Officer manhandled in attack in Chhattisgarh state. NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – A Hindu nationalist mob this month beat three pastors and manhandled an officer at a police station in the capital of central India’s Chhattisgarh state, sources said. Police disrupted the worship of New Life Fellowship Ministry in Raipur on Sept. 5 and summoned pastor Harish Sahu to the Purani Basti police station. The officers arrived in a police van with eight to 10 Hindu nationalists, Pastor Sahu said. “I was conducting the worship when they arrived,” Pastor Sahu told Morning Star News. “The policemen asked me what I was doing, and I said that I was sharing the Word of God from the Holy Book.” The Hindu extremists in the police van tried to enter the church building, he said. “The Hindu mob tried to enter the church while I was preaching, and I saw that the police blocked the entrance of the door and refused to let them in,” he said. “Then a police officer entered the church, filmed the service for few minutes, clicked some pictures and went outside and showed the video and pictures to the extremists.” Police told Pastor Sahu to come to the police station, and he said

Bangaluru, Sept. 29, 2021: The BJP government of Mr. Modi's party in the southern Indian state of Karnataka ordered the police to stop what they call “forced conversions” of Hindus to the Christian faith. According to Matters India, the elected head of the state Mr. Basavaraj Bommai on September 28 instructed the district deputy commissioners to be vigilant about the conversions in their jurisdictions and punish those violating the rule. The order comes five days after a delegation of Catholic bishops met the state governor to express their concern about the misuse of this proposed Anti-Conversion Law in the state. Father Faustine Lobo, the director of the regional Pastoral Center in Bangalore, says the Catholic Church does not force anyone to convert. But the Hindu nationalist party and the governments controlled by them argue that providing an education to a child in a Christian school where prayers and devotions are conducted amounts to "forced conversion". They also argue that the church is taking advantage of the poor who go to hospitals run by them, to convert people. They say that providing free medical care makes subtle impressions on the people which could lead them to embrace the Christian faith. “If we really wanted to convert people

Five families were forced by Hindu activists to flee their village and told they could only return if they renounced their faith Dalit Christian families are living in fear in the eastern Indian state of Odisha after being ostracized by Hindu activists for their faith. The five families were chased out of Lodamila village in Kandhamal district and told that they could only return if they renounced their religion. The Christians say they were manhandled and abused before fleeing, while one family later had their house burned to the ground. The Christians, who had been living among 45 Hindu families in Lodamila, are staying 12 kilometers away from the village in a bamboo and grass house near a forest. Father Dibakar Parichha, an official of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese, told UCA News that the Christians are in “a state of shock and fear for their lives.” He said the Christians had twice tried to file a first information report at the district police station but police were trying to avoid accepting their case. Unfortunately, the victims are still running from pillar to post to register their case in their own land. We are with the victims, hope to bring justice to the poor and downtrodden and will do whatever

PREVENTING SOMEONE FROM FOLLOWING A RELIGION OF CHOICE CURTAILS THE FREEDOM GUARANTEED IN THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION Christians in India have sought the federal government’s intervention to ensure the repeal of anti-conversion laws enacted by some provincial governments making religious conversion by force or allurement a punishable offense Preventing someone from embracing or practicing a religion of choice curtailed the freedom of conscience and religious beliefs guaranteed in the Indian constitution, they said at a special meeting with Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the federal minister for minority affairs, and John Barla, the junior minister, in New Delhi on Sept. 28. Another key issue they sought to highlight was the new legal restrictions being imposed on receiving foreign donations for charitable works meant for the benefit of India’s poor and deprived masses. Naqvi highlighted India’s age-old tradition of celebrating all religions and underlined the need to strengthen the shared cultural heritage and legacy of coexistence. “Any attempt to disturb this fabric of unity and harmony will hurt the soul of India,” he said. The 50 Christian leaders belonging to various denominations submitted a memorandum listing all issues plaguing the minority community. It was read out by Archbishop Anil Joseph Thomas Couto of Delhi during the three-and-a-half-hour meeting. “It was

New Delhi: A 14-year-old Dalit Christian boy, who allegedly had acid thrown upon him in Bihar’s Gaya district in August, succumbed to his injuries on September 26, the Telegraph reported. While police claim that the boy, Nitish Kumar, died by self-immolation due to a familial dispute, the victim’s family allege that he had acid thrown upon him by a group of men on a motorcycle, on account of the family’s faith. Vakil Ravidas, the boy’s father, is a rickshaw puller who converted to Christianity five years ago. Speaking to the Telegraph, members of the family said that they were threatened by locals – including some who appeared to be “Hindutva activists” – and warned against going to church. The police had refused to register a case against these men. The family had refused to speak to the press after the alleged incident had taken place on August 11 and only submitted their account to the newspaper after his death on Sunday. The station house officer (SHO) of Makhar said that the police conducted enquiries and found that the boy had set himself on fire after one of his brothers forcibly cut his hair. The victim’s eldest brother, Rajeev Kumar disputed this, reiterating that some

