Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) Pray for a Persecuted Church
 Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA)Pray for a Persecuted Church
   
Date  Relevant News Items 2020
   

Nov 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian court rejects elderly priest's request for a straw
An elderly Jesuit priest in detention in an Indian jail has moved court for regular bail after his application to use a straw or sipper to drink water and other liquids was rejected.
Father Stan Swamy, 84, has been in Taloja Central Prison in Mumbai, capital of Maharashtra state in western India, since Oct. 9.
The activist priest is accused of sedition and links with outlawed Maoist rebels among other offenses and charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal anti-terror combat unit.
The priest, who is suffering from many age-related problems including Parkinson's disease, approached the special NIA court on Nov. 6 seeking permission to use a straw or sipper as he could not drink any liquid because of his shaking hands.
When it came up for hearing on Nov. 26, the NIA did not respond to the application positively and the request was rejected. Read more

 

Nov 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian villagers attacked by mob in IndiaPolice claim revelry turned violent but Christians say they were attacked for their faith in Jesus
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. Read more

 

Nov 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orthodox church in Kerala at risk of demolition to make way for Highway 66
Protests, including an 11-day hunger strike, are intensifying in India over the fate of St George’s Orthodox Church in Cheppad, Alleppy district (Kerala).
Recently the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) finalised plans to extend National Highway (NH) 66, which would require tearing down part of the church.
Activists and Christian groups have geared up for a fight to save the building, which has over 800 years of history behind it. According to scholars, the church – famous for the antiquities and mural paintings on the walls of the apse (Madbaha) – dates back to the 12th century.
Although the structure was rebuilt in 1952, the apse at its eastern end, has remained intact to preserve its value and identity. To fight its destruction, the faithful have set up a Facebook page, with thousands of members.
“The authorities have laid stones marking the new alignment of the NH. Half the church building will have to be demolished and it will not be possible to retain the rest of the structure, including the apse,” said Fr Alexander Vattakkattu, vicar of the church.
Initially, he added, “The authorities fixed the initial alignment avoiding the church. But they changed it, we think, under pressure.” Read more

 

Nov 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor Indian Christians driven out of their homes return, threat lingers

Christians live together in a temporary shelter as they lack the confidence to stay in their damaged homes
Some 100 Christians have returned to their villages in India's Chhattisgarh state following a court order, almost two months after they were attacked and driven out of their homes.
The state High Court in Bilaspur last week ordered the Kondagaon district administration to facilitate the safe return of the displaced Christians from three villages and to ensure their protection.
"We have returned to our villages as the court has ordered our protection," Shiv Ram, one of the petitioners to the court, told UCA News on Nov. 17.
Ram said all 66 Christians from 10 families driven out of his Kakrabeda village have returned to the village. Some 30 Christians from six families, who fled from two other villages, also have returned, he said.
A mob of suspected Hindu right-wing activists attacked 16 houses in three villages in the state's Bastar region on Sept. 22 and 23. The attack came after Christians refused a demand to abandon their faith in Jesus Christ.
They also attacked Christians, including women and children, in front of the police, forcing them to escape to a nearby forest to save their lives.
Following the Nov. 8 court order, the administration has set up a police check post and posted 12 police officers to ensure the Christians' safety.
"But we don't feel safe and are still worried about our lives," Ram said. All 66 people "cook, eat and live together" in a temporary shelter as their houses were destroyed. Read more

 

Nov 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindus aim to deny benefits to India's tribal Christians
Catholic leaders accuse groups of defying the constitution and confusing caste with religion
Right-wing Hindu groups in India have urged the federal government to bar tribal Christians from benefiting from a scheme intended for indigenous people.
The groups, who started the campaign early this month and have submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were condemned by Catholic leaders.
“Caste and religion are two different things which can’t be mixed. By birth we belong to a particular caste but religion is one’s choice. People who are campaigning against tribal Christians are ignorant of the Indian constitution,” Father Nicholas Barla, secretary of the Indian bishops' Commission for Tribal Affairs, told UCA News.
“Article 25 of the constitution grants us the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. The federal government’s scheme for tribal people is only to help them socially and economically.
“Those groups don’t want tribal people to come up in their lives and indirectly try to target Christian missionaries whom they always accuse of religious conversion. Their campaign is only to disturb the peace-loving tribal people. They work to keep tribal people divided for political gain and to weaken their efforts to assert their rights.” Read more

 

Nov 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fr Stan Swamy: Pray for my fellow prisoners
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 that in the same prison there are some other activists, such as Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, with whom he meets in moments of recreation. All of them are in prison in connection with the events in Bhima Koregaon (Maharashtra) in 2018, when, following pro-Dalit demonstrations, there were clashes with the police that caused one death.
Below are some excerpts from Fr Stan's letter (written with the help of Arun Ferreira), made available by John Dayal. Read more

 

Nov 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elderly Indian Jesuit priest's custody extended againJail refused to accept warm clothes sent for 84-year-old Father Swamy
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 and health-related problems, but the court turned down the request and extended judicial custody.
"Since the priest is charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), even his phone calls are limited," said Jesuit Father A. Santhanam, a lawyer who is monitoring the case. "He is allowed to make phone calls only once a fortnight." Read more

 

Nov 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu groups want to deny benefits to Indian tribal Christians
The move is part of an organized campaign to stop the conversion of tribal people to Christianity
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. Read more

 

Nov 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Construction of makeshift temple, a targeted attempt to intimidate Christians
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 officials when the Christians refused to give up their faith. Read more

 

Nov 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency? Here Are 9 Cases Where BJP Leaders Didn't Jump to Arrested Journalists' Defence
A list of journalists arrested just in the last few months, who haven't got the same solidarity from the ruling party as Arnab Goswami has.
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. Read more

 

Nov 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religious fanatics attack lonely woman, drag her to police station at night
In a heart wrenching incident in Madhya Pradesh, a young Christian woman was attacked by a group of religious fanatics who dragged her to the police station at night.
Maya (name changed for security reasons), found herself trapped between a couple of policemen and a group of religious men, who were shouting threats and accusing her of forced conversions.
Maya is well known by her neighbors after her prayers healed a girl from her sickness. Many even experienced breakthroughs in their lives after receiving prayers from Maya.
While she prayed, she also visited people to know their conditions.
During one such visit to her sister's house to get an update about the neighbor kid she was praying for, Maya was spotted by religious goons in the area. They surrounded her, accused her of forced conversions and took her to the police station.
According to reports from Persecution Relief, there were no women constables in the police station. Too many fanatics and policemen were around her, accusing her of being involved in black magic and using it to convert people to Christianity.
"I stood alone in the midst of these cruel people, both fanatics and police men who used foul and filthy language against me," she told Persecution Relief. Read more

 

Nov 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians stage massive sit-in protest over Tawang church issue
Hundreds of Christians belonging to various denominations in Arunachal Pradesh November 2 staged a sit-in to demand “justice for Tawang church.”
The sloganeering protesters, under the aegis of the Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF), demanded that the government of the northeastern Indian state approve land allotment for construction of churches in Tawang.
On October 6, Tawang Revival Church pastor Joseph Singhi was arrested for constructing “an illegal” church. The police acted on a First Information Report filed by the district land revenue and survey officer
The arrest sparked widespread condemnation from the Christian community in the state.
Singhi was later released on bail and the police recorded the statements of eight other members who had accompanied him.
Addressing the protest November 2 rally, ACF president Toko Teki said that the Tawang church issue “is not a confrontation with Buddhist brothers and sisters of Tawang and other parts of the state.” Read more

 

Nov 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPINION: The office of the Indian Prime Minister Modi sending emails soliciting funds for the Political party is highly unethical but no surprise
The Centre has been using agencies to bolster the money power of the saffron camp
The revelation in the investigation carried out by The Quint that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sent emails in a roundabout manner requesting the users of the PMO’s official ID Sampark.gov.in for contribution to BJP funds, may seem highly unethical and violating all norms of separating government from the ruling Party, but for the BJP leadership, this sort of using official agencies for party purposes has become most natural in the last six years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule.
Sampark.gov.in is the official PR ID used for sending mails from the Prime Minister’s Office. It has been found that at least one lot of emails generated by the PMO's sampark.gov.in ID has allegedly been used to collect funds for the BJP. Use of government machinery to collect funds for a political party is a clear violation of the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct.
On 21 October 2020, the Prime Minister’s Office is alleged to have sent an email blast through ‘no-reply@sampark.gov.in.’ with the subject: “Rajmata was a decisive leader & skilled administrator, says PM; People in rural India get ownership rights of their homes…More in the newsletter!” When it was clicked, it was found that at the end of all seven articles in the newsletter, there was an advertisement saying “Support those who put India first. Support BJP through micro-donations.” Read more

 

Nov 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian leaders oppose media attacks on missionaries
Christian leaders in Madhya Pradesh are fighting a new media trend where Hindu media is publishing fabricated stories in order to tarnish the image of Christian missionaries in the country.
On October 28, Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore along with a delegation of Christian leaders met with the editor of the Nai Duniya, a mass circulation daily. They asked the editor to take corrective measures after a series of articles against Christians appeared in the daily in September and October "maligning the Christian community." These articles accused Christian missionaries of engaging in conversion activities of socially poor Dalit and tribal people using foreign funds.
"Initially, we did not bother, but when it continued to publish defamatory articles against us without any base, we thought it appropriate to inform the editor about our concerns," Bishop Thottumarickal UCA News. "We want the editor to take corrective measures and avoid publishing baseless articles against a community and creating ill will."
"We want the editor to take corrective measures and avoid publishing baseless articles against a community and creating ill will."
According to Bishop Thottumarickal, his diocese was consulting a team of experts to take legal remedies "if the paper continued spitting anti-Christian venom."
Reports from UCA News said the editor of Nai Dhuniya has promised the Christian delegation that he will report their concerns to the top management of the newspaper. Read more
 

Nov 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

35-y-o Christian shot dead in Punjab by Modi's party cadre
A 35-year-old Christian man was shot dead and three others were injured in a deadly attack on a Pentecostal church in Amritsar, Punjab.
According to reports from UCA news, seven unknown assailants opened fire on Christians when they were leaving the church after a special prayer meeting on October 23.
"Four persons armed with guns entered the church and opened fire at us. I laid flat on the ground and saved my life," Jaspal Masih, son of the church pastor, told UCA News.
Masih's cousin Prince Atwal, 35, died on the spot after he was shot in the head and chest.
Local police have arrested three of the seven attackers and are searching for the rest.
According to Manish, Randeep Gill, who had previously disrupted a prayer meeting on alleged charges of religious conversion, was leading the gang of attackers on October 23.
To Masih, Atwal seemed to be the prime target of the attack because Gill had an altercation with him a few months ago.
Christians and churches in Punjab were attacked in previous occasions, but the state government had not taken serious steps to contain them, Manish said. Read more

 

Nov 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church set on fire by extremists after Christians refused to stop worshipping together
Suspected Hindu extremists set fire to a church in India's Andhra Pradesh state, burning it to the ground because local Christians refused to stop worshiping together.
On Sept. 8, neighbors of the Christian Miracle Church, located in Ponduru town, reported flames and smoke coming out of the church building, persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reports.
Pastor Prabhu Das, who has led Christian Miracle Church for nearly 38 years, and his son, Jeevan, arrived on the scene in time to witness flames engulf the church building. The pastor's car was also destroyed.
Following the arson attack, the pastor filed a formal complaint with police against the unknown assailants. His son told ICC that Hindu extremists had previously threatened the church and ordered the Christians to stop meeting together.
"We have encountered opposition from the Hindu religious extremists several times in the past," Jeevan said. "The radicals have threatened us to stop the church activities in the town. They have warned us of the consequences if we failed to close down the church."
"I never expected this to happen," Jeevan continued. "I suspect this is the work of those who threatened us and told us to close down the church."

Read more

Nov 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian bishop calls for investigation into report of attacks on Christians
An Indian activist and a local Catholic bishop are calling on a local government to investigate an alleged hate crime against Christians that apparently took place after the Christians refused to take part in animist prayer rituals.
According to activist Medha Patkar’s report, widespread violence and vandalism against Christians occurred in three villages— Kakrabeda, Singanpur and Tiliyabeda— in the Bastar region of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh Sept. 22-23.
The attacks apparently came after tribal Christians refused to take part in rituals and prayers of Sarna, an animist tribal religion.
“We are saddened by the incidents and are demanding an impartial investigation to safeguard the welfare of the tribal community and bring communal harmony among different religions,” Bishop Paul Toppo of Raigarh told UCA News.
“Tribals are generally peace-loving people who have a very good rapport with other faiths, but some vested interest groups want to create divisions among people in the name of religion, caste and creed, which is very unfortunate.” Read more

 

Oct 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cross demolished, temple set up in Indian village Temple construction in tribal villages seen as a move to claim indigenous people are Hindus
A cross was demolished and a makeshift temple set up some 200 meters away in a village in India's Chhattisgarh state, Christian leaders said.
The concrete cross on a hillock in Madanpur village in Korba district was popular among Christians living in the village and its nearby areas for more than two decades. 
They gathered around for prayers, especially to do the Way of the Cross during Lenten season, said Arun Pannalal, president of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum that works among persecuted Christians in the state. 
"We saw the cross destroyed and the temple near it. But we do not know exactly when it happened," Pannalal told UCA News on Oct. 30.
He said some villagers informed them on Oct. 29 and they plan to complain to police. "We will also seek the intervention of the state's chief minister through district officials," he said. Read more

 

Oct 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family accused of witchcraft murdered in India
Police in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand have arrested three people for killing three members of one family for alleged witchcraft in a crime described as an “inhuman act” by a Catholic official.
The bodies of Birsa Munda, 48, his wife Sukru Purty, 43, and daughter Somwari Purty, 20, of Kuda village in Khunti district, were found by police on Oct. 28 after they went missing on Oct. 7.
“It is an inhuman act and we condemn it because we have no right to take away anybody’s life. It is a matter of concern and civil society has to take it very seriously as it can’t be acceptable in modern times. The Church is always pro-life and these kinds of incidents sadden us,” said Father Vincent Ekka, who heads the department of tribal studies at the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute in New Delhi.
“When the whole country is talking about development and progress, killing in the name of witchcraft is certainly a setback to all of us. We have to address it collectively because it needs the involvement of government machinery, non-government organizations, civil society and missionaries.”
The Oraon tribal priest said rural areas have more cases of witchcraft practices, mainly caused by illiteracy and lack of awareness in villages.

