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Assailants threaten to kill Christians if they do not leave village. Punita Kumari was caring for her family in eastern India the morning of Sept. 14 when leaders of about 25 hard-line Hindu assailants armed with bamboo sticks forced their way into their one-room home. Saying Christians could not live in their village of Jhikatia, Bihar state, the assailants dragged her husband, Pastor Vinouwa Das, out and began beating him, Kumari said. His sister tried to shield him, and they beat her too, she said. Kumari gathered up her newborn and rushed out, pleading with the assailants to talk about any grievances rather than attack, but they ignored her, she said. “They shouted at me that we must vacate the premises immediately, and that they will not allow Christian services in the village,” Kumari told Morning Star News. “They were furious and beat me up also with the wooden sticks. It was not even a month since I was out of labor. My newborn also suffered injuries along with me.” Among the assailants: members of the once-Christian family who had granted them land for their home and a one-room church building, as hard-line Hindus had pressured them to renounce Christianity and reclaim the land, she

The state had witnessed the lynching of several tribal people and Muslims on unsubstantiated charges of cow slaughter or beef possession during the tenure of its previous BJP-led govt Seven tribal Christians were allegedly beaten, partially tonsured and forced to chant “Jai Shri Ram” in a Jharkhand village on the unproven allegation that they had slaughtered a cow. Although the incident happened on September 16 and a police complaint was lodged the next day, the matter became public only on September 25 when former zilla parishad member and social activist Neel Justin Beck told a local news portal about it. Police confirmed the incident. Shams Tabrez, the superintendent of police in Simdega district where the attack took place, said four of the nine accused named in the FIR had been arrested and the rest would be picked up soon. The FIR also mentions 10 unnamed accused. Jharkhand had witnessed the lynching of several tribal people and Muslims on unsubstantiated charges of cow slaughter or beef possession during the tenure of its previous BJP-led government (2014-19). This is the first reported communal attack since the JMM-Congress-RJD-Left alliance came to power last December. Deepak Kullu, 26, a tribal Christian from Bherikudar in Simdega, about 145km southwest of

Some 14 Christian homes are almost destroyed. Hindutva followers want to ban Christian residents from their villages in Chhattisgarh unless they go back to Hinduism. Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Dozens of Christians have been expelled from Kakdabeda, Tiliyabeda and Singanpur, a group of villages in Kondagaon district (Chhattisgarh). Yesterday around 11 am, a group of Hindu nationalists attacked and vandalised 14 Christian homes, shacks built with flimsy wooden poles and tin roofs. On the same day, more than 1,500 villagers, egged on by nationalist groups, gathered in Singanpur to protest. Many threatened Christians, telling them not to return to their village, but go elsewhere. These incidents follow Tuesday’s attack against Shivaram Koyam, a Christian from the village of Kakdabeda, whose home was torn down. Law enforcement and local officials have tried to pacify the villagers without success. Hindu villagers say that if Christians want to return to live with them, they must return to honour local [Hindu] gods. The State of Chhattisgarh has had an anti-conversion law since 2000. For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), “The bogey of forced conversions preached by Hindutva extremists serves to sow inequities, suspicions and even hatred towards weak tribal Christians. Being a tribal Christian means a

A Muslim man in northern India beheaded his Hindu wife one-and-a-half months after their marriage because she refused to convert to Islam, a local newspaper reported. Police this week found the beheaded body of the 23-year-old victim, identified as Priya Soni, in a forest area near Preet Nagar area of Sonbhadra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, according to The Tribune. The suspect, Soni's husband who was identified as Ejaz Ahmed, and his friend, identified only as Shoaib, have been arrested. Police said they recovered the mobile phone of the victim, a knife and an iron rod from the suspects. The district's police chief, Ashish Srivastava, was quoted as saying that officers used social media to identify the woman's body. Her father, Laxminarayan, identified her from her shoes and clothes. Priya married Ahmed against the wishes of the family and was being pressured to convert to Islam, police said, adding that they were considering charging the accused under the stringent National Security Act. While religion is a sensitive issue in India, such incidents are rare in the country, where Hindus constitute about 80% of the population of more than 1.3 billion people. India also has the world's third-largest Muslim population — after Indonesia and Pakistan. The

Animists incited by Hindu extremists as police stand by. Incited by Hindu extremists, thousands of tribal animists in Chhattisgarh, India last week drove Christians in three villages from their homes in assaults that police declined to prevent or stop in spite of prior warnings, sources said. The attacks on Sept. 22-23 by mobs that swelled to more than 3,000 agitators damaged homes, sent Christians fleeing for their lives and left a woman hospitalized with serious injuries, but police officers’ only response was to pressure Christians to contribute to the Hindu festivals that were the touch point of the hostilities. Sivram Koyam, a resident of Kakadbeda in Kondagaon District, said he and other Christians were at the local police station on Sept. 22 trying to warn officers of impending violence when they received calls from relatives saying fierce mobs were attacking their homes. “From three in the afternoon till eight in the night, I pleaded with and begged the police officers to go and stop them, but they did not go,” Koyam told Morning Star News. “The furious mob came in search of me, and not finding me home, they picked up my wife and smashed her on the ground three times.” The mob of about

