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The much-publicized case of religious conversion against Missionaries of Charity (MC) nuns in India’s western state of Gujarat has come a cropper with the prosecution admitting there was no serious basis to proceed against them. The prosecution gave a written undertaking to a court in Vadorara city that it would not pursue the case any further, although the first information report written by police to set the investigation in motion has yet to be quashed. The prosecution’s undertaking meant an end to the adverse publicity and unnecessary harassment of the nuns from the Kolkata-based organization founded by Mother Teresa which ran a shelter home for the destitute in Vadodara. In a related development, the court also dropped the hearing of an anticipatory bail application filed by two MC nuns, who did not want to be identified, ending their nearly three-month ordeal to avoid likely arrest for a crime they never committed. “Indeed it is happy news and vindication of our stand from the very beginning,” said Father Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest and rights activist based in Gujarat. He confirmed that the local court decided to drop the legal proceedings on March 3 after the government prosecutor admitted in writing that there was no serious

Pro-Hindu BJP seeks to woo voters in cash-strapped Manipur state 03/04/2022: State elections in Christian stronghold Manipur kicked off the polling season with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) vowing to retain power. In the first phase that began on Feb. 28, elections were held for 40 seats, while polling for 20 constituencies in the hilly northeastern region will be held on March 5. Initially, the first phase of voting was slated for Sunday, Feb. 27, but following protests from Christian leaders it was rescheduled to Feb. 28. According to the last official census, Christians make up 41.29 percent of Manipur's population and Hindus marginally more at 41.39 percent. Muslims represent 8.4 percent. However, Christians have a decisive say in 20 of the 60 seats in the hill state. In the remaining 40, native Meitei Hindus hold sway. The BJP bagged a mere 21 seats in the 2017 elections. The Hindu party then came to power by forming an alliance with two smaller parties — the National People's Party and the Naga People's Front. The latter is essentially based out of neighboring Nagaland and draws its strength from the Christian Naga population. Elections in Manipur and other northeastern states are guided by one

A Christian pastor has alleged he was assaulted on February 25 by a mob in Delhi that accused him of being on a conversion mission. Four days after a complaint containing these allegations was filed at the Maidan Garhi police station in South Delhi, an FIR was registered on 3 March.  The pastor, 35-year-old Kelom Kalyan Tet, said that the incident occurred between 10.50 am and 12.30 pm. According to his complaint, he had gone to the Bhati Mines area to meet a friend. When he was leaving, some local residents accosted him and forced him to chant “Jai Sri Ram.”  “They asked me why I had come here,” Tet told “I said I had come to meet Kaalu bhai [his friend] which is when another person, who they had called on the phone, reached the area.”  The confrontation then became violent. “They spoke to each other and accused me of religious conversion,” he said. “They started beating me up and took my phone, my bag which had my Bible, the papers of my bike and other important papers. They were taking photos and videos of the entire thing.”    Tied up and beaten  Tet said that some women objected to him being beaten and asked the men

The three-term Indian American congressman has long ignored massive violations of human rights and religious freedom in India in deference to his Hindu nationalist benefactors and his friendship with Prime Minister Modi. (The following article was originally published in American Kahani, an ethnic news portal of Indian Americans. To read the article in American Kahani, please click here). For over two years, I have been trying to convince Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi to stand on the right side of history by condemning the anti-minority policies of the Modi government and by distancing himself from his Hindu nationalist benefactors in the U.S. It started in December 2019 when a report surfaced that he was a keynote speaker at a Hindu nationalist event in Chicago. He claimed that the report was false and that it was an Indian festival where there just happened to be some pictures of Hindu nationalist leaders. He also insisted that he was not in any way associated with Hindu nationalism. In fact, the October 2019 event was to commemorate the 94th birthday of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and it was organized by the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas arm of the RSS. On stage were HSS officials as well as

They will no longer be mere spectators to media attempts portraying them in a poor light, say nuns and priests in Kerala: Catholic officials in the southern Indian state of Kerala have begun lodging police complaints against what they call a rising trend in media to defame the Church, particularly priests and nuns. “Our priests and nuns have lodged more than 160 police complaints across the state against certain online, mainstream and social media platforms for portraying Catholic priests and nuns in a poor light,” said Father Michael Pulickal, secretary of Kerala Catholic Bishops' Council's commission for social harmony and vigilance. Catholic religious men and women are no longer going to be mere spectators to the deliberate attempts to denigrate their image before the public by publishing lies, half-truths and misleading facts, he told UCA News. Father Pulickal said Kerala police were refusing to register their complaints in some cases but the bishops’ council and other church bodies will “not succumb to pressure” and continue their campaign “for legal action until we get justice.” The government had failed to take disciplinary action and hence “our people are going to lodge as many complaints as possible until the authorities initiate action against those trying to destroy

