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New Delhi, June 29, 2022: Leader of an ecumenical forum that monitors attacks on Christians in India has welcomed the Supreme Court’s willingness to hear a petition on such incidents. “I hope the court takes note of the rising incidents of violence against Christians and directs concerned authorities to initiate criminal investigations and prosecute the criminal offenders in accordance with law,” says A C Michael, national coordinator of the United Christian Forum. He was reacting to the apex court on June 27 terming as “unfortunate” if what is said in the petition is right. A bench of Justices Surya Kant and J B Pardiwala then listed the case for hearing on July 11. The petition was filed by Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore along with the National Solidarity Forum, and the Evangelical Fellowship of India. “In May, 57 cases of violence happened and more attacks are anticipated,” said Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, and sought an urgent hearing. The petition urged the court to stop the “targeted hate speech” against the Christian community and attacks at their places of worship. Michael says it would be good if the court asks each affected state “to provide police protection for prayer meetings, and to let

Hindu nationalists in Chhattisgarh want those converted to Christianity removed from beneficiary list Tribal Christians in Ambikapur Diocese protest against the campaign by Hindu nationalists to remove them as beneficiaries of government welfare schemes in Chhattisgarh, India, on June 12 Tribal people including Christians in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh are up in arms about attempts by Hindu nationalist forces to rob them of reservation benefits. Reservations form a system of affirmative action in India that provides representation in education, employment and politics for historically disadvantaged groups such as tribal people, Dalits and backward castes. Tribal people in Chhattisgarh are alarmed by Janjati Suraksha Manch (JSM) or tribal protection forum, which is affiliated with the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), undertaking a concerted campaign to remove tribal Christians and Muslims from the list of reservation beneficiaries. Demands to delist Christians and Muslims have been raised for the past 15 years or so but Hindu nationalists started holding rallies in support of the move for the first time in May. “The demand and the public rallies in support of it are motivated by political gains,” Bishop Emmanuel Kerketta of Jashpur told UCA News on June 15. There is currently no religious bar to tribal people being

The federal government and judiciary must act immediately to check the worrying trend, says Christian rights group An interdenominational rights group in India’s national capital has demanded the federal government and judiciary intervene immediately to check the rapid rise in incidents of violence, coercion and false arrests of Christians. The New Delhi-based United Christian Forum (UCF) has cited 207 cases of persecution in 2022 to back the demand. It documented 505 cases in 2021. “This data flies in the face of statements by government functionaries and leaders of the ruling party at the center and in the states that there is no persecution and that there are only a few stray incidents by fringe elements,” said UCF national president Michael Williams in a press statement on June 13. William said it was ironic that the culprits, many of whom even film the acts of vandalism and physical violence on unarmed women and men, dare to defy the law with such impunity while the pastors and faithful gathered for prayers are arrested on false charges of religious conversion. “In all such cases, the police are either mute spectators or active participants. Despite our appeals to senior officials and administrators, the police have failed to follow protocol,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had highlighted 'rising attacks on people and places of worship' The Indian government has denied “ignoring or even supporting” rising attacks on minorities and their places of worship as alleged in the US State Department’s report on international religious freedom. Speaking after releasing the report on June 2, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “In India, the world’s largest democracy and home to a great diversity of faiths, we have seen rising attacks on people and places of worship.” He did not specify but the 2,000-page report indicated the reference was to attacks on Christian and Muslims and their places of worship. Blinken’s comment was further reinforced by US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain. “And as the secretary stated, in India some officials are ignoring or even supporting rising attacks on people and places of worship,” he said. Blinken had in April said that the US was monitoring the “rise in human rights abuses by some government, police and prison officials” in India. Arindam Bagchi, the official spokesperson of India's Ministry of External Affairs, said on June 3 that such assessments by senior US officials based on motivated inputs and biased views need to be

The report by Jasa Macher also reveals that the BJP-led union govt paid between Rs 11.63 lakh to Rs 44.98 lakh on average per lobby group working to influence US policies between 2017 and 2020 RSS-affiliated charitable groups spent about Rs 1,231.6 cr on Hindutva influence peddling in US, India: Report user It was revealed that between 2001- 2019 seven Sangh-affiliated charitable groups in the US reportedly spent at least Rs 1,231.6 crore ($158.9 million) on Hindutva programming, sending much of it to groups in India and there are are reportedly 222 shakhas of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the US wing of the militant, paramilitary Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), across 32 states and 166 cities in the US, according to a new report ‘Hindu Nationalist Influence in the United States’. The BJP-led union government paid between Rs 11.63 lakh to Rs 44.98 lakh ($15k-$58k) on average per lobby group working to influence US policies between 2017 and 2020. The Sangh’s efforts to amplify Hindutva priorities in US domestic and foreign policy were led by groups such as the Hindu American Foundation and Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies (FIIDS); campaign financing through the Hindu American Political Action Committee (HAPAC). The report by Jasa

