News (Page 45)

An Indian man walks outside a deserted church, as India remains under an unprecedented extended lockdown over the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) on May 5, 2020, in Delhi, India. Getty Images/Yawar Nazir A Christian pastor in northern India was forced to sign papers renouncing all religious activity — including sharing the Gospel or holding worship in his home — after a police officer threatened to file false charges against him and his teenage son. A house church pastor identified only as Pastor Sugriv told Morning Star News that the threats by police in Uttar Pradesh state came after his son, 19-year-old Pawan Kumar, asked intoxicated Hindu extremists to stop making offensive comments about Christianity outside their home in Tarkulwa village, Maharajganj District. "The officers at Shyam Deurwa police station joined hands with the assailants and forced us to sign a document vowing that we would never conduct prayers in our home, and that we would not share the Gospel with anyone," he said. "I was forced to sign it. What kind of justice is this?" The night of the first incident, drunk Hindu extremists reportedly shouted "Hallelujah, hallelujah" outside the Christians' home. Though police initially ordered the Hindus to stop harassing the pastor and his family, they

Members of the Yuva Shakti Sangathan accuse a Christian clergyman of trying to convert hundreds of Hindus. Rev Santosh Kannaujia denies the allegations. Local Christians gather only to pray. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, Hindu radicals think Indian Christians are second-class citizens. Varanasi (AsiaNews) – Hindu extremists from the Yuva Shakti Sangathan attacked a small Pentecostal community in Bela, a village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, terrorising its members last Sunday. Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said that a dozen of Hindu extremists, associated with Hindutva, a pan-Hindu extremist ideology, went to the home of Santosh Kannaujia, a local Pentecostal clergyman. The extremists accused him of trying to convert Hindus to Christianity in the nearby village of Cholapur. Santosh was defended by members of his community; the police intervened to stop the row, making arrests on both sides. According to Praveen Dubey, head of Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Santosh attempted to convert hundreds of people; the pastor denied the allegations saying that local Christians only gather to pray. The GCIC firmly condemned the action of the radical Hindu group, which caused clashes by disseminating false information. George slammed extremist groups that operate in the

A voice vote would be acceptable if there was a near-consensus. But for the controversial farm bills, the Rajya Sabha should have voted using a division. Sunday saw chaos in the Rajya Sabha as the three critical bills on the agricultural sector were up for vote. The scope of the legislation is vast, opening up India’s tightly-regulated farming sector as well as agricultural marketing to free market forces. Supporters of the move have called it a “1991 moment” – referring to the moment many regulations on private industry were abolished by Prime Minister Naramsimha Rao. Critics, however, have argued that these new agricultural policies will lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations. Whichever side of the fence one chooses, there is no denying that the legislations are very important for crores of India’s farmers. In that light, how two of the bills were passed in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday was deeply problematic. The third bill is also scheduled to be moved in the Upper House. All three bills have already been passed by the Lok Sabha. Amidst chaos, as the Opposition protested the bills, the telecast was muted, cutting off viewers from what

NGOs will need an Aadhaar card to conduct financial transactions with abroad. To justify the bill, its proponents cite "forced conversions" by missionary Graham Staines, who was murdered with his two sons by Hindu radicals in 1999. Data by the Supreme Court show instead that conversions are incidental. For Sajan George, “citing the horrific murder of Staines and his children is a new low in humanity’s conscience.” New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Lower House of the Indian parliament, the Lok Sabha, yesterday passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA) bill 2020 that imposes additional controls on NGOs’ finances. Under the legislation, NGOs must use an Aadhaar card, a biometric electronic document, in order to conduct financial transactions with foreign sources. The decision to impose the card stems from the belief that “forced conversions" have been taking place in India in the past 50 years. The case of Anglican missionary Graham Staines, killed with his two sons in a fire started by Hindu radicals on 22 January 1999 (family picture), came up during the discussions in the house. During the debate, members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu nationalist party, expressed concerns about forced conversions and the role played by Christian missionaries. "We know what happened

 Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI) has called on the Lok Sabha Speaker to expunge remarks of a member against Graham Stuart Staines who was burned to death along with his two sons, in Odisha, eastern India, 21 years ago. The Christian community in India is deeply distressed at the remarks Satya Pal Singh made on September 21, during a debate on Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020, EFI general secretary Reverend Vijayesh Lal said in a press release. Singh had alleged that the NGO of Staines was converting people to Christianity and local tribals were upset with him. “There was uproar over Graham Staines. What happened to him and his two children was wrong. But CBI, Odisha Crime Branch and the Justice D P Wadhwa Commission probe concluded that tribals were being converted there. It was the biggest reason that people turned against him,” said Singh, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party from the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the native place of Dara Singh who had led the mob that torched Staines. Staines was an EFI and worked among leprosy patients in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district. Reverend Lal said Singh’s remarks injured “the memory of a person who gave his best years in

A church planter in India’s Maharashtra state was brutally killed by Hindu extremists after suffering years of abuse for his Christian faith amid escalating religious intolerance and violence in the country. Persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reports that on July 10, unknown Hindu extremists murdered Pastor Munsi Thado, 35, and left his body in the forest near Badpari village in the Godcharoli district of Maharashtra state. The Hindus reportedly dragged the pastor from his home, ignoring his wife Rajini’s pleas for his life to be spared. In the five years preceding his death, Pastor Munsi lived in the forest near Badpari village due to village pressure. Village leaders angered by Munsi’s evangelistic efforts demanded he recant his Christian faith. When the pastor refused to comply with their demands, he was chased out of the village. Following his ostracism from his community, Munsi, who was part of a Maoist separatist group prior to his conversion to Christianity, continued to evangelize, leading nearly two dozen families to Christ.  “He was killed because of his faith, life, and ministry to the Adivasi people in the area,” one of his colleagues told ICC. “He led more than 20 families to Christ in the last five years, ever since he was thrown

A woman in India who had recently converted to Christianity was brutally murdered by four youths associated with a Hindu fanatic group, marking the fifth religiously motivated killing of a Christian in the country in less than two months. UCA News reports that four youths were arrested in connection with the murder of a Christian woman, Suman Munda, 25, killed in Redhadi, a village in Khunti district, on July 19. A local pastor who requested anonymity told International Christian Concern that Munda converted to Christianity six years ago. After learning of her conversion, radical Hindu nationalists started harassing her.  When relatives visited Munda’s house they could not find her, they later discovered her body at a deserted place near her home. “I suspect that it is the handiwork of a Hindu fanatic group. Christians here have been facing a serious threat from it. The fanatic group is asking us to go back to Hinduism. We are scared and our people are shattered,” Bishop Binay Kandulna of Khunti told UCA News. Last month, Ramji Munda, 27, was murdered in the same district. Villagers believe the Christian man was killed by an anti-Pathalgadi group that safeguards tribal people’s rights. “It is a matter of serious concern because the state

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

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