Read more

Oct 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has declared war against Indian ethos
While analysing the features of fascism in the Italian context, Antonio Gramsci had pointed out that grounds were prepared even before the dominating forces unveiled themselves. The various democratic structures were slowly taken over. Uniformity was imposed on culture replacing its multiplicity. Efforts were made to influence the psyche of people and either win them over or do away with opposing sections. To get rid of any divergence, there were attempts made to directly eliminate them taking extreme positions or slowly usurp the hegemony manoeuvring all the way.
The Dussehra speech made by Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on October 24 this year in Nagpur reflects the maturing up of the same process that was initiated by RSS in 1925, an organisation that strived for exclusivity, allowing no other to prevail. Bhagwat, in his speech, also said that the organisation was not power centric. However, the fact is that the Bharatiya Janata Party which is closely linked with the RSS has the country’s governance in its hands since 2014.
The ruling BJP has traversed a long way, and it showed when in his speech, the RSS Supremo openly declared, “India is a "Hindu Rashtra" and Hindutva is the essence of its self-hood or the Swa. The phrase used by him was not new; what was new was his assertion. He added, “To us, it is the word expressing our identity along with the continuity of its spirituality based traditions and its entire wealth of value system in the land of Bharat". The traditions and the value system that were mentioned as part of Hindutva, were brought in to explain the self-hood, the essence of Hindu Rashtra, leaving no space for diversity.
Bhagwat was not ambivalent as he said that the word Hindu Rashtra was applicable to entire 1.3 billion people of Bharatvarsh. The Hindu Rashtra which had a new name, that was Bharatvarsh, was not India, said Bhagwat. Read more

 

Oct 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social and civil rights groups have expressed serious concer 
Social and civil rights groups have expressed serious concern over increasing incidents of violence against tribal Christians in Bastar, in Chhattisgarh and urged the state government to conduct an important impartial investigation and to take preventive measures to protect peace and harmony in the villages of the tribal region.
Socal activist Medha Ptkar, who led the fact-finding team and visited the Bastar villages where tribal christians were attacked and their property destroyed in the recent past, told reporters in the state capital that incidents of violence hjad taken place in Kondagaron, Sukma, Bastar and Dantewada districts targeting the minority community.
Members of the National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM) and Peoples Union of Civil Liberties and other organizations such as Chhattisgarh Citizens for Joint Action Committee (CCJAC) visited 13 villages of the tribal region and met those affected by the violence.
Pointing out that the affected families were facing a lot of hardships, Patkar said many of them were unable to go back to their villages or do cultivation becuase of fear. She said the police and revenue department have taken some delayed action after incident of violence at a village in Kondagaon district but much more needs to be done to deal with such situations.  Read more

 

Oct 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protests over the desecration of a cross in Kerala
A group of young Muslims, descrated and danced on the cross, an act causing widespread concern. According to Msgr. Pamplani, Church leaders fear possibility of ISIS supporters being groomed in Kerala.
Mons Joseph Pamplani, auxiliary bishop of Tellichery archdiocese in Kerala and the Chairman of Media Commission of Syro Malabar Church has severely accused the gang of Muslim youth who recently desecrated the Cross in two different parts of Kerala.  
Widespread protests were held in Kerala against the desecration of the cross by anti-social people at Valamthodu in Thamarassery diocese and in Poonjar in Palai diocese.   A group of young people, pretending to be tourists, photographed the cross in a derogatory way and posted the images on social media. Since it happened several times, the faithful warned the group several times and turned to the police.
The state of southern India has always been peaceful and with harmony between Christian, Hindu and Islamic religions. But recent events, according to Msgr. Pamplani, forcing Church leaders to also think about the possibility of recruiting ISIS supporters in Kerala. Bishop Pamplani, in a press conference, commented that the young people who went up and danced on the Cross were dancing on the chest of every Christian. Mgr Pamplany, official spokesman for the Syro-Malabar bishops, expects the authorities to seriously consider the offensive actions of young people of the Islamic religion
A good number of faithful, in particular bloggers from the Catholic community from all over the world, denounced the brutal attack with heavy words with these fanatical and brutal actions that hurt the harmonious atmosphere of the state. Read more

 

Oct 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, president of the Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference (FABC), has called for the immediate release of Jesuit human rights activist Father Stan Swamy.
Hailing the 83-year-old Indian Jesuit priest as the “Friend of the Indigenous People,’ the Myanmar cardinal made the appeal through a letter dated October 26.
The FABC represents 29 countries in Asia.
A special court on October 23 rejected the interim bail plea of Father Swamy, who was arrested 15 days earlier from Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state in eastern India, and jailed in Mumbai, some 1,710 km west. He had filed the interim bail application on medical grounds, given his age, pre-existing conditions and the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It is with great shock and agony, the FABC heard of the arrest of the 83-year-old Fr Stan Swamy and his incarceration. We are surprised at the charges brought against him. We stand in solidarity with Fr. Stan Swamy and all who support the rights of the indigenous people,” says Cardinal Bo, a friend of India.
The cardinal noted that the media in India and abroad have expressed shock over the arrest of Fr Swamy, who for more than three decades lived among the most deprived indigenous people of eastern India.
“The arrest and cold-hearted incarceration of Fr Stan Swamy reminds us of the treatment meted out to Mahatma Gandhi when he stood up for the rights of the Indian people,” writes 72-year-old cardinal who visited northeastern India in last November.
The cardinal recalls, “The colonial British government was too eager to incarcerate him [Gandhiji] for the ‘crime’ of asking for the dignity of his people. It was his dream that the least of India should be the central concern of a free India. Fr Stan Swamy was following Gandhi’s nonviolent path to realize his dream.” Read more

 

Oct 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindus extremists in India torch church after warning Christians to stop meeting
Suspected Hindu extremists set fire to a church in India’s Andhra Pradesh state, burning it to the ground because local Christians refused to stop worshiping together. 
On Sept. 8, neighbors of the Christian Miracle Church, located in Ponduru town, reported flames and smoke coming out of the church building, persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reports. 
Pastor Prabhu Das, who has led Christian Miracle Church for nearly 38 years, and his son, Jeevan, arrived on the scene in time to witness flames engulf the church building. The pastor’s car was also destroyed.
Following the arson attack, the pastor filed a formal complaint with police against the unknown assailants. His son told ICC that Hindu extremists had previously threatened the church and ordered the Christians to stop meeting together. 
“We have encountered opposition from the Hindu religious extremists several times in the past,” Jeevan said. “The radicals have threatened us to stop the church activities in the town. They have warned us of the consequences if we failed to close down the church.”
“I never expected this to happen,” Jeevan continued. “I suspect this is the work of those who threatened us and told us to close down the church.”
Jeevan said the arson attack has “caused a lot of terror and concern among the members of our church,” which has about 300 congregants. 

Read more

 

Oct 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tamil Nadu: graves desecrated in Catholic cemetery (VIDEO)
In the night between 17 and 18 October, 40 tombstones, crosses and statues of Our Lady were destroyed in the city of Tirunelveli. Catholics have received the solidarity of the population and political parties, except from the BJP, the ruling Hindu nationalist party.
At least 40 graves have been desecrated, tombstones broken, crosses and statues damaged at the Udayarpatti cemetery, in the city of Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu). Here is the report of the bishop, Msgr. Antonysamy Savarimuthu, from the diocese of Palayamkottai.
On the night of October 17th-18th between 10pm.4am, desecrated the cemetery of the Sacred Heart Church at Udayarpatti in Tirunelveli city, Tamil Nadu.
The miscreants broke the compound wall, entered our cemetery, where we have around 100 graves, damaged 40 graves, broken and vandalised the crosses and statues of Mother Mary, broke the granites and marbles gravestones, cross and statues and desecrated and damaged 40 graves
It was a meticulously planned and calculated act of desecration and vandalism, which has deeply wounded our religious sentiments.  The cemetery is a Holy place, and we were sad, grieved and shocked
This act of desecration and vandalism of our cemetery, was noticed by a few parishioners on Sunday morning, who informed the Parish priest – (The graveyard is a few hundred meters away from the Church).  The people protested on Sunday and blocked the road, and expressed our protest of this this grave and serious act by road blockade stir on Sunday.

Read more

 

Oct 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ranchi archbishop leads human chain to demand Jesuit’s release
Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi October 16 joined priests, nuns and lay people to form a 5-kilometer human chain to denounce the arrest of an octogenarian Jesuit priest for alleged Maoist links.
Many of the more than 1,000 protestors, who lined up in the Jharkhand state capital of Ranchi lit candles, terming it a symbol of hope against the attempts to silence intellectuals and rights activists such as Father Stan Swamy.
The 83-year-old priest was arrested October 8 from his residence near Ranchi by the National Investigation Agency, the federal body to counter terrorism. The priest was taken to Mumbai the following morning.
He was presented before a court in the western Indian metropolitan city that remanded him to judicial custody until May 23.
The priest, who suffers from various illnesses such as Parkinson, is currently admitted in a hospital inside the jai. The police allege that he had links with those involved with violence on January 1 2018, at Bhima Koregaon near Pune, western India.
The human in Ranchi began at 4:30 pm from Albert Ekka Chowk in the city center and wound through Kantatoli Chowk, Sarjana Chowk and Dangratoli.
The human chain was part of ongoing protests by various groups around the country. Archbishop Toppo and Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi stood outside the Archbishop’s Residence on Purulia Road, holding banners and wearing masks in accordance with Covid-19 protocol. Read more

 

Oct 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sajan K George: Intolerance towards Christians is growing in Northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh
India’s most populous state leads in terms of religious intolerance and ranks first for anti-Christian violence. Radical Hindu groups have stormed private homes, interrupted liturgical services, and called in the police after accusing pastors and faithful of "forced conversions".
A number of Christians have recently been attacked, beaten and arrested after they were falsely accused of proselytising and engaging in forced conversions.
Speaking to AsiaNews about the issue, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christian (GCIC), said that “In Uttar Pradesh intolerance towards the Christian faith is growing every day.” What is more, “right-wing groups are increasing their attacks on vulnerable Christian communities.”
“On 6 October, in Mau district (Uttar Pradesh), two innocent Pentecostal pastors were released on bail after they were falsely accused of forced conversions.”
Th case began “Two days earlier when some right-wing [Hindu nationalist] groups stormed into Rev Harilal's house, where he was leading a prayer service with Pastor Kalicharan. “Six members of the radical group, led by Chandan Singh, interrupted the service and began to take pictures and film the Christians present. Read more

 

Oct 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians angry over blocking of church construction in India
A Christian group in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is mulling a protest after the state government prevented construction of a church because it says it was illegal.
Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF) has asked the state government run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to quickly resolve the issue in Buddhist-majority Tawang town. 
“The present government says that the church is illegal as it is on public land, referring to the Supreme Court order that bars construction of religious structures in public places, but that is not the case here,” Father Felix Anthony, spokesman for the Catholic Church in northeastern India, told UCA News.
“People here who are for or against the construction of the church are not for disturbing the peace of the community that has been prevailing for years. People want the issues sorted out amicably. There is no question of disobeying the law written in the constitution.”
Police in Tawang on the India-China border on Oct. 6 arrested Joseph Singhi, a pastor of Tawang Christian Revival Church, on charges of constructing a church without any land allotment. Read more

 

Oct 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why did Indian police arrest Jesuit over terror conspiracy?
In a video posted hours before his arrest, Father Stan Swamy said his detention is part of a process of jailing dissenters
Protests continue in several parts of India after Jesuit Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year social activist in Jharkhand state, was arrested on Oct. 8 on charges of having links with a banned Maoist terror group.
In a video posted hours before his arrest, Father Swamy said that the federal agency combating terror activities — the National Investigation Agency (NIA) — had interrogated him for 15 hours during a span of five days.
"Now they want me to go to Mumbai, which I have said that I won't go," he said in the video, citing his advanced age and the pandemic as reasons for his preference to have further questioning through video conferencing.
However, he was arrested and taken to Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state. A special NIA court in that city remanded him to judicial custody for 14 days on Oct. 9.
His case is linked to the Bhima-Koregaon area in Maharashtra state, where a violent clash occurred on Jan. 1, 2018, in which one person was killed and several others injured. Following investigations, police alleged some nine activists, including Father Swamy, conspired to organize the violence and have links with the banned Maoists group. Read more

 

Oct 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian’s Hearing Damaged in ‘Reconversion’ Attacks in India
A Christian and his 20-year-old son have taken refuge at an undisclosed location since an attack on Sept. 2 in Chhattisgarh state left the father with permanent damage to his hearing, sources said.
Jagra Kashyap, 45, and son Asharam Kashyap had to leave their families at home in Badrenga village, Bastar District, as they fear for their lives if they return, pastor Vishwanath Kawasi said.
“Their families back home are also feeling unsafe, but if Kashyap and his son return there, they could be attacked any time again,” Pastor Kawasi told Morning Star News.
Demanding that Kashyap and his son renounce Christianity and return to Hinduism, a mob of about 60 Hindu extremists stormed their home at 10:30 a.m. and struck the elder man’s ear until it bled while delivering severe blows to his son’s back, the pastor said.
Doctors at the district government hospital said the impairment to his ear is permanent, and that he will need a hearing aid the rest of his life, according to an allied lawyer for legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom India. Read more

 

Oct 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The twilight of Indian democracy
Protest and journalism are criminal acts, Parliament is irrelevant, duties supersede rights,and profanity flows from the ordinary.
On October 8, Justice Sanjay Dhar of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court delivered a judgement that was remarkable in its ordinariness: it restated the law, common sense and the basic tenets of – what was once – the world’s largest democracy.
The case he was called to adjudicate upon was a two-year-old story in the Times of India. The headline read: “Stone pelters in J&K now target tourists, four women injured.” It was ordinary journalism, but it led to a criminal case against the reporter for “making or publishing a statement or rumour creating fear or alarm”.
The freedom of the press, said Justice Dhar, could not be imperiled on “grounds that are unknown to law” and “reporting of events, which a journalist has bona fide reason to believe to be true, can never be an offence”.
Yet, this is what journalism in India has become: an offence against the state.
In Uttar Pradesh, over the past year, journalists have faced criminal cases for reporting on things as prosaic as a derailed train to a protest; the spectre of arrest hangs over the executive editor of this website for reporting the failure of a government programme; another journalist has been in prison for 24 days over a tweet; and a day before Justice Dhar delivered his judgement, a journalist from Kerala and three others were arrested and charged with sedition and India’s now-notorious anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The circumstances of their alleged crime were mired in ordinariness – they were headed to Hathras, which the Uttar Pradesh government has declared a site of international conspiracy, and they, the police said, were conspirators.

