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February

The three-term Indian American congressman has long ignored massive violations of human rights and religious freedom in India in deference to his Hindu nationalist benefactors and his friendship with Prime Minister Modi. (The following article was originally published in American Kahani, an ethnic news portal of Indian Americans. To read the article in American Kahani, please click here). For over two years, I have been trying to convince Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi to stand on the right side of history by condemning the anti-minority policies of the Modi government and by distancing himself from his Hindu nationalist benefactors in the U.S. It started in December 2019 when a report surfaced that he was a keynote speaker at a Hindu nationalist event in Chicago. He claimed that the report was false and that it was an Indian festival where there just happened to be some pictures of Hindu nationalist leaders. He also insisted that he was not in any way associated with Hindu nationalism. In fact, the October 2019 event was to commemorate the 94th birthday of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and it was organized by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas arm of the RSS. On stage were HSS officials as well as

They will no longer be mere spectators to media attempts portraying them in a poor light, say nuns and priests in Kerala: Catholic officials in the southern Indian state of Kerala have begun lodging police complaints against what they call a rising trend in media to defame the Church, particularly priests and nuns. “Our priests and nuns have lodged more than 160 police complaints across the state against certain online, mainstream and social media platforms for portraying Catholic priests and nuns in a poor light,” said Father Michael Pulickal, secretary of Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council's commission for social harmony and vigilance. Catholic religious men and women are no longer going to be mere spectators to the deliberate attempts to denigrate their image before the public by publishing lies, half-truths and misleading facts, he told UCA News. Father Pulickal said Kerala police were refusing to register their complaints in some cases but the bishops’ council and other church bodies will “not succumb to pressure” and continue their campaign “for legal action until we get justice.” The government had failed to take disciplinary action and hence “our people are going to lodge as many complaints as possible until the authorities initiate action against those trying to destroy

Authorities in India’s southern state of Karnataka demolished a 20-foot-tall statue of Jesus, which had been standing in the village for 18 years, claiming it was built on land earmarked by the government for an animal pasture. The administration in the Kolar district said last week’s demolition of the statue next to St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Gokunte village. The Karnataka High Court had ordered the destruction, but local Christian leaders said the case was still pending. Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado condemned the statue's demolition, stating that the church possessed ownership documents for the land where the statue sat. According to Machado, church leaders tried to work with authorities to save the structure, but local authorities were uncooperative. “It is sad to note that yet another ruthless demolition of a Christian Structure, which included a 20- feet Statue of Jesus and 14 Stations of Cross was carried out by the taluka authorities in a Christian Village, Gokunte, in Kolar, a District of Karnataka touching the border of Andhra,” Machado announced in a statement. “Though the Church has documents of the two acres of the land where these structures were located, the local authorities considered them as not proper or incomplete. The matter is still being

02/17/2022: Two days after a 20-feet Jesus statue was demolished by the Kolar district administration of Karnataka, Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, has alleged that it was pulled down in violation of court directives, and no written notice was served on persons concerned before the impending action. According to locals, the district administration accompanied by nearly 400 policemen reached Gokunte village – which is just two kilometres from Andhra Pradesh border – in the wee hours on Thursday, February 15, to pull down the statue which had been existing since 2004. Except for the four families in the village, which has a population of around 600, the rest in the village follow the Roman-Catholic faith. Machado alleged that the administration went ahead with the demolition despite the fact that the said land (of two acres) on which the statue stood belonged to a church, which had necessary documents to that effect. The demolition was carried out because the “local authorities considered them as not proper or incomplete”, he added. The archbishop also alleged that the demolition was carried out even though there was a stay order on the demolition from a trial court. “In spite of stay order and best efforts to help

02/13/22: Thousands of people cutting across religions have demanded the repeal of all anti-conversion laws in India. The demand comes ahead of February 14 when the Karnataka government plans to table the Anti-Conversion Bill in the state’s Upper House. Prominent signatories of the petition to the Indian president of India included among others Admiral L Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Mallika Sarabhai, accomplished dancer and choreographer, Medha Patkar, social activist, Anand Patwardhan, film Maker and Mani Shankar Aiyar, former federal minister. They assert the new anti-conversion law is unnecessary, since the Indian Constitution has enough provisions to curtail fraudulent religious conversions. `Wherever the anti-conversion law, ironically officially called Freedom of Religion Act, was passed, it became a justification for the persecution of the minorities and other marginalized identities” the petitioners explain. They also say the attacks on the minorities has grown sharply in recent years since this law was used as a weapon targeting the dignity of Christians and Muslims particularly belonging to Adivasis, Dalits and women. The petition urged people to join the campaign to defend the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution and protect human rights of the minorities and other marginalized sections in India. The petition was initiated

