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By Nirmala Carvalho 62-year-old Sister Sahaya Mary, in charge of a student hostel linked to the Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti, was arrested. Behind the arrest was the death by poisoning of a 17-year-old student. Social media have amplified and distorted the story. The young girl had lost her mother eight years ago and was the victim of harassment by her stepmother, a BJP supporter. Delhi (AsiaNews) - Indian authorities have arrested a nun in charge of a hostel on charges of forced conversion, which culminated in the suicide of a minor student at the Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School in Michaelpatti, a village in the Thanjavur district (Kumbakonam diocese, Tamil Nadu). The 17-year-old girl was a guest at the centre, whose management falls under the school administration. She poisoned herself in her room on 9 January last, dying after 10 days, despite attempts at treatment. Because of the death, investigators detained 62-year-old Sister Sahaya Mary and charged her under sections 305 of the criminal code (aiding and abetting suicide of a minor), 511, 75 and 82 paragraph 1. However, in the First Information Report drawn up by police officers who managed to speak with the victim before her death, there is no

Christian leaders in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have appealed to India’s top constitutional authorities for protection from pro-Hindu nationalist groups. The leaders belonging to different denominations, in a memorandum addressed to India’s President Ram Nath Kovind and Supreme Court Chief Justice N.V. Ramana among others, accused pro-Hindu organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP--world Hindu council) and its youth wing Bajrang Dal of infringing on their fundamental right to practice their faith. “They [pro-Hindu nationalist groups] make false allegations of religious conversion against the priests and pastors in the community, carry false social media propaganda against us and register false police complaints against us,” the memorandum stated. It further alleged the district and police authorities of siding with the nationalist groups to harass Christians while appealing to the constitutional authorities to step in to protect them and help lead their lives in peace as any other citizen of the country. “We are terrorized and living in fear. We are being falsely projected as religious converters,” said Father Rocky Shah, one of the signatories to the memorandum and public relations officer of Jhabua Diocese. He said Christians have served to educate and uplift the people of this country. They had also provided health care

The minority community which forms 41 percent of Manipur state's population says it's a day of rest and worship Christian leaders and student unions in the northeastern state of Manipur have urged India’s election commission to change the polling date for the upcoming provincial election as it falls on a Sunday. Assembly elections in five Indian states were announced by the commission on Jan. 8 with Manipur set to vote in two phases on Feb. 27 and March 3. The All Tribal Students’ Union Manipur (ATSUM) and Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) have urged the commission to reschedule the polling to any other convenient date other than a Sunday. ATSUM in a statement on Jan. 10 said the scheduling of the election date for Feb. 27, which is a Sunday, was a matter of concern for tribal people and the Christian community in the state. Khaiminlen Doungel, secretary of ATSUM, said that “the state predominantly consists of tribal Christians who account for 43 percent of the state’s population and Sunday is a holy and sacred day for them. It is also a day for rest and worship.” Doungel said the commission lacked “the ability to appreciate the spiritual values, beliefs and practices of the Christian community. Its

To Shri Narendra Modi Prime Minister Government of India South Block, Raisina Hill New Delhi-110 011. Dear Prime Minister, I write to you, the Leader of our great Democratic,Secular, Socialist Republic of India, governed by a Constitution which enshrines the fundamental rights and freedoms of Indian citizens, irrespective of caste, colour, race or creed, as a senior concerned citizen who has served my country for 50 years in various capacities. You are a leader respected nationally and internationally. You travel around the world, calling on world leaders, including His Holiness the Pope, in Rome, proclaiming that India is a free democratic secular state. Your speeches and statements have been praised and extensively reported on, by the global media. Unfortunately, the reality on the ground here, presents a stark contrast to the image you project of India to the global community, especially in the context of minority rights and secularism. Mr. Prime Minister, across India, highly organised and militant right wing extremist groups are terrorising, attacking and killing innocent citizens in the name of religion. I am appalled at the recent, widely reported statements, made by some religious leaders calling for genocide of non-Hindus, in order to create a Hindu Rashtra. What is even more shocking, is that there is

