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‘Does the writer who feels bad for his inaction also feel shame or guilt?’ The dismal material condition of India’s poor has been laid bare in our current times of the Covid-19 pandemic that has led to the most stringent lockdown of the world during this disease in our country. Many among our woke, liberal middle-class have felt what they claim is “guilt” during this crisis and a few have written about it too, as many people have died during this lockdown. Some critics claimed that at the time of writing, about two hundred had died already owing to the lockdown apart from those dying of the disease, though we may never know the actual numbers. Migrant labourers have perished from hunger, fatigue, and other health complications while sometimes walking for several hundreds of kilometres to their rural homes, away from the big cities where they usually sell their labour. Others are starving, stranded in their cities of work. This catastrophe has highlighted the class disparity prevalent in India. Many of us live safely in gated communities in cities or suburbia, and are served by help and labour that lead precarious lives which are at the mercy of a few days’ wages. Some of the middle-class

The archbishop of Bombay speaks about the tragedy of migrant workers killed by a train, as they slept exhausted on the tracks. Hundreds of millions of jobless day labourers are without wages, food or shelter. Better government planning and coordination are needed. The Archdiocesan Centre for Social Action is involved in relief work. The situation of migrant workers in India since the country was locked down on 24 March putting more than 120 million people out of work, with no wages, food or shelter, “is heart-breaking to watch,” said Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay. For him, seeing “my people walking home,” some dying “trying to reach home” on foot, because the transportation system was also locked down, is a source of “immense sorrow”. Three days ago , a group of migrants was hit by a freight train as they rested on the tracks. They had walked nearly 40 km and had to travel 800 more to reach their villages in Madhya Pradesh. “My heart wept at the train tragedy, which snuffed out the lives of 15 of our people who were exhausted, from trying to walk home,” said the Archbishop, who heads the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India. Taking a broader picture, Card Gracias looked at

For many westerners, India is an exotic travel destination, offering colorful cultural sites and warm-hearted hospitable people. However, thanks to the new Hindu nationalist leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), today’s India is increasingly marred by religious conflict and Christian persecution. The Purty family’s double tragedy serves as a sad example of this. And for some Indian Christians, their story is not so unusual. Chamu Hassa Purty was a Christian pastor from Sandih village in Jharkhand State. Late one night in October 2015, he was asked to pray for a sick child. He rushed to the family’s home, prayed for the boy and helped the parents admit him to a local hospital. Shortly after Pastor Purty returned to his own home, eight armed men forced their way into his house. He and his wife urgently warned their daughters, Sharon and Neelam, to immediately leave the house through a back entrance. In an interview with Morning Star News, Sharon recalled, “As we were about to move, two of them held us and brought us back to the front room. They fired at my father many times…” Pastor Purty died of gunshot wounds that night. After the murder, the Purty family left their village and rarely returned. But recently, because of

Bhubaneswar, India. June 8, 2020. (Corrected and updated on June 12) The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) has come to know that a 14-year-old Christian boy, Samaru Madkami, was murdered by a group of Hindu nationalists affiliated to Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).  The incident took place in Kenduguda village of Malkangiri district in the state of Odisa, India on the night of June 4th. According to Pastor Bijay Pusuru from Malkangiri, a few villagers affiliated with the Hindu nationalist party tried to kidnap at least 3 Christians late night on June 4th. Pastor Bijay is the pastor of the Bethel home church where the victim and three other families have been members. As per the police report, at about 11 PM on the night of June 4th, a few villagers, including Deba Madkami, Budra Muchaki, Aaita Kabasi, Rabu Madi and a few others picked up Samaru from his home telling that someone wanted to meet him in the jungle outside the village. Then about an hour later they returned to pick up the boy’s father Mr. Unga Madkami. But because he was away, they tried to take Samaru's uncle, Madkami. Sensing reluctance in him they threatened to kill if

A new report proposes a score for each country to help determine the level of academic freedom its universities and academic centres really enjoy. India has a low score in a new global index of academic freedom, a performance that  mirrors its poor ranking on global indices of media freedom and is likely to heighten concerns about the Modi government’s attitude towards constitutionally protected liberties. The index proposes a score for each country to help determine the level of academic freedom its universities and academic centres really enjoy, and which the researchers behind the idea say could be used to understand a university’s attractiveness in addition to its infrastructure, research output, etc. Specifically, the index and accompanying report try to quantify the freedom of university scholars to debate politically and culturally controversial topics without fearing for their safety or studies, and without any external influence on the institutions’ affairs, based on a combination of factual data and the assessments of 1,800 academicians worldwide. The authors, affiliated with the Global Public Policy Institute, the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität (FAU) Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Scholars At Risk Network and the V-Dem Project at the University of Gothenburg, have thus prepared what they call an academic freedom index (AFI). The index has a maximum value

