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A man climbs down after partially chipping out the cross from the entrance of his house, after taking part in a religion conversion ceremony from Christianity to Hinduism, at Hasayan town in Uttar Pradesh August 29, 2014. Reuters/Adnan Abidi Two incidents where Christians in Jharkhand were harassed and persecuted by radical Hindu nationalists last month points at the increasing number of violence against Christians in the country even during the pandemic. On May 31, Pastor Jaiwant Tirkey from New Hulhnda village was attacked by radical Hindus who justified the assault by accusing the Christian leader of violating the COVID-19 lockdown. Pastor Tirkey is an independant pastor and was assaulted while distributing COVID-19 food relief. "We opened the church because we wanted to use the premises to prepare meals for migrant workers," Pastor Tirkey told International Christian Concern (ICC). "I was there along with a few other volunteers preparing and serving breakfast when all of a sudden, a man with an iron rod kicked in the gate." "He was shouting and attacked me. I narrowly escaped a fatal blow to my head which would have landed between my upper jaw and ear," the pastor said. In another incident on May 9, Tirpan Oraon, who converted to Christianity in

By Purushottam Nayak Malkangiri, June 17, 2020: A peaceful rally of Christians in Odisha’s Malkangiri on June 16 demanded justice for a teenage boy hacked to death two weeks ago. Suspected religious fundamentalists on June 4 killed Samaru Madkami in Kenduguda, a village in Malkangiri district. More than 350 people attended the rally and submitted a memorandum to Ramprasad Nag, Inspector In-Charge of Malkangiri. ‘I assure you to fulfil the demands made by you,” he assured the Christians. Anti-Christian groups used to harass three families who had become Christians three years ago. They had complained to the police. At midnight on June 4 , miscreants kidnapped Samaru and brutally murdered him. The memorandum pointed out that people from Dalit and Tribal communities accept Christian religion on their free will, but face threats and harassment from radical groups. “We demand justice for Samaru and for the us the Christians who feel threat in life,” the memorandum said. “We want safety and security for the family of Madkami and Christians,” it further demands. The memorandum bemoans tha the murders now roam freely in society. “They should be brought to justice” asserts the letter. It also said Christians in Odisha face persecution just because of their religion. The memorandum bemoans that Christians are ostracised

Pastor beaten unconscious in separate attack. His father away from home due in part to coronavirus travel restrictions, a 12-year-old boy in Uttar Pradesh, India heard relatives angry at his family for refusing to renounce Christ pounding on the door late last night (June 18). “It was past 11’o clock in the night when we heard them banging on the door and shouting,” he said. “Five men along with my uncle were standing at the door issuing threats that they would murder my brother and me.” His terrified mother in the Ram Ganga Vihar area of Moradabad told her two sons, the other age 20, to run to the police station for safety while she locked the doors and would catch up with them, said the boy, whose name is withheld for security reasons. They ran past her brother and the five other drunken men who were screaming threats, and she followed shortly afterward, said his mother, 42-year-old Molly James. “My brother and sister have portrayed me as a bad woman in this Hindu-dominant neighborhood for accepting Christianity,” James told Morning Star News. “They have been trying to expel my family from the area for the past three years.” Her husband, Anil James, works 116

He gave a speech that called for love and non-violence. Government agencies consider this an act of provocation. “What does the future of our country look like? You are the youth of today. What kind of a country would you like to leave behind for your children? Where will this decision be taken? One, it will be on the streets. We are on the streets today. But beyond the streets there is another place where this will be decided. Which is the place where the final decision on this question will be taken? It is in our hearts. In your heart, and in mine. We will have to give an answer. They want to kill our hearts with hate. If we reply with hate, hatred will deepen. If someone is darkening the future of the country, and we reply in the same language then we will only be amplifying the darkness. Darkness can be fought only with light. We have only one answer for their hate, and that is love. If they use violence they will compel us to use violence as well but we will never choose the path of violence. You must understand their motive is to arouse you to become

About 25 million migrant workers have left the cities for their rural villages, where all cannot find work. The pandemic could create 354 million new poor people. The Church should organise people so that they can participate in decision-making processes. Fr Frederick D’Souza is an economist and former director of Caritas India. For him, agriculture will not be able to absorb millions of migrant workers who left urban areas because of the COVID-19 to return to their rural places of origin. In addition to economic problems, the pandemic will increase social discrimination. However, the crisis could be an opportunity in disguise to create an egalitarian society in India. Fr D'Souza’s analysis follows. We, the urban dwellers have been enjoying the roads, flyovers, stadiums, and metros among many other advantages, all these years. We wake up every morning to see someone bring to our doorstep milk, newspaper, vegetables and many other necessities of life. These ‘city makers’ who built the luxury apartments in which we live, the schools for our children, the hospitals for our treatment are migrant labourers. In the last few days, we have seen the images of thousands of migrant labourers and their children going back home with their meagre

