March (Page 2)

 Violent attacks including public lynchings against Christians in India are reportedly becoming increasingly common, with international NGOs and the country’s Catholic bishops raising their voices in protest against mob violence. “The common man of the country is feeling insecurity in his own country due to the increasing cases of mob lynching,” Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal wrote Feb. 27. “In the past, the Supreme Court has taken cognizance of this problem. It is felt that

In the last one year, 325 incidents of hate crimes, violence, intimidation and harassment against Christians in India have been recorded, the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC) of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) reported. The report showed that attempts at religious polarization are at an all-time high as general elections due in April 2019. Hate speeches have acted as a catalyst in the dividing of people along religious, ethnic and even linguistic lines. In the subcontinent, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Tamil Nadu (TN) have witnessed a sudden spurt of violence against Christians. Over 40 percent of the documented incidents (132) took place in UP making it the state where Christians were targeted the most. UP witnessed 94 incidents in total against Christians, between the months of September and December 2018 alone. In comparison, the number of incidents against Christians recorded in the state in 2017 were only 50 for the entire year. This increase can be attributed to the targeted campaign against Christians and Congregations in Eastern UP, particularly the district of Jaunpur which by itself reported 45 incidents against the community. TN registered 40 incidents while Telangana stood third with 24. Bihar and Jharkhand recorded 17 and 16 incidents respectively and Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh

Catholics of Delhi Archdiocese pray during the Feast of Christ the King in New Delhi on Nov. 24, 2018. Catholics in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka are concerned that national election voting will fall on Maundy Thursday. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj/ Catholic bishops have urged authorities to change the April 18 date for parliamentary elections in India’s Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states as Maundy Thursday falls on that day. The federal Election Commission has announced a seven-phase schedule for national elections running from April 11 to May 19. While all 39 parliamentary constituencies of Tamil Nadu are scheduled to go to the polls on April 18, voting in Karnataka is set for April 18 and 23. The poll date falls in Holy Week and is one of the holiest and important days for Catholics as well as the Christian community, Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai, president of Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council, told The archbishop on March 11 wrote to Tamil Nadu’s chief electoral officer to ask for a change of date to free up Catholics to observe the day appropriately. Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore has written to the Election Commission to ask it to move the election to any date after Easter Week. During long

Three pastors in western India have been criminally charged in retaliation for refuting a false account of a Hindu extremist attack on six Christians that left a teenage girl unconscious, sources said. Three of the six Christians beaten in Maharashtra state this month were also charged in retaliation for reporting the assault that left them with injuries requiring hospital treatment, said pastor Pandharinath Bhagya Gowri, one of the accused church leaders. Police who took exception to Pastor Gowri and two other pastors trying to correct a false report about the beating later charged them with the same accusations filed against the assailants, such as house trespass with intent to assault, even though the church leaders were not even present during the attack, he said. Hard-line Hindus in Bandhan village, Palghar District in February had cut the Christians’ water supply and warned them that worse would happen if they did not renounce their faith, Pastor Gowri told Morning Star News. On March 1 a mob of Hindu extremists showed up in the neighborhood of three Christian families, burst into their homes and started beating and kicking them, he said. “At least six Christians including women and children got injured in the attack,” Gowri told Morning

The incident occurred in a private home in the village of Panch Gachia. Rev Anand Hari is now in hospital. The “members of others religions have no restrictions on meeting,” says prominent Christian, whilst “Christians instead are not allowed to worship Our Lord.” A group of Christians was attacked in West Bengal by Hindu fanatics during a prayer meeting at the home of a Church member, Shibu Thomas speaking told AsiaNews. Thomas is the founder of Persecution Relief, an organisation that defends Christians from persecution in India. Rev Anand Hari, pastor of the Full Gospel Evangelical Church, who was leading the prayer, was severely beaten. He is now in hospital in serious condition. The attack took place yesterday in Panch Gachia, a village in Paschim Bardhaman district, around 7 am (local time). "The attackers did not spare even women," Thomas lamented. In fact, in addition to the pastor, "there were eight women and two teenagers. “About 15-20 minutes after the meeting started, 20 people suddenly broke into the house and started hitting everyone present with fists, kicks and sticks. Then they fled, leaving the wounded on the ground." The leader of Persecution Relief explained that the incident attracted the attention of others, who took the reverend to a government hospital