Officers refuse to file complaint in one case, falsely accuse relatives in another. Police in Jharkhand, India refused to register a complaint about an attack that sent Christians to the hospital for treatment, while officers in another area falsely accused the victims’ relatives in an assault that left a woman unconscious, sources said. A mob of about 400 animists of the tribal Sarna religion tore down parts of a church building under construction in Budhakaman village, West Singhbhum District of Jharkhand state, on May 10 and attacked Christians at the site, according to Suman Sinku, wife of the church pastor. “They abused the Christians present there in extremely derogatory language,” Sinku told Morning Star News. “They held Suraj Chatomba and punched his jaws and back. The assailants then knocked another Christian, Muni Chatomba, to the ground and kicked her on her face and upper body.” Another Christian woman, Bijayanthi Chatomba, ran over to rescue her but was struck in the nose with enough force for it to bleed, Sinku said. “The mob forcefully held a female Christian, stripped off her clothes including her inner garments, leaving her half-naked, and continued punching her face,” Sinku told Morning Star News. “They thumped Shiromani Chatomba’s chest.” Christians phoned police

Christians pray as others take confession during Good Friday prayer services on April 10, 2009, in the village of Raikia, south of Bhubaneswar, India. (Photo: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) Villagers in the east-central state of Chhattisgarh are not allowing Christians to bury their dead until they pay fines for not taking part in Hindu festivals and rituals. Attacks on the minority community in India continue despite the COVID-19 lockdown. Christians faced stiff opposition to burying their dead in three separate incidents in the districts of Bastar and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh state last month, Alliance Defending Freedom India reported. The Christians were told to make "restitution" for not partaking in or giving donations for religious rituals in those villages for all the years gone by, and pay an additional fine before their dead would be allowed to be buried. "It is a terrible and unimaginable thing to be denied an opportunity to grieve the loss of a loved one with dignity," ADF India said. Since 2019, the group has recorded at least 15 confirmed incidents of Christians being denied burial rights in Chhattisgarh state. After the group's legal team intervened, "the Christians were provided police protection, and in some cases even provided land by the government, for the burials to

Three Christian families in Chhattisgarh remain displaced after radical Hindu nationalists attacked them in the middle of the night leaving the Christians severely injured and homeless. The incident took place on May 20 in Sukma district's Devkhumpli village, where the Christian families were brutally attacked with sticks and sharp stones by a mob of around 30 radicals. The radicals threatened to kill the Christians if they refused to recant their faith. "It happened around 11:00 in the night," Hadme Markam told International Christian Concern (ICC). "I woke up from my sleep when I heard a big bang on my door. I was very scared because my husband was away for work that night." "Before I realized what was happening, a mob broke down the door, rushed into the house, and started to beat me. All my fear was for my child. I held her close to my chest and pushed through the mob," Hadme told ICC. Hadme managed to escape the mob in the dark, but her house was ransacked and destroyed by the radicals. "I fled for my life along with my four-year-old daughter. I was soaked in blood, walking through the thick forest. I was carrying my four-year-old daughter and was hoping we

Radical Hindu nationalists brutally beat a pastor returning home from a prayer meeting in Uttar Pradesh's Mau district on May 28. A group of unidentified individuals on motorcycles hit pastor Dinesh Kumar with sticks and the blows on his head rendered him unconscious. Pastor Kumar's wife, Mamta, told International Christian Concern (ICC) that she was "screaming out loud" when she saw her husband. "My mind went blank and I had no words. I thought something fatal took place looking at him with no movement." "I remembered he used to tell me, 'I am in the ministry and committed to taking the Gospel to the people. I know the cost and some time it may be my life'," Mamta explained. In his unconscious state, pastor Kumar was rushed to a local hospital where he received 16 stitches and treatment for other injuries. Police waited for pastor Kumar to regain consciousness in order to take an official statement against the assailants and start the investigation. The assailants, however, remain unidentified as they fled the scene before anyone could recognize them.

Unknown aggressors in Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu set a decade-old independent protestant church on fire that destroyed everything inside the building and brought down the thatched roof. Reverend Ramesh Jebaraj, who runs the church, told International Christian Concern (ICC) that he was shocked to look at the church engulfed with flames and smoke. "I was broken, and it was so painful, there was absolutely no way to save anything from inside the church. The church structure, instruments, and furniture inside the church are ten years of hard labor," he explained. Though the reason for the blaze was not apparent, Rev Jebaraj sees it as a premeditated act as he has been receiving threats to stop all Christians practices is his "Real Peace Gospel Church" since the time it started 10 years ago. The Christian leader told local media that "This appears to be a planned attack. We don't suspect anyone in particular. People of all faiths come here to pray. Someone may have done it out of jealousy, but we forgive them." Rev Jebaraj has, however, filed a formal complaint with the police, and the police investigating the matter told local media that "We have not found any motive yet. Local community has no problem. We

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