Authorities in India’s southern state of Karnataka demolished a 20-foot-tall statue of Jesus, which had been standing in the village for 18 years, claiming it was built on land earmarked by the government for an animal pasture. The administration in the Kolar district said last week’s demolition of the statue next to St. Francis Xavier’s Church in Gokunte village. The Karnataka High Court had ordered the destruction, but local Christian leaders said the case was still pending. Bengaluru Archbishop Peter Machado condemned the statue's demolition, stating that the church possessed ownership documents for the land where the statue sat. According to Machado, church leaders tried to work with authorities to save the structure, but local authorities were uncooperative. “It is sad to note that yet another ruthless demolition of a Christian Structure, which included a 20- feet Statue of Jesus and 14 Stations of Cross was carried out by the taluka authorities in a Christian Village, Gokunte, in Kolar, a District of Karnataka touching the border of Andhra,” Machado announced in a statement. “Though the Church has documents of the two acres of the land where these structures were located, the local authorities considered them as not proper or incomplete. The matter is still being

02/17/2022: Two days after a 20-feet Jesus statue was demolished by the Kolar district administration of Karnataka, Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, has alleged that it was pulled down in violation of court directives, and no written notice was served on persons concerned before the impending action. According to locals, the district administration accompanied by nearly 400 policemen reached Gokunte village – which is just two kilometres from Andhra Pradesh border – in the wee hours on Thursday, February 15, to pull down the statue which had been existing since 2004. Except for the four families in the village, which has a population of around 600, the rest in the village follow the Roman-Catholic faith. Machado alleged that the administration went ahead with the demolition despite the fact that the said land (of two acres) on which the statue stood belonged to a church, which had necessary documents to that effect. The demolition was carried out because the “local authorities considered them as not proper or incomplete”, he added. The archbishop also alleged that the demolition was carried out even though there was a stay order on the demolition from a trial court. “In spite of stay order and best efforts to help

02/13/22: Thousands of people cutting across religions have demanded the repeal of all anti-conversion laws in India. The demand comes ahead of February 14 when the Karnataka government plans to table the Anti-Conversion Bill in the state’s Upper House. Prominent signatories of the petition to the Indian president of India included among others Admiral L Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, Mallika Sarabhai, accomplished dancer and choreographer, Medha Patkar, social activist, Anand Patwardhan, film Maker and Mani Shankar Aiyar, former federal minister. They assert the new anti-conversion law is unnecessary, since the Indian Constitution has enough provisions to curtail fraudulent religious conversions. `Wherever the anti-conversion law, ironically officially called Freedom of Religion Act, was passed, it became a justification for the persecution of the minorities and other marginalized identities” the petitioners explain. They also say the attacks on the minorities has grown sharply in recent years since this law was used as a weapon targeting the dignity of Christians and Muslims particularly belonging to Adivasis, Dalits and women. The petition urged people to join the campaign to defend the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution and protect human rights of the minorities and other marginalized sections in India. The petition was initiated

The matter was raised during the Fourth India-United Kingdom Home Affairs Dialogue held virtually on February 2. Representatives of the United Kingdom were “explained about the law and how it works,” The Indian Express quoted an official of the Ministry of Home Affairs as saying. A registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act is required to receive foreign funds. On January 1, Oxfam India was among the 6,000 non-governmental organisations whose FCRA registration had expired. The registrations had ended as either the organisations did not apply for renewal, or the home ministry refused to sanction their applications. On January 2, Oxfam India had said that the home ministry’s refusal to renew its registration will disturb the organisation’s humanitarian work, including the provision of Covid-related relief, in 16 states. The Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa, was also among the organisations whose registration was refused renewal. On January 8, however, the registration of the Missionaries of Charity was restored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. According to The Hindu, an unidentified government official said that India did not give the British officials any assurance regarding a review of the cases. The United Kingdom had not highlighted the issue in writing or formally so far either, said the

Feb 12 A dozen Hindu nationalists harassed and beat up two pastors and set fire to a Bible one was carrying after accusing them of converting people to Christianity by offering money, according to a report. The pastors, identified as Sanjay Kumar and Inderjit, were in the northern Indian state of Haryana returning home after visiting a Christian family for prayers on the roof of their home in the Anand Nagar area of Ambala Cantonment when the mob, which included women, attacked them, Morning Star News reported about the Jan. 28 attack. The pastors were accused of receiving foreign funds and offering money to people in an attempt to get them to convert. Visibly hostile, some people in the mob filmed the pastors while questioning them in coarse language without letting them answer, Pastor Kumar was quoted as saying. Sanjay Rana, a neighbor and member of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal, was Sanjay Rana, a neighbor and member of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal, was leading the mob, he said. Rana seized Pastor Inderjit’s driver’s license and Pastor Kumar’s ID card, and then the mob began punching and slapping them. They also snatched the Bible from Kumar’s hand. “Their beating did not pain me as much as the

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