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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”

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