Read more

 

Oct 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Catholics call for the immediate release of Fr. Stan Swamy
Appeal by the Indian Bishops' Conference for the liberation of the Jesuit, arrested for alleged links with the Maoist rebels. Fr. Swamy has worked for decades to defend the rights of tribals in Jharkhand.  Concerns for his health.  The Indian Catholic community has always contributed to the building of the nation.
On October 8 tribal activist Fr. Stan Swamy was arrested on charges of "Maoist terrorism".  For over 50 years the Jesuit priest has been committed to defending the forest rights of the Adivasi in Jharkhand.  For months he had been interrogated and faced with false evidence.  Confreres, activists and members of the opposition to the Modi administration denounce his arrest as an "attack on the poor".  Under the government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (Hindu nationalist), he was also accused of sedition.  Below is the text of the appeal signed by Msgr.  Felix Machado, Archbishop of Vasai and general secretary of the Indian Bishops' Conference.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) expresses its deep sorrow and anguish on the arrest of Fr Stan Swamy from his residence by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), accusing him of being related to the Bhima –Koregaon incident.
Fr Stan Swamy, 83 years old, a Jesuit has spent a major portion of his life-giving yeoman service to the tribals and the downtrodden in the state of Jharkhand. According to our reports Fr. Stan has for decades been working to protect the rights of the Adivasis, especially their land rights. This could have worked against the interests of certain people. When questioned during the months of July- August 2020 by authorities, Fr Stan Swamy has fully cooperated with Investigating Agencies and has provided detailed statements, claiming to be innocent in the case.
Read more

 

Oct 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesuit activist jailed, massive protests over arrest continue
The arrest and imprisonment of an 83-year-old Jesuit priest in a two-year-old case have led to massive protests by people’s organizations, activists, intellectuals and concerned citizens from across India.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal body to counter terror activities in the country, October 8 arrested Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy from his residence at the Bagaicha Campus near Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state in eastern India.
According to the latest information, the agency October 9 took the priest to Mumbai, in western India, and presented him before a court that sent him to judicial custody until October 23.
The arrest of “Stan Swamy is a gross violation of human rights and democratic norms,” says an October 9 statement endorsed by more than 2,000 people representing various groups in India.
They have appealed Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren to oppose the priest’s arrest.
The statement hailed Father Swamy as “a valued and public spiritedness citizen who has worked for Adivasi rights since decades in Jharkhand” and decried the “inhuman and insincere act of the NIA authorities.”
The priest’s arrest, it adds, “stands out for its sheer vindictiveness” since the priest had “fully cooperated with the investigating officers” who questioned him at his residence for more than 15 hours in July and August. Read more

 

Oct 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beaten Christians Tonsured, Paraded in India
Hindu extremists falsely accuse them of eating cow beef.
Pastor Raj Singh was beaten and tonsured in Bherikudar village, Jharkhand state, India on Sept. 16, 2020. After beating and parading Pastor Raj Singh along with four other Christians in eastern India, Hindu extremists were tonsuring them to further ridicule them when one cut the pastor’s head.
“While shaving my head, the razor cut my skull, and blood oozed out,” Pastor Singh said of the Sept. 16 attack in Jharkhand state. “A man standing nearby pointed out the cut and asked the man shaving my head to be careful, to which he promptly answered back saying, ‘This Christian should be grateful that I am only using the razor on his head and not on his neck.’”
After shaving their heads, the mob tied garlands of old shoes and slippers around their necks and continued parading them from one area of Bherikudar village, in Simdega District, to another. The Hindu extremists told them to chant “Jai Shri Ram [Victory to god Ram]” and, when the Christians did not comply, beat them with wooden sticks, he said.
“Some of us chanted, to escape the beating from time to time,” Pastor Singh said. “Whoever did not chant was immediately beaten by sticks. They also had long wooden handles of large iron picks with which they hit us.” Read more

 

Oct 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jharkhand: tribal Christians attacked on the basis of false charges of slaughtering a cow
The victims were beaten, had their heads shaved, and were forced to sing Jai Shri Ram (Victory to Lord Ram). The attackers came from neighbouring villages. Police arrested four people, and are still looking for another ten. For Christian activist, extremist groups attack using false accusations and spurious evidence, favoured by radical local administrations.
Using a baseless accusation of slaughtering a cow, a group of ‘sacred crow vigilantes’ attacked tribal Dalit Christians in a village in the state of Jharkhand, this according to Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC)
The victims were beaten, had their heads shaved, and were forced to sing Jai Shri Ram (Victory to Lord Ram). The incident took place on 16 September, George told AsiaNews, but it became public only last Friday after activist and former district council member Neel Justin Beck reported it.
In India, cows are considered sacred and are a sensitive issue for the Hindu majority. There are frequent violent attacks against minorities who slaughter animals for the meat; the main victims are usually Muslims, but Christians have been targeted as well.
This time the attack involved seven Christians living a tribal area in Jharkhand, who were accused without proof of slaughtering an animal. Read more

 

Oct 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Christians demand police action against attackers
Christian leaders have urged the government in India's Chhattisgarh state to act against those who attacked 16 Christian families and destroyed their houses for refusing to abandon their faith.
Even after a week, state police have not registered Christians' complaint against the tribal group that attacked them on Sept. 22 and 23, said Pastor Moses Logan.
"Police refused to register a first information report and are forcing the persecuted to compromise with the perpetrators of the crime," Pastor Logan told UCA News on Oct. 2.
A crowd of people opposed to indigenous people following Christianity vandalized 16 houses of tribal Christians in three villages — Kakrabeda, Singanpur and Tiliyabeda — in the state's Bastar region.
"They also assaulted women and children, so many ran into the forest to save their lives," the pastor said.
He said villagers suspected trouble when they noticed unusual movements and gatherings in the villages. They informed police about them three days before the attack. "But police took no action, no protection was given," he said.
Crowds of men used wooden sticks and poles to partially destroy the thatched roofs and walls of mud houses. The attack came after Christians refused to join the rituals and prayers of the indigenous Sarna religion.

Read more

 

Sep 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government authorities in Karnataka remove 15 crosses from hilltop
In a six-hour operation led by government officials on September 23, 15 crosses were removed from Susai Paliya Hill in Chikkaballapur, Karnataka.
The operation was conducted following the order from Karnataka High Court that found the crosses illegally placed on government land without prior approval from authorities.
More than 300 police and revenue officials gathered at St. Joseph's Church in Susai Palya and removed a 32-meter cross that was on the hilltop along with 14 other seven-meter crosses that were on the way to the hilltop.
According to local parish priest Father Antony Britto Rajan, "The government officials acted arbitrarily without any prior notice."
"We have been using the space for more than five decades for praying the Way of the Cross, especially during the Lenten season," he told UCA News.
The local parish mentioned that people from other religions also visited the hill for prayer but "there was no problem from anybody."
Though the police officials claimed to be following the court orders, they did not show any such order, said Father Rajan.
The Christian leader plans to appeal against the court decision and take legal action to restore the crosses. But, he admits that finding the necessary documents may be difficult.
Peter Machado, Archbishop of Bangalore, told AsiaNews.it that the removal of crosses was a ""selective action carried out [by the authorities] against Christians in the current climate of religious intolerance." Read more

Sep 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobs of Thousands Attack Christian Homes in India
Animists incited by Hindu extremists as police stand by.
Incited by Hindu extremists, thousands of tribal animists in Chhattisgarh, India last week drove Christians in three villages from their homes in assaults that police declined to prevent or stop in spite of prior warnings, sources said.
The attacks on Sept. 22-23 by mobs that swelled to more than 3,000 agitators damaged homes, sent Christians fleeing for their lives and left a woman hospitalized with serious injuries, but police officers’ only response was to pressure Christians to contribute to the Hindu festivals that were the touch point of the hostilities.
Sivram Koyam, a resident of Kakadbeda in Kondagaon District, said he and other Christians were at the local police station on Sept. 22 trying to warn officers of impending violence when they received calls from relatives saying fierce mobs were attacking their homes. Read more

Sep 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam after marriage
A Muslim man in northern India beheaded his Hindu wife one-and-a-half months after their marriage because she refused to convert to Islam, a local newspaper reported.
Police this week found the beheaded body of the 23-year-old victim, identified as Priya Soni, in a forest area near Preet Nagar area of Sonbhadra district in the state of Uttar Pradesh, according to The Tribune.
The suspect, Soni's husband who was identified as Ejaz Ahmed, and his friend, identified only as Shoaib, have been arrested. Police said they recovered the mobile phone of the victim, a knife and an iron rod from the suspects.
The district's police chief, Ashish Srivastava, was quoted as saying that officers used social media to identify the woman's body. Her father, Laxminarayan, identified her from her shoes and clothes.
Priya married Ahmed against the wishes of the family and was being pressured to convert to Islam, police said, adding that they were considering charging the accused under the stringent National Security Act. Read more

 

Sep 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians expelled from villages in Chhattisgarh, their homes vandalised (videos)
Dozens of Christians have been expelled from Kakdabeda, Tiliyabeda and Singanpur, a group of villages in Kondagaon district in the northern Indian state of Chhattisgarh.
Yesterday around 11 am, a group of Hindu nationalists attacked and vandalised 14 Christian homes, shacks built with flimsy wooden poles and tin roofs.
On the same day, more than 1,500 villagers, egged on by nationalist groups, gathered in Singanpur to protest. Many threatened Christians, telling them not to return to their village, but go elsewhere.
These incidents follow Tuesday’s attack against Shivaram Koyam, a Christian from the village of Kakdabeda, whose home was torn down.
Law enforcement and local officials have tried to pacify the villagers without success.
Hindu villagers say that if Christians want to return to live with them, they must return to honour local [Hindu] gods. The State of Chhattisgarh has had an anti-conversion law since 2000. Read more

 

Sep 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal Christians tonsured and forced to chant 'Jai Shri Ram' in Jharkhand village
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 Ranchi, said a group of more than 25 stick and rod-wielding people had entered the village early on September 16 morning. The men were apparently residents of nearby villages.  Read more

 

Sep 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindus, Ex­-Church Members Attack Christian Family in India
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.” Read more

 

Sep 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman brutally murdered by Hindu radicals for converting to Christianity
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 witnessed a Christian man killed only last Read more

 

Sep 23

Hindu extremists kill church planter, dump body in woods
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 out the village by some Hindu radicals.” Read more

 

Sep 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Delhi Police Gaffe on Trump Chronology, Riots Chargesheet Takes U-Turn on Conspiracy Date
The 2,695 page chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police last week repeats all the claims made in earlier chargesheets about the role of the anti-CAA movement in the February 2020 riots, with one crucial exception: investigators have dropped their embarrassing assertion that the conspiracy to trigger violence in northeast Delhi during the visit to India of US President Donald Trump was hatched in a meeting on January 8, 2020.
That claim – made in two chargesheets which have already been filed in cases relating to FIR 65/2020 and FIR 101/2020 – was patently false, because the very idea of a Trump visit was first reported only on January 13.
The January 8 plan, the police had said, was aimed at “defaming the country in the international arena” and shaking the Central government on the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens.
The police never responded to media reports about this glaring discrepancy in dates, which placed a question mark over the veracity of its others claims. However, the latest chargesheet filed by the Delhi Police Special Cell in the ‘riots conspiracy case’ registered under FIR 59/2020 has quietly dropped the ‘Trump’ angle from its description of the January 8 meeting – in which former student leader Umar Khalid, former city councillor Tahir Hussain and community activist Khalid Saifi allegedly participated – and moved this dimension of the ‘conspiracy’ to a less implausible date. Read more

 

Sep 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker urged to expunge remarks against slain Australian missionary
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.  Read more

 

Sep 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian government puts NGOs under electronic control 'to avoid forced conversions'
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.
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. Read more

 

Sep 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Parliament, Lok Sabha, passes FCRA bill restricting Christian institutions from accepting overseas donors.
The Lok Sabha passed the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 on Monday even as the Opposition raised concerns that the legislation may be used to target political opponents and religious minorities.
Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, who introduced the Bill on behalf of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, defended making Aadhaar a mandatory identification document for all the office bearers of an NGO or an association seeking foreign donations.
He said the 2018 Supreme Court order allowed the government to make a separate law in areas where Aadhar card is required. “A law can be brought to make Aadhar mandatory. Why some functionaries can hide their identity,” Mr. Rai asked.
Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) attacked the government on limiting administrative expenses drawn from foreign donations to 20% as against the current 50%. Read more

 

Sep 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dubious voice vote to pass critical farm bills severely dents Indian democracy
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. Read more

 

   

Sep 15

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu extremists terrorise small Pentecostal community in Uttar Pradesh
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.
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 Bela area and harass Pentecostals. Read more

 

Sep 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police threaten to charge pastor, frame son with crimes, if he refuses to stop sharing Gospel
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 returned the next night, shouting obscenities.
Once again, the Christians informed police of the incident: "We had no other option but to inform the police," Sugriv said. "It is not safe for us to have these drunkards come by whenever they want and start picking fights with us, shouting at the top of their lungs. We have women in our house, and it was beyond what we could tolerate." Read more

 

Sep 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India bans 6 Christian groups from accepting foreign funds in 'shakedown' by Hindu nationalist party
Amid another crackdown on foreign aid, India has canceled six Christian organizations’ licenses to receive donations from outside the country in a move some say is little more than a “shakedown” by the Hindu nationalist party.
According to a report from UCA News, New Life Fellowship Association, Evangelical Churches Association of Manipur, Ecreosoculis North Western Gossner Evangelical, and Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church have all had their licenses canceled under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. 
John Prabhudoss, chairman of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, told The Christian Post that two additional Christian charities — Rajnandgaon Leprosy Hospital (A member of the Christian Medical Association of India) and the DonBosco Tribal Development Society — also lost their licenses to accept foreign funds. 
Without these licenses, the Christian organizations will be unable to legally receive donations from outside India, hindering their ability to carry out their evangelistic ministries. 
“From time to time, relevant matters concerning FCRA norms are reviewed, and government actions are taken,” an official from the Home Ministry told UCAN without citing a specific reason why the Christian organizations’ licenses were canceled. Read more

 

Sep 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians in Northern India Forced to Stop Worship, Pastor Says
Officers, Hindu extremists coerce church leader after police detain his son, he says.
Harassment of Christians by hard-line Hindus in northern India ended in police coercing a pastor to agree to stop holding worship in his home after an officer threatened to make false charges against his son, he said.
The pastor said the coercion by police in Uttar Pradesh state came after his son, 19-year-old Pawan Kumar, on Aug. 25 asked intoxicated Hindus to stop yelling disparaging remarks 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 gospel with anyone,” the house-church leader, identified only as Pastor Sugriv, told Morning Star News. “I was forced to sign it. What kind of justice is this?”
On the night of the triggering incident, the group of Hindus were on the verge of attacking but in their drunken state ended up fighting among themselves, he said. He took his son back inside and locked the door to the Hindus’ taunts of, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah,” which continued into the night, Pastor Sugriv said.
The next morning he informed the Tarkulwa village president about the harassment, and the official summoned the Hindus to his office and warned them to make no further disturbances, he said. The Hindus returned that night (Aug. 26), however, again using obscenities as they disparaged Christianity, the pastor said. Read more
 

Sep 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Christian NGOs at risk of closure over allegations of 'proselytising’
Protestant organisations operating in Jharkhand, Manipur and Mumbai have been targeted. Some have been in the country since the 1950s. The Home Affairs Ministry has revoked their licences to receive foreign funds, making the groups’ work impossible. For Sajan K George, forced conversion charges are false and are designed to increase ethnic-religious tensions.
This is not the first time that the government has cancelled the FCRA[*] licences of NGOs. Such licences are mandatory for non-profit organisations to receive foreign funds. Just like anti-conversion laws, the FCRA is used as a tool to target and control non-profits that don't fit into the government’s ideological pattern and agenda.
Last February, the government suspended the licence of the New Life Fellowship Association (NLFA) after right-wing Bajrang Dal[†] militants disrupted a prayer meeting organised by the NLFA in Mumbai, allegedly because they thought that it was a cover for religious conversions.
Two of the suspended NGOs are in Jharkhand and right-wing groups exploit tribal people and Dalits, who benefit from the social outreach in predominantly tribal areas.
The bogey of forced conversion is routinely used to fuel ethnic-religious tensions in society, sowing seeds of suspicion against the vulnerable Christian community. Draconian anti-conversion laws and radical vigilante groups have generated widespread insecurity among ... Read More

 

Sep 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attacked Christians in India Risk Arrest if Worship Draws more Assaults
Police in eastern India have threatened to arrest Christians for “disturbing the peace” if their worship draws more opposition after recent attacks, including one that has nearly cost an elderly woman her sight, sources said.
Complaining that Christian prayers have driven away their nature-based gods, tribal animists in Badaguda, Odisha state have repeatedly attacked 12 families since the Christians left their traditional religion two years ago. The 55 to 60 Christians in Koraput District have been sheltering together each night for the past six months, fearful of more assaults after villagers burned their makeshift church structure in March and beat men, women and children on July 21.
“The 12 Christian families have faced opposition almost every day since the day they decided to follow the Christian faith,” said their pastor, Ayub Khora, whose wife added that rarely a day goes by without church members facing verbal or physical abuse.
Two villagers assaulted a Christian family at 1 a.m. on July 21 and vandalized their home, only to attack again at 8 a.m. with about 100 others who came to the house where they had taken shelter and beat members of the 12 Christian families with wooden planks, Pastor Khora said. Read More

 