In a six-hour operation led by government officials on September 23, 15 crosses were removed from Susai Paliya Hill in Chikkaballapur, Karnataka. The operation was conducted following the order from Karnataka High Court that found the crosses illegally placed on government land without prior approval from authorities. More than 300 police and revenue officials gathered at St. Joseph's Church in Susai Palya and removed a 32-meter cross that was on the hilltop along with 14 other seven-meter crosses that were on the way to the hilltop. According to local parish priest Father Antony Britto Rajan, "The government officials acted arbitrarily without any prior notice." "We have been using the space for more than five decades for praying the Way of the Cross, especially during the Lenten season," he told UCA News. The local parish mentioned that people from other religions also visited the hill for prayer but "there was no problem from anybody." Though the police officials claimed to be following the court orders, they did not show any such order, said Father Rajan. The Christian leader plans to appeal against the court decision and take legal action to restore the crosses. But, he admits that finding the necessary documents may be difficult. Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore,

Christian leaders say Chhattisgarh is among the three worst states for persecution of Christians A group of non-Christian tribal people attack Christian homes in a village in Inda's Chhattisgarh state on Sept. 23 after Christians refused to follow the traditional Sarna religion. (Photo supplied) Christian leaders have urged the government in India's Chhattisgarh state to act against those who attacked 16 Christian families and destroyed their houses for refusing to abandon their faith. Even after a week, state police have not registered Christians' complaint against the tribal group that attacked them on Sept. 22 and 23, said Pastor Moses Logan. "Police refused to register a first information report and are forcing the persecuted to compromise with the perpetrators of the crime," Pastor Logan told UCA News on Oct. 2. A crowd of people opposed to indigenous people following Christianity vandalized 16 houses of tribal Christians in three villages — Kakrabeda, Singanpur and Tiliyabeda — in the state's Bastar region. "They also assaulted women and children, so many ran into the forest to save their lives," the pastor said. He said villagers suspected trouble when they noticed unusual movements and gatherings in the villages. They informed police about them three days before the attack. "But police took no action, no protection was given," he said. Crowds of men used

The victims were beaten, had their heads shaved, and were forced to sing Jai Shri Ram (Victory to Lord Ram). The attackers came from neighbouring villages. Police arrested four people, and are still looking for another ten. For Christian activist, extremist groups attack using false accusations and spurious evidence, favoured by radical local administrations. Delhi (AsiaNews) – Using a baseless accusation of slaughtering a cow, a group of ‘sacred crow vigilantes’ attacked tribal Dalit Christians in a village in the state of Jharkhand, this according to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) The victims were beaten, had their heads shaved, and were forced to sing Jai Shri Ram (Victory to Lord Ram). The incident took place on 16 September, George told AsiaNews, but it became public only last Friday after activist and former district council member Neel Justin Beck reported it. In India, cows are considered sacred and are a sensitive issue for the Hindu majority. There are frequent violent attacks against minorities who slaughter animals for the meat; the main victims are usually Muslims, but Christians have been targeted as well. This time the attack involved seven Christians living a tribal area in Jharkhand, who were accused without proof of slaughtering an animal. Deepak Kullu, a

Hindu extremists falsely accuse them of eating cow beef.  After beating and parading Pastor Raj Singh along with four other Christians in eastern India, Hindu extremists were tonsuring them to further ridicule them when one cut the pastor’s head. “While shaving my head, the razor cut my skull, and blood oozed out,” Pastor Singh said of the Sept. 16 attack in Jharkhand state. “A man standing nearby pointed out the cut and asked the man shaving my head to be careful, to which he promptly answered back saying, ‘This Christian should be grateful that I am only using the razor on his head and not on his neck.’” After shaving their heads, the mob tied garlands of old shoes and slippers around their necks and continued parading them from one area of Bherikudar village, in Simdega District, to another. The Hindu extremists told them to chant “Jai Shri Ram [Victory to god Ram]” and, when the Christians did not comply, beat them with wooden sticks, he said. “Some of us chanted, to escape the beating from time to time,” Pastor Singh said. “Whoever did not chant was immediately beaten by sticks. They also had long wooden handles of large iron picks with which they hit

 The arrest and imprisonment of an 83-year-old Jesuit priest in a two-year-old case have led to massive protests by people’s organizations, activists, intellectuals and concerned citizens from across India. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal body to counter terror activities in the country, October 8 arrested Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy from his residence at the Bagaicha Campus near Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state in eastern India. According to the latest information, the agency October 9 took the priest to Mumbai, in western India, and presented him before a court that sent him to judicial custody until October 23. The arrest of “Stan Swamy is a gross violation of human rights and democratic norms,” says an October 9 statement endorsed by more than 2,000 people representing various groups in India. They have appealed Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren to oppose the priest’s arrest. The statement hailed Father Swamy as “a valued and public spiritedness citizen who has worked for Adivasi rights since decades in Jharkhand” and decried the “inhuman and insincere act of the NIA authorities.” The priest’s arrest, it adds, “stands out for its sheer vindictiveness” since the priest had “fully cooperated with the investigating officers” who questioned him at his residence for more than 15

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