Social activists and others on March 28 condemned the arrest of noted economist Jean Dreze earlier in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand in the day. “Jean Dreze is a saint-economist, a potential Nobel awardee who lived in slums, written and done more for the poor than any economist, shunned all power and glory, took up Indian citizenship, is a pacifist. Nothing can be more shameful than arresting him,” tweeted Yogendra Yadav, a renowned psephologist and political commentator based in New Delhi. The Jharkhand Police detained and then released Dreze after he refused to sign a bond and declare that he had no grievances against the government. The well-known Indian economist of Belgian origin and two of his companions, Vivek and Anuj, were detained for a few hours at Vishnupura police station in Garhwa, some 220 km northwest of Ranchi, the state capital. The police asked them to sign a bond and declare that they had no complaints against the government. But they refused to sign any bond or give anything in writing. Dreze and his companions were picked up and taken to the police station for allegedly not obtaining permission from the police for a meeting of villagers on ‘Right to Food.’ People close

Nearly two months after Hindu extremists in India humiliated, beat and forced Christians to praise a Hindu god, the host of the house church has yet to return to his home. Ranjeet Kumar Gautam is still in hiding after more than 20 Hindu extremists in Chapar village, Sultanpur District, Uttar Pradesh state on Feb. 7 burst into his home, beat the 39 adults of the fellowship, kept them from medical care and stood outside the police station threatening to kill them if they filed a complaint. “Nearly every day the attackers come and threaten my family, saying that if I register a complaint with police, they will kill me,” Gautam said. “My family is very scared.” House-church pastor Om Prakash said the hard-line Hindus kept the injured from getting medical are. “The assailants chased us away from the hospital,” he told Morning Star News. “We somehow reached the local police station to report the matter to the police at 10 in the night, and a group of [Hindu extremist] Bajrang Dal people were standing outside the police station. They threatened to kill us if we filed a complaint against them, and we had to flee for our lives.” The attackers went to the homes of

A fact-finding team that probed the lynching of Christian Adivasis in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has questioned the local police’s inaction and opposition parties’ silence. “The actions of the local police raise several questions. While the victims kept saying that they were carving an ox that had died, the police filed an FIR against them and 20-25 unnamed persons of their village on charges of cow slaughter,” says a statement from the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (grand council of Jharkhand people’s right) The team visited the place of incident April 14-15. Earlier on April 10, a mob lynched to death Prakash Lakda of Jurmu village in Gumla district’s Dumri block. While the victim was an Adivasi, his attackers were men from the Sahu community of neighboring Jairagi village, says the fact-finding team. Three other Adivsasis from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – suffered severe injuries in the mob attack, said the team comprising several activists and representatives of member organizations. The team’s statement said they learnt that the four victims, along with other men and children of their village, were carving a dead ox on the bank of a river that flows near their village. Local Adivasis and other communities

A longstanding Hindu extremist practice of turning animistic villagers against Christians has intensified as elections get underway in India today, with tribal villagers taught that Christianity is anti-Indian. Upset about tribal Adivasi relatives leaving the animistic Sarna religion to become Christians, 60-year-old Sanpitha Majhi attacked a 28-year-old Christian mother he believed had “forcefully converted” his daughter and son-in-law in eastern India’s Jharkhand state. Bale Murmu was washing utensils in an outdoor area of her home on April 1 and did not notice Majhi, her neighbor, coming toward her, pastor Girish Chander Marandi said. “Majhi with all his force pressed her breasts and pushed her to the floor,” Pastor Marandi told Morning Star News. “While he was kicking her in her stomach, his wife, Gouri Majhi, brought a wooden stick, and the couple beat her black and blue.” When her husband, Jaata Murmu, heard her screams and came to rescue her, he too was beaten, Pastor Marandi said. “Murmu suffered bruises all over her body and, her stomach and breasts were swollen,” he said. “We provided her first aid that night, and the next day we went to the police station.” Police refused to receive their complaint until they reminded officers that Majhi had also attacked Christians on

The court has ordered the Indian territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Dnh) and Daman and Diu to restore the festivity, which this year is celebrated on 19 April. The bishops' secretary thanks the many Hindus - starting with the lawyer - who supported the Catholic petition. Mumbai High Court has ordered two Indian Union territories to restore Good Friday, which this year is celebrated on April 19, as a public holiday. The fact that Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Dnh) and Daman and Diu, both former Portuguese colonies on the west coast of the country, had canceled the holiday caused deep sorrow not only in the local Catholic community, but throughout India. Speaking to AsiaNews Mgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, general secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), says joyfully: "We won. We are happy, especially because Indian democracy is alive. We have had incredible support even from many non-Christians. These are the beautiful things of India that we must safeguard”. The sentence was issued yesterday, after a few weeks delay. The judges who dealt with the case are the president of the tribunal Pradeep Nandrajog and N.M. Jamdar. They accepted the petition presented by Mr. Anthony Francisco Duarte of Moti Daman, representing the Indian Church and the archdiocese

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