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JOHN DAYAL/ OPINION: Oct 19, 2021. It is a moot question which of the two October developments poses a more potent threat to the Christian mission in India, or at least in states other than Christian strongholds like Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. The first development is a firman or diktat issued by Sikhism’s top body, the Shrimoni Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC), to curb Christian evangelical activities among the Sikhs in the northern state of Punjab. The SGPC has sent 150 teams, each comprising seven preachers, to scour the 12,729 villages in the state. This is ostensibly to extend their own pastoral care to the young in Sikh families so that they can resist temptations that may come their way. This is almost exactly what the Islamic Tabliqi Jamaat does among Muslims, and the Hindu groups such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Arya Samaj do among Hindus. Unexceptional, on the face of it. The second development is a decision by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the southern state of Karnataka through its backward classes and minorities welfare committee to investigate “official and non-official” Christian missionaries. The state is expected to join nine other states that have passed laws against “forcible and fraudulent

HIS COMMENTS DREW CRITICISM FROM THE FORMER CHIEF MINISTER AND CONGRESS LEADER SIDDARAMAIAH AND PROGRESSIVE GROUPS IN THE STATE. New Delhi: Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has stoked a controversy with his statements that appeared to justify incidents of moral policing in the state. According to the Indian Express, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister seemed to perceive nothing wrong with right-wing vigilantes impinging on the privacy of people to prevent inter-community relationships. “This is a sensitive issue. We all have responsibilities in a society. There are multiple sentiments in society and people will need to function in a manner that does not hurt sentiments. When sentiments are hurt, there will normally be action and reaction,” Bommai said. “Today, we cannot live without morality. Peace in society and relationships are dependent on morality. When there is no morality there will be action and reaction. There is a responsibility on everyone and not just one section of society,” the Karnataka chief minister said. His comments drew criticism from the former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah and progressive groups in the state. “Is your loyalty towards our Constitution or towards Manu Smriti?” Siddaramaiah asked in a series of social media posts addressed to the Karnataka chief

THE BJP LEGISLATOR IN THE CENTRAL STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH ASKED HINDUS TO KEEP AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS. RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS IN INDIA HAVE CONDEMNED A CALL BY A RULING BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP) LAWMAKER URGING HINDUS TO STAY AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS TO SAFEGUARD THEIR RELIGION, CULTURE AND TRADITIONS. Rameshwar Sharma, a member of the legislative assembly in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, told a crowd at a recent Dusshera festival celebration in the capital city of Bhopal “to stay away from Father and chadar [ceremonial cloth offered at Muslim shrines],” warning that they “would spoil you.” He further said Hindus should also keep away from Sufi shrines and spiritual guides, calling them obstacles in their path to Hindu temples. A video of Sharma’s speech went viral on social media on Oct. 17, inviting criticism from the opposition Congress party, which asked the BJP to clarify if it agreed with the lawmaker’s public pronouncement dividing people on the basis of their religious beliefs. “It is unfortunate that a lawmaker is dividing people calling from a public platform to boycott Christians and Muslims,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. The prelate told UCA News that such insensitive remarks “hurt the sentiments

Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleged that the church authorities were conducting forced religious conversions - a charge that has been denied. They sang Bhajans at the makeshift church in Hubbali.Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad forced their way into a makeshift church in Karnataka's Hubbali on Sunday morning and sang bhajans or Hindu prayer songs as a protest, alleging forced religious conversions there. A video of the incident showed dozens of women and men sitting inside the Bairidevarkoppa Church in Hubbali around 11 am singing bhajans with folded hands over their heads. Later, the local BJP MLA Arvind Bellad blocked a highway demanding the arrest of pastor Somu Avaradhi. Both sides - members of the church and the activists of the right-wing organisations - alleged that they were attacked over the incident. Pastor Somu and some of his associates were admitted to hospital with minor injuries. The pastor and others have been named in a complaint under the law for protection of Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well as one against "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings". He has been arrested and three others were let off after questioning. The church authorities said they filed

The Council also expressed its reservations over a survey of official and non-official Christian missionaries The Karnataka Region Catholic Bishops Council has opposed the state government's proposal to introduce an 'Anti-Conversion Bill', cautioning that the move could precipitate "uncontrolled communal conflagrations" in the state. "Since independence, there has been hardly any increase in the number of Christians and it (the Bill) is all made out to suit the political agenda of some political parties," the Council said in a memorandum to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai. The Council also expressed its reservations over a survey of official and non-official Christian missionaries ordered by the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Department. "If a survey is to be conducted, we demand that all communities be surveyed as well," the Council said. The memorandum comes close on the heels of announcements made by Bommai and other ministers on the state government mulling an anti-conversion Bill after Hosadurga MLA Goolihatti Shekar's allegations about religious conversions. Recently, the legislature panel asked for a survey on churches in the state and an order to this effect was issued. "If the bill is passed in the Assembly and translated into a law, we fear that it will give way for large-scale uncontrolled communal

