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The Hindu, Wednesday, January 15, 2003
U.S. missionary attacked

By Our Staff Reporter

The Protestant missionary, Joseph Kooper, who was attacked by suspected RSS workers, being brought to a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM JAN. 14. A 60-year-old American national and Protestant missionary, Joseph Cooper, was grievously injured when he was attacked by a 10-member armed gang of suspected RSS activists near a gospel convention venue at the Koppam Harijan colony in the Kilimanoor police station limits near here, late on Monday night.

Police said that seven other persons, including a preacher and his family accompanying Mr. Cooper, were also injured in the attack. Mr. Cooper, hailing from New Castle in the U.S., sustained a deep cut on his right palm. He is under treatment at a private hospital here.

Mr. Cooper had come to Kilimanoor to speak at the Koppam Protestant Convention organised by the Puliyam Friends Bible Church. He and his fellow church members were waylaid by the armed gang while they were being escorted back to their vehicles from the convention venue at around 9.45 p.m., police said.

The assailants first exploded a cracker to create panic. They detained the missionary and other preachers for a few minutes before attacking them with short sticks, swords and crowbars.

Among those injured are the preacher Benson (37), his wife, Sali Benson, children Joy and Judith, Jayakumar and Mercy Christudas. Police said the attackers fled when other church members rushed to the rescue of Mr. Cooper. The injured were rushed to the Medical College Hospital.

In a statement to police, Mr. Benson alleged that the attack was carried out by local RSS workers led by an autorickshaw driver. Police have arrested Raju (34), a former Kilimanoor RSS functionary.

The Circle-Inspector (Kilimanoor), D. Rajagopal, said there was no history of communal discord at the Koppam Harijan colony where about 60 families lived. Some of the families practised both the Christian and the Hindu faith.

When contacted, the SP (Rural), T.K. Vinod Kumar, said that police raids were on to arrest the rest of the accused. RSS and BJP workers, meanwhile, took out a march to the Kilimanoor police station demanding the release of those arrested. When contacted, the RSS Jilla saha karyavah, R. Santhosh, said that his organisation had nothing to do with the attack. He alleged that the speeches made by the U.S. missionary and other preachers at the convention were "communally inflammatory" and "insulting to practitioners of the Hindu faith".


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