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News (Page 49)

Several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including Union ministers Amit Shah, Smriti Irani and Prakash Javadekar and other senior party functionaries have expressed their outrage at Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami’s arrest, saying the Maharashtra government has abused its power and clamped down on freedom of expression. While the leaders’ concern for media freedom is admirable, several people have pointed that BJP governments across India have targeted and arrested a number of journalists, and no Union ministers have spoken up in those cases. Here’s a list of journalists arrested just in the last few months, who haven’t got the same solidarity from the ruling party as Goswami has. The list of journalists who have FIRs against them or have been summoned by the police – but haven’t been arrested – would have been even longer. 1. Siddique Kappan Kappan, a reporter with the Malayalam news portal azhimukham.com, was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police on October 5 while on his way to Hathras to cover the Dalit teenager’s gang-rape and murder. He has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for ‘conspiring’ against the state government. 2. Kishorechandra Wangkhem Manipuri journalist Wangkhem was arrested in October this year on charges of sedition for responding to a viral social media

Demolition of a two-decade-old concrete cross and construction of a makeshift temple just 200 meters away from the cross seemed like a targeted event against Christians for villagers in Madanpur, Chhattisgarh. In the hillock of Madanpur village was a popular cross that gathered villagers and people from nearby areas for prayers, especially during the Lenten season. When the cross was destroyed, the villagers at first did not know what led to the destruction. Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, maintained that the land on which the cross stood was "not officially owned by the Church but the Christian villagers have used it for many years and the local villagers never objected to its use."  He told UCA News that “The sudden destruction of the cross is to target the Christians." According to Pannalal, right-wing Hindus perform acts in order to intimidate Christians in the regions. They specifically target the local tribal people and convert them to Hindu religion. "These new temples seek to establish that tribal people were Hindus and force them to convert to Hinduism. They also accuse Christians of forcefully converting tribal people," he told UCA News. A month ago, in Chhattisgarh’s Kondagaon district, 16 Christian houses were destroyed in the presence of government

Hindu activists campaign in villages of Jhabua district in India's Madhya Pradesh state on Nov. 3, asking people to support their demand to deny social benefits to tribal people who convert to Christianity. (Photo supplied)   Right-wing Hindu groups in India have stepped up a campaign seeking to strip tribal Christians of government concessions with the aim of stopping more indigenous people converting to Christianity. A group of right-wing Hindu activists marched through Jhabua town in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Nov. 4. They shouted slogans asking the government to remove tribal people who have converted to Christianity from the list of beneficiaries. "The benefits of reservation meant for tribal people should strictly be given to only those who have not converted to any other religion," protest leader Azad Prem Singh told media. India's constitution guarantees social benefits such as reserved seats in government jobs and educational institutions along with educational fee concessions and financial support for socially poor Dalit and tribal people to help them move to the social mainstream. However, these benefits have been denied to Christians and Muslims of Dalit origin since 1950 on grounds that these religions do not practice the caste system. Tribal Christians continue to benefit from these concessions, but Hindu groups now argue that tribal people lose their

Father Stan Swamy has consistently denied any connections to Maoist rebels. (Photo: UCA News) A special court in India has further extended the judicial custody of an elderly Jesuit priest facing sedition charges.The court of th National Investigation Agency (NIA) based in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state in western India, extended the judicial custody of Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old social activist, for another 21 days to Nov. 26 when the case will be heard again.The same court on Oct. 23 had directed the priest's personal appearance in the court. However, officials did not produce him reportedly on account of his advanced age and the Covid-19 threat.Officials of the NIA, a federal anti-terror combat unit, arrested Father Swamy on Oct. 8 from his residence on the outskirts of Ranchi, Jharkhand's capital in eastern India.He is accused of sedition and having links with an outlawed Maoist group. The following day, the priest was produced in the special court in Mumbai and was remanded in 14-day judicial custody despite his old age and various ailments.His case links him with violence in Bhima-Koregaon, a town in Maharashtra, on Jan. 1. 2018, in which one person died and several were injured. The priest's lawyers on Oct. 23 pleaded for an interim order based on his advanced age

