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September (Page 2)

September 21, 2021, Washington DC. (Updated Sept 22, 9 PM EST) Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) welcomes the Prime Minister of India. We understand he will be participating in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) also known as the Quad with other leaders from Japan and Australia on September 23 and 24. The success and effectiveness of QUAD’s mission depend on how strong and stable are its member states. The United States obviously wants to work with other major democratic nations who share her democratic values - not with those who just hold periodic elections without respect for the basic tenants and values of a democracy. It is common knowledge that the Union of India is going through unprecedented challenges under Prime Minister Modi’s watch. We are concerned that some of those challenges have the potential to cause civil unrest in many parts of the Union where it has seriously undermined the democratic values and institutions in the name of religious majoritarianism. Reports indicate that Modi’s hardline Hindu nationalist policies have seriously threatened the fundamentals of a multi-faith, multi-linguistic, and multi-racial equilibrium among different sections/regions of the Union. These aggressive domestic policies of the government of the Union of India headed by

FIACONA News Service (FNS): September 20, 2021, New Delhi, India. Christian persecution has reached alarming levels across India. From being falsely accused of forcefully converting people, to beating and murdering innocent pastors.  Extremist groups have launched statewide protests against innocent evangelists and pastors demanding harsh punishment for religious conversion. Pastor Ashish, a native missionary, has been working among the people of a remote village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, North India. It is not the first time he has faced such animosities for his ministry.  On 12th September 2021, Ashish was arrested from his home by police on charges of alluring people with money and converting them to Christianity. The Hindu nationalist groups supporting Prime Minister Modi registered a complaint at the police station that Ashish lures people by offering them money for changing their religion in Simariya village. Pastor Ashish categorically said, “I have never offered money to people for changing their faith. People come to me from all communities to find an answer to their issues or seek my prayers. Sometimes they ask me to pray for their sick relatives, and I pray for them”. The Hindu nationalist leaders went to each member of the church asking how they started following

Read the story in The Wire: https://thewire.in/rights/speak-out-get-raided-a-handbook-for-living-in-new-india Harsh Mander is an activist for peace and communal harmony. The government, however, sees him as an annoying and possibly dangerous busybody who raises inconvenient questions and therefore must be harassed, if not quashed. As has happened frequently in recent times, his premises were ‘raided’ by the Enforcement Directorate under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. Essentially, the allegation is that behind the fig leaf of social work, he siphons off donations and grants, especially from foreign donors. That there is no evidence of this is a different matter altogether. Nor is he alone — all kinds of people, from actor Sonu Sood, who worked tirelessly to help migrants trying desperately to get home during the first lockdown, to Youth Congress chief B.V. Srinivas, who had organized oxygen cylinders and medicines for desperate COVID-19 patients, have come under the investigative radar, and either been raided by the Income Tax Department or questioned by the police. The raids against Sood have gone on for three days. Allegations have been made that he evaded taxes amounting to Rs 20 crore and by taking funds from foreign sources, contravened several laws. Recently, Sood had signed

September 18, 2021 - Christians in Madhya Pradesh state, central India, are outraged after government agencies began profiling Christian religious leaders working among indigenous people. A revenue department official in the tribal-dominated Jhabua district summoned Christian leaders and asked them to provide personal information such as their appointment as a priest and the document related to their conversion. The official letter also asked them to certify if they were converted through allurement or force as the government wants to initiate legal proceedings against illegal conversions. A state law criminalizes religious conversion through allurement or force, making it an offense punishable with up to 10 years in prison. The letter issued on Sept. 13 has also directed them to present details regarding their work in person before the official on Sept. 22 at noon. “Our 16 pastors have received similar letters,” said Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of Protestant Shalom Church in the district. Christian leaders say their people face increased hostilities from right-wing Hindu groups opposed to their work in the district in their work among tribal people. Earlier on Aug. 26, the additional superintendent of police, in a letter to police stations under him directed to assist activists from Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a right-wing Hindu outfit

STATE AGENCIES TARGET CHRISTIAN LEADERS WORKING AMONG INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN MADHYA PRADESH Christians in Madhya Pradesh state, central India, are outraged after government agencies began profiling Christian religious leaders working among indigenous people. A revenue department official in the tribal-dominated Jhabua district summoned Christian leaders and asked them to provide personal information such as their appointment as a priest and the document related to their conversion. The official letter also asked them to certify if they were converted through allurement or force as the government wants to initiate legal proceedings against illegal conversions. A state law criminalizes religious conversion through allurement or force, making it an offense punishable with up to 10 years in prison. The letter issued on Sept. 13 has also directed them to present details regarding their work in person before the official on Sept. 22 at noon. “Our 16 pastors have received similar letters,” said Auxiliary Bishop Paul Muniya of Protestant Shalom Church in the district. Christian leaders say their people face increased hostilities from right-wing Hindu groups opposed to their work in the district in their work among tribal people. Earlier on Aug. 26, the additional superintendent of police, in a letter to police stations under him directed to assist activists from Vishwa

DATA SHOWS MORE THAN NINE PERCENT RISE IN CRIMES AGAINST THE SOCIALLY DEPRIVED COMMUNITIES Atrocities against India’s socially poor Dalits and tribal people in the past year despite the extended lockdown and social distancing measures imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, data shows. A report of the federal National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) shows that crimes against Dalits rose from 45,961 cases in 2019 to 50,291 in 2020, an increase of 9.4 percent. In 2018, there were only 42,793 cases. Crimes against tribal people also increased to 8,272 cases in 2020 from 7,570 in 2019, a rise of 9.3 percent. In 2018, such cases were 6,528. This is very unfortunate but am not surprised,” Father Vijay Kumar Nayak, secretary of the Indian Catholic bishops’ office for Dalits and lower classes, told UCA News. He recalled how a nine-year-old Dalit girl was gang-raped and murdered in national capital Delhi within months of the lockdown even as the Indian parliament conducted its monsoon session. “So we can imagine the situation in other parts of the country,” he said. Father Nayak said unless the federal and provincial governments take strict action against the perpetrators of such heinous crimes, the message that everybody is equal before the law will not reach

September 16, 2021 Father George Mangalapilly, a professor at St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna diocese, was charged with converting a Hindu by offering bribe of 5,000 rupees in December 2017. India’s top court has discharged a Catholic priest from a religious conversion case, registered against him in central Indian Madhya Pradesh state three years ago. Father George Mangalapilly, a professor at St. Ephrem’s Theological College in Satna diocese, was charged with converting Dharmendar Dohar, a Hindu, to Christianity by offering him a bribe of 5,000 rupees (some US$70) and other benefits back in December 2017. “Apart from the testimony of the witness, there is nothing else on record which could potentially be relied upon against the appellant,” wrote the top court in its order while discharging the priest from the case. The priest along with his 32 seminarians and another priest were taken into police custody on Dec. 14 as they were on their way to sing Christmas carols while visiting Christian homes, a tradition they followed for decades. The Hindu activists, mostly members of the Bajarang Dal, also blocked officers of the police station and demanded action against the priests and all the seminarians for attempting to convert Hindus and.They also alleged ulterior

POLICE FILED A CASE AGAINST CHRISTIAN PASTOR FOR RELIGIOUS CONVERSION ACTIVITIES September 16, 2021. Police in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have filed a case after Hindu activists interrupted a prayer service alleging the pastor of religious conversion activities. According to police in the coastal town of Karkala in Udupi district, more than 35 activists of Hindu Jagaran Vedike barged into Pastor Benedict’s house last Friday and stopped the prayer service. Police have registered a case against Hindu activists on charges of unlawful assembly, rioting, intentional insult, criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt based on the complaint filed by Pastor Benedict. Pastor Benedict in his complaint to the police also has alleged that the Hindu activists misbehaved with women inside the church, so the police have also registered a case of assaulting or using criminal force on women.However, police have also booked Pastor Benedict for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings and uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.“The area at the church in Kukkandur village is quite tense now but the administration has made adequate arrangements for the security for the local people and it is constantly monitored by the higher authorities,” George

CATHOLIC CHURCH IS ONE OF THE BENEFICIARIES OF CONTRIBUTIONS FROM FOREIGN SOURCES FOR ITS CHARITY WORKS September 14, 2021. India’s top court has agreed to examine amendments made to a federal law that regulates foreign funding into the country after non-government organizations (NGOs) argued the changes hampered charity work. The Supreme Court, however, refused to stay the implementation of the law--Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Act (FCRA), 2020. A three-member bench headed by Justice A. M. Khanwilkar on Sept. 7 admitted the petitions challenging stringent provisions of the amended FCRA and directed the federal government to file its response within three weeks. The next hearing is on Oct. 5 The Catholic Church is one of the beneficiaries of foreign funds and donations for its charity works across the country. The petitioners, Noel Harper and Nigel Mills of Share and Care Foundation in Andhra Pradesh, and Sister Lissy Joseph and Annamma Joachim of the National Workers Welfare Trust in Telangana, said the amendments had severely restricted the use of foreign funds to serve the poor and needy. This coupled with an official government diktat to open bank accounts in the designated branch of an Indian multinational public sector bank in New Delhi latest by June 30, 2021, had

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