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PM faces criticism for promoting construction of a Ram temple amid a pandemic and falling economy An architect's rendering of the proposed Ram temple in Ayodhya town in Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to join a foundation stone-laying ceremony on Aug. 5. (Photo: opindia.com) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to visit a controversial temple site in a move that could boost his party's idea of making India a Hindu-only nation.Modi, known for his hardline politics, is expected to participate in the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the temple in northern India's Ayodhya town, considered the birthplace of Hindu lord Ram.A centuries-old dispute over a temple-mosque structure in Ayodhya was aggravated in 1992 when Hindu zealots demolished the structure. It triggered nationwide Hindu-Muslim riots, killing at least 2,000 people.Modi's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to the political mainstream by demanding demolition of the 16th-century mosque built by Muslim ruler Babur. They claimed Muslims built the mosque after demolishing a temple and campaigned to destroy it and build a new Hindu temple at the site. The temple construction was part of the BJP's election promises but was delayed because of court cases over land ownership. In November 2019, India's Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Ram temple. The judges upheld

Catholic devotees wear face mask attend the Holy Mass at the Saint Joseph's Church on the first day after the reopening of religious services after the government eased restrictions imposed as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Hyderabad on June 8, 2020. NOAH SEELAM/AFP via Getty Images Police have ordered six Christian families to either renounce their faith or flee their homes after they reported being brutally attacked by a radical Hindu mob. Joginder Bhuya, a Christian, told persecution watchdog International Christian Concern that he reported the attack to the Latehar District Police station of Jharkhand state on July 5. But instead of filing a report, officers gave Bhuya an ultimatum, saying they must either convert back to Hinduism or abandon their homes and leave the village. "I thought the police are there to protect and serve justice, but the police spoke exactly what the religious fanatics have been telling us," Joginder said. Earlier, Hindu village leaders had convened a meeting to discuss the fate of Christian villagers who had refused to renounce their Christian faith. There, it was decided that the Christians would be chased out of their homes and the village if they didn't abandon their faith and "re-convert" to Hinduism. When the

Following an outcry against the proposal, the State’s Education Department issued a statement on Thursday, saying that “the decision to drop certain chapters has been put on hold. A review will be done, following which the deleted chapters will be uploaded to the website”. Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The BJP-led Government of Karnataka has put on hold a controversial proposal to drop certain chapters from social science textbooks to trim the 2020-21 curriculum for Grades 1 to 10 students. The sections to be removed covered Islam, Christianity, Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali. State authorities had initially decided to cut the 2020-21 syllabus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapters on the Constitution, Islam and Christianity were left out of school curricula, various media reported. The rationale behind the move was that students would study these topics in Grade 9 anyway. However, media reports noted that Grade 9 teachers were asked to briefly summarise these topics since the syllabus erroneously claims that students already studied them in Grade 6. Speaking about the matter, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore told AsiaNews that "India is a secular country blessed with a multi-religious heritage of tolerance and harmony. No other country can boast such a rich and interfaith fabric and

Washington DC. August 04, 2020. The Federation of Indian American Christians organizations of North America (FIACONA), an advocacy group dedicated to the religious freedom of the minority Indian Christians in India strongly objects to the ill-advised celebration and gloating by extremist Hindutva supporters during the occasion of the laying of foundation for a controversial temple in a place called Ayodhya, in Northern India. The proposed temple construction is held on a site where a 500 year old mosque known as Babri Masjid was illegally tore down by extremist elements in 1992 causing the rioting and killing of thousands of people. The scheduled celebration is to take place in Times Square on August 5th, 2020, masquerading as a 'Bhoomi Pooja' for the proposed Ayodhya temple. The Hindutva supremacists groups in the U.S. who support Prime Minister Modi's policies of polarization and division have become so bold in their approach and so cavalier in their attitudes at a point where they are even ready and willing to promote policies so contradictory to the values and principles of their adopted land. By scheduling this celebration, they are conveying to the American public that trampling the rights of the minority religious populations such as Muslims, Christians, Dalits

Like a meteor in slow motion, it was only a matter of time that this would hit us. Even so, August 5, 2020, is a day of profound sadness and loss. History will remember it as the day on which the bumpy but colourful and often hopeful journey of India as a humane and inclusive republic of equal citizenship was formally halted by an incumbent government. A government of unmatched hubris, rooted in an ideology of Hindu supremacism, the complete reversal of the pledges that we the people of India made in our Constitution. Was this a tragedy foretold? From the moment when three bullets were pumped into the frail body of Mahatma Gandhi during his inter-faith prayer meeting on a winter afternoon in January 1948, was the ideology of his assassin bound to triumph eventually? Was it inevitable that the iridescent dream of building a country that one day would belong equally in every way to people of every faith, caste, class, gender, language, ethnicity, colour, sexuality and ability would be smashed? And has this dream been destroyed for generations to come? When the prime minister brusquely brushes aside all scruples of constitutional propriety by choosing to preside over a private