Aug 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Hospitalized for More than Two Weeks after Assault in India
Hindu extremists in northern village beat him with iron rods.
A Christian father of seven in northern India was hospitalized for more than two weeks after Hindu extremists with iron rods interrupted his night prayers with his family and beat him at his home.
Pappu Kumar, released from a hospital on Thursday (Aug. 13), was praying with his family in Balawali village, Uttarakhand state at 9:30 p.m. on July 28 when a mob of at least 10 Hindu extremists appeared at his door, sources said.
The visitors told the 40-year-old Kumar, who put his faith in Christ just three months ago, to stop praying, said Mange Singh, a church pastor in the region who has been discipling Kumar’s family.
“Pappu responded that he was praying inside his house, and that should not bother anybody,” Pastor Singh said. “But the furious mob began to assault Pappu.”
The mob verbally abused Kumar as they kicked him and beat him with the rods, batons and fists, repeatedly telling him to stop following the Christian faith, Pastor Singh said. Read more

 

 


WEBINAR SERIES:

 

Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America Invites you to the webinar series
At 8.00 PM on Monday August 17th, 2020
I. India’s original sin, Caste: Rev. Dr. Nehemiah Thompson,
General Secretary, National Association of Asian Indian Christians in USA (NAAIC)
II. Dalit Christianity as a Crossroads: Challenges and Promises: Rev. Dr. Jim Kodera,
Professor of Religion at Wellesley College, MA
Please plan to attend the webinar series to be held at 8PM EST on every 3rd Monday of the month
Next session will be on Sep 21st, 2020 at 8 PM EST on Deportation Trauma

 

Aug 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faridabad, Hindu radicals attack Pentecostal pastor and family
It is yet another anti-Christian attack in the country. Rajesh Gupta's wife is in hospital with a fractured hand and leg. In June, an educational center run by a Christian organization was attacked. Two weeks ago, extremists killed a pastor in Punjab. The faithful live in terror.
Hindu radicals brutally attacked Pentacostal pastor Rajesh Gupta and his family in Faridabad (Haryana). The attack, carried out with sharp weapons, took place yesterday morning while Rajesh was reciting a prayer in the home of a faithful. The pastor and his family were then rescued and taken to hospital for treatment. His wife is hospitalized with a fractured hand and leg.
It is the second anti-Christian incident to occur this year in Faridabad. On June 20, Hindu fundamentalists raided and occupied an educational center in the city district. The facility, managed by the Karuna Welfare Society, belongs to the Grace Assembly of God Church in Faridabad. The extremists placed a statue of a Hindu deity inside.
Groups of Hindu radicals have targeted Christian faithful in other parts of the country. On July 27, Balwinder “Bagicha” Bhatti, another Protestant pastor, was found dead by the side of a road near Ferozpur (Punjab). Victim of an ambush, he was beaten and fatally wounded in the back of the head with a sharp weapon. Read more

 

Aug 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard-Line Hindu Neighbors Attack Pastor and Guests at His Home in India
Police refuse to listen to church leader, arrest victims.Pastor Ramnivas Kumar had been attacked before, but in the latest instance he was stunned that police in eastern India arrested his bleeding guests based on transparently false accusations that they were robbers, he said.
Christians Avinash Kumar and Rambali Ram were visiting Pastor Kumar’s home in Ranjitpur village, Bihar state on July 13 with two Hindu friends who had met them on the way from their fields in Sitamarhi District and requested the pastor pray for them, the church leader said.
The two Hindus had told their two Christian friends they wanted the pastor to tell them the story of Jesus and to pray for them, he said. As he and the four guests chatted over tea, Pastor Kumar asked if recent flooding had affected their harvests, explained the gospel to the Hindus and began praying for them, he said.
“As I was praying, we heard the neighbors shouting at us from the main door,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “They were hurling abuses at me, accusing me of accepting a foreign faith and following a foreign God.”

Read more

 

Aug 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church officials wary about India's new education policy
The Indian government has released an ambitious education policy aiming to transform the country's learning system to match global standards, generating mixed reactions from church officials.
The federal cabinet approved the National Education Policy 2020 on July 29, replacing a 34-year policy.
The policy was in the making for more than six years and the first draft was released in 2016. The process to formulate a new policy was accelerated soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pro-Hindu party came to power in 2014.
Officials of the Catholic Church, which claims to be managing the largest network of educational institutions in the country after the government, were reserved in their comments, saying they need time to study the policy in depth. Read the story

 

Aug 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPINION: With the Ayodhya ceremony, has the inclusive India of my dreams been lost forever? HARSH MANDER
The idea of a humane country of equal citizenship has taken a bad knock.
Like a meteor in slow motion, it was only a matter of time that this would hit us. Even so, August 5, 2020, is a day of profound sadness and loss. History will remember it as the day on which the bumpy but colourful and often hopeful journey of India as a humane and inclusive republic of equal citizenship was formally halted by an incumbent government. A government of unmatched hubris, rooted in an ideology of Hindu supremacism, the complete reversal of the pledges that we the people of India made in our Constitution.
Was this a tragedy foretold? From the moment when three bullets were pumped into the frail body of Mahatma Gandhi during his inter-faith prayer meeting on a winter afternoon in January 1948, was the ideology of his assassin bound to triumph eventually? Was it inevitable that the iridescent dream of building a country that one day would belong equally in every way to people of every faith, caste, class, gender, language, ethnicity, colour, sexuality and ability would be smashed? And has this dream been destroyed for generations to come?
When the prime minister brusquely brushes aside all scruples of constitutional propriety by choosing to preside over a private programme of a Hindu temple built on the site of a medieval mosque razed by frenzied mobs, this does mark the triumph of militant and masculinist Hinduism. It is designed to signal without any trace of ambiguity to India’s religious minorities that their settled place in the new republic of India is one of fearful subjugation. Read more

 

Aug 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT Washington DC. August 04, 2020. The Federation of Indian American Christians organizations of North America (FIACONA), an advocacy group dedicated to the religious freedom of the minority Indian Christians in India strongly objects to the ill-advised celebration and gloating by extremist Hindutva supporters during the occasion of the laying of foundation for a controversial temple in a place called Ayodhya, in Northern India. Click here for the full statement

 

July 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karnataka government tries to remove Islam and Christianity from school curriculum
Following an outcry against the proposal, the State’s Education Department issued a statement on Thursday, saying that “the decision to drop certain chapters has been put on hold. A review will be done, following which the deleted chapters will be uploaded to the website”.
The BJP-led Government of Karnataka has put on hold a controversial proposal to drop certain chapters from social science textbooks to trim the 2020-21 curriculum for Grades 1 to 10 students. The sections to be removed covered Islam, Christianity, Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali.
State authorities had initially decided to cut the 2020-21 syllabus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chapters on the Constitution, Islam and Christianity were left out of school curricula, various media reported.
The rationale behind the move was that students would study these topics in Grade 9 anyway. However, media reports noted that Grade 9 teachers were asked to briefly summarise these topics since the syllabus erroneously claims that students already studied them in Grade 6.
Speaking about the matter, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore told AsiaNews that "India is a secular country blessed with a multi-religious heritage of tolerance and harmony. No other country can boast such a rich and interfaith fabric and traditions, which are best taught when children are young and innocent.” Read more

 

July 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Christian families given ultimatum: Deny Jesus or flee
Police have ordered six Christian families to either renounce their faith or flee their homes after they reported being brutally attacked by a radical Hindu mob.
Joginder Bhuya, a Christian, told persecution watchdog International Christian Concern that he reported the attack to the Latehar District Police station of Jharkhand state on July 5. But instead of filing a report, officers gave Bhuya an ultimatum, saying they must either convert back to Hinduism or abandon their homes and leave the village.
"I thought the police are there to protect and serve justice, but the police spoke exactly what the religious fanatics have been telling us," Joginder said.
Earlier, Hindu village leaders had convened a meeting to discuss the fate of Christian villagers who had refused to renounce their Christian faith. There, it was decided that the Christians would be chased out of their homes and the village if they didn't abandon their faith and "re-convert" to Hinduism. When the Christians refused to accept Hinduism, they were attacked.
"They tied our hands and legs with a rope," Bhuya recalled. "All the men's hands and legs were tied with the rope. That way they might have thought that we cannot defend ourselves. They also misbehaved with our women and kicked them all over their body. They punched us on our faces and back. It was a very pathetic and helpless situation for us."

Read more

 

July 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woman brutally murdered by Hindu radicals for converting to Christianity
A woman 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. Read more

 

July 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fifth Christian murdered in India in two months. Woman found dead in Jharkhand had been harassed by Hindu fanatics after converting to Christianity
Police have arrested four youths in connection with the murder of a Christian woman one month after a similar killing in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. She was the fifth Christian to be murdered in India in the last two months.
The four youths, who were not identified, were being questioned over the death of Suman Munda, 25, who was killed in Redhadi, a village in Khunti district, on July 19, local media reported.
“It is a matter of serious concern because the state witnessed a Christian man killed only last month in the same district. The administration as well as leaders should take note of it and take appropriate steps,” Bishop Binay Kandulna of Khunti told UCA News on July 23.
“Persons of any faith are a creation of God and we have to respect all, but some vested interest groups are trying to target minorities in the state to spread hatred among various faiths who are otherwise peace-loving people.
“We condemn the killing and appeal to the administration to take strict action against the culprits. It is very unfortunate that we have lost a precious life.” Read more

 

July 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modi pushes controversial temple to center stage of Indian politicsPM faces criticism for promoting construction of a Ram temple amid a pandemic and falling economy
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi plans to visit a controversial temple site in a move that could boost his party's idea of making India a Hindu-only nation.
Modi, known for his hardline politics, is expected to participate in the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the temple in northern India's Ayodhya town, considered the birthplace of Hindu lord Ram.
A centuries-old dispute over a temple-mosque structure in Ayodhya was aggravated in 1992 when Hindu zealots demolished the structure. It triggered nationwide Hindu-Muslim riots, killing at least 2,000 people.
Modi's pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to the political mainstream by demanding demolition of the 16th-century mosque built by Muslim ruler Babur. They claimed Muslims built the mosque after demolishing a temple and campaigned to destroy it and build a new Hindu temple at the site.
The temple construction was part of the BJP's election promises but was delayed because of court cases over land ownership. In November 2019, India's Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Ram temple. Read more 

 

July 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians in India Return to Village where Followers of Tribal Religion Attacked Them
Assailants are out on bail.
A Christian couple and their children were asleep in their beds in central India at 11 p.m. recently when villagers who follow the local tribal religion broke into their home and began beating them with wooden batons.
The family of Bhima and Devi Markham fled from their home in Devkupli Para, Chhattisgarh state that night, May 20, to save their lives, an area pastor said.
“They ran into the wilderness to hide while the assailants vandalized their belongings, throwing away the food grains in their homes,” pastor Ramdhar Kashyap told Morning Star News.
The mob of 15 furious villagers went on to beat Christians Chenna Markham and Joga Kunjam and their families, along with an unidentified elderly Christian woman, driving them from their homes. Read more

 

July 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian missionary, father-of-4 brutally murdered in India by Maoists
A Christian missionary and father-of-four was brutally murdered by a Maoist group in India angered by his mission work amid a rise in religious persecution across the country.
Morning Star News reports that on July 10, a Maoist group in the Gadchiroli district of India’s Maharashtra state shot and killed Munshi Dev Tado, a 28-year-old Christian convert and father of four children, ages 6, 5, 4 and 1.
Tado’s wife, Jaini Munshi Tado, told the outlet that her husband was leading worship on his property when three armed men and three women interrupted the service. 
“They shook hands with him at first, then took him by his hand and, after few steps, they tied his hands at his back with a rope,” she said. “I, my father-in-law and brother-in-law followed after them, pleading and enquiring as to why they are taking him. They said they just want to talk to him and that we need not worry, they will send him back in a little while.”
“Hardly five to seven minutes later, we heard a gunshot,” she said. “We immediately ran in the direction only to find the body of my husband in the pool of his blood, and the Maoists had gone. I wept bitterly, my husband was gone.”
After killing the pastor, the Maoists left a note in Tado’s pocket claiming he was a police informant. However, when police arrived to investigate, they said Tado was not an informer for them and that they did not even know him. Read more

 

July 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians faced 135 cases of persecution in first half of 2020; believers lynched, sodomized
In India, 135 cases of persecution occurred in the first half of 2020, including a lynching, community ostracization, and the sodomization and murder of two Christian men, a new report has revealed.
According to a new report from the Delhi-based Evangelical Fellowship of India, amid the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Christians faced more opposition than ever from their communities because of their faith, primarily at the hands of Hindu extremists. Between January and June, numerous reports surfaced of Christians being falsely accused, threatened, and attacked.
Uttar Pradesh, ruled by the Bhartiya Janata Party, topped the persecution scale with 32 cases of hate crimes. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, with nearly 200 million people. However, only about 350,000 Christians live in the state.
In Odisha's Kenduguda village in Malkangiri district, a 14-year-old Christian boy was allegedly crushed to death with a stone by a group of people who then chopped the body into pieces before burying the remains in several places. In the report, police noted the victim and his family had adopted Christianity three years before the murder. Read more

 

July 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gutting Of Indian Democracy By Modi-Shah - by Ramachandra Guha
In his bid to impose his absolute authority on his party, his government, and his nation, Narendra Modi has had one key ally-his long-time associate from Gujarat, Amit Shah. First as Party President and now as Home Minister, Shah has played an indispensable and devilishly effective role in neutering democratic opposition outside the government. And in bending to the Prime Minister and the ruling party's will, autonomous institutions within the government itself.
It was after observing the Modi-Shah jugalbandhi in operation at the centre for a year-and-a-half that, in December 2015, I had characterized India as an 'election-only democracy'. Alas, it is time to revise that judgement, and to downgrade our democracy further still. We have now arrived at a stage in our history as an independent nation when even elections are coming to matter less and less.
Earlier this week, there were tax raids ordered by the central government on close aides of the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot. These were timed to coincide with the courting by the BJP of his disgruntled deputy, Sachin Pilot, in an attempt to topple the Congress government in the state. That bid appers to have temporarily failed; but that, in the middle of a pandemic, the attempt was made in the first place shows the contempt in which the Modi-Shah regime hold the values and procedures of constitutional democracy.
The happenings in Rajasthan are merely a replay of what happened in Madhya Pradesh in March, and what happened in Karnataka last year. In each of these states, after elections were held, a government that was not led by the BJP came to power-a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, and a JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka. Seeking to overturn the verdict of the voters, in each state, the BJP sought to induce legislators of the parties in power to defect or resign their seats, so that their party could come to form the government instead. Read more

 

July 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourth Christian in Less than Two Months Killed in India
Maoists in Maharashtra state killed a church pastor on Friday (July 10), the fourth death of a Christian for their faith in India since late May, sources said.
In Bhatpar village, Gadchiroli District in the western peninsular state, pastor Munshi Devu Tado was leading a worship service on his property for about 15 village families from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. when three armed men and three women escorted him away, said his wife, Jaini Munshi Tado.
“They shook hands with him at first, then took him by his hand and, after few steps, they tied his hands at his back with a rope,” she told Morning Star News. “I, my father-in-law and brother-in-law followed after them, pleading and enquiring as to why they are taking him. They said they just want to talk to him and that we need not worry, they will send him back in a little while.”
Family members continued to follow until the Maoists forcibly stopped them and pushed them away, throwing them to the ground, Jaini Munshi Tado said.
“Hardly five to seven minutes later, we heard a gunshot,” she said, weeping. “We immediately ran in the direction only to find the body of my husband in the pool of his blood, and the Maoists had gone. I wept bitterly, my husband was gone.” Read more

 

July 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persecuted, but not abandoned: How India's Christians are staying strong despite opposition
Life has been tough across India: Covid-19 has forced hundreds of millions of citizens into lockdown. For many of the nation's minority Christian population it has become a question of survival as they face discrimination and even violence. However, despite all this, millions of Indian Christians are remaining firm in their faith.
"Christians are suffering even more than before," says Open Doors partner Brother Sam*, based in India. "Most of them have had to combat economic problems as well as opposition and hatred from their communities."
But in the face of the worsening opposition, Christians in India appear to be unwavering in their faith and courageously living their lives for God.
"The Lord's Spirit is really working powerfully," says Open Doors partner Sabita.
"Persecution victims are standing strong and there are many people being healed and coming to faith." Read more

