Andhra Pradesh: Christian Bishop claims he is Hindu SC.. District Collector says Yes
Multiple complaints have been filed by Ms. Mandru Sarala Kumari, belonging to SC community and resident of Kollipara, Guntur District,Andhra Pradesh alleging that Christian Bishop Kattera Suresh Kumar is holding SC Hindu certificate to avail SC reservation benefits despite being a Christian Bishop, maintaining a big church, running several Bible colleges and awarding Christian theology degree through a large evangelical organization namely Harvest India. The couple also run a big Church named King’s Temple. As per their tax returns filed with US IRS, they run 10 Bible Colleges. Following this, an enquiry was ordered by the District Collector.
The complainant alleged that the District Level Scrutiny Committee has chosen to ignore evidence submitted by her and the committee focused on evidence that can substantiate their claim that Bishop Mr. Suresh Kumar is a Hindu and belongs to the Scheduled Caste Community. The committee has completely ignored the report of RDO Tenali submitted in the year 2014 in which the official had clearly stated that Mr. Kathera Suresh Kumar and his wife Ms. Thella Heny Christina are Christians and that Harvest India is a Christian organisation. Filing an appeal against the decision of the district administration the complainant said that gross injustice has been done to the entire Scheduled Caste community in India as this case will become a precedent leading to lakhs of claims from Christian evangelists, clergy and Bishops into declaring them as Hindu SC in official public records thereby misuse of reservation benefits meant for genuine SCs. Hence this case assumes vital significance merits serious investigation and requested the committee to re-examine the whole issue.
SC ST RIGHTS FORUM which has obtained the details of the complaint and subsequent decision of the district administration has written a detailed letter to National SC Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India to intervene in the issue. The Forum has contends that since Bishop Kathera Suresh Kumar claimed himself as a Hindu and has been declared as such, it amounts to cheating of thousands of Christian donors who have donated to Bishop Kathera Suresh Kumar’s evangelist organization Harvest India ( FCRA- 10260176 ) on the belief and claim of Bishop Suresh Kumar and his wife that they are devout Christians, running a Christian evangelist organisation involved in evangelism, church planting, conversions to Christianity and training of pastors through 10 Bible Colleges. The forum requested the National SC Commission and Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India that criminal proceedings must be initiated against Bishop Kathera Suresh Kumar and his wife Heny Christina for cheating innocent US /other country citizens for projecting themselves as a Christians, and collecting millions of dollars over a number of years. All assets created out of donations from abroad should be declared as ‘proceeds of fraudulent misrepresentation’, bank accounts of Harvest India frozen and the FCRA permission was suspended immediately.
COMPLAINT AGAINST HARVEST INDIA’S FCRA VIOLATION:
In April 2020, Legal Rights Protection Forum, a Hyderabad-based organization had filed a complaint to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs pointing out several violations under FCRA Act, anti-national, anti-Hindu speeches of Bishop Kattera Suresh Kumar. He made highly derogatory remarks against the Government of India and Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Sri Narendra Modi. While speaking at Mission Conference 2018 held at Biola University, the USA in the year 2018, Mr. Suresh Kumar had made following derogatory statements:
“I shared about the nation of India. Pastors are beaten, churches are burning. 5 years churches are struggling. Hindu militants posting videos in SM- husband and wife pastors stripped naked, made to walk naked just for bearing the cross of Jesus Christ. Right now, we are under Hindu rule. Our Prime Minister, he is a bad guy. He doesn’t want any Christians in India. He wants to make India as only Hindu country. So many pastors killed in last 5 years. Many missionaries, they send them out. There is unrest, turmoil. Pastors are killing, Churches are burning. The government is not doing anything. Brutal mentality, we are struggling. We do not know what is going happen tomorrow to Christianity in India, to Church in India but I am believing powerful god on our side. Next year we have election, please pray. I don’t want this party to come back. This guy is doing so much bad for Christianity”
SC ST RIGHTS FORUM in its complaint has mentioned that, for a number of years, Bishop Mr. Kathera Suresh Kumar has, by his words and actions, held out to the world at large that he is a Christian Bishop. Even in various newspaper reports and in a number of appreciation certificates given by various government officials like District Collectors, he has been referred to as ‘Bishop. In the official newsletters of Harvest India published periodically and sent out to donors by Bishop Mr. Suresh Kumar and his team, the objective of their organization is stated at the top on the first page as ‘TO CARRY CHRIST’S COMPASSION TO EVERY VILLAGE IN INDIA’. It is highly inconceivable that any Hindu will be having his life objective as above. Yet the Bishop Mr. Suresh Kumar who has been declared as a Hindu by the District Collector of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
By this act of holding out to the world that he is a Bishop, Mr. Suresh Kumar, under Doctrine of Estoppels, is precluded from denying or negating anything to the contrary of that which has been constituted as truth, by his own actions, by his deeds or by his representations. Despite overwhelming evidence that Bishop Suresh Kumar is a Christian as per law and as per the eyes of the world, he has been declared as a ‘Hindu’. By his own words, actions and deeds, Mr Suresh Kumar has projected himself as a Christian and a Bishop and under the doctrine of Estoppel, he cannot deny this truth.
