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“Legal luminaries, eminent intellectuals, are questioning the legal validity of this ordinance, which touches the core of the constitution,” the prelate said. A pastor and some faithful are beaten and arrested. Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Last Sunday, a gang of Bajrang Dal men attacked a Christian clergyman in Shahjahanpur, a district in the State of Uttar Pradesh, during a prayer meeting. According to The Hindu newspaper, Rev David, who hails from Tirunelveli in Kerala and a group of local people, including women and children, had gathered in a garden for prayer to mark the first Sunday of the New Year when men stormed the premises and disrupted the activity. After the Bajrang Dal members filed a complaint, local police charged the pastor and four others under the new anti-conversion law. “This is a special ordinance,” said Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai, but “there is a groundswell of public opinion against it. “Legal luminaries, eminent intellectuals, are questioning the legal validity of this ordinance, which touches the core of the constitution”, For the prelate, who is also general secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), “A few national and local influential newspapers are questioning this ordinance and even the procedures by which it was passed. “Reputed newspapers are

Catholics pray at the Christ the King festival in New Delhi on Nov. 20, 2017. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News) Police in an Indian state have directed officers to keep a watch on prayer gatherings after five Christians were arrested on a charge of religious conversion. Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a hardline Hindu group, handed the five Christians to police in Shahjahanpur district of Uttar Pradesh state, which is run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). “It is just an allegation from the fanatic groups and if they are sure about it, let them prove it. People are free to express their views in a democratic country,” Father Harold D' Cunha, vicar general of Bareilly Diocese, told UCA News. “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, it does not promote or propagate religious conversion in the diocese as well as in the country. “Occasionally, these groups blame us for conversions, but until now there is no record of any religious conversion where the Church is involved.” He said the Church is engaged in many charitable works that can be construed as allurement to conversions, “but it is not true.” S. Anand, superintendent of Shahjahanpur police, told the Press Trust of India that after the alleged religious conversion

Persecution has been widespread across India and China even during the pandemic, but things are only likely to get worse in 2021, Release International has warned. The charity, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide, says that China has "bought the silence of the international community" through trade relations. This year has continued to see unregistered churches in the country raided or forced to close. There is increasing surveillance as authorities in some areas have forced registered churches to install CCTV cameras. Christians also report some churches having to put up posters proclaiming communist beliefs.  "The government of President Xi Jinping is increasing its 'clean up' of anything that does not advance the communist agenda," Release partners said. "They appear to believe that they can achieve this by systematic opposition." The Chinese authorities "have bought freedom from censure due to trade with China. Many countries now regard this trade as essential to their own economies," they added. The report warns that China has exploited the pandemic to increase its grip of churches, particularly unregistered ones. Release partner Bob Fu, the leader of ChinaAid who has faced bomb threats this year for his religious liberty work, says the Chinese government has accelerated the forced removal of crosses from churches during the pandemic. "The

Hardline Hindus have petitioned the authorities in India to stop Christians from celebrating Christmas. In a letter sent to authorities in Gujarat they ask that police take action to halt prayer meetings and Christian events planned for the christmas season, Open Doors says. The letter states: "Heartily we are requesting to you, not to give permission to these people to celebrate Christmas. "If anyone comes to you to get the permission, kindly ask them for on paper Christian Religion certificate. "If you will not take any action regarding this then Anti-National activity in this area will increase and the responsibility will be yours." Jan Vermeer, Asia communications director for Open Doors, said the letter was yet another attempt by hardline Hindus to make life "difficult" for Christians in parts of India. "Over the course of the last several years religious freedom violations and intolerance against Christians has risen dramatically," Vermeer said. "Talking about the Christian faith to a wider group than the family is now generally regarded as a form of evangelism. "Even just revealing one's Christian faith can be regarded as evangelism in the eyes of Hindu radicals."

A Muslim man in eastern Uganda, who said the Quran allows men to beat their wives if they disobey them, beat his 38-year-old wife, who is a mother of three, and forced her to drink pesticide after he found two Bibles in her suitcase, according to a report. The man, identified as Umar Kyakulaga from Uganda’s Bugiri District’s Matovu village, asked his wife, Zubeda Nabirye, if she had converted to Christianity, and Nabirye replied that she was reading the Bible to compare it with what is written in the Quran, according to Morning Star News, a nonprofit that regularly reports on global Christian persecution. The woman had two Bibles, one in English and the other in their tribal language. “I was convicted and decided to embrace Christianity,” Nabirye was quoted as telling her husband. “My husband began reading verses in the Quran that allowed men to beat their wives if they disobey them, and after that he started beating me with slaps and sticks.” “As if this was not enough, he forced me to take Dithane M-45,” a toxic pesticide. She tried not to swallow the pesticide but ingested some while he was trying to strangle her and hitting her leg with sticks, she added, describing