Reversal of decision within a fortnight of government refusing to renew its registration to accept and utilize foreign funds The Indian government has restored the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of the Missionaries of Charity (MC) clearing the decks for the globally renowned charity to receive and utilize foreign funds. “I am delighted that the Indian government has restored our FCRA license,” said Sunita Kumar, spokesperson of the MC, a congregation founded by Saint Mother Teresa of Kolkata. The change of decision comes less than a fortnight after the federal ministry for home affairs declined to renew MC's FRCA registration citing “adverse inputs.” “We never expected that our registration could be canceled but it happened,” Kumar told UCA News on Jan. 8, a day after the government restored the license of the charity organization on its website among legal entities permitted to receive foreign donations in the country. “We are happy that the restoration of our license happened without much delay,” Kumar said. The congregation was finding it difficult to carry forward its charitable works ever since news broke on Christmas Day that its application for renewal of the FCRA registration had been "refused." The ministry issued a statement on Dec. 27 saying the charity did

NEW DELHI, India (Morning Star News) – Hindu extremists in northern India launched an attack on a house church service on Dec. 25 that seriously injured a pastor’s son, one of at least 10 cases of aggression in Haryana state that stopped Christmas celebrations for hundreds of Christians. Pastor J.J. Singh, a Christian leader in Haryana state, said a team formed to help distressed Christians was exhausted by calls from churches attacked on Christmas Day, as they received reports from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. “Our Christmas was completely spoiled,” Pastor Singh told Morning Star News. “Our team left the Christmas program taking place in the church and sat around a table dealing with one case after another. The calls were still coming, but we were extremely exhausted and decided to shut down our phones.” In the attack on the Christmas service of the house church in Siwanka village, Sonipat District, Hindu extremists brandishing wooden batons and stones assaulted 73-year-old pastor Ram Kishan and seriously wounded his son, Vinod Kishan, the pastor said. “Five or six men pounced on me, and an equal number on Vinod, and began to hit us,” Pastor Kishan said. “They hit Vinod so badly that he began to bleed

The Mother Teresa nuns are hoping for some support from state governments in India after losing foreign donations Since Christmas, the Missionaries of Charity have been strictly rationing the food and daily use items for their regular 600 beneficiaries at their motherhouse and Shishu Bhavan, a children's orphanage, in Kolkata. On Jan. 2, the breakfast of tea, bread and eggs was cut short by an hour. "As long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren, you did it to me," said Razia, a beneficiary of the Missionaries of Charity, as she waited for the nuns to give her the weekly provisions. She lives with her two sick children across the road from the motherhouse and says she visits the tomb of St. Teresa and prays for the "difficult times to pass." Abdul Razzak, a 45-year-old beggar, stays put outside the motherhouse curled in his rags. He has been staying there since Christmas in hopes of getting his share of food and medicine. A few others like him sit along with him to receive their subsidy from the nuns. Since the pandemic began, they received their daily meal from the motherhouse, but now "sisters told us that we might not

The government of Orissa is offering economic aid to the Missionaries of Charity, who tell us from Bhubaneswar: "We are not worried, the Father will take care of our needs. New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Indian governments stop to foreign funding is not limited to the Missionaries of Charity: as of January 1, almost 6,000 Indian NGOs can no longer access funds from foreign countries. The news - offering a broader picture of the problem that has come to the fore precisely at the time of Christmas in India - was broken by The Hindu newspaper which cites official documents of the Ministry of Interior in New Delhi. To be precise, 5933 organizations have lost the status required by the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, the legislation that regulates the possibility for Indian organizations to receive funding from abroad. One figure is enough to give an idea of the impact of what is happening: until December 31, 2021, there were 22,762 active licenses, today there are 16,829. In just a few days, therefore, they have been quartered. Together with the Missionaries of Charity, there are other high profile victims of this obstacle: Oxfam India, the local branch of one of the best-known international NGOs, released

Read the article in Scroll.in Scroll.in tracked three incidents in Bihar, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh that did not even make it to the news. On Christmas eve in Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district, eight Christians set out on their bikes to do their yearly round of carol singing. As the bikes passed through Parnaali, a forested area in Meghnagar tehsil, they were waylaid by a group of alleged Bajrang Dal members. The carol singers were struck with sticks and axes. “Out of nowhere, these men started pelting stones at us,” said Pastor Naikhya Garhwal, who was one of the carol singers. “Two people fell off their bikes,” he continued. “We were hit on our arms and backs with stones. When we fell off our bikes, more [attackers] came out and hit us with an axe. One of us, Ramesh, was hit directly on his head and his scalp was torn apart. My son, Sem, was hit so hard there was a big bump on his head. He developed serious internal injuries.” Nearly a week after the incident, both were still in hospital. The Jhabua incident is among the rash of attacks that broke out across the country around Christmas this year. Hindutva mobs disrupted celebrations in schools and

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