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Cases of hate and violence against Christians in India increased 57 percent the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year, an advocacy group reported. The Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission (EFIRLC) documented 77 incidents of hate and targeted violence against Christians in January and February, up from 49 cases during the same period last year. The cases include the murders of one Christian in Odisha state and another in Chhattisgarh state, both in February. “We have reasons to believe that both men, who were in their 40s, were killed because of their faith,” the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the EFI, told Morning Star News. “We have recorded cases where Christians have been facing social boycott and have been excommunicated from their villages, and in a few instances have had to flee to save their lives.” Of the 77 incidents, 16 took place in Tamil Nadu state, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, six in Maharashtra and five in Chhattisgarh, the report found. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and, surprisingly, Kerala each saw four cases, followed by other states, Lal said. The 49 cases recorded in the first two months of 2018 followed the documenting of

Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Dnh) and Daman and Diu are both former Portuguese colonies. The local Christian community is made up of about 100 thousand faithful. In all, there are 13 churches. Secretary of the Catholic bishops: " I hope that the majority community will once again stand by us and nullify the discriminatory acts of a small fundamentalist divisive people." For the first time in the country's history, two Indian territories have abolished Good Friday as a national holiday. These are Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Dnh) and Daman and Diu, both former Portuguese colonies on the west coast of the country. For Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, general secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), "is very sad". He told AsiaNews: " This is very very sad. A clear discrimination is being practiced by the Administrator. We appeal to all including the Administrator of these centrally administered territories to respect the sentiments of the people and to avoid their divisive methods". The bishop goes on to explain that the cancellation of Good Friday as an official state holiday is even more serious because "only two Christian feasts are public holidays. Earlier there was an attempt to declare Christmas as Good governance day". Christians, he

Churches in Tamil Nadu, India that had never experienced opposition now find Hindu extremists forcing them out of their places of worship, sources said. In one case Hindu extremists called praying women prostitutes and threatened to kill them; in another case near Chennai, the state capital, police went door-to-door with a radical Hindu telling people not to meet for worship; in a third case, the owner of the property where the church meets ordered them to vacate after opponents set a fire inside. In Vairichettipalayam village, Tiruchirappalli District, a mob of more than 25 Hindu villagers led by area Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Feb. 17 burst into a Christian’s home during an evening Bible study and prayer time where about 20 women and the pastor were meeting. Led by BJP leaders identified only as Ramesh and Ramachandran, the intruders told them they must vacate the place, Pastor Raju, who goes by a single name, told Morning Star News. Asking who had given them permission to hold a Christian meeting, the BJP leaders and their aides told the Christians the house would be locked and they must leave immediately, he said. “We tried to make him understand that we had been gathering as

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