Bhubaneswar: We observe Minority Rights on December 18. It is time we critically examined how India empowers and protects the rights of minorities. There is no internationally agreed definition as to which groups constitute minorities. Francesco Capotorti, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, in 1977 defined a minority community as a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a country. They could possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from the rest of the population. They could also show a sense of solidarity to preserve their culture, traditions, religion or language. In 1992, the United Nations adopted this definition based on national or ethnic, cultural, religious identity. The international body expects the States to protect the minority communities. Minority rights in India According to India’s latest census taken in 2011, minorities in the country are about 19.3 percent of the total population — Muslims 14.23 percent, Christians 2.3, Sikhs 1.72, Buddhists 0.7, Jains 0.37, and others such as Parsi and Jews 0.6. Except Hindus, the rest communities have been identified as minority communities. The government of India established National Minorities Commission in 1978 because, ‘”despite the safeguards provided in the Constitution and the laws in

The last thing pastor Shelton Vishwanathan recalled happening before he lost consciousness in a village in northeast India was Hindu extremists threatening to offer him as a sacrifice to their god as they belted his head. “They punched my back and told me that they would offer me as a sacrifice to their deity as a punishment for distributing gospel tracts,” he told Morning Star News. “They struck severe blows on my head, so that I soon fainted.” When the six radical Hindus first stopped him and told him to quit handing out tracts in Tiryani village, in Bihar state’s Sheohar District on Oct. 5, he had told them “Fine” and was about to go on his way when one of them seized the keys from his scooter, took away his phone and signalled the others to attack him, he said. When he regained consciousness, he found himself locked in a dark room. “I shouted for help, cried loud hoping someone would hear my cries and come to help me, but nobody could hear me,” Pastor Vishwanathan said. “I was lying down on the floor without food or water for the next few days. They did not give me anything to eat or drink.” Seven

Several families are in hiding after tribal animists in Chhattisgarh state, India threatened to kill them for reporting a mob attack to police last week that sent 21 Christians to hospitals, sources said. Armed with bamboo sticks, iron rods, bows and arrows and iron sickles, the large mob at 1 a.m. on Nov. 25 attacked a home and adjoining church hall in Chingrwaram village, Sukma District, where Christians had celebrated a child dedication the previous evening. Some 20-25 friends and family were sleeping in the home and another 25-30 in the church hall when the villagers, many of them drunk, attacked while accusing the Christians of converting people and celebrating with loud music. “They beat up the children as well as the women who were cooking food outside,” said Laxman Mandavi, a 21-year-old survivor of the assault. “While the children were beaten up with hands and feet, the others were shot at with arrows and beaten up with iron rods.” The assailants shot Mandavi’s father, the 50-year-old homeowner Madvi Muka, with arrows, leaving him wounded, and attacked Madkam Sanni with a sickle that left deep cuts between her fingers and fractured her hand, Mandavi said. “It was complete mayhem, and people were running to

Pragya Singh Thakur is no ordinary member of BJP, the ruling dispensation in the country. She is an MP from Bhopal and was also made the member of defense committee before she was removed from that committee for her statement hailing Nathuram Godse. She first came to lime light after the Malegaon blasts, in which six people were killed. Hemant Karkare, the police officer who was killed in 26/11 (2008) attack was investigating the case and he came across the fact that the motor cycle used in Malegaon blast was previously owned by Thakur. That led to her arrest and unearthing of the plot in which many were arrested. She is currently under bail on medical grounds. Then she came to prominence as she stated that Karkare had tortured her and it is due to her shap (curse) that Karkare got killed. Under pressure from top, she withdrew this statement. After this she went to state that Nathuram Godse was a nationalist, is a nationalist and will remain a nationalist. Again she was pressurized to withdraw this statement, and Mr. Modi even said he will not be able to forgive Thakur. Latest in the series of her statement come the one about Varna

Two plaster statues of the Virgin were smashed whilst the concrete statue of Mother Teresa was damaged. Police and the Minorities minister expressed solidarity. For Bishop Shyamal Bose: “This attack is puzzling. People of different faiths keep statues of Mother Teresa in their homes. Many NGOs and non-Christian clubs are named after Mother Teresa.” She is “an inspiration for her commitment to serve the poor”. Two weeks after two statues of the Virgin Mary were smashed to bits and a statue of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta damaged at the Sacred Heart parish church in Morapai (diocese of Baruipur), local Catholics are still wondering why no one has been arrested in connection with these acts of vandalism. The statues were in two grottoes outside the church on parish land next to the road. “Two of the statues were removed from the grottoes and smashed into pieces since they were made of plaster,” said bishop Shyamal Bose, speaking to AsiaNews. “The other statue, that of Mother Teresa, is made of concrete and the vandals were unable to destroy it; they damaged and defaced it.” “The day after the accident I visited the place and everyone present expressed regrets and showed solidarity. I asked our people

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