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There are occasional rays of hope amid the gloom but at the moment, there is reason to be pessimistic The fate of the 70-year-old struggle of India’s converts from its erstwhile “untouchable” castes in the Hindu hierarchy may well be in the hands of a former chief justice of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan while in office had asked Church leaders if they were willing to say on oath that they exercised caste discrimination in their congregations. There was silence in the courtroom. He was at that time hearing appeals against Article 341 Part 3 which assures affirmative action including scholarships, jobs and political representation to this group of citizens as long as they remain Hindu. If they convert to Christianity or Islam, they lose the benefits. The converts may also be jailed if the government discovers that they had studied in Church schools on scholarships given to Christian students. "Dalits who embraced other religions were denied the benefits of affirmative action by presidential order" Justice Balakrishnan was the first Dalit, as the former untouchable castes now call themselves, to become the chief justice of India. His elevation was the direct result of a question raised by former President K R Narayanan, the

NEW DELHI: Calling religious conversions by use of force or allurement a threat to national security, the Supreme Court on Monday sought a detailed affidavit from the government on steps being taken to curb this "dangerous trend." As solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court that it is common knowledge that such conversions are rampant in tribal areas, the court asked what the Cenre and states have done to stop it. The Centre must step in and make its stand clear, the bench of Justices MR S hah and Hima Kohli said. Forced conversions a threat to national security, says SC Expressing grave concern over alleged religious conversions by use of force, allurement and deception, the Supreme Court on Monday warned that this posed "a very serious threat to the security of the country" and sought a detailed affidavit from the government on the steps being taken to curb this "dangerous trend". Hearing a PIL filed by advocate-petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, a bench of Justices M R Shah and Hima Kohli told solicitor general Tushar Mehta that "everyone has the freedom of conscience to choose a religion. But religious conversions through force or any kind of temptation is a dangerous thing which must be stopped".

Trio was attending a faith healing, prayer program in northeastern Assam state while on tourist visas India deports 3 Swedes for preaching Christianity A television screengrab of the Swedish nationals deported by Indian authorities for conducting Christian religious activities while on a tourist visa. (Source: youtube.com) Indian authorities arrested and deported three Swedish nationals for participating in Christian religious activities while visiting the northeastern state of Assam on a tourist visa. Hannah Mikaela Bloom, Marcus Arne Henrik Bloom and Susanna Elisabeth Hakannson were sent back to Sweden on Oct 28 after being arrested by police in Dibrugarh city on suspicion of being involved in religious conversions, according to police officials. The trio was attending an Oct 25-27 faith healing and prayer program in Naharkatia in Dibrugarh district organized by the United Churches Fellowship and the Bless Assam Mission Network. “The allegation of religious conversions is baseless. There is no truth in it as the organizers had obtained prior permission from the district administration and local police officials and the program was attended by only Christians, so where is the question of converting anyone,” Allen Brooks, the spokesman of the Assam Christian Forum, told UCA News. "We had no hidden program" However, the Swedish nationals were fined US$500 (41,500

For much of September, Leicester in the United Kingdom saw sporadic bouts of communal tension between Hindus and Muslims. The incident, while unfortunate, was purely a local law and order issue that the city police handled. Unusually, because of the charged communal situation in India, the issue became the focus of prime time television debates in India. A UK journalist pointed out that communal programming by India’s pro-government news channels, already under criticism for pushing hate, had “completely distorted” the events in Leicester. This mainstream media programming was driven by intense social media interest in India about these faraway events. A BBC investigation estimated that half of the tweets about tensions in Leicester actually originated from India. Much of the communal messaging that pushed hashtags such as #HindusUnderAttack displayed “classic signs” of “inauthentic activity, ie a likelihood that individuals are deliberately using multiple accounts to push a narrative”. The BBC singled out OpIndia, the Hindutva website based in India, for spreading misinformation around Leicester. Representing Hindutva, not India However, what was truly odd about this narrative over Leicester was that the government of India soon barged into the conversation. On September 19, the Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom issued an official statement

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Christians in eastern India suspect a church member’s Hindu family killed him last month for refusing to renounce his faith, sources said. In West Bengal state’s Gobindapur village, Jhargram District, Hindu relatives of Madhab Gorai had threatened to burn him to death and feared his faith jeopardized his daughter’s impending marriage, the sources said. Church members last saw the 46-year-old Gorai on Aug. 7, when his wife and adult son disrupted the start of a church service and threatened him, said Ashish Hansda, lay leader in charge of the Church of North India (CNI) congregation in the village. Gorai’s wife was carrying a bottle of gasoline, and his son was carrying a wooden baton, he said. In a scuffle outside the church building, Gorai’s wife and son threatened to burn him alive, Hansda said. Gorai’s wife and son had pressured him to perform Hindu marriage rituals at his daughter’s impending wedding, where according to custom the father of the bride would be required to worship sacred fire, said the pastor in charge of the church, the Rev. Subendu Soren. “Gorai refused to involve himself in Hindu worship practices that contradicted his Christian faith,” Pastor Soren told Morning Star News. Gorai’s