 

July 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian families attacked, threatened and forced to flee their village
A mob ransacked a young clergyman’s home. They threatened his family and two other Christian families that if they did not leave the village, their women would be raped, the men murdered, and their homes burnt. Police was forced to release two detainees.
Hinduvta radicals attacked and mocked Rev Vikas Gupta (pictured right) in a remote village in Azamgarh district, Uttar Pradesh on 2 July, said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
“Vikas Gupta, a 21-year-old man, was dragged inside a Hindu temple where he was forced to bow in front of an idol,” George told AsiaNews. After that, “he was paraded through the village market”. His attackers “also damaged his motorbike.”
The following day another mob broke into his home in Dassmora, a village in Azamgarh district. They ransacked the house, and threatened his family and two other Christian families that if they did not leave the village, the women would be raped, the men murdered, and their homes set on fire.
After the mob left, the families asked police for help. On 4 July, the mob attacked the house of prayer, tearing down walls, breaking windows and doors. Following the third attack, Christians informed the Bardah police station. Read more

 

July 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Mother of Four in India Was Persecuted before Her Death
Tribal Hindus persecuted a widowed, Christian mother of four before her body was found severely mutilated in the wilderness near her village in Chhattisgarh, India, sources said.
The body of 40-year-old Bajjo Bai Mandavi was initially unrecognizable as it appeared to have been eaten by wild animals when it was found two miles into the wilderness near her native Kumud village, Kuye Mari, on May 29. She was last seen going into the wilderness of Kondagaon District to collect firewood on May 25.
The death threats, deprivation of water and shunning she had suffered at the hands of villagers who were upset that she left their blend of Hindu and traditional tribal rituals led family members and area Christian leaders to believe she was raped and killed before animals fed on her body, they said.
“There was no way to find out who the people were who raped my sister-in-law and then murdered her, so police and the authorities thought best to call it an attack by a wild animal,” a sobbing Bhajnath Mandavi, her brother-in-law, told Morning Star News. Read more

 

July 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Father of Two Killed in Jharkhand State, India
Tribal Adivasis opposed his conversion, raped his mother-in-law.
When Kande Munda heard a knock on his door one night last month, the Christian father of two knew it was likely the same thugs and their colleagues in his area of Jharkhand, India who had harassed him for nearly four years.
They were particularly upset that Munda had reported them to police for a 2018 assault on his mother-in-law. The assailants, followers of tribal Adivasi religion, had opposed her conversion to Christianity by labelling her Christian prayers as “witchcraft” and gang-raping her. Read more

 

June 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42-y-o mother in UP receives threats from her siblings for following Christianity, worries for her two sons
Angry relatives in Uttar Pradesh bang the door of a Christian family late at night and threaten to murder them if they did not renounce their faith in Christ.
On June 18, at around 11 p.m., a 12-year-old boy heard his uncle and five other drunken men pounding at his house door in Ram Ganga Vihar area of Moradabad threatening to kill him and his 20-year-old brother.
Molly James, 42, the terrified mother who was with the two boys when the angry assailants were at the door, asked the older son to run to the police station and seek help.
According to Molly, her brother and sister have been portraying her as a bad woman in the Hindu-dominant neighborhood for accepting Christianity. They have been trying to expel her family from the area for the past three years.
The incident occurred when Anil James, the father of the two sons, was away from home, in Delhi, due to COVID-19 lockdown, unable to return home as often as he did before. The assailants saw this as an excellent opportunity to harass the Christian family. Read more

 

June 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Secrecy surrounds India PM Narendra Modi's '$1bn' Covid-19 fund
A fund set up by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to fight Covid-19 is now mired in controversy and concern over an alleged lack of transparency, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi.
On 27 March, just days after India began a country-wide lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Narendra Modi set up the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. The PM Cares Fund, for short.
A day later, Mr Modi appealed to "all Indians" to donate.
"It is my appeal to my fellow Indians, kindly contribute to the PM-Cares Fund," he tweeted, telling the nation that their donations would strengthen India's fight against Covid-19 and "similar distressing situations" in future.
"This will go a long way in creating a healthier India," he wrote.
Donations poured in - from industrialists, celebrities, companies and the common man. Within a week, reports said, donations had reached 65bn rupees ($858m; £689m). The fund is now believed to have exceeded 100bn rupees. But PM Cares has been controversial from the start. Many questioned the need for a new fund when a similar one - PM National Relief Fund or PMNRF - has existed in the country since 1948. Read more

 

June 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jharkhand, two Christians accused of proselytism; Hindu radicals vandalize a Pentecostal church
A mob damaged the building still under construction and destroyed a cross. Police cordoned off the area and arrested the two Christian teachers. Sajan K George: "False accusations, intimidation of Christians for political reasons".
A Pentecostal church was vandalized by Hindu radicals after two Christian teachers were accused of proselytizing. The incident occurred on June 22 in the Dhanbad (Jharkhand) district. The mob damaged the building which is still under construction and destroyed a cross. The police cordoned off the area, blocking public access to it.
The church is being built on land that has been leased for 30 years, and has a congregation of 16 families mainly from Belagadia. Kaina Pansal and Sushant Pradhan teach in the premises and anti-Christian militants along with local politicians accuse them of having converted some local families. Read more

 

June 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Release Suspect in Attempted Killing of Pastor in India
Official from Hindu nationalist party pressures officers, sources say.
Under pressure from an official in the ruling Hindu nationalist political party, police in Uttar Pradesh state, India have released without charges a suspect in the attempted killing of a pastor last month, sources said.
“When we entered the police station for the identification process, the attacker was treated like a VIP, not as a criminal,” Deepak Kumar, brother-in-law of the pastor, told Morning Star News. “He was released the same day, even after we insisted that he is the one.”
Four men ambushed 39-year-old pastor Dinesh Kumar as he left Mohiuddinpur village, Mau District on his motorbike on May 28, beating him with clubs so severely that he lost consciousness. A deep wound to his head required 16 stitches, a cut on his arm seven stitches, and he sustained internal injuries; seeing the wound on his arm, a doctor asked his wife if he had been shot. Read more

 

June 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian bishops decry custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu
Catholic bishops in India on June 28 joined civil rights groups, activists and political leaders to decry the deaths of a father and his son in police custody in Tamil Nadu, southern India.
FIACONA considers it as a police harrasment of innocnet civiliance of all faiths. In this particular case which grabed the attention of the country, the victims of police brutality happens to be Christians. Hindu and Muslim civilians count as victims of this particular accused police officer: 
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India “condemns most strongly the brutal assaults on P Jayaraj and his son J Fenix while in police custody in Tuticorin, which resulted in their deaths,” says a press statement signed by conference president Cardinal Oswald Gracias.
Tuticorin is some 600 km south of Chennai, the state capital.
The bishops’ statement quoted media reports that said the police had picked up the father and son on June 19 for keeping their mobile accessories shop open during the lockdown.
While Fenix son died on the evening of June 22 at a hospital in Kovilpatti, Tuticorin, and his father died the following day.
Their killings are dubbed as the Indian version of the George Floyd incident. A white policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota of the United States on May 25 kept his knees on the neck of Floyd, a colored man, until he died. The death triggered unprecedented protests all over the states and the world. Read more

 

June 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor dragged, beaten by 150-strong mob while praying for sick
In one of the eight attacks on Christians since the COVID-19 lockdown was partially lifted in India two weeks ago, a mob of about 150 people in the southern state of Telangana dragged a pastor into the street and beat him while he was praying for a sick person.
“They kicked me like they would kick a football,” Pastor Suresh Rao, a church planter, told the U.S.-based Christian persecution watchdog International Christian Concern about the attack on him in Kolonguda village last Sunday.
“They dragged me into the street and pushed me to the ground,” Rao added. “There, they started to trample on me. They tore my clothes, kicked me all over my body, and punched my left eye. I have sustained a serious eye injury as a result of a blood clot.”
Local Christians told ICC that Rao arrived at the sick person’s house around 9:30 a.m. for prayer. Soon after that, the house was surrounded by a mob of nearly 150 people led by a man identified as Ashok. Read more

 

June 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religious conversion ban threatening Christians may expand to 9th state
The Hindu nationalist government of the northern state of Haryana has pledged to enact a law to regulate religious conversions that would lead to the arrest of Christians who share their faith, talk about Heaven or Hell, or perform charity work for lower caste Hindus.
The draconian "anti-conversion" laws, termed as Freedom of Religion Acts, presume that Christian workers "force" or give financial benefits to Hindus to convert them to Christianity.
Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana's chief minister, said this week his administration would introduce a bill against religious conversion by force, marriages, or through inducement for the specific purpose of adopting a religion, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said, quoting Indian newspapers.
Eight other states in India have already enacted this law.
"While one has the right to adopt any religion, conversion by force, inducement, etc. are not tolerable. The Right to Freedom of Religion Bill will be brought in, in which there will be provisions against conversion by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, inducement, marriage, or any fraudulent means," Khattar was quoted as saying. Read more

June 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus will create new poverty in India
About 25 million migrant workers have left the cities for their rural villages, where all cannot find work. The pandemic could create 354 million new poor people. The Church should organise people so that they can participate in decision-making processes.
We, the urban dwellers have been enjoying the roads, flyovers, stadiums, and metros among many other advantages, all these years. We wake up every morning to see someone bring to our doorstep milk, newspaper, vegetables and many other necessities of life. These ‘city makers’ who built the luxury apartments in which we live, the schools for our children, the hospitals for our treatment are migrant labourers. In the last few days, we have seen the images of thousands of migrant labourers and their children going back home with their meagre belongings; in some cases, elderly and the infirm as well. Some did not make it were killed by speeding vehicles; others were run over by trains; some died of heat and exhaustion. Read more

 

June 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Harsh Mander named in Delhi riots chargesheet, Indian democracy has slipped into a dark hole
He gave a speech that called for love and non-violence. Government agencies consider this an act of provocation.
The life of Mander, an administrative officer, Indian head of an international organisation and head of self-established institutions and campaigns, has been a crusader against violence. He has dedicated himself to unveiling the various faces of violence in our society, showing it to those who turn their faces away, working towards systemic changes using the state machinery and legal system, and ensuring the longevity of these initiatives by creating an environment of legal and social awareness. This is an example of a life dedicated to the cause of non-violence.
Over the past two decades, Mander has developed an image of being a minority supporter. Especially since the Gujarat massacre in 2002 and his work with the Muslim victims of the majoritarian violence, he has been maligned and presented to the Hindus as evil.
Mander chose to bring justice to minorities through the legal system. Along with this, he believes in public dialogue. This is not possible through the language of animosity and hate. Both communities will have to learn to speak with each other in the language of friendship and understanding.

Read more

June 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard-line Hindu Relatives Threaten to Kill Christian’s Children in Uttar Pradesh, India
Pastor beaten unconscious in separate attack.
His father away from home due in part to coronavirus travel restrictions, a 12-year-old boy in Uttar Pradesh, India heard relatives angry at his family for refusing to renounce Christ pounding on the door late last night (June 18).
“It was past 11’o clock in the night when we heard them banging on the door and shouting,” he said. “Five men along with my uncle were standing at the door issuing threats that they would murder my brother and me.”
His terrified mother in the Ram Ganga Vihar area of Moradabad told her two sons, the other age 20, to run to the police station for safety while she locked the doors and would catch up with them, said the boy, whose name is withheld for security reasons. They ran past her brother and the five other drunken men who were screaming threats, and she followed shortly afterward, said his mother, 42-year-old Molly James. Read more

 

June 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace rally demands justice for murdered Christian teen
A peaceful rally of Christians in Odisha’s Malkangiri on June 16 demanded justice for a teenage boy hacked to death two weeks ago.
Suspected religious fundamentalists on June 4 killed Samaru Madkami in Kenduguda, a village in Malkangiri district.
More than 350 people attended the rally and submitted a memorandum to Ramprasad Nag, Inspector In-Charge of Malkangiri. ‘I assure you to fulfil the demands made by you,” he assured the Christians.
Anti-Christian groups used to harass three families who had become Christians three years ago. They had complained to the police.
At midnight on June 4 , miscreants kidnapped Samaru and brutally murdered him.
The memorandum pointed out that people from Dalit and Tribal communities accept Christian religion on their free will, but face threats and harassment from radical groups.
“We demand justice for Samaru and for the us the Christians who feel threat in life,” the memorandum said.
“We want safety and security for the family of Madkami and Christians,” it further demands.
The memorandum bemoans tha the murders now roam freely in society. “They should be brought to justice” Read more

 

June 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian families in Jharkhand hold on to faith despite persecution
Two incidents where Christians in Jharkhand were harassed and persecuted by radical Hindu nationalists last month points at the increasing number of violence against Christians in the country even during the pandemic.
On May 31, Pastor Jaiwant Tirkey from New Hulhnda village was attacked by radical Hindus who justified the assault by accusing the Christian leader of violating the COVID-19 lockdown.
Pastor Tirkey is an independant pastor and was assaulted while distributing COVID-19 food relief.
"We opened the church because we wanted to use the premises to prepare meals for migrant workers," Pastor Tirkey told International Christian Concern (ICC). "I was there along with a few other volunteers preparing and serving breakfast when all of a sudden, a man with an iron rod kicked in the gate."
"He was shouting and attacked me. I narrowly escaped a fatal blow to my head which would have landed between my upper jaw and ear," the pastor said.
In another incident on May 9, Tirpan Oraon, who converted to Christianity in 2005, was attacked by his own brother after he refused to contribute money to a local Hindu festival. Read more

June 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10-y-o independent Protestant church destroyed by fire in TN, 
Reverend Ramesh Jebaraj, who runs the church, told International Christian Concern (ICC) that he was shocked to look at the church engulfed with flames and smoke.
"I was broken, and it was so painful, there was absolutely no way to save anything from inside the church. The church structure, instruments, and furniture inside the church are ten years of hard labor," he explained.
Though the reason for the blaze was not apparent, Rev Jebaraj sees it as a premeditated act as he has been receiving threats to stop all Christians practices is his "Real Peace Gospel Church" since the time it started 10 years ago.
The Christian leader told local media that "This appears to be a planned attack. We don't suspect anyone in particular. People of all faiths come here to pray. Someone may have done it out of jealousy, but we forgive them."
Rev Jebaraj has, however, filed a formal complaint with the police, and the police investigating the matter told local media that "We have not found any motive yet. Local community has no problem. We are going to register a case of accidental fire." Read more

 

June 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A pastor in Uttar Pradesh rendered unconscious after unidentified individuals beat him
Radical Hindu nationalists brutally beat a pastor returning home from a prayer meeting in Uttar Pradesh's Mau district on May 28.
A group of unidentified individuals on motorcycles hit pastor Dinesh Kumar with sticks and the blows on his head rendered him unconscious.
Pastor Kumar's wife, Mamta, told International Christian Concern (ICC) that she was "screaming out loud" when she saw her husband.
"My mind went blank and I had no words. I thought something fatal took place looking at him with no movement."
"I remembered he used to tell me, 'I am in the ministry and committed to taking the Gospel to the people. I know the cost and some time it may be my life'," Mamta explained.
In his unconscious state, pastor Kumar was rushed to a local hospital where he received 16 stitches and treatment for other injuries.
Police waited for pastor Kumar to regain consciousness in order to take an official statement against the assailants and start the investigation. The assailants, however, remain unidentified as they fled the scene before anyone could recognize them. Read more

