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The police in Karnataka colluded with Hindutva groups that attacked Christian worshippers in the state, says a damning report released by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). A report named ‘Criminalizing the Practice of Faith: A report by PUCL Karnataka on the Hate Crimes on Christians in Karnataka, 2021’ documents 39 incidents of hate crimes against Christian in Karnataka from January till November 2021. “Given the frequency and intensity of these attacks, our report relies on the Christian community’s narratives of surviving majoritarian violence. The members of the Christian community especially in rural Karnataka continue to face threats of violence, discrimination, and survival in the course of their everyday lives,” the report states. PUCL in its report has documented a) the attacks on pastors, believers, and Churches in Karnataka between January – November 2021, b) the modus operandi of the Hindutva groups behind these attacks and c) the patterns that emerge from these attacks. “In most cases, Christians have been forced to shut down their places of worship and stop assembling for their Sunday prayers. Effectively, these attacks on praying in a gathering that is enforced by Hindutva groups with the complicity of the State function as a bar on the freedom to

A fact-finding report by a Protestant group in India has documented 39 violent attacks on Christians in the southern state of Karnataka since January. The Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) published the report on Dec. 13 claiming that the Christian community in Karnataka had good reason to feel targeted by the outbreak of violence. “It is clear and obvious that an atmosphere of fear and apprehension prevails in the Christian community and its grassroots religious clergy because of a systematic targeting through a vicious and malicious hate campaign,” said Reverend Vijayesh Lal, EFI general secretary and publisher of the report. He further added that it was “equally obvious that those involved in carrying out this hate campaign and fear-mongering enjoy the protection and possibly support of elements within the political and law and order apparatus in the state.” Reverend Lal said the EFI was making the report public in the interests of the Christian community in the state and the country and to help safeguard peace and harmony by calling upon the state government to act immediately before any major untoward incident takes place. Copies of the report have been sent to the office of the prime minister of India,

12/08/2021: Archbishop Sebastian Durairaj of Bhopal seeks action against the culprits and dialogue between the Church and its accusers. Archbishop Sebastian Durairaj of Bhopal has urged authorities to end the continuing violence against Christians in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. “A section of our community is feeling insecure. That is why we met Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who has assured us of appropriate action,” the archbishop is reported to have said in a video message released after his meeting with the minister on Dec. 7. He also appealed for action in the recent attack on St. Joseph School in Vidisha district by a 500-strong mob of Hindutva activists alleging the school management was converting students to Christianity. The newly appointed archbishop, who is based in state capital Bhopal, told UCA News that he raised the issue of increasing attacks against Christians and their institutions in the state. “He asked me ‘Do you convert people?’ and I replied ‘No, we don’t,’” Archbishop Durairaj said about his interaction with Mishra. “The minister patiently listened to our concerns and agreed to help us. He promised action against those who attacked the school.” We need to reach out to all those who have misconceptions or misunderstandings about us

12/06/2021: A mob of more than 500 people on December 6 attacked a Catholic school in a town of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, accusing it of indulging in religious conversion. Brother Antony Pynumkal, principal of St Joseph’s School at Ganj Basoda in Vidisha district told Matters India that the allegation of conversion was “fake and baseless.” Ganj Basoda town is some 105 km northwest of Bhopal, the state capital. The Malabar Missionary Brother said they had received a memorandum on November 30 from some local Hindu groups from Ahirwar, Dangi and Rajput Communities alleging of conversion of students. The management had informed the police but only two of them were deployed in the school premise when the mob came. They could not do anything, said Brother Pynumkal. The local parish of St. Joseph on October 31 organized the First Holy Communion and Confirmation of eight Catholic children. A local Youtube channel called “Aayudh” carried the event as conversion. “Those children are not our students and the parish is some two kilometers away from the school,” said Brother Pynumkal. The management had already informed the local police about the memorandum and ongoing board exams in the school. The principal said the mob attacked the school

Addressing cases of incentivised conversion will require a holistic approach The Church is against any form of incentivised conversions. Even in the case of inter-religious marriages registered under the Special Marriage Act, the non-Christian partner is counselled to practise his or her own religion. There is no compulsion to convert to Christianity as religious tolerance is a part of Indian ethos. However, if there are cases of incentivised conversion, is criminal law the solution? In an address to the All Karnataka United Christian Forum for Human Rights (AKUCFHR) on November 19, Peter Machado, the Archbishop of Bangalore, said it was a sin to force anyone to convert. Any conversion had to be from the heart as the Church wanted to increase the quality and not quantity of its faithful. In a letter to the Karnataka Chief Minister, Dr. Machado says, “Thousands of schools, colleges and hospitals are run and managed by Christian community across the State. When lakhs of students are graduating from these institutions year after year and thousands of patients irrespective of caste, creed or colour receive the best medical attention from our hospitals and care centres, let the government prove that even one of them has ever been influenced, compelled

