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Persecution

Rights groups record more than 300 attacks on Christians and their religious places in the first nine months of this year. New Delhi/Roorkee, India – In late October, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met and invited Pope Francis to India, the country with the second-largest Christian population in Asia. However, in a speech about two weeks earlier, Mohan Bhagwat, head of the far-right Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), warned Hindus about religious conversions and alleged “demographic changes” in India’s northeastern states, which have a large Christian population. In his annual speech on October 14 to mark the Hindu festival of Dussehra (also known as Durga Puja), Bhagwat said: “Rising population and demographic imbalance need to be addressed and population policy is to be redesigned. And that policy should be applicable to all irrespective of caste and creed. Illegal immigration in bordering districts and conversions in [the] northeast have changed the demographics further.” The RSS aims to create an ethnic Hindu state out of India. As the head of Sangh Parivar, the umbrella group of Hindu nationalist organisations including the BJP, Bhagwat’s Dussehra speech is considered an agenda-setter for the year. Rise in attacks on Christians across India As

11/29/2021: The attack reportedly took place when the warehouse-turned-church was holding its first Sunday prayer. A warehouse-turned-church in Delhi’s Dwarka area was vandalised on Sunday allegedly by members of Hindutva group Bajrang Dal, reported the Millennium Post. The attack reportedly took place when the church was holding its first Sunday prayer. “Police received information at 9.30 am on 28 November that a quarrel had broken out at a godown-turned-church on Matiala Road,” a police officer told The Quint. “On inquiry, it was found that a group of residents and local miscreants vandalised the board that read ‘church’.” The police have registered two first information reports – one against those accused of vandalism for causing public nuisance and another against those present in the church for violating Delhi Disaster Management Act guidelines – at the local Bindapur police station. The guidelines prohibit large gatherings in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The Delhi Disaster Management has allowed religious places to reopen for devotees, but the warehouse-turned-church had not been designated as religious premises, a police officer told Millennium Post. One person has been arrested in connection with the vandalism, reported The Indian Express. “Some people had gathered at a warehouse where they had put a board with word

11/24/2021: Tribal animists influenced by Hindu extremists in central India last month forced Christians to exhume the body of a 25-year-old man buried on relatives’ private land because they didn’t want a Christian interred in their village, sources said. Laxman Markam had been dead for two days when about 50 residents of different villages armed with axes and wooden clubs on Oct. 29 forced his Christian widow and brothers to exhume his body in Gumadpal village, in Chhattisgarh state’s Bastar District, said Methodist Church pastor Samson Baghel. “They demanded Laxman’s corpse be exhumed,” Pastor Baghel told Morning Star News. “When the family asked the crowd as to where should they bury Laxman then, the crowd told them to take it wherever they wanted, but that they would not let a Christian remain buried in the village.” The deceased’s brother, Sitaram Markam, said villagers claimed that ownership of the land where he was buried was disputed. After more rancorous objection and threats, the Christians were forced to exhume Markam’s body, and the villagers demanded that it be taken to Pastor Baghel’s village for burial 15 miles away. Pastor Baghel then called local police. Laxman’s corpse lay exhumed on the private land for hours before police arrived, the

11/17/2021 – On Sunday morning, October 10, Vijendra Prasad was playing the Dolluck, an Indian leather instrument, as he joined 70 other Christians in singing worship songs in India’s Uttar Pradesh state. The worship music suddenly stopped when a mob of enraged Hindu nationalists burst into the hall and began yelling. The mob accused the Christians, including Prasad, of engaging in illegal religious conversions and began a physical assault. Following the attack, seven Christians from the congregation were arrested and sent to jail for violating Uttar Pradesh’s anti-conversion law. International Christian Concern (ICC) recently interviewed Prasad, age 46, to follow up on the attack and the false forced conversion accusation that was leveled against him. Because of this false accusation, Prasad, along with his wife and son, spent two weeks in the Central Jail in Mau. “Neither have I heard of nor attended a dharmantharan (conversion) ceremony,” Prasad told ICC. “Seven years ago, in 2014, I was on my death bed and was taken to several hospitals. At last, the doctors in Lucknow told me that they were going to amputate my leg, but they said this would not guarantee I would survive.” “I was brought home and lost all hope,” Prasad continued.

11/17/2021 - Hindu groups lead reconversion campaign but Christians are charged with proselytization in tribal pockets of Madhya Pradesh Indigenous Christians in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh say they are under increasing pressure to give up their faith due to mounting pressure from Hindu activists. “Our people are being forced to give up Christianity and join the Hindu religion,” said Patrick Ganava, a Catholic from the predominantly tribal Jhabua district. He said Hindu activists and organizations were conducting special drives in villages to pressurize Christians, which was a cause for worry. “There is propaganda against Christians in the district but come what may we will not give up our faith in Jesus,” he told UCA News on Nov. 16. The anti-Christian campaign, coupled with police arrests of 10 Christians including six pastors on Nov. 10 for alleged religious conversion, has emboldened right-wing Hindu groups, Ganava said. “It is unfortunate that we are being portrayed as people working only for converting people to Christianity,” said Father Rocky Shah, public relations officer of Jhabua Catholic Diocese. It is a fact that life as a Christian in this region has become increasingly difficult. Some Hindu groups such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal are treating Christians as