SELECTIVE CONSIDERATION OF EVIDENCE BY DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION: SC ST Rights Forum
SC ST RIGHTS FORUM has present the details of evidence submitted by complainants in support of their claim that Bishop Kathera Suresh Kumar and his wife were Christians, before the District Level Scrutiny Committee which was completely ignored.
The complainant had alleged that while considering her complaint, the officials of the Guntur District Administration, Andhra Pradesh and members of the District Level Scrutiny Committee have selected evidence with a pre-concluded decision to declare the Christian Bishop Mr. Kathera Suresh Kumar as Hindu-SC. They have taken evidence from the Date of Birth Certificate of Bishop Suresh Kumar and up to his College Education and stopped there. Had the committee gone backward, from 2021 towards his date of birth and considered all the evidence submitted by us, Bishop Mr. Kathera Suresh Kumar would have been declared a Christian.
The Forum further said in its complaint that the committee has intentionally been ignoring the point that as per The Christian Marriage Act 1872, Baptism is not a mandatory process for conversion of religion from Hinduism to Christianity. ‘Baptism’ is not even a statutory law. They have completely ignored the auto-biography of Bishop Suresh Kumar named ‘Compelled: How to live for something beyond yourself’. They have not conducted any inquiry into a massive Church named ‘King’s Temple’ constructed by Bishop Suresh Kumar in Garuvupalem village, Tenali Mandal, Guntur District where the grave of his deceased mother whose last rites were performed as per Christian customs is still in existence.
The DLSC has completely ignored evidence regarding the 10 Bible colleges being run by Bishop Suresh Kumar (as claimed in his tax returns filed with IRS, Govt. of United States of America / newsletters/video presentations /interviews/ social media posts) The DLSC has given huge importance to Bishop Mr. Suresh Kumar’s vague testimonies and artificially manufactured evidence of other people vouching that Bishop Suresh Kumar is a Hindu. While there is substantial evidence that Bishop Suresh Kumar is a Christian, the committee has completely ignored the fact that Bishop Suresh Kumar could not produce a single photograph/video/social media post of his visiting any temple, performing pooja, or celebrating any Hindu festival. While we have produced a huge volume of evidence of his preaching of the Bible, participating in Crusades, giving out theology degrees to Christian pastors. Yet the wise men of the DLSC have completely thrown overboard evidence submitted by us.
‘Harvest India’, the organization to which Bishop Mr. Kathera Suresh Kumar is the president, received crores of amount from Foreign Church organizations for Christian religious activities, preacher & priest training programs and other Christian religious functions. The same has been mentioned in the FCRA Returns filed by Harvest India with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for the financial years 2007-08 to 2013-14. District Level Scrutiny Committee has chosen to ignore this important point and took the statement of Bishop Mr. Kathera Suresh Kumar’s statement that Harvest India is not at all a Religious Organization.
Below are the details of funds received by the ‘Harvest India’ Organization represented by Bishop Mr. Kattera Suresh Kumar from Foreign Christian Evangelical Organizations to perform various Christian Religious Activities in India.
SC ST RIGHTS FORUM had said that it will be a dark day for the entire Scheduled Castes Community of the country if a Christian Bishop running an evangelist organization, 10 Bible Colleges and a big Church is declared as a Hindu and SC. Hence we request to order a high-level investigation into the entire episode. We also request you to conduct an open enquiry via teleconferencing or physical enquiry and give us an opportunity to present the overwhelming mass of evidence that Bishop Kathera Suresh Kumar and his wife Ms Kathera Heny Christina are Christians who do not belong to Scheduled Caste.
In his televised interviews which were printed in prominent Christian journals/ blogs, Bishop Suresh Kumar explained the future vision of his organization ‘Harvest India’ as follows:
Paul: What does the future of Harvest India look like?
Bishop Suresh Kumar: I believe God wants Harvest India to reach 10 million people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have a clearly charted future that includes establishing 20 Bible colleges so that Indians can be equipped and sent out to reach their own people. We want to train 15,000 pastors who will go out and start new Churches in villages that have never heard the Gospel, with people who have never heard the name of Jesus. My wife and I are praying that we will see 2,000 women rescued from prostitution. We believe that God wants us to provide shelter, food and education to the neglected children and the orphans. We believe that God wants us to provide clean drinking water in every village where it is not available, to build AIDS and HIV care centers so we can comfort people with eternal hope before they die. And we believe that God wants us to move towards self-sustainability. I believe that Harvest India will care for more than 10,000 orphans and invest in the next generation by training them up to change India with the Gospel.
Bishop Mr. Suresh Kumar is an active member of the ruling YSRCP Party and is closely connected to the top leadership. He worked as the Coordinator for Tadikonda Assembly Constituency for the party. The media coverage of his activities as part of the above party post shows that he used to participate in Christian religious prayers wherever he went. There is not a single mention of his visiting any temple or Hindu religious services during his tour of various villages.
Source: Inputs received from SC ST Rights Forum