 

June 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Christian families in Chhattisgarh remain displaced after brutal attack from Modi Suppoerters
Three Christian families in Chhattisgarh remain displaced after radical Hindu nationalists attacked them in the middle of the night leaving the Christians severely injured and homeless.
The incident took place on May 20 in Sukma district's Devkhumpli village, where the Christian families were brutally attacked with sticks and sharp stones by a mob of around 30 radicals. The radicals threatened to kill the Christians if they refused to recant their faith.
"It happened around 11:00 in the night," Hadme Markam told International Christian Concern (ICC). "I woke up from my sleep when I heard a big bang on my door. I was very scared because my husband was away for work that night." "Before I realized what was happening, a mob broke down the door, rushed into the house, and started to beat me. All my fear was for my child. I held her close to my chest and pushed through the mob," Read More

 

June 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian families in India banned from burying their dead
Villagers in the east-central state of Chhattisgarh are not allowing Christians to bury their dead until they pay fines for not taking part in Hindu festivals and rituals. Attacks on the minority community in India continue despite the COVID-19 lockdown.
Christians faced stiff opposition to burying their dead in three separate incidents in the districts of Bastar and Dantewada in Chhattisgarh state last month, Alliance Defending Freedom India reported.
The Christians were told to make "restitution" for not partaking in or giving donations for religious rituals in those villages for all the years gone by, and pay an additional fine before their dead would be allowed to be buried.
"It is a terrible and unimaginable thing to be denied an opportunity to grieve the loss of a loved one with dignity," ADF India said.
Since 2019, the group has recorded at least 15 confirmed incidents of Christians being denied burial rights in Chhattisgarh state.
After the group's legal team intervened, "the Christians were provided police protection, and in some cases even provided land by the government, for the burials to take place." Read more

 

June 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Unresponsive or Hostile toward Christians Beaten in Jharkhand, India
 Police in Jharkhand, India refused to register a complaint about an attack that sent Christians to the hospital for treatment, while officers in another area falsely accused the victims’ relatives in an assault that left a woman unconscious, sources said.
A mob of about 400 animists of the tribal Sarna religion tore down parts of a church building under construction in Budhakaman village, West Singhbhum District of Jharkhand state, on May 10 and attacked Christians at the site, according to Suman Sinku, wife of the church pastor.
“They abused the Christians present there in extremely derogatory language,” Sinku told Morning Star News. “They held Suraj Chatomba and punched his jaws and back. The assailants then knocked another Christian, Muni Chatomba, to the ground and kicked her on her face and upper body.”
Another Christian woman, Bijayanthi Chatomba, ran over to rescue her but was struck in the nose with enough force for it to bleed, Sinku said. Read more

 

June 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India Registers Low 'Academic Freedom Index' Score in New International Report
India has a low score in a new global index of academic freedom, a performance that  mirrors its poor ranking on global indices of media freedom and is likely to heighten concerns about the Modi government’s attitude towards constitutionally protected liberties.
The index proposes a score for each country to help determine the level of academic freedom its universities and academic centres really enjoy, and which the researchers behind the idea say could be used to understand a university’s attractiveness in addition to its infrastructure, research output, etc.
Specifically, the index and accompanying report try to quantify the freedom of university scholars to debate politically and culturally controversial topics without fearing for their safety or studies, and without any external influence on the institutions’ affairs, based on a combination of factual data and the assessments of 1,800 academicians worldwide.

Read more

 

June 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Seventh Grade Christian Student Kidnapped and Lynched by Modi’s Hindu Nationalist in Odisa, India


A 14-year-old Christian boy, Samaru Madkami, was murdered by a group of Hindu nationalists affiliated to Prime Minister Modi in the east-Indian state of Odisha.  
The incident took place in Kenduguda village in the Malkangiri district of Odisa state on 4th of June. According to Pastor Bijay from Malkangiri, a few villagers affiliated with the Hindu nationalists party tried to kidnap at least 3 Christians that night. 
On the night of kidnapping at about 11pm, a few villagers, namely- Deba Madkami, Budra Muchaki, Aaita Kabasi, Rabu Madi and a few others picked up Samaru from his home telling that he needed to attend a meeting in the jungle outside the village.
Then about an hour later the kidnappers returned to pick up the boy’s father Mr. Unga Madkami. They threatened to kill him if he refused to go with them. Sensing foul play the father ran away into the dark and went straight to the police to inform them. But without any strong reasons to suspect a foul play, the police did not respond that night.
Dr. Victor Choudary told Persecution Relief said the victim’s father Mr. Unga Madkami is a member of   the Bethel House Church- a ministry headed by Pastor Bijay Pusuru. He said Unga’s wife had passed away several years ago. Sumaru was his only son. He has an younger daughter. Read more

 

May 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mobs in India Threaten 16 Christian Families Every Night for Nearly Three Weeks
Tribal mobs armed with clubs went to the homes of 16 families of a church in Jharkhand state, India every night for nearly three weeks, threatening to kill them if they didn’t return to their animistic Sarna religion, a pastor said.
“The persecutors were going with batons and wooden sticks, not giving the Christians any chance to say no, but emphasising that either they reconvert to the Sarna fold or they would kill them right then and there,” Pastor Sarabjit Bharati of Kirpa Bhavan Salom Church, outside Banjari Patan village in Palamu District, told Morning Star News. “They went to the extent of saying, ‘If these Christians do not accede, leave Christianity and return to our Sarna fold, we will kill them and consequently go to jail for it. We do not mind.’ Read more

 

May 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Christian family’s story of unending persecution in India
For many westerners, India is an exotic travel destination, offering colorful cultural sites and warm-hearted hospitable people. However, thanks to the new Hindu nationalist leadership of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), today’s India is increasingly marred by religious conflict and Christian persecution. The Purty family’s double tragedy serves as a sad example of this. And for some Indian Christians, their story is not so unusual.
Chamu Hassa Purty was a Christian pastor from Sandih village in Jharkhand State. Late one night in October 2015, he was asked to pray for a sick child. He rushed to the family’s home, prayed for the boy and helped the parents admit him to a local hospital.
Shortly after Pastor Purty returned to his own home, eight armed men forced their way into his house. He and his wife urgently warned their daughters, Sharon and Neelam, to immediately leave the house through a back entrance. Read more

 

May 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Card Gracias saddened by the fate of migrants trying to get home
The situation of migrant workers in India since the country was locked down on 24 March putting more than 120 million people out of work, with no wages, food or shelter, “is heart-breaking to watch,” said Card Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay.
For him, seeing “my people walking home,” some dying “trying to reach home” on foot, because the transportation system was also locked down, is a source of “immense sorrow”.
Three days ago , a group of migrants was hit by a freight train as they rested on the tracks. They had walked nearly 40 km and had to travel 800 more to reach their villages in Madhya Pradesh.
“My heart wept at the train tragedy, which snuffed out the lives of 15 of our people who were exhausted, from trying to walk home,” said the Archbishop, who heads the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India.
Taking a broader picture, Card Gracias looked at “The unending sufferings of my people, the migrant workers stranded by lockdown”.  He noted that “Migrant workers, my people are without jobs, without food, without livelihood and security, without a roof over their heads, without hope, and they do not know what the future holds for them. This lockdown has pushed them into further deprivation and exclusion and poverty. Read more

 

May 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can guilt and confessions really atone for not acting when needed?
The dismal material condition of India’s poor has been laid bare in our current times of the Covid-19 pandemic that has led to the most stringent lockdown of the world during this disease in our country. Many among our woke, liberal middle-class have felt what they claim is “guilt” during this crisis and a few have written about it too, as many people have died during this lockdown.
Some critics claimed that at the time of writing, about two hundred had died already owing to the lockdown apart from those dying of the disease, though we may never know the actual numbers. Migrant labourers have perished from hunger, fatigue, and other health complications while sometimes walking for several hundreds of kilometres to their rural homes, away from the big cities where they usually sell their labour. Others are starving, stranded in their cities of work. Read more

 

May 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Christian Families Attacked In Chhattisgarh
On the night of the 20th of May 2020, a group of religious fanatics broke into the homes of 2 Christian families who live in a village in Chhattisgarh. The group wielded lathis (wooden clubs) and bows and arrows. At roughly 9pm, the families woke up to a nightmare. A total of 10 people including 5 children were brutally attacked and warned not to return to the village.
Petrified and in a state of shock, the women clung to their children for dear life, while their husbands led them through a nearby jungle, as they ran for their lives under the cover of darkness. With great difficulty and in terrible pain, the Christians headed towards the home of *Raju, the Pastor of their Church. One couple reached Pastor Raju’s home at 2 am with a severe gash to his head from which he was bleeding profusely, while the rest of them began to gradually gather thereafter, all with serious wounds from the attack. Seeing the extent of their injuries, Raju immediately rushed them to the local government hospital which is 20 kms away. Two couples are currently recuperating at the government district Hospital. Read more

 

May 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Pastor Allowed to Return Home from India after More than Seven Months
Hindu nationalist government intended to forbid him to leave for at least five years.
Stranded in India for seven months and two weeks on a minor charge of failing to declare money, U.S. pastor Bryan Kevin Nerren was cleared of all allegations and allowed to return home this week, he said.
“I am back with family and friends at home,” Pastor Nerren told Morning Star News from Shelbyville, Tennessee, on Wednesday (May 20), having requested that word of his departure from India on Monday (May 18) not be published until he was safely out. “It is a wonderful time.”
The 59-year-old pastor had been arrested at Bagdogra airport on Oct. 5 for failing to report money he was carrying for his trip. Bagdogra is the closest airport to Sikkiim state in northeast India, where he had planned to attend a Sunday school conference along with two other U.S. pastors.

Read more

 

May 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT: The Federation of Indian American Christians (FIACONA) is pleased to learn that Pastor Bryan Nerren, of Shebyville, TN was allowed to return to the US by Modi government after confiscating his passport over 8 months ago.
Washington DC, May 19, 2020. Pastor Nerren's passport was confiscated by Modi government citing minor customs related misunderstanding upon landing in NE India via Delhi. Though he cleared his customs formalities in Delhi, the immigration officials arrested him in Badogra, NE India on Oct 5, 2019.
FIACONA had written to the President before he went to India in February 2020. Though the White House promised to work on the case, it took three additional months before the Modi government agreed to return Pastor Nerren's passport.
Pastor Nerren is expected to arrive in Nashville TN around 9:30 PM

 

May 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian persecution increased in India: Shibu Thomas
In December 2019, the UK-US based monitoring group Open Doors that publishes an annual World Watch List of 50 countries, ranked India 10th in the world where it is most dangerous to live as a Christian.
The report states that political rhetoric and ambiguous interpretations of the Freedom of Religion Acts (or “anti-conversion” laws) are responsible for the high rate of Christian persecution in India. It is mentioned that the persecution of Christians has worsened steadily from 2014 onwards.
These are also the times when more and more incidents of persecution of Christians are coming to the foreground of hate crimes in India. However, somehow these issues are not getting the required attention in the media, among the wider secular section as well as among the Christians themselves.
In order to fill this gap Persecution Relief has been consistently documenting cases of hate crimes on the Christians in India, trying to build more awareness on the issue persecution of the Christians and to generate support for the survivors and the necessary advocacy on this issue. Read more

 

May 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Arrest, Assault Christians Preparing Relief Aid in India
Officers pressured to accuse pastor, others of worship amid lockdown
A pastor and seven others putting relief packets together for the poor were assaulted by police who arrested them on a baseless allegation of gathering too many for worship amid the coronavirus lockdown in India, sources said.
Pastor Ramesh Kumar, 32, along with Christians Shri Chand, Rakesh Kumar and Mohit Kumar, were preparing aid packets on April 25 for distribution to the poor in Kakrahia village, near Kotiya, Kaushambi District, Uttar Pradesh state, when police stormed in and detained them and four others helping them, the pastor said.
“Before they detained us, the policemen used vulgar language and beat me, Rajendra and Rakesh with clubs,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “Rakesh sustained an injury on his hand and developed swelling because of the beating.” Read more

 

May 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unending suffering of poor migrant workers trying to reach home
When the Indian government announced the nationwide lockdown on March 24, millions of laborers across the country were left with no job, money or food to eat.
Though the government arranged transportation for poor migrants stranded in different cities to go home, the number was few compared to the need. Therefore, thousands of migrant workers chose to walk hundreds of miles to reach their villages.
For Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, it is "heart-breaking" to watch poor migrants with no wages, food or shelter trying to reach home on foot.

It is a source of "immense sorrow," the Christian leader said.

"Migrant workers, my people are without jobs, without food, without livelihood and security, without a roof over their heads, without hope, and they do not know what the future holds for them. This lockdown has pushed them into further deprivation and exclusion...." Read more

 

May 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT: Prime Minister Modi’s Office in a Damage Control Mode: Within twenty-four hours of sending the letter to the World Bank expressing concerns over the way in which COVID 19 related funds, including the nature and functioning of a newly created “PM CARES FUND” in India are handled, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) went into a damage control mode and made a U-Turn by making few details public. 
A few weeks ago, the PMO refused to divulge any information on this mysterious “Prime Minister Cares” fund created in a hurry while there is “Prime Minister’s Relief Fund” already available for the same purposes. 
On Monday, May 11, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA)  and Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC) sent a multifaith letter to the World Bank expressing concerns over how COVID 19 related funds are handled by the Indian government. Thirty-four different organizations signed it. The letter suggested the Bank to consider setting up an independent committee of eminent people in India to monitor the $ 1 Billion COVID 19 related relief package approved by the World Bank. On May 12, Tuesday night, the PMO reversed its position and issued a statement, saying the PM Cares Fund will spend $4.1 Billion (31,000 Crores Rupees) on COVID 19 related expenses. 