Mangaluru, Sept 20,2022: The Karnataka government has announced that it would include teachings of the Bhagavad Gita as part of moral education in schools from December this year. B C Nagesh, the state’s primary and secondary education minister, said the government has amended its earlier proposal to introduce Gita as a separate subject in schools and decided to teach it as part of moral education. However, some section of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has objected to introducing the Hindu scripture only as part of moral education and not as a separate topic in syllabus. However, Nagesh said the government has already appointed an expert panel to give their recommendations and suggestions after consulting with various stakeholders. The minister also hinted that some historical mistakes will be corrected in the textbooks like the lesson on Baba Dudangiri, a holy place of Muslims in Chikmagaluru to ‘Inam Dattatreya Peeta,’ a Hindu pilgrim center in the same hills. The text books will have more information on some local kings and their kingdoms too, he added. Last year, several school days were disrupted on account of the hijab row by Muslim girls and attacks on some Christian schools for propagating Christian principles in schools. Father Faustine Lobo, the spokesperson

Religious choices are best left to the individual while ensuring the rule of law and constitutional guarantees The situation is tense in India’s northern state of Punjab bordering Pakistan where militant Sikh religious groups continue to put pressure on churches and prayer halls of Catholics, independent churches, and itinerant pastors working among Dalit communities in outlying western districts. Both communities are minorities in the Hindu-majority nation, but Punjab has a large Sikh community and a tiny Christian population. At last count in 2011, Sikhs were about 57.6 percent, Hindus 38.4 percent, Muslims1.93 percent, and Christians 1.2 percent. Efforts at rapprochement have not picked up real traction with the National Minorities Commission actively using institutional muscle on behalf of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was routed in the last legislative assembly elections in Punjab. The BJP once ruled Punjab in a coalition with the Shiromani Akali Dal, representing the Sikhs, but the coalition broke up on the issue of the contentious farm laws introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The farmers’ protest and the long siege of the national capital New Delhi forced Modi to withdraw the laws, but it was too late. The state elections saw the Delhi-based Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021 has already been passed in the state Legislative Assembly. The Protection of Right to Freedom of Religion Bill, 2021, was passed in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in December. However, it was not tabled in the Legislative Council, as BJP at the time had 32 seats in the Legislative Council – six short of the majority mark. The party now has 41 members in the Upper House. The Karnataka Cabinet had then decided to pass an Ordinance to get a clearance for the Bill. An Ordinance is a temporary law passed by the president or a governor when Parliament or a state Assembly is not in session. The ordinance was cleared by Karnataka Governor Thawarchand Gehlot on September 17. It was then required to be approved by the Assembly within six months or it will cease to be in effect. The Karnataka anti-conversion bill says that “conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage’’ is prohibited. Under the Bill, a person who engages in “forced conversion” will be punished with three to five years imprisonment. Forced conversions of members from Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities will lead to

Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore says he will disclose stance on Karnataka’s latest anti-conversion law in court. Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore had a guarded response a day after the provincial government in India’s southern state of Karnataka gave its final seal of approval to a law criminalizing religious conversions. The state’s Legislative Council or upper house passed the contentious Karnataka Right to Freedom of Religion Bill with a majority vote on Sept. 15. The anti-conversion law was already in force after the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state, promulgated an ordinance on May 17 with the signature of the state governor after it failed to muster enough support in the Legislative Council, whose final sanction is a must for any law to come into force. The law was passed by the state Legislative Assembly last December but the BJP was one seat short of a majority in the 75-member upper house. Having mustered up enough numbers now, it went ahead in what is perceived as a well-planned political strategy. The ordinance now stands repealed or canceled with the passage of the bill within six months of the governor issuing it, as required under the Indian Constitution. The opposition Congress and Janata

It is not that Indian churches are without their problems. But Dilip Mandal is wrong to use proselytisation as the yardstick to measure Indian Christianity. Periodically, experts of mainstream media come up with theories on why Christianity is a “failed project” in India. Recently, senior journalist and author Dilip Mandal put forth the argument that Christianity has no future in India and, therefore, there is no reason for the Rashtriya Swayamevak Sangh or the Vishva Hindu Parishad to spread false alarm or panic about the proselytising capacity of Christian missionaries. Mandal also points out that the Christian population in India is either static or dwindling. Mandal is, obviously, not open to recognising the idea that conversion was not the main purpose of the educational, medical and social work of Christian missions in India. Compassion International, a Christian organisation mentioned by him, in a detailed statement pointed out that their sole purpose in India was social outreach. And no official complaint of conversion has been filed against organisations such as Compassion International. Dilip Mandal’s severe criticism that the Christian missionary’s work in India became “a tool for Brahmins and elites” seems baseless. He argues that the failure of Christianity in the early centuries in

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