In one of the eight attacks on Christians since the COVID-19 lockdown was partially lifted in India two weeks ago, a mob of about 150 people in the southern state of Telangana dragged a pastor into the street and beat him while he was praying for a sick person. “They kicked me like they would kick a football,” Pastor Suresh Rao, a church planter, told the U.S.-based Christian persecution watchdog International Christian Concern about the attack on him in Kolonguda village last Sunday. “They dragged me into the street and pushed me to the ground,” Rao added. “There, they started to trample on me. They tore my clothes, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. I have sustained a serious eye injury as a result of a blood clot.” Local Christians told ICC that Rao arrived at the sick person’s house around 9:30 a.m. for prayer. Soon after that, the house was surrounded by a mob of nearly 150 people led by a man identified as Ashok. The attackers accused Rao of illegally converting Hindus to Christianity. “They said that India is a Hindu nation, and there is no place for Christians,” Rao explained. “I am prepared for this kind of eventuality.

Catholic bishops in India on June 28 joined civil rights groups, activists and political leaders to decry the deaths of a father and his son in police custody in Tamil Nadu, southern India. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India “condemns most strongly the brutal assaults on P Jayaraj and his son J Fenix while in police custody in Tuticorin, which resulted in their deaths,” says a press statement signed by conference president Cardinal Oswald Gracias. Tuticorin is some 600 km south of Chennai, the state capital. The bishops’ statement quoted media reports that said the police had picked up the father and son on June 19 for keeping their mobile accessories shop open during the lockdown. While Fenix son died on the evening of June 22 at a hospital in Kovilpatti, Tuticorin, and his father died the following day. Their killings are dubbed as the Indian version of the George Floyd incident. A white policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota of the United States on May 25 kept his knees on the neck of Floyd, a colored man, until he died. The death triggered unprecedented protests all over the states and the world. The CBCI press release noted that when the father-son duo of India’s Tuticorin was released

Official from Hindu nationalist party pressures officers, sources say. Under pressure from an official in the ruling Hindu nationalist political party, police in Uttar Pradesh state, India have released without charges a suspect in the attempted killing of a pastor last month, sources said. “When we entered the police station for the identification process, the attacker was treated like a VIP, not as a criminal,” Deepak Kumar, brother-in-law of the pastor, told Morning Star News. “He was released the same day, even after we insisted that he is the one.” Four men ambushed 39-year-old pastor Dinesh Kumar as he left Mohiuddinpur village, Mau District on his motorbike on May 28, beating him with clubs so severely that he lost consciousness. A deep wound to his head required 16 stitches, a cut on his arm seven stitches, and he sustained internal injuries; seeing the wound on his arm, a doctor asked his wife if he had been shot. “They had no intentions to threaten me – they attacked to kill me,” Pastor Kumar, of Jamalpur village, told Morning Star News. Police went to Pastor Kumar while he was still in the Intensive Care Unit of Prakash Hospital in Mau to ask if he knew the names of any

A mob damaged the building still under construction and destroyed a cross. Police cordoned off the area and arrested the two Christian teachers. Sajan K George: "False accusations, intimidation of Christians for political reasons". Belagadia (AsiaNews) - A Pentecostal church was vandalized by Hindu radicals after two Christian teachers were accused of proselytizing. The incident occurred on June 22 in the Dhanbad (Jharkhand) district. The mob damaged the building which is still under construction and destroyed a cross. The police cordoned off the area, blocking public access to it. The church is being built on land that has been leased for 30 years, and has a congregation of 16 families mainly from Belagadia. Kaina Pansal and Sushant Pradhan teach in the premises and anti-Christian militants along with local politicians accuse them of having converted some local families. Police arrested and interrogated the two Christian teachers on charges of forced conversion, and the district administration sent a report to the government. Religious proselytism is banned by law in Jharkhand; those found guilty can be sentenced up to three years in prison and 50 thousand rupees (588 euros) in fines. In the East Indian state, if someone wants to convert to another religion, they must first seek

A fund set up by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight Covid-19 is now mired in controversy and concern over an alleged lack of transparency, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi. On 27 March, just days after India began a country-wide lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Narendra Modi set up the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. The PM Cares Fund, for short. A day later, Mr Modi appealed to "all Indians" to donate. "It is my appeal to my fellow Indians, kindly contribute to the PM-Cares Fund," he tweeted, telling the nation that their donations would strengthen India's fight against Covid-19 and "similar distressing situations" in future. "This will go a long way in creating a healthier India," he wrote. Donations poured in - from industrialists, celebrities, companies and the common man. Within a week, reports said, donations had reached 65bn rupees ($858m; £689m). The fund is now believed to have exceeded 100bn rupees. But PM Cares has been controversial from the start. Many questioned the need for a new fund when a similar one - PM National Relief Fund or PMNRF - has existed in the country since 1948. Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the opposition Congress Party, suggested

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