Radicals Use Extreme Violence to Make Village “Christian-Free” 11/08/2021 – International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that a Christian community in India’s Chhattisgarh state was brutally attacked by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists over the weekend. The attack left nine Christians seriously injured, including three who are currently hospitalized in critical condition. On Saturday, November 6, a mob of 50 radical Hindu nationalists attacked 14 Christian homes in Metapal village, located in the Dantewada district. Local Christians report that the mob was led by four men named Joga, Lakhma, Magda, and Sukka. The mob went from house to house, attacking Christians to make Metapal a “Christian-free” village. Wielding fists, wooden clubs, and other objects, the extremists beat the Christians of Metapal, including women and children. The attack left nine Christians seriously injured with broken bones, dislocated joints, and head injuries. “Santu, a teenage boy, was carried by four people to the hospital like a dead body,” Pastor Susheel Kumar, a survivor of the attack, told ICC. “He suffered multiple fractures to his legs and hand.” Following the attack, Mogadi Madkami, Santu Madkami, and Hidma Podiyami were taken to Dantewada District Hospital where they remain in critical condition. Police have registered a First Information Report (FIR

November 5, 2021 - In a village in Bijapur district, extremists Christians forced to perform a religious ritual in order not to lose homes and property. Local law does not consider a “return” to the “ancestral” religion as conversion, even when involving members of tribal who were never Hindus. Christians in Jaitaloor, a village in Bijapur district in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, were forced to "return" to Hinduism. To achieve this goal, Hindu extremists shaved their heads and put coconuts in their hands as part of a Hindu religious ritual. Such acts were accompanied by the threat of seizing land, homes and properties owned by Christians and having them denied access to publicly owned forest land if they did not comply. “This is a barbaric act and an evident forced conversion," said Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), speaking to AsiaNews. This, George explained, is “A violation of the fundamental right to religious freedom and respect for the dignity of every person”. It is “also a way to publicly humiliate, mock and insult Christians, whose daily life is constantly in the crosshairs of right-wing extremist nationalist groups.” What is more, it “is not an isolated incident. Christians in Chhattisgarh live

11/04/2021- On November 2, two pastors were ruthlessly beaten by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists in India’s Chhattisgarh state. According to local reports, the radicals disrupted a prayer meeting, beat the two pastors, burned Bibles, and demanded the Christians stop holding worship services in the village. Local sources report that the attack started around 4 p.m. when a mob led by Rajnikanth Devaghan and Nilambari Sahu disrupted a prayer meeting taking place in Biler village, located in the Dhamteri District. The mob dragged Pastor Sasharath Maanikpuri and Pastor Kesar Manikpuri from the house where the prayer meeting was taking place, verbally abused them, and beat them. The mob then confiscated Bibles and other Christian texts from the pastors and the congregation and burned them in the street outside of the building where the prayer meeting was taking place. The radicals told the Christians to turn back to Hinduism and threatened that if they continued to hold worship services, they would be killed. One nationalist even told the Christians that they were not allowed to read the Bible, or any other book related to the Christian faith. Attacks on Christians and their placed of worship in India have continued to increase both in

A pastor of a Protestant church was held by the police after a mob of pro-Hindu activists barged into a church in the Indian state of Karnataka and began singing bhajans or Hindu devotionals as a protest against alleged forced religious conversions. A video clip of the incident reported from Hubbali town on Oct. 17 showed activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, forcibly entering Bairidevarkoppa Church and singing devotionals. Pastor Somu Avaradhi and some of his associates reportedly sustained minor injuries in a scuffle but Arvind Bellad, a local member of the legislative assembly belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), blocked a highway along with his supporters demanding their arrest. Local media reported both the groups claiming they were attacked. The pro-Hindu activists in their complaint charged the pastor with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.” Pastor Avaradhi was held by the police but let free after questioning. The church's authorities too filed a complaint on Oct. 18. City Police Commissioner Labu Ram said investigations were underway. Brother Simon of the Divine Deliverance Ministry in Dharwad told UCA News that he and his community had full faith in the law

THE BJP LEGISLATOR IN THE CENTRAL STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH ASKED HINDUS TO KEEP AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS. RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS IN INDIA HAVE CONDEMNED A CALL BY A RULING BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP) LAWMAKER URGING HINDUS TO STAY AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS TO SAFEGUARD THEIR RELIGION, CULTURE AND TRADITIONS. Rameshwar Sharma, a member of the legislative assembly in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, told a crowd at a recent Dusshera festival celebration in the capital city of Bhopal “to stay away from Father and chadar [ceremonial cloth offered at Muslim shrines],” warning that they “would spoil you.” He further said Hindus should also keep away from Sufi shrines and spiritual guides, calling them obstacles in their path to Hindu temples. A video of Sharma’s speech went viral on social media on Oct. 17, inviting criticism from the opposition Congress party, which asked the BJP to clarify if it agreed with the lawmaker’s public pronouncement dividing people on the basis of their religious beliefs. “It is unfortunate that a lawmaker is dividing people calling from a public platform to boycott Christians and Muslims,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. The prelate told UCA News that such insensitive remarks “hurt the sentiments

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