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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”

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – After months of appeals to officials in central India, Christians are still awaiting action against a police officer alleged to have burned down a church building and threatened them with false charges if they continue worshiping, sources said. In Chhattisgarh state’s Kistaram village, Konta District, Sub-Inspector Bhavesh Shende on Feb. 3 disrupted house church worship on the property of a tribal Christian, Kadti Gurva, told the Christians not to gather for worship and threatened to charge them with being communist “Naxalite” rebels, according to Gurva and another Christian. “Shende said that he does not like our prayers, and that we should stop praying with immediate effect, and if we do not obey, he will book us all under a false case of being Naxalites,” Gurva and Turram Kanna state in their written complaint to the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum. Shende on the evening of Feb. 4 summoned Kanna and Gurva to the Kistaram police station and ordered them to burn down their church building, they said. “We refused to burn the church,” they state in their complaint. “And when we refused to do anything of that sort, he abused us in filthy language and threatened to kill us. He

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

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Tribal villagers in eastern India assaulted three Christian families and destroyed their homes on Easter Sunday (April 17), sources said. The assailants, followers of tribal nature-worshipping religion, were upset that the Christian families in Odisha state’s Ejariguda village, Malkangiri District, were preparing for Easter rather than their traditional festival, said the first victim, Podia Madkami, whose three daughters were kidnapped in an assault by tribal villagers 10 years ago and remain missing. The only three Christian families in the village are unable to return to the properties where their homes lay demolished due to threats on their lives, they said. Madkami, 45, said he and his wife Budri Madkami were at home preparing for an Easter service and luncheon at 8 a.m. when about 20 people brandishing wooden batons from a mob of more than 100 intruded into their home, beat him and threw the food for the community Easter luncheon to the ground. “They hit me with wooden batons, kicked me, slapped me and punched me,” Madkami, who speaks only Odia, told Morning Star News through a translator. He sustained serious leg injuries and a wound on his forehead requiring hospital treatment, and the assailants manhandled his wife

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