While FIACONA and STPC welcome the Prime Minister’s change of heart, we are disappointed that the information revealed is too vague and devoid of necessary details such as, how these contracts are awarded or to whom they are awarded, or if the government invited any bids before awarding the contracts. Read the Full Statement

May 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians, non-Hindus in India denied gov't aid during pandemic, groups say: As many Christians and other non-Hindus in India are being denied government-issued food rations amid the coronavirus pandemic, a coalition of multi-faith representatives are calling on President Donald Trump to hold the country’s leaders accountable.
On Monday, Save the Persecuted Christians in partnership with the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations delivered a letter to Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and World Bank Group President David Malpass.
The letter, signed by multi-faith representatives from 34 organizations and ministries, argues that the World Bank must seat an accountability committee to oversee and monitor India's use of the $1 billion aid package allocated to the country for COVID-19 related to testing and management.
John Prabhudoss, FIACONA chairman, told The Christian Post that the organization has received “several reports” of religious minorities in India being mistreated during the pandemic. Read more

May 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Jharkhand, a Mockery of 'Right to Food' as Lockdown Relief Measures Fail to Deliver
In Bhandariya block of Jharkhand’s Garhwa district, 76-year-old Lachhu Lohra sits alone.
“My wife died without eating anything,” he says.
Somaria Devi’s demise, on April 4, is the third starvation death in the state in April alone.
Her family had not had anything to eat for three days before her death. There was nothing in the house.
According to Census 2011, about 40% of Garhwa district’s population comprises people belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Of them, 8,611 families are categorised under the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) who are one of the most marginalised social groups in the state.
In addition to Garhwa, at least three more hunger-related deaths were reported from across the state in the lockdown period – differently-abled Meena Marandi in the Gomaria block of Bokaro district and Upasi Devi from the Gola block of the Ramgarh district. None of these families had a ration card. Read more

May 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT: The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) and Save The Persecuted Christians (STPC) jointly sent a letter to President Trump and Mr. David Malpass, the President of World Bank Group raising concerns about the COIVD-19 related policies of the government of India and the deployment of 1 Billion US Dollars lent by the World Bank. The letter addresses several systemic flaws in the Hindu nationalist government's approach to the problem. We are concerned that millions of people are being left out of the programs meant to help the people during this crisis. Several reports indicate that religious minorities are being unfairly singled out by the government in many places as a part of pandemic response. Read more

May 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Families Summoned, Beaten and Threatened with Death in Chhattisgarh, India
Christ-followers in various villages refuse to renounce faith.
Animists in central India last week told five Christian families they would lose their harvest lands unless they returned to their tribal religion and beat them when they refused, sources said.
When the families answered a summons to a meeting with Salhephal village leaders in Bastar District, Chhattisgarh state on Tuesday (May 5), they found the tribal elders estimating the value of their lands, pastor Sirisguda Ramdhar told Morning Star News. The Christians had forbidden a tribal animist leader, Dulla Poyami, to perform tribal worship on their land, he said.
“The village leaders told the Christians, ‘You are not partaking in our tribal rituals, and so we cannot allow you to profit from your agricultural lands,’” Pastor Ramdhar told Morning Star News. Read more

May 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian leaders say Supreme Court's ruling is limiting their right to manage medical institutions
On April 29, the Supreme Court of India ruled that medical schools run by religious minorities like Christians and Muslims do not have the right to admit medical degree students of their choice.
The court said all medical schools should admit students based on their merit list obtained through the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in order to have a single unified admitting process.
The constitution of India allows religious minorities to establish institutions and manage them for the betterment of their communities, which also gives them the right to admit students of their choice.
The court mentioned that the constitutional right is "not violated by provisions for the uniform entrance examination to all medical educational institutions under undergraduate level and postgraduate level through such designated authority."
For Christian leaders, the court order is limiting the rights of religious institutions as they cannot admit a student for a medical degree if he or she has not cleared the NEET.
Father Paul Parathazham, director of St. John's Medical College in Bengaluru, told UCA News that medical colleges run by churches have their own eligibility examinations that are conducted in a transparent way to select students.
After the court ruling, Father Parathazham admitted that such procedures are "no more possible." Read more

 

May 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu nationalists have falsely accused Christian missionaries of being behind the lynching of two Hindu priests, placing the country's already-persecuted Christian minority further at risk.
UCA News reports that after two Hindu priests and their driver were murdered by a mob in Gadchindhali village in Maharashtra's Palghar district in April, Christians were quickly blamed for the killing despite no clear evidence that any believers were involved.
The three individuals were on their way from Mumbai's Kandivili to Silvassa to attend a funeral when they were stopped by a vigilante group that was set up by locals to patrol during the night, the Times of India reported.
After questioning the men they suspected of being kidnappers or robbers, the mob pelted stones at them and later beat them with sticks. Though police attempted to intervene, the mob killed the three travelers. The police have detained over 100 people and nine minors in connection with the lynching.
Days later, Rakesh Sinha, a member of parliament from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and a senior spokesperson for the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, claimed on national television that Christian missionaries and the Communist Party of India were behind the murders, UCA News reports. Read more

 

May 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Government Committee Said ‘No CSR’ (Corporate Social Responsibility) for PM Relief Funds, Why the Sop for PM CARES?
Contribution to central government funds runs contrary to the philosophy of CSR which is the leveraging of innovation of the private sector to deliver public goods and services.
On March 28, 2020, as the incorporation of a new relief fund was announced by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Corporate Affairs swiftly issued a general circular which clarified that any contribution made to the new fund, that is the PM CARES Fund shall qualify as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) expenditure.
The circular’s impact is far greater impact than simply encouraging profit-making companies to supplement the government’s resources − it allows for uncapped contributions to a central government fund in direct contradiction of reports by committees specifically constituted to evaluate CSR legislation.
CSR became statutorily mandated after the enactment of the Companies Act, 2013.
Philanthropic activities that companies had been undertaking voluntarily were turned into a mandatory statutory provision. It required all companies that met a specified financial threshold to expend 2% of their average net profit towards CSR activities. Read more

 

Apr 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Refuses to Give Details on PM-CARES, Citing Controversial SC Statement
The PMO also refused information regarding the implementation of the national lockdown and how this decision was reached.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has refused to make documents related to the PM-CARES Fund public. The fund was set up to receive financial aid from the public to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, the PMO has also refused to make public details of high-level meetings on COVID-19 and on the decision to implement a lockdown, the correspondence between the Ministry of Health and the PMO in this regard, and files related to COVID-19 testing. It is significant to note that the PMO has not refused to share information in a straightforward manner but among many reasons, cited a controversial statement made by a bench of the Supreme Court. Read more

 

Apr 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emergency Powers during COVID 19 Shouldn't Be Weaponised to Suppress Dissent: UN Human Rights Chief
Shooting, detaining, or abusing someone for breaking a curfew because they are desperately searching for food is clearly an unacceptable and unlawful response, the UN body chief Michele Bachelet said
Referring to reports of use of excessive force to force citizens to abide with lockdown rules, she noted that most violations have often been committed against people belonging to the poorest and most vulnerable segments of population.
“Shooting, detaining, or abusing someone for breaking a curfew because they are desperately searching for food is clearly an unacceptable and unlawful response. So is making it difficult or dangerous for a woman to get to hospital to give birth. In some cases, people are dying because of the inappropriate application of measures that have been supposedly put in place to save them,” Bachelet said. Read more

Apr 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal animists beat pastor, threaten to destroy vocal cords to halt further evangelism. After demolishing a pastor's house and driving his family into the jungle, tribal animists in central India severely beat the Christian leader, threatening to destroy his vocal cords so he can no longer preach. Nearly a month after tribal animists expelled the Christian family from Bilood village in Madhya Pradesh state and destroyed their home, tribal animists ambushed Pastor Lalu Kirade as he returned from a grocery store.
Led by a man identified only as Laxman, seven individuals beat, choked, and pelted the pastor with a stone, Kirade told Morning Star News. "They had sprung on me like a pack of wild dogs," the pastor recalled. "They told me to call upon my God to come and rescue me." Read more

Apr 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT: The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) thanks the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for recognizing the grave downward spiral of affairs in India despite India being a democratic nation.
The fact that India prides herself as a democratic state makes it even more critical for her to behave like one respecting the fundamental rights of every citizens and not undermine any sections of the society.
The President of FIACONA Mr. Koshy George said, “I am worried that the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities continues even during the Coronavirus lockdown and I am very disappointed with Prime Minister Modi for not condemning such behavior of his party cadre forcefully”. Read More

Apr 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India has the resources to care for its embattled migrant workers – but does it have the will?
The government’s decision on March 24 to declare a lockdown at four-hours notice to attempt to slow the transmission of Covid-19, banning all transportation betrayed a lack of understanding of the dynamics of migration in India. As has been documented in horrendous detail, the decision triggered a massive reverse migration.
Roughly 79% of India’s migrants work for daily wages in factories or on construction sites. The SWAN survey found dhat 50% of workers had rations left for less than one day. Seventy two percent of the people surveyed said that their rations would finish in two days. Ninety six percent had not received rations from the government and 70% had not received any cooked food. Around 98% had not received any cash relief from the government.
21 days into the lockdown, the Stranded Workers Action Network, after surveying over 11,000 migrants across India, reported that by April 9, there had been at least 189 documented lockdown-related deaths (compared to 169 Covid-19 related deaths). The causes of death included suicide, death during the journey that migrant workers made to their home states, hunger and police brutality.
“It is no longer a trade-off between lives and livelihoods but between lives and lives,” the SWAN report said. Read more

Apr 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor in Central India Attacked for Police Report on Prior Assault, Expulsion
Tribal animists in central India who demolished a pastor’s house and drove him and his family out of their village in March seriously injured him in an assault this month, he said.
After beating, choking and pelting pastor Lalu Kirade with a stone in the April 3 attack, the tribal villagers in Khandwa District, Madhya Pradesh threatened to destroy his vocal chords as one of the assailants put her foot on his throat, he said.
“They had sprung on me like a pack of wild dogs,” Pastor Kirade told Morning Star News. “They told me to call upon my God to come and rescue me.”
Among the assailants was the man who began the assault on him in March for refusing to abandon Christianity, identified only as Laxman. In the most recent assault, the six men and two women of one extended family ambushed the 29-year-old pastor as he returned from a grocery shop near the yard where his family is living under the open sky three miles from his former home in Bilood village, he said. Read more

Apr 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epidemic making things worse for Christian Dalits: Says Bishop Nayak
"Our people are suffering a lot" from the coronavirus and the lockdown imposed by the authorities to fight the epidemic, said Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Behrampur (pictured), speaking to AsiaNews.
A priest for example was arrested recently for allegedly violating lockdown regulations. “Father Devendra Nayak, a Catholic priest in Mohana, was taken into police custody for crossing the street inside a Catholic parish compound,” the prelate explained.
“He was going from the hostel to the refectory building for lunch when the police entered the compound and detained him for a few hours. The distance between the two buildings is only 30 yards and the priest was crossing the road inside the compound.”
“I lodged a complaint with the additional district magistrate against the detention of our priest," said the Bishop. “The police entered the compound, despite claiming that they were outside.”
Bishop Nayak heads the Commission for Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Castes.  “In every situation, Christian Dalits suffer more marginalisation,” he explained. Read more

Apr 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians in India see dramatic increase of attacks in 2020.
India is ranked 10th on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The organization says that Christians in the country face “horrific” levels of violence from extremists, with thousands of attacks taking place every year.
Incidents targeting Indian Christians have risen steeply since 2014, when Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, according to Open Doors, which notes that at least one Christian was attacked every day last year.
John Prabhudoss, chairman of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, told The Christian Post that Modi's reelection has "brought about a sense of confidence among the Hindu radical party cadre that now they can attack the Christians and other religious minorities (Muslims) with impunity and they do not have to worry about the law enforcement."
"Most Christian victims in the past could not go to the police but now it is almost certain that only victims will be charged by the police if they go to them. The police are scared of acting against Hindu party members who are attacking the Christians," he said. Read more

Apr 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gunmen Shoot, Wound Daughter of Pastor Slain in 2015 in Eastern India
Family members are told they had not ‘learned lesson.’
A gunman at the door of a Christian family’s home in eastern India on Thursday (April 16) shot the daughter of a pastor who was killed in the same house five years ago, family members said.
Neelam Purty, 25, sustained bullet wounds in her thumb and thigh in the shooting she survived in Sandih village, near Binda village in Murhu Block, Jharkhand state, they said.
“Is this the house of the pastor who was killed?” one of two men asked family members at the door at about 8 p.m., according to Purty’s sister, Sharon Purty.
She said the men were trying to speak in the local Mundari dialect, but that it was clearly not their native language. They resorted to speaking Hindi, she said.
“That pastor was killed, but you did not learn a lesson,” the men said as they shouted at family members at the door, according to Sharon Purty, who said they added. “You have continued assembling in large numbers for Christian prayers. Where is the woman working as spy?” Read more

Apr 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is India targeting writers during the coronavirus pandemic?

Journalists, intellectuals and dissidents are being threatened by Modi’s government.
As a lethal virus scorches its way across continents, the leftwing Indian rights campaigner Gautam Navlakha has been reminding us of the words of Leonard Cohen, urging people to speak up for the right things: “There is a crack/a crack in everything, that’s how light gets in.” While many of us experience lockdown in varying degrees of constraint, Navlakha – who cited Cohen’s lyrics in a recent statement – faces actual incarceration as does another high-profile Indian, the eminent academic and Dalit intellectual Prof Anand Teltumbde. Meanwhile, Siddharth Varadarajan, the well-known journalist and a founder-editor of the respected investigative online portal the Wire, faces prosecution in an unrelated case. While locking down its vast population from coronavirus, why is India seeking to lock up dissident intellectuals and intimidate journalists? Read more

Apr 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

366 targeted violence and hate crimes against Christians in 2019: EFI
As per the annual report published by the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), as many as 366 incidents of violence against Christians, mostly related to physical violence, threats, harassment and the disruption of church services were reported in 2019.
Reports from the Religious Liberty Commission (RLC), an EFI initiative, showed that hate crimes and targeted violence against Christians is worst seen in states like Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
RLC pointed out that Uttar Pradesh, the most populated state in the country, accounted for almost a quarter of all incidents against Christians. The Hindu YuvaVahini group, founded by Yogi Adityanath, is a Hindu youth militia that has been involved in communal violence and in targeting religious minorities.
Following Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu was the second worst place for Christians to be in. The state recorded 60 anti-Christian violence, which is traced to caste supremacist attitudes in villages and their linkages with political elements. Read more

Apr 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BJP Mob disrupts Christian NGO’s food distribution in Uttar Pradesh
The commissioner, unaware of the permission given to the NGO, asked the police to act. “But later he came to know that it was done by a political party,” the priest said without mentioning the name of the party.
“We were distributing provision for about 3,000 families in Electronic City in the Sector 62 of Noida when a mob disrupted our work. Seeing the crowd the police asked us to wind up and we complied,” said Indian Missionary Society Father Joson John Tharakan, director of the Board for Research Education and Development
The Noida-based NGO is managed by the Delhi province of the Indian Missionary Society. It supports some 40,000 school children in six states with education and meals.
In view of the lockdown, BREAD decided to distribute 5 kg wheat flour to some 30,000 families living in Noida.
They started the distribution on April 15 with the support of the Noida administration and the police, Father Tharakan told Matters India April 17 after the mob disrupted their work. Read more

Apr 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Mumbai jobless tribal migrants risk hunger as a result of coronavirus
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to lock down the whole country, closing businesses and banning travel, has created an army of poor people, forcing more than 120 million day labourers into destitution all at once.
Kuldeep Kerketta, 22, is one of them. Originally from Odisha, the tribal man arrived in Mumbai last January, seeking work to support his mother, sisters and brother.
"When the lockdown was announced, the factory shut down and I didn’t get paid. No salary,” he said. Now he is “homeless, jobless and hungry.”
The lockdown came into effect on 25 March until 20 April, but Prime Minister Modi yesterday extended it until 3 May
So far, India seems to have contained the pandemic. In total, the authorities have reported 9,756 COVID-19 cases with 377 deaths. However, many fear that the virus might reach the slums and the countryside. Once that happens, up to 300 million people might be infected. Read more

Apr 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell on the Yamuna as hundreds starved for days after Delhi shelters went up in flames
Migrant workers allege the administration stopped serving them food after shelters were set ablaze on Saturday.
The banks of the Yamuna in Delhi have swollen up with men who cannot go home. On Tuesday afternoon, some lay curled over nothing more than a gamcha or cloth towel. A few guarded their bags and belongings by using them as pillows. Others had nothing on them apart from their clothes.
Hundreds of these daily-wage earners are now confined to the garbage- and excreta-laden shores of the river near Kashmere Gate, less than 10 km from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a televised speech in the morning telling Indians why a three-week nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the coronavirus epidemic had to extended by another fortnight. Read more

Apr 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian leaders raise concern over migrant workers trapped in Mumbai
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the nationwide lockdown will be extended until May 3, hundreds of migrant workers in Mumbai gathered near the Bandra railway station asking the government to arrange transportation so that they could return to their villages safely.
Expressing dismay, Father Jaison Vadassery, secretary to the Conference of the Catholic Bishops' of India Commission for Migrants, told UCA News that "It is a matter of concern for the government and all of us because we have to make sure that vulnerable migrants don't suffer and we have to fight together against Covid-19, which has taken many lives in our country."
"We can't ignore their plight because they are the ones who are suffering the most during the lockdown. We have to collectively work to address their situation because many have run out of money and depend on the mercy of others," he added. Read more