Critics say an Indian state’s campaign to expel longtime residents on government land marks the ruling party’s latest campaign against Muslims. Read the story here on www.nytimes.com Oct. 17, 2021: DHOLPUR, India — Ahmad Ali watched helplessly as the police set his home on fire. They swarmed into his village, wielding sticks, to beat up participants in what local residents described as a peaceful protest against forced evictions. When the protesters fought back, they opened fire, killing two people, including a 12-year-old boy. Then the police began burning local homes and the possessions inside: a bed, a quilt, hay for feeding their cattle. “Please see!” said Mr. Ali in a video of the incident, speaking to a national and world audience. “Are we lying?” Videos and descriptions of the violence shocked much of India after they went viral last month and drew world attention to a government campaign of forced evictions in a far northeastern corner of the country. Local government officials said they were targeting an exploding population of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh squatting on land needed for vital agricultural projects. But interviews and a review of documents by The New York Times showed that many of the evicted residents were legal citizens of

Christian leader says evangelization is continuous but no conversion takes place through fraudulent means or allurement A top Sikh religious body in India’s Punjab state has launched a campaign against Christian missionaries allegedly luring Sikhs, but some observers see politics in the move ahead of next year’s state election. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest Sikh religious body, has started a house-to-house campaign in Sikh-majority Punjab state against Christian missionaries’ push to convert Sikhs, Indian media reported this week. The SGPC campaign aims to “counter forced conversions, which is a dangerous attack on the Sikh religion,” said Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, leader of Akal Takht, the seat of power based in Sikh’s holiest Golden Temple in Punjab’s Amritsar city, reported the Indian Express newspaper on Oct. 13. He said Christian missionaries have been running a campaign in the India-Pakistan border area of the state for forced conversions over the past few years. “Innocent people are being cheated or lured to convert. We have received many such reports.” However, SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur made no allegations against missionaries but said the campaign aims to strengthen Sikh people in their faith. “The initiatives and campaign will not only bring firmness among Sikhs toward their faith

10/14/2021: India – ACCORDING TO THE INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES, THE GOVERNMENT IN INDIA’S KARNATAKA STATE AS ORDERED OFFICERS TO INVESTIGATE BOTH OFFICIAL AND NON-OFFICIAL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES.  The order comes as Karnataka prepares to enact an anti-conversion law that would regulate religious conversions and criminalize forced religious conversions. The decision to investigate Christian missionaries was taken during a meeting on Wednesday by the Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Committee. Several state legislators, including BJP MLA Goolihatti Shekar, took part in the meeting. Shekar reportedly advocated for the registration of Christian missionaries and claimed that 40% of churches in Karnataka are unofficial and not recognized by the state. In addition to these actions, members of the committee also discussed withdrawing government benefits from individuals who convert from Hinduism to Christianity. In recent weeks, BJP members of the Karnataka government have made statements supporting the enactment of an anti-conversion law. According to these politicians, conversions to Christianity in Karnataka have gotten out of control and a law must be brought to regulate conversions and punish forced conversions. “The government is studying laws implemented in this regard by the various state governments in the country,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, said. “The law in this regard will be enacted soon

THE HINDU JAGRAN MANCH AND OTHERS HAD REPORTEDLY COMPLAINED TO POLICE THAT A PASTOR HAD ORGANISED A PRAYER MEET AT A MAN'S HOUSE. Read the story on The Wire New Delhi: Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Mau has taken several people into custody after receiving a complaints from members of a rightwing Hindutva group that they were allegedly involved in converting people into Christianity The news agency IANS and the Hindu newspaper Amar Ujala have reported on the incident. While IANS wrote 50 people were detained, Amar Ujala reported that 15 people were initially held and seven were booked. The Mau district in-charge of the rightwing group Hindu Jagran Manch, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and other members complained to police that a pastor had organised a prayer meet at a man’s house in Sahadatpura Colony. The Hindutva group allegedly reached out to police following a ruckus by residents of the area who had objected to the prayer meet. Amar Ujala quoted another police officer, D.K. Srivastava as having said that a Sahadatpura resident, Radheshyam Singh, had lodged a complaint. Among those detained are the owner and the pastor. The complainants had alleged that they were forcibly converting people. IANS also quoted unnamed police sources to say that “neighbours had

Action comes after Hindu groups revive their long-standing campaign against 'proselytizing' Christians in the state of Uttar Pradesh October 12, 2021: Indian pastors arrested over claims of conversions. Christians in India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh are worried that right-wing Hindu activists are targeting them for alleged religious conversions. In the latest incident, seven Protestant pastors were remanded in judicial custody after being arrested by police in Mau district on Oct. 10 for allegedly violating a state law that criminalizes religious conversion. The pastors, who were picked up while they were at a prayer meeting, have been charged with illegal assembly instead of violating the anti-conversion law. “We will move bail applications and are hopeful that they will be out of jail soon,” said Ashish Kumar, who is dealing with their legal work. The police also detained 50 other faithful from the prayer meeting but they were let off. Two Catholic nuns who had gone to a bus stop near the prayer house were held at the local police station for several hours until evening. “Police wanted to book the sisters along with the pastors but let them go after the pastors and the faithful said they were not part of the prayer group,” said Father

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