Karnataka state introduced the law as an ordinance after it failed to sail through the upper house of the state assembly Christians feel betrayed as Indian state criminalizes conversion Christians in India's Karnataka state feel betrayed and hurt after their government criminalized religious conversions ignoring concerns, says Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore, who heads the regional bishops' forum. “The Christian community feels betrayed when its sentiments are not taken note of and its selfless services in the fields of education, healthcare and other social areas for the welfare of all communities are not taken into consideration,” said May 18. The prelates' statement came a day after the state government, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), promulgated the ordinance on May 17 with the signature of the state governor. The Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021 was passed by the state legislative assembly in last December but the ruling BJP failed to muster enough support in the legislative council or upper house, whose final sanction is required for any law to come into force. The BJP-led government then decided on taking the ordinance route to implement the anti-conversion law. Archbishop Machado, who heads the state's bishops' council said, called the move “a big letdown”

As many as six people have been arrested on Monday for allegedly trying to convert people into followers of Christianity at the Christ Memorial School in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, an official said. Following this matter, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said that the police have been directed to monitor the conversion activities in schools. Bhopal’s Bairagarh police station in-charge DP Singh said that following a complaint, a police team on Sunday raided the Christ Memorial School premises where a group had gathered and people were about to be converted. Father Paul Polas, Kamini Paul, Rajesh Malviya and Ritika Malviya were arrested on spot while the school director Menis Mathew and Rahul Sharma were arrested on Monday, he said. DP Singh said that the accused are being booked under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. When asked about this incident, the state government spokesperson and home minister Narottam Mishra told reporters, “Instructions have been given to the police intelligence to monitor whether the conversion activities are going on in missionary schools of Madhya Pradesh." Meanwhile, a project has been launched in Madhya

The hill shrine in Andhra Pradesh is being falsely claimed as a sacred spot for Hindus Attack on shrine upsets Christians in southern India Christians protest against vandals attacking the statues of Mother Mary, Infant Jesus and the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Guntur Diocese in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh on May 15. (Photo supplied) Unidentified vandals destroyed statues of Mother Mary, Infant Jesus and the Sacred Heart of Jesus at a hill shrine in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh causing shock among the local Catholics. The incident happened on the intervening night of May 14 and 15. "We came to know about it through some Catholics who had been there early morning,” said Father Bala Subash Chandra Bose who is in charge of the shrine. The newly constructed shrine complex at Edlapadu in the Guntur district was being readied for an inauguration, Father Bose told UCA News on May 18. “Christians here are in a state of shock and disbelief,” the Guntur diocesan priest said. “We organized a protest march on May 15 evening to press for speedy investigations.” However, three days after no one had been arrested and the priest said a peace march had been planned on the

Man alleges forced conversion in Madikeri, Christian couple from Kerala booked Accused have been booked under IPC section 295 (A), remanded to judicial custody Police official said they have not received circular on Anti-Conversion Law On May 17, an ordinance on the Karnataka Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill (2021) or commonly known as Anti-Conversion Law came into effect, on the same day, a Christian couple was arrested by the Madikeri district police over allegations of forced religious conversion. Based on the complaint filed by a man, an FIR was lodged under IPC section 295 (A). The accused were produced before the court and sent to judicial custody. On Tuesday afternoon, chaos prevailed at Manchalli village of Madikeri district as members of the Bajrang Dal barged into a house belonging to a man named Paniyeravar A Mutha and questioned the motive of a Christian couple, who were inside the house. After arguments between the Christian couple and the right-wing group members, the couple was handed over to the Kutta police. Speaking on the issue, local Bajrang Dal leader Sajjan Ganapati told News9 that, he along with other members went to the spot after they received the information about forced religious

Karnataka state plans to bring in an ordinance after failing to steer an earlier bill outlawing religious conversions The Catholic Church in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has criticized the government for its attempts to keep the pot boiling on the contentious issue of religious conversions. The May 12 announcement by Law Minister J.C. Madhuswamy of the state government’s plan to usher in an emergency law to counter religious conversions and interfaith marriages by issuing an ordinance has alarmed Christians. The state's legislative assembly passed an anti-conversion bill — Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill 2021 — last December but failed to present it in the upper house or legislative council for final sanction, perhaps because the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is one seat short of a majority there. An ordinance comes into effect with the signature and seal of the state's governor but has to be ratified by the elected legislative house within six months. “The pro-Hindu BJP wants to keep alive the bogey of conversions ahead of the crucial elections,” said J.A. Kanthraj, public relations officer of Bangalore Archdiocese, while referring to the local polls to be held in a couple of months followed by provincial assembly elections next year

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