Apr 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quarantine India, the tragedy of hundreds of millions of poor. Aid from dioceses
Dioceses all over India are rushing to respond to the tragedy of the poor, who suffer most from the quarantine imposed across the country to contain the coronavirus infection.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr. Felix Machado, archbishop of Vasai and secretary general of the Indian Episcopal Conference (CBCI), declares: “Over the years, the intensive and extensive network of our Small Christian Communities are serving people.  Our Unit leaders all over India, know the details of the people living in their zones. We also refer to them as Basic Human Communities, as not one is excluded".
The fragile conditions of the poor are causing a humanitarian crisis. The blockade of the country has left millions of people unemployed in the big cities, mostly economic migrants who flocked to cities from rural areas in search of better conditions. The little they earn they send home to families left behind in the villages. Read more

Apr 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telangana State: Police Inspector Suspended for allowing Hindu Nationalist Paramilitary to Control the Checkpoints and distribute Corona lockdown relief material.
Police Says RSS Workers at Checkposts Had No Permission
As photographs on social media showing RSS workers manning a police check post in Telangana triggered a row, officials on Sunday said no permission was given to the volunteers and they were told to leave the place. The police inspector in charge of the check post, has since been shifted and attached to the headquarters, police said adding no case had been registered over the incident.
Indian Express has quoted Rachakonda police commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat as having said, “This is the job of the police and we can do it. No permission has been given [to the RSS workers].”
The RSS, on its part, dismissed as ‘false’ the reports about its members checking ID cards at checkposts and said these were motivated by “narrow and vested interests”. Read more

Apr 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unwilling to recant her faith, Christian woman leaves husband and family in Odisha: A Christian woman in Odisha leaves house and family after facing brutal treatment from her husband for following Christianity.
Kasturi from Tumhara village started following Christ in 2019 because she found a sense of peace when the church community carried her daily burdens. However, the decision to follow Christianity came with a coast for Kasturi. From the day she was baptized, her husband started to curse her and verbally abuse her. There were times when her husband would kick her out of the house. She would find shelter at her cousin's place and later return home to care for her children.
On January 19, 2020, when her husband was not at home, Kasturi went to attend a Sunday worship service. For her surprise, when she returned, her husband was already back. He greeted her with a brutal beating. He told her to recant her Christian faith otherwise she would never be allowed to step out of the house. Read more

April 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Beaten into Coma by Tribal Animists in Odisha State, India
Shunned, impoverished family threatened with starvation.
A young mother and her two children were staring at her husband as he lay unconscious after a mob of 60 villagers in eastern India had stormed their home and beaten him with wooden sticks.
“The children and I tried to wake him up – we thought he had fainted – but there was no response,” Bhimeshwari Sodi told Morning Star News. “We cried out for help, but there was nobody to help us. The neighbors said that he was dead.” The animist mob, worshippers of the gods of their tribal religion, beat 30-year-old Kama Sodi unconscious in Odisha state’s Kodalmetla village, Malkangiri District on the morning of March 12, she said. They had first attacked him the night before, surrounding his house as he, his wife and children were praying as they would before bed, Bhimeshwari Sodi said. Read more

April 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian group feeds poor people in Delhi
A Christian group has been distributing home-cooked food and rations to people in need in different parts of Delhi since March 25.
Unity in Christ, a registered NGO, is led by Minakshi Singh, chairperson, who spearheads the efforts to feed people who affected by the 21-day lockdown due to COVID-19 in India.
“We are making food for distribution for poor people. We have also decided to give raw food packets and homemade food in optional days as long as this lockdown lasts, Singh told Matters India.
“We intend to render service to people in need during these difficult times. They need our support. Our efforts are all being done by donations of different religious people, of goodwill and walk of life for this noble cause,” Singh said.
In the beginning, the number was about 50 people. Gradually the number on the increase as much as 400 people, she informed. Other team members are Sanjay McGee, Dipika McGee, Noel Shashi, Tina Paul and Noel Shashi and a few others from different faith groups. Read more
April 1 Police Detain Christians Providing Aid to the Poor in Tamil Nadu, India
Hindu nationalist beats church members, officer slaps them, pastor says. Police in southern India’s Tamil Nadu state rushed to a slum where Christians were providing food and other aid earlier this month and detained them on false charges of forcible conversion, sources said.
Marakkanam police in Viluppuram District humiliated the Christians, including the presbyter of the Viluppuram Church of South India, accusing them in coarse language of trying to fraudulently convert the poor in the guise of providing basic necessities, said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Perumal Kanagaraj.
Shortly after Pastor Kanagaraj and about 30 young adults from the church arrived from Viluppuram to the nearby slum area of Anumandai village on March 8, a member of the Hindu Munnani extremist group showed up and began uttering obscenities at them, the church leader said. Read more

April 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Indian Church urged to care for stranded migrants
Catholic bishops of Ranchi, eastern India, have appealed their fellow prelates to reach out to millions of migrant laborers stranded in the country by the 21-day national lockdown.
“These are difficult times and even as we live in lockdown and make every attempt to keep ourselves safe, thousands of migrants are stuck where they are, not knowing where to go or have hit the road with their families and children without transport, monetary means or alimentary provisions,” says the March 28 appeal from Jesuit Archbishop Felix Toppo of Ranchi and Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 8 pm on March 24 ordered the nationwide lockdown from the midnight of that day as way to prevent spread of the Covid-19. It limits the movement of the country’s 1.37 billion people for 21 days.
The lockdown was preceded by a 14-hour voluntary public curfew on March 22. The lockdown has caught millions of migrants and daily wagers off guard, leaving them no time to return home. Hundreds of thousands of them are now seen stranded at bus or railway stations or walking to their villages hundreds of kilometers away. Read more

April 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIACONA is Concerned About the Distribution of Much Needed Supplies to Vulnerable Sections of the Population During the
Coronavirus Lockdown. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) is pleased to learn that 2.9 million dollars is allocated for India to fight the Coronavirus issue in the stimulus bill.
Due to the complete lockdown, all private traders and grocers in India had to shut down their shops leaving the public at large with no options to buy even the vegetables and groceries from anywhere for their day to day survival. The Indian government wants to take the sole responsibility of distributing all vegetables and groceries for each family in the whole country for the remaining 2 weeks of the 21 day lockdown or until the lockdown is lifted.
It is an effort that was never tried at this scale. The entire 1.3 billion people are going to be needing such deliveries when they run out of basic groceries at homes soon if they have not already run out. Read more

Mar 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus Exposes India’s Official Callousness
The largest lockdown in history is not, to put it mildly, going as planned. Within a few days of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing on national television that the country was being shut down for three weeks, hundreds of thousands took to the country’s highways, marching long distances back to their home towns and villages. Others thronged bus stations—the trains are not running—hoping for a bus back home. At least 22 people have reportedly died in the mass migration, exhausted and hungry.
The point of India’s lockdown, as elsewhere, is to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus. But, if anything, this vast movement of people likely means the virus will find its way to the poorer rural parts of India where it could do the most damage. There’s certainly little social distancing in evidence in the photos of thousands of people jostling each other waiting for buses. Read more

Mar 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India’s coronavirus emergency just beginning as lockdown threatens to turn into human tragedy
A week after Narendra Modi ordered the largest national lockdown the planet has ever seen and Delhi's Bhogal market is little quieter than usual.
Rather than being confined to home to stop the spread of Covid-19, large groups of residents instead huddle together in the shade, drinking tea and playing cards.
Street vendors continue to hawk fresh fruit and vegetables and the police watch as daily life in the capital's backstreets continues, apparently content to enforce movement restrictions only on the capital's major thoroughfares.
The failure to abide by the prime minister's decree is due to necessity, rather than defiance, said Muhammad Asif, 21, a cycle-rickshaw driver scanning the crowd for customers. The three-week-long social distancing precautions ordered by Mr Modi are an unaffordable luxury for tens of millions of daily-wage labourers. Read more

Mar 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu leader threatens Christians with new wave of persecution
In a media interview, Milind Parande, the General Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, claimed that Hindus were being forced to convert to Christianity and Islam.
Most attacks on Christians are launched under the pretext of the alleged "forcible" conversion of Hindus. According to India's own population data, the conspiracy of mass conversions to Christianity does not hold up, says the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern. "In 1951, the first census after independence, Christians made up only 2.3% of India's overall population. According to the 2011 census, the most recent census data available, Christians still only make up 2.3% of the population." Read more

Mar 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians Suffer Police Brutality, Illegal Arrests in Uttar Pradesh, India
Church members forced to pose like Christ on the cross during beating.
On March 15 a church of 200 people was immersed in a Sunday service when 30 Hindu extremists brandishing hockey sticks and steel rods arrived with police at the worship hall built on the premises of the pastor’s home in the Kunda area of Pratapgarh District, sources said.
“Once I saw them armed with hockey sticks and steel rods, I understood that they had come to attack us,” Pastor Indresh Kumar Gautam, 24, told Morning Star News. “I got down from the pulpit and decided to face them before they cause nuisance or attack any of the members of the congregation.” He could see they were young men of the Hindu extremist Bajrang Dal from his and neighboring villages, he said. The pastor said they accused the church of increasing conversions to Christianity in the area. Read more

Mar 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A matter of faith: Blog by Robin David
Recently, a statue of Lord Jesus and 14 crosses portraying events in the Passion of Christ, from his condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his entombment, were removed from a cemetery in Karnataka near Bengaluru by the district administration. It was alleged that the church was encroaching on public land and involved in forcible conversions.
The rule of law and secularism are at the heart of the Indian Constitution and Indian laws. The rule of law assures us of equality before it and equal treatment of laws, liberty, dignity, personal freedom and the right to life. The Preamble to our Constitution and Articles 25 and 26 dealing with freedom of religion guarantee equality to all individuals and groups irrespective of their beliefs. They also emphasise that there is no religion of the State itself. The concept of secularism is one facet of the right to equality woven as the central golden thread in the fabric depicting the pattern of the scheme of the Constitution as noted in the M Ismail Faruqui vs the Union of India case. Read more

Mar 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical group attacks Christian hospital and its staff in Mandya
Christian hospital in Mandya was attacked by a group of radical Hindus who claimed that the public relations officer and the hospital administrator denigrated Hindu deities.
The attack took place after an elderly Hindu patient at Sanjo Hospital with high blood pressure questioned Simon George, the public relation officer, about the Bible that was in his room. Simon answered him saying that he could read the Bible if he was interested.
On the very next day, after the elderly was discharged from the hospital, members of RSS stormed into the hospital and attacked Simon and Sister Nirmal Jose, the hospital administrator.
When local police arrived at the place of incident, they took both the Christians into custody instead of helping them.
"There is nothing criminal or illegal about keeping a Bible in a hospital room," said Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC). "No Hindu deity has been offended," he Read more

Mar 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HC rejects BJP leader's petition to ban religious conversions
The Delhi High Court on March 13 asked BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay to withdraw his petition that called for a ban on religious conversions.
A bench of Chief Justice D. N. Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar asked Upadhyay himself to withdraw the petition instead of rejecting it and stated that professing a religion was a matter of personal belief and to convert to a different faith was an individual's choice.
In his petition, Upadhyay claimed that many individuals/organizations have started conversions of SC/STs in rural areas and "the situation is very alarming."
"The mass religious conversion of the socially economically downtrodden men, women and children, and, in particular of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe community, is on the rise in the past 20 years," the petition said. Read more

Mar 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members of Congress demand India release detained American pastor Bryan Nerren
Members of Congress are demanding that the government of India release a Tennessee pastor who continues to be detained in the country even after he resolved a customs case brought against him for allegedly not paying duty on money he brought into the country.
"We write to bring your attention to the case of Bryan Kevin Nerren Sr. of Shelbyville, Tennessee. We are immediately concerned with the health of the Nerren family, including Mr. Nerren's daughter with special needs, who has been hospitalized with pneumonia as Mr. Nerren remains in India without a clear point of return," Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Reps. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., and Jody Hice, R-Ga., wrote in a letter to the Indian Foreign Secretary Read more

Mar 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Former Chief Justice of India, Mr. Gogoi’s nomination to Upper House of Parliament is a tragic blow to judicial independence:
More than being a reward for a retired judge, the offer of a cushy post-retirement job is a message to judges who are still working.
This isn’t the first post-retirement political job the Narendra Modi government has given a judge. In 2014, former Chief Justice P Sathasivam was appointed governor of Kerala.
Throughout his tenure as chief justice, Gogoi was criticised for siding with the government on important matters. Whether it was the investigation into the alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal or the controversy over the position of the Central Bureau of Investigation director, decisions were either delayed or were openly pro-government. He also provided the Centre a roadmap for a nationwide National Register of Citizens by ramming through the flawed process in Assam.
The government is by far the biggest litigator before the higher judiciary. Every such appointment puts under question the court’s ability to adjudicate matters without fear or favour. Unless the Supreme Court decides to stop such political appointments, the idea judicial independence will become mere rhetoric. Read more

Mar 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modi govt to track each and every aspect of 1.2 billion people,
Modi government is in concluding phase to make a database to track every aspect of 1.2 billion citizens’ lives
Modi government is in concluding phase to make a database to track every aspect of 1.2 billion people lives, according to a report in Huffington Post India. According to a previously undisclosed government document, the government is planning to create an all-encompassing, auto-updating, searchable database to track each and every resident of the country.
If this project becomes a reality, it will automatically track when a citizen moves between cities, changes jobs, buys a new property; when a new member of a family is born, dies or gets married and moves to their spouse’s home. Read more
Mar 16 Four Christians tortured by police in UP, India
Police officials and radical Hindu nationalists disrupted a Christian congregation of 150 and detained four Christians in a police station for over eight hours in Uttar Pradesh's Dhamayapur village on March 15.
According to Mohit, one of the four detained Christians, a dozen police officers and a mob of over 30 Bajrang Dal activists attacked the regular Sunday worship where around 150 Christians had gathered.
"I saw a crowd advancing towards us. I was so frightened. I was also really worried for my congregation," Mohit to International Christian Concern (ICC).
The assaulters broke into the worship hall and started to hit the Christians. "The Bajrang Dal activists told us that we are converting people in the name of casting out evil spirits and spreading a foreign faith," Mohit said. Read more

Mar 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizenship Amendment Act: Reading the UN body’s intervention in Supreme Court
The intervention doesn’t touch upon the sovereignty of Parliament. It may be prudent for the SC to allow it.
On March 4, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, filed an intervention in the Supreme Court on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA). She sought to intervene as an amicus in a petition challenging the constitutionality of the CAA. This move raises some interesting questions such as the locus of international law actors to intervene in domestic proceedings, and the extent to which international law influences the interpretation of domestic legal provisions. More generally, the intervention and the government’s attitude to it also reflects on the latter’s willingness to engage with international law actors on domestic issues, which have international legal implications, and the consequences for its standing in the world community as an international law-abiding nation. Read more

Mar 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal animists in central India drove a Christian family into the jungle last week, with one later intercepting their 9-year-old girl and threatening to kill her if she went to school again, her father said.
On Wednesday (March 11), two days after an attack expelling the Christians from Bilood village in Madhya Pradesh state, the wife of the primary assailant stopped the girl (name withheld) as she returned from school to her makeshift refuge in the jungle, her father said. The woman’s husband, identified only as Laxman, had led the March 9 attack on the family of pastor Lalu Kirade, with the assailants later demolishing their home in Khandwa District.
Holding her by her hair, Laxman’s wife asked her how dare she enter the village,” Pastor Kirade said. “[Name withheld] told her that she cannot miss school as her annual examinations are taking place. But Laxman’s wife pulled my daughter’s hair and threatened her that she should not been