The matter was raised during the Fourth India-United Kingdom Home Affairs Dialogue held virtually on February 2. Representatives of the United Kingdom were “explained about the law and how it works,” The Indian Express quoted an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs as saying. A registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act is required to receive foreign funds. On January 1, Oxfam India was among the 6,000 non-governmental organisations whose FCRA registration had expired. The registrations had ended as either the organisations did not apply for renewal, or the home ministry refused to sanction their applications. On January 2, Oxfam India had said that the home ministry’s refusal to renew its registration will disturb the organisation’s humanitarian work, including the provision of Covid-related relief, in 16 states. The Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, was also among the organisations whose registration was refused renewal. On January 8, however, the registration of the Missionaries of Charity was restored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to The Hindu, an unidentified government official said that India did not give the British officials any assurance regarding a review of the cases. The United Kingdom had not highlighted the issue in writing or formally so far either, said the

Feb 12 A dozen Hindu nationalists harassed and beat up two pastors and set fire to a Bible one was carrying after accusing them of converting people to Christianity by offering money, according to a report. The pastors, identified as Sanjay Kumar and Inderjit, were in the northern Indian state of Haryana returning home after visiting a Christian family for prayers on the roof of their home in the Anand Nagar area of Ambala Cantonment when the mob, which included women, attacked them, Morning Star News reported about the Jan. 28 attack. The pastors were accused of receiving foreign funds and offering money to people in an attempt to get them to convert. Visibly hostile, some people in the mob filmed the pastors while questioning them in coarse language without letting them answer, Pastor Kumar was quoted as saying. Sanjay Rana, a neighbor and member of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal, was Sanjay Rana, a neighbor and member of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal, was leading the mob, he said. Rana seized Pastor Inderjit’s driver’s license and Pastor Kumar’s ID card, and then the mob began punching and slapping them. They also snatched the Bible from Kumar’s hand. “Their beating did not pain me as much as the

The Wire News: In the 48 hours before polling ends, candidates are not allowed to put out election matter—whether through TV or theatrical performance—calculated to influence voters. Yet that is precisely what the prime minister did. A shorter version of this piece was first published on The India Cable – a premium newsletter from The Wire & Galileo Ideas – and has been republished here. To subscribe to The India Cable, click here. On the face of it, the interview Narendra Modi gave ANI, a news television channel. on the eve of the first phase of elections to the state legislature in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is a violation of India’s election law, which prohibits the display of “election matter” in any form in the 48 hours preceding the closing of polls. “Election matter,” Section 126 (3) of the Representation of the People Act says, “means any matter intended or calculated to influence or affect the result of an election.” In the last 48 hours, candidates are simply not allowed to put out election matter, whether it is through TV or a theatrical performance. Frankly, I don’t know which of these two categories Modi’s interview falls into but the answers he

02/09/2022: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari lauched the manifesto in Dehradun city on Wednesday. In its election manifesto for Uttarakhand, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday announced that if the party came to power those found guilty of “love jihad” will be jailed for 10 years. “Love jihad” is a conspiracy theory espoused by Hindutva activists, claiming that Muslim men lure Hindu women to marry them in order to later convert them to Islam. On Tuesday, the saffron party had made a similar promise while launching its manifesto for Uttar Pradesh. Uttarakhand is one of the many BJP-ruled states that have enacted anti-conversion laws. It states that “forced or fraudulent conversions done through force or allurement” are non-bailable offences and can lead to imprisonment of up to five years. In the manifesto released by Union minister Nitin Gadkari, the BJP also promised to provide 50,000 government jobs to the youth and three free liquefied petroleum gas cylinders to the underprivileged residents of the state, according to ANI. The party also said that the pension given to senior citizens will be increased to Rs 3,600. Gadkari also said that the government will finish the ongoing Char Dham highway project by December. The project, worth Rs 12,000 crore, seeks to

(Edited for a Western Reader) A little after noon on Dec. 6, Rahul Raghuvanshi was about halfway through writing his maths exam paper in St Joseph’s School in the town of Ganj Basoda in Madhya Pradesh state’s Vidisha district. Suddenly, loud cries of “Jai Shri Ram!”, the war cry of Hindu nationalist groups, tore through the silence. There were sounds of smashing glass. Before he could react, the 17-year-old student saw a group of angry men outside his ground-floor classroom window, attacking the panes with iron rods. Shrieking in fear, Raghuvanshi and his 13 classmates jumped from their seats and were bundled out of the room by their teacher and the external examiner who had come to conduct their mid-term Class 12 exams under the Central Board of Secondary Education. They sought shelter in an empty classroom on the first floor. Their school seemed to be under siege by a mob of “400 or 500 people,” according to estimates by the principal and several teachers. The enraged crowd—largely members of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the two most violent Hindu nationalist groups affiliated to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Modi —had gathered to protest the “first holy communion” ceremony

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