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Cases of hate and violence against Christians in India increased 57 percent the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year, an advocacy group reported. The Evangelical Fellowship of India’s Religious Liberty Commission (EFIRLC) documented 77 incidents of hate and targeted violence against Christians in January and February, up from 49 cases during the same period last year. The cases include the murders of one Christian in Odisha state and another in Chhattisgarh state, both in February. “We have reasons to believe that both men, who were in their 40s, were killed because of their faith,” the Rev. Vijayesh Lal, general secretary of the EFI, told Morning Star News. “We have recorded cases where Christians have been facing social boycott and have been excommunicated from their villages, and in a few instances have had to flee to save their lives.” Of the 77 incidents, 16 took place in Tamil Nadu state, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, six in Maharashtra and five in Chhattisgarh, the report found. The states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and, surprisingly, Kerala each saw four cases, followed by other states, Lal said. The 49 cases recorded in the first two months of 2018 followed the documenting of

Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Dnh) and Daman and Diu are both former Portuguese colonies. The local Christian community is made up of about 100 thousand faithful. In all, there are 13 churches. Secretary of the Catholic bishops: " I hope that the majority community will once again stand by us and nullify the discriminatory acts of a small fundamentalist divisive people." For the first time in the country's history, two Indian territories have abolished Good Friday as a national holiday. These are Dadra and Nagar Haveli (Dnh) and Daman and Diu, both former Portuguese colonies on the west coast of the country. For Msgr. Theodore Mascarenhas, general secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), "is very sad". He told AsiaNews: " This is very very sad. A clear discrimination is being practiced by the Administrator. We appeal to all including the Administrator of these centrally administered territories to respect the sentiments of the people and to avoid their divisive methods". The bishop goes on to explain that the cancellation of Good Friday as an official state holiday is even more serious because "only two Christian feasts are public holidays. Earlier there was an attempt to declare Christmas as Good governance day". Christians, he

Churches in Tamil Nadu, India that had never experienced opposition now find Hindu extremists forcing them out of their places of worship, sources said. In one case Hindu extremists called praying women prostitutes and threatened to kill them; in another case near Chennai, the state capital, police went door-to-door with a radical Hindu telling people not to meet for worship; in a third case, the owner of the property where the church meets ordered them to vacate after opponents set a fire inside. In Vairichettipalayam village, Tiruchirappalli District, a mob of more than 25 Hindu villagers led by area Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Feb. 17 burst into a Christian’s home during an evening Bible study and prayer time where about 20 women and the pastor were meeting. Led by BJP leaders identified only as Ramesh and Ramachandran, the intruders told them they must vacate the place, Pastor Raju, who goes by a single name, told Morning Star News. Asking who had given them permission to hold a Christian meeting, the BJP leaders and their aides told the Christians the house would be locked and they must leave immediately, he said. “We tried to make him understand that we had been gathering as

Sukhbati Gand with her children in a photo taken before her husband Anant Ram Gand was found murdered in India's Odisha state. He had been given an ultimatum to renounce Christianity or face death. Christian man has been found beheaded in Odisha in what family members and local church members believe was an anti-Christian attack, dismissing a police claim that he was killed by Maoist rebels. The body of 40-year-old Anant Ram Gand was found on Feb. 11 on a road in Bhenas village of Nabarangapur district. A local pastor Chandan Jani told ucanews.com that the victim's throat was slit and his head had been crushed by a heavy object. "He seemed to have died unmoved from the spot of attack," he added. Gand is survived by his wife, four girls and a boy. He and his family became Christians three years ago but local Hindu villagers opposed their faith. They forced the family to live on the outskirts of the village and at times were manhandled. "But yet they continued in faith," said Jani. A week before the brutal attack, few villagers had threatened Gand to renounce Christianity or face death, said the pastor, who has remained in contact with the family. Police had registered it as murder carried out

An Indian man who had become a Christian last year was killed and beheaded in eastern India earlier this month, reports Persecution Relief. On 11 February, Anant Ram Gand, 40, was taken from his home in the village of Raigarh Tehsil, in the district of Nabarangapur, Odisha, by three men who killed him and left his decapitated body in the middle of the road. At the time, his wife Sukbati, 38, was away with their four daughters and Anant was at home alone with his 6-year-old son. Since his conversion to Christianity nine months ago, Anant and his family had been harassed by the villagers, the news site reported. They were not only stopped from getting water from the public well, “he was beaten twice in 2018, and excommunicated from the village. He moved his family away … and was living a kilometer away from the village”. Local residents said Hindu militants in the village contracted the Naxal, and Indian Maoist guerrilla group, to kill him, AsiaNews reported. At some point he had been supportive of the guerrilla group and although “he was never a part of the fighters … the Hindus made the Naxals believe that the Christian would reveal their secrets to the police. Instead, Anant Ram

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