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03/23/2022: The northern Indian province of Haryana has joined other pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state governments in passing a legislative bill criminalizing religious conversions. The Haryana Prevention of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Bill, 2022, was adopted in the state legislative assembly amid protests and a walkout by Congress, the main opposition party, on March 22. The bill preventing religious conversions and interfaith marriages “through force, undue influence or allurement” has a provision of imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of not less than 100, 000 rupees (US$1,310) for the guilty persons. “There is no second opinion that the bill was passed to check the activities of so-called minority religions or groups in the state. The bill was uncalled for as there was a similar law in the state [preventing conversions],” said Father Felix Jones, who heads Delhi Archdiocese's Commission for Ecumenism and Interfaith Dialogue. Divine Word Father Jones told UCA News that “the bill will send a wrong message among minorities as there are possibilities of its misuse. People can use the law as a tool to settle their personal scores.”   The priest pointed out the already existing differences among Hindus and Muslims in the state on the issue of Friday

(Read it on UCANEWS)   The Indian government has been urged to hold an independent probe into the arrest and custodial death of Father Stan Swamy, an Indian Jesuit priest and human rights activist. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called Father Swamy’s tragic death while in custody a “failure” on the part of India’s government that would “forever remain a stain” on the country’s human rights record while referring the case to the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. The UN body in a resolution adopted recently urged India “to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Father Swamy and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.” Father Swamy, 84, died on July 5, 2021, within a couple of days of his health deteriorating at a Catholic-managed hospital in Mumbai, the capital of the western Indian state of Maharashtra. He was jailed on Oct. 9, 2020, after being arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), India’s premier anti-terror agency, from his home in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state in eastern India. He was among 16 accused put behind

(Read it on UCANEWS) The Indian government has admitted to having shared with the UK the details of the status of Oxfam India’s application for renewal of its license for receiving and using foreign funds in the country. “The government of the United Kingdom raised the issue of the status of Oxfam India under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, during the bilateral dialogue held on February 10,” Federal Junior Home Minister Nityanand Rai told the Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, on March 15. The minister said India had shared details with the UK while explaining that the renewal application was rejected as it “did not fulfill the eligibility criteria specified in the FCRA and rules made thereunder.” Oxfam India is an autonomous Indian organization that is part of a global confederation of 21 Oxfams across the world. It is registered as a non-profit organization under provisions of the Indian Companies Act, 2013. In December 2021, the organization was refused renewal of its FCRA license, which is mandatory for receiving foreign donations, along with a plethora of other institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (Delhi), Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, Indian Institute of Public Administration, Nehru Museum, Goa Football Association and

(Read it on UCANEWS) A Hindu organization has been joined by a Sikh group in demanding the arrest of a pastor for organizing faith-healing sessions to lure tribal people into Christianity in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council accused Pastor Ravi Singh and his wife of conducting a Changai Sabha (healing ministry) from their home in Nanak Nagar in Jamshedpur city’s Golmuri area. The VHP and a Sikh organization, Jharkhand Gurdwara Management Committee, staged a protest against Pastor Singh on Feb. 27 and accused Chief Minister Hemant Soren of failing to take action against him Media reports said state police briefly detained Pastor Singh that day but released him in the evening. Ratan Tirkey, a member of the Jharkhand government’s tribal advisory council, denied the allegations of religious conversions against the pastor. “As per information from our sources, Pastor Singh embraced Christianity some time back and is involved in spreading awareness among the youth about the importance of education and their rights,” he told UCA News. “Pastor Singh is being misunderstood by Hindu activists as a missionary indulging in religious conversion activities. We have no information about his converting anybody.” He said Hindu activists often accuse Christian missionaries of

03/10/2022: Karnataka Government has passed the Anti-Conversion Bill in the Assembly despite stiff opposition from civil society and political parties. The Bill is expected to be tabled in the upper house to be made into a law. The Anti-Conversion Laws affect Christians, Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis and Women. It restricts the rights of an Indian citizen to choose one’s religion. It violates the equality and freedom of religions in India as per the Indian Constitution. It is discriminatory as well as draconian. The National Solidarity forum initiated a campaign to Repeal Anti-Conversion Laws in India. The appeal is to support the campaign through endorsements on: https://chng.it/gBYcGCPZyV The National Solidarity Forum (NSF) is a coalition of groups and individuals across India, upholding the principles of secularism, human rights, peace, justice and harmony. This campaign petition appeared on https://countercurrents.org/

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