The Indian government has released an ambitious education policy aiming to transform the country's learning system to match global standards, generating mixed reactions from church officials. The federal cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020 on July 29, replacing a 34-year policy. The policy was in the making for more than six years and the first draft was released in 2016. The process to formulate a new policy was accelerated soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-Hindu party came to power in 2014. Officials of the Catholic Church, which claims to be managing the largest network of educational institutions in the country after the government, were reserved in their comments, saying they need time to study the policy in depth. However, "generally it looks very positive and beneficial to the changed global scenario," said Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Kolkata,… Read more at: https://international.la-croix.com/news/education/church-officials-wary-about-indias-new-education-policy/12860#

Pastor Ramnivas Kumar had been attacked before, but in the latest instance he was stunned that police in eastern India arrested his bleeding guests based on transparently false accusations that they were robbers, he said. Christians Avinash Kumar and Rambali Ram were visiting Pastor Kumar’s home in Ranjitpur village, Bihar state on July 13 with two Hindu friends who had met them on the way from their fields in Sitamarhi District and requested the pastor pray for them, the church leader said. The two Hindus had told their two Christian friends they wanted the pastor to tell them the story of Jesus and to pray for them, he said. As he and the four guests chatted over tea, Pastor Kumar asked if recent flooding had affected their harvests, explained the gospel to the Hindus and began praying for them, he said. “As I was praying, we heard the neighbors shouting at us from the main door,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “They were hurling abuses at me, accusing me of accepting a foreign faith and following a foreign God.” He and the two Christian guests went out to ask why they had intruded onto his property and were using filthy language against him

It is yet another anti-Christian attack in the country. Rajesh Gupta's wife is in hospital with a fractured hand and leg. In June, an educational center run by a Christian organization was attacked. Two weeks ago, extremists killed a pastor in Punjab. Sajan K George: The faithful live in terror. Hindu radicals brutally attacked Pentacostal pastor Rajesh Gupta and his family in Faridabad (Haryana). The attack, carried out with sharp weapons, took place yesterday morning while Rajesh was reciting a prayer in the home of a faithful. The pastor and his family were then rescued and taken to hospital for treatment. His wife is hospitalized with a fractured hand and leg. It is the second anti-Christian incident to occur this year in Faridabad. On June 20, Hindu fundamentalists raided and occupied an educational center in the city district. The facility, managed by the Karuna Welfare Society, belongs to the Grace Assembly of God Church in Faridabad. The extremists placed a statue of a Hindu deity inside. Groups of Hindu radicals have targeted Christian faithful in other parts of the country. On July 27, Balwinder “Bagicha” Bhatti, another Protestant pastor, was found dead by the side of a road near Ferozpur (Punjab). Victim of

A Christian father of seven in northern India was hospitalized for more than two weeks after Hindu extremists with iron rods interrupted his night prayers with his family and beat him at his home. Pappu Kumar, released from a hospital on Thursday (Aug. 13), was praying with his family in Balawali village, Uttarakhand state at 9:30 p.m. on July 28 when a mob of at least 10 Hindu extremists appeared at his door, sources said. The visitors told the 40-year-old Kumar, who put his faith in Christ just three months ago, to stop praying, said Mange Singh, a church pastor in the region who has been discipling Kumar’s family. “Pappu responded that he was praying inside his house, and that should not bother anybody,” Pastor Singh said. “But the furious mob began to assault Pappu.” The mob verbally abused Kumar as they kicked him and beat him with the rods, batons and fists, repeatedly telling him to stop following the Christian faith, Pastor Singh said. “They intentionally threw Pappu on the heap of bricks that were placed near his house, so that they would cause him double injury,” he said. Kumar sustained a severe head injury, a broken leg and fractured bones in his hand in

India have threatened to arrest Christians for “disturbing the peace” if their worship draws more opposition after recent attacks, including one that has nearly cost an elderly woman her sight, sources said. Complaining that Christian prayers have driven away their nature-based gods, tribal animists in Badaguda, Odisha state have repeatedly attacked 12 families since the Christians left their traditional religion two years ago. The 55 to 60 Christians in Koraput District have been sheltering together each night for the past six months, fearful of more assaults after villagers burned their makeshift church structure in March and beat men, women and children on July 21. “The 12 Christian families have faced opposition almost every day since the day they decided to follow the Christian faith,” said their pastor, Ayub Khora, whose wife added that rarely a day goes by without church members facing verbal or physical abuse. Two villagers assaulted a Christian family at 1 a.m. on July 21 and vandalized their home, only to attack again at 8 a.m. with about 100 others who came to the house where they had taken shelter and beat members of the 12 Christian families with wooden planks, Pastor Khora said. Kanduru Muduli, 55, said that his son,

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