St George’s Orthodox Church in Cheppad is in middle of a dispute. Activists and Christian groups have launched a protest to save the building, including a hunger strike. The church’s 800-year-old apse contains prised murals and paintings. Under pressure, the authorities changed the original route, endangering the future of the church. Delhi (AsiaNews) – Protests, including an 11-day hunger strike, are intensifying in India over the fate of St George’s Orthodox Church in Cheppad, Alleppy district (Kerala). Recently the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) finalised plans to extend National Highway (NH) 66, which would require tearing down part of the church. Activists and Christian groups have geared up for a fight to save the building, which has over 800 years of history behind it. According to scholars, the church – famous for the antiquities and mural paintings on the walls of the apse (Madbaha) – dates back to the 12th century. Although the structure was rebuilt in 1952, the apse at its eastern end, has remained intact to preserve its value and identity. To fight its destruction, the faithful have set up a Facebook page, with thousands of members. “The authorities have laid stones marking the new alignment of the NH. Half the church building will

Tribal people from all religions take part in a mega-rally demanding recognition of their rights in Gumla district of India's. Jharkhand state on April 24, 2018. (Photo supplied) Right-wing Hindu groups in India have urged the federal government to bar tribal Christians from benefiting from a scheme intended for indigenous people. The groups, who started the campaign early this month and have submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were condemned by Catholic leaders. “Caste and religion are two different things which can’t be mixed. By birth we belong to a particular caste but religion is one’s choice. People who are campaigning against tribal Christians are ignorant of the Indian constitution,” Father Nicholas Barla, secretary of the Indian bishops' Commission for Tribal Affairs, told UCA News. “Article 25 of the constitution grants us the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. The federal government’s scheme for tribal people is only to help them socially and economically. “Those groups don’t want tribal people to come up in their lives and indirectly try to target Christian missionaries whom they always accuse of religious conversion. Their campaign is only to disturb the peace-loving tribal people. They work to

Tribal people attack the house of a Christian family in a village in India's Chhattisgarh state for refusing to abandon the Christian faith on Sept. 22. Some 100 Christians who fled three villages following the attack have returned after a court ordered in their favor.  Some 100 Christians have returned to their villages in India's Chhattisgarh state following a court order, almost two months after they were attacked and driven out of their homes. The state High Court in Bilaspur last week ordered the Kondagaon district administration to facilitate the safe return of the displaced Christians from three villages and to ensure their protection. "We have returned to our villages as the court has ordered our protection," Shiv Ram, one of the petitioners to the court, told UCA News on Nov. 17. Ram said all 66 Christians from 10 families driven out of his Kakrabeda village have returned to the village. Some 30 Christians from six families, who fled from two other villages, also have returned, he said. A mob of suspected Hindu right-wing activists attacked 16 houses in three villages in the state's Bastar region on Sept. 22 and 23. The attack came after Christians refused a demand to abandon their faith in Jesus Christ. They also

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