhealers and the organizers.

Cases were registered against them under the drugs and Magical remedies objectionable Advertisement Act, 1954, and violation of Medical Practitioners Act, 1961 (Maharashtra). Thereafter touching of the bodies of the sick, and the laying on of hands while praying was stopped. Earlier, when similar claims by a Mr. Hotsna, Rev.McLean and Rev.Peter were challenged, they had fled from the scene.

The protest demonstrations were led by Mr. Umesh Chaube, Mr. Harish Deshmukh, Mr. Ashok Ghate, Mr. Dnyanesh Mawale, Nitin Choudhary, Yamini Chaudhary, Rekha Dendige, Vijay Metkar and other activists of the Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samithi.

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Last update: 19 June 1998