Police in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state arrested a pastor and four other Christians under the “anti-conversion” law while they were holding a prayer meeting after members of a radical Hindu nationalist group disrupted the gathering and filed a false complaint. Pastor Richard Benjamin and four believers, who attended the prayer meeting in a Christian's home in Faizabad district’s Jharuva village, spent five days in jail before being released on bail on Sept. 14, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported Sunday. “This is the third time I was put into jail in the last 10 years,” the pastor was quoted as saying. “The five days I spent in jail were difficult as we couldn’t get enough food and the jailer gave us a lot of work. I fainted a couple of times due to the lack of food.” During the prayer meeting on Sept. 10, five activists from the radical Hindu nationalist group Bajrang Dal forced themselves into the house, claiming the Christians were “forcibly” converting people. They filed a police complaint leading to the arrest of the five. Police officers initially wanted to release Pastor Benjamin and the four others, but local politicians pressured them to book the Christians under the

One day earlier, US Vice President Kamala Harris told the PM that as democracies around the world are under threat “it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries". New Delhi: In his first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Joe Biden spoke about the need for non-violence, tolerance and diversity in current times, even as he said that both countries are destined to be “stronger, closer and tighter”. Biden’s comment marks the second time the US has spoken to Modi in public about the importance of democracy in as many days. Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday said “it is imperative that we defend democratic principles and institutions within our respective countries”. These remarks come against the backdrop of growing concerns abroad over the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric in India and curbs on dissent. “Kamala Harris presses India’s Modi gently on human rights in historic meeting,” the Los Angeles Times reported in its headline. Modi was welcomed by Biden to the Oval Office in the White House on Friday morning for their first face-to-face meeting since the change in US leadership. Modi had met Biden in the latter’s vice-presidential avatar during his state visit to

September 24, 2021, Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) thanks Vice President Harris for telling Prime Minister Modi, "I know from personal experience and from my family, of the commitment of the Indian people to democracy and to freedom, and to the work that may be done and can be done, to imagine and then actually achieve our vision for democratic principles and institutions". While we greatly applaud the Vice President's powerful testimony and her heartfelt remarks, we also feel that Mr. Modi may not have understood the gravity of what she was trying to convey to him. It is not the first time that Mr. Modi and his team have completely missed the point of suggestions coming from American leaders, including the then Vice-President Biden and President Obama on past occasions. Hence, we ask that President Biden and Vice President Harris be more direct and explicit in expressing that India should not and could not afford to go down the path of religious nationalism at the expense of pluralist democratic principles that values Christian and other religious segments of the population. Should Modi and his party choose to continue down this path of religious nationalism despite warnings from leaders

Three families who become Christian a year ago are being pressurized to return to the tribal belief system Christian families in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand have been ostracized by their village for embracing Christianity. The three families from Mangapat Sirsai village in West Singhbhum district, who became Christian a year ago, are being pressurized to return to the tribal Sarna belief system centered on the worship of nature. The gram sabha or village council on Sept. 17 decided that the converted families will not be allowed to use common properties for free movement or grazing cattle. They will also not be invited to any social gatherings in the village and nobody will interact with them. Gabbar Singh Hembrom, district president of the Adivasi Ho Samaj Yuva Mahasabha, a youth organization of local tribal people, warned the villagers to abide by the decision or end up paying a fine. A meeting will be held every Sunday to check if the decision to ostracize the Christian families was being followed strictly by everyone. Hembrom said: “The entire village follows the Sarna religion except for Raut Bankira, Rajendra Bankira and Hiralal Bankira, who converted to Christianity along with their families a year ago. We are ready to

Global civil society alliance slams raid on facilities associated with government critic Harsh Mander CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, has condemned a recent raid carried out on facilities associated with human rights defender Harsh Mander, director of the Centre for Equity Studies, and called on the Indian government to stop intimidating rights activists. On Sept. 16, the Enforcement Directorate under the Ministry of Finance conducted the raid on Mander’s residence, the Centre for Equity Studies’ office and a children’s home run by the organization under the pretext of investigating money-laundering allegations against him. The raid was carried out several hours after he departed for Germany to attend a fellowship program. Mander has been critical of the Narendra Modi government. He has raised concerns about how the government handled the pandemic, the increasing attacks on press freedom and the discriminatory citizenship law passed in 2019 which human rights groups have called “unconstitutional and divisive.” Following the raid, more than 500 activists in India issued a joint statement in solidarity with Mander and condemned the intimidation tactics. “The authorities must halt their harassment of human rights activist Harsh Mander. These actions conducted by the Enforcement Directorate are a clear tactic to intimidate and criminalize the defender.

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