The Jesuit priest is accused of "Maoist terrorism" because he has always defended the Dalits and tribals in Jharkhand. He is locked up in the Taloja prison (Mumbai). The ills of age (83) and Parkinson's weaken him. But his friends and cellmates take care of him. Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A prayer for his fellow prisoners: this is the request from Fr. Stan Swamy, an 83-year-old Jesuit, arrested for "Maoist terrorism", but in reality because he has been defending the life and rights of tribals in Jharkhand for years. In a letter that the priest managed to send to his friend, human rights activist Jonh Dayal, he says that his cellmates all come from "very poor families", and that they help with his daily needs. Fr Stan, in addition to the problems of age, is suffering from Parkinson's disease, which means he cannot wash or eat alone. His cellmates help him bathe, wash his linen and feed him. For the priest these are signs that "despite everything, humanity overflows in Taloja prison". Fr Stan, who was transferred from Ranchi to Mumbai, had sought release on bail for health reasons, but it was not granted. Both the Catholic church and human rights groups have petitioned on his behalf. The priest says

A Christian villager who was wounded in the attack in India's Chhattisgarh state on Nov. 25. (Photo supplied) Police are investigating a violent attack on indigenous Christian villagers in India’s Chhattisgarh state in which 15 persons were injured, four of them seriously. The seriously injured have been admitted to a government hospital and the rest were discharged after receiving first aid following the Nov. 25 attack “The Christians were attacked at 2am while they were asleep after a community function in their village of Chinghavaram, under Gadiras police station, in Sukma district,” Pastor Chinnam Wycliff Sagar told UCA News on Nov. 26. “A group of close to 50 attackers armed with iron rods and lathis [sticks] attacked them without any provocation.” Police registered a case against 16 persons and began a probe into what they believe is a case of revelry that turned violent. Christian groups, however, denied the police version and said it was a communal attack on the Christians to force them to give up their faith in Christianity. “Our people were attacked for their faith in Jesus,” said Pastor Moses Logan, president of Chhattisgarh State Christian Welfare Society. “The indigenous Christians in the state are under pressure from right-wing Hindu groups and others opposed to Christianity to

The anti-conversion law "has become an instrument in the hands of radical Hindu groups to harass Christian communities". The Church of Bophal denounces the violent violation of private property. Fr. Babu Joseph, former spokesman for the Indian bishops: "Hindu fundamentalists, capable only of creating chaos". "We Christians offer education, medical care, social apostolate, development for the poor, the marginalized, Dalits, tribals, women and children

Destruction of the under-construction church shatters a decades-long dream of the Christian community Catholics from the Syro-Malabar-Church, one of the three rites that comprise the Indian Church, observe Lent at St. Mary’s School in East Delhi in April 2018. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News) An under-construction Protestant church in the southern Indian state of Telangana was demolished by a mob of radical Hindus on Jan. 20. Gethsemane Prardana Mandiram (church) in Mahabubabad was attacked by a group of Hindu fanatics headed by a leader named Bura Venakanna, said Pastor Muhammad Afzal Paul. “Local Christians believe that the main reason for the attack is that there are around 80 churches of different denominations in a radius of 10 kilometers, which the Bajrang Dal [a radical Hindu group] could not accept,” Pastor Levi of the Power of Jesus Fellowship, a Protestant church, told UCA News. “The local administration has stationed some police officers at the church attack site and it is under investigation. The church is very small with about 100 members. “A Muslim named Muhammad Afzal, who converted to Christianity and who is now known as Pastor Muhammad Afzal Paul, takes care of the attacked church. Christians are terrified but believe that the investigation will have no impact as

Officers and Hindu extremists in India threaten church members. – Police who did nothing to stop a fierce attack on a church service in Uttar Pradesh, India also beat and threatened the Christians while arresting them under false accusations of fraudulent conversions, sources said. A mob of 15 to 20 Hindu extremists earlier this month assaulted men, women and children of Heavenly Gospel Mission Church in Shahjahanpur District, with some saying, “We will continue to hit you until you abuse and curse Jesus,” church members said. After beating the seven men of the congregation with wooden batons and the 10 women and 10 children with the church chairs, they dragged four Christians and the Hindu owner of the rented building outside and threatened to kill them as they further assaulted them near parked police cars with officers who did nothing to stop them, according to a Christian identified only as Rajat in a video on social media. “We were dragged out barefoot with threats by the attackers who told us that they will break our hands and legs and kill us,” Rajat said on the video. Church pastor H.S. David told Morning Star News that the assailants did not ask them anything when they burst

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