Bengaluru, Dec 4, 2021: The United Christian Forum of Karnataka on December 4 organized a peace rally in Karnataka capital of Bengaluru against a proposed anti-conversion bill and survey on Christian institutions in the southern Indian state. The rally was initiated by the Archdiocese of Bangalore in collaboration with all Christian denominations and other Catholic dioceses in the state to condemn the government move to enact the bill and harass the minorities. The proposed anti-Christian bill “is nothing but a license given to Hindu radical groups to attack Christians, and persecute them,” bemoaned Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore while addressing the rally. The archbishop, who is the most vocal against the bill, said the minority Christians will never bow down before the government, nor remain afraid of its scare tactics. He called all Christians to unite and fight against the injustice meted out to their community, a tiny minority in the state. Several political leaders, religious heads, Muslim leaders, priests, religious, pastors, and lay people attended the ally held in front of the St. Xavier’s Cathedral in Bengaluru. The gathering, which was initially planned for 25,000 people, was reduced to less than 2,000 people because of the Coronavirus pandemic Margaret Alva, a veteran Catholic leader

Rights groups record more than 300 attacks on Christians and their religious places in the first nine months of this year. New Delhi/Roorkee, India – In late October, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met and invited Pope Francis to India, the country with the second-largest Christian population in Asia. However, in a speech about two weeks earlier, Mohan Bhagwat, head of the far-right Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), warned Hindus about religious conversions and alleged “demographic changes” in India’s northeastern states, which have a large Christian population. In his annual speech on October 14 to mark the Hindu festival of Dussehra (also known as Durga Puja), Bhagwat said: “Rising population and demographic imbalance need to be addressed and population policy is to be redesigned. And that policy should be applicable to all irrespective of caste and creed. Illegal immigration in bordering districts and conversions in [the] northeast have changed the demographics further.” The RSS aims to create an ethnic Hindu state out of India. As the head of Sangh Parivar, the umbrella group of Hindu nationalist organisations including the BJP, Bhagwat’s Dussehra speech is considered an agenda-setter for the year. Rise in attacks on Christians across India As

ANALYSIS: December 1, 2021: As of 31 October 2021, Karnataka ranks fourth in the country for its targeted violence against Christians Once upon a time, say, up to the turn of the century, Bangalore city was known as the ‘Catholic Capital of India’. It was also known as the cleanest city in India, and its tree-lined roads were an envy of the country. And Karnataka was just getting to be known as the gateway to south India for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). As of 31 October 2021, Karnataka ranks fourth in the country for its targeted violence against Christians. Of the 320 or so cases recorded by the United Christian forum, the Evangelical Fellowship of India and Persecution Relief, Uttar Pradesh topped with 99, Madhya Pradesh had 45, Chhattisgarh recorded 39, and Karnataka 23. Orissa, which had in 2008 witnessed the most vicious pogrom against the community ever, had 15 cases. National capital Delhi recorded four. Bengal had a near clean record, with one case. Karnataka is Simmering: Bangalore city has been the scene of protests by a very concerned, almost frightened, Christian community, which fears that the BJP government’s plan to bring an anti-conversion law on the

Mumbai, Dec 1, 2021: The Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) on December 1 expressed deep concern over the media’s failure to become the watchdog of governance in the country. Media, the fourth pillar of democracy has failed in its sacred duty of scrutinizing the government’s policies and programs. Instead it has turned out to be a pliable institution trying to live out of the ‘favors’ dished out by the government, bemoaned the association at its 26th national convention held at St. Paul’s Media Complex at Bandra in Mumbai. The theme of the convention was “Hit the Streets: Listen, Encounter, Engage” based on Pope Francis’s message this year for the World Communications Day that focuses on “Come and See (Jn 1:46): Communicating by Encountering People Where and as They Are.” Speaking at the inaugural function, Justice Aloysius Aguiar, a former Judge of Bombay High Court, said, “A good journalist is one who hits the street in pursuit of truth despite all the hardships and threats to life. But unfortunately the fourth pillar of democracy in the country has failed in its sacred duty of scrutinizing the government’s policies and programs. Instead it has turned out to be a pliable institution trying to live out

The repeated attacks hint at systematic targeting and official bias against the minority community Hindu activists in India are stepping up disruption of Sunday prayer services under the guise of exposing forced religious conversions. Two such incidents were reported on Nov. 28. In national capital Delhi, activists of Bajrang Dal (Brigade of Hindu deity Hanuman) vandalized a newly inaugurated church in the Dwarka area. Minakshi Singh, general secretary of Unity in Compassion, told UCA News: “The church was inaugurated on Tuesday and was holding its first Sunday service. It was started by Ankur Nirula Ministries based in Jalandhar.” Singh alleged the police were biased against the minority community. They merely detained one of the attackers for about an hour or so and let him go after questioning. News website The Quint quoted a police official saying: “We received information at 9.30am on Nov. 28 that a quarrel had broken out at Matiala Road and on inquiry it was found that a group of residents and local miscreants had vandalized the board that read ‘church’.” The official said the police have registered two reports of offense, one against those who vandalized the church and another against those present inside the church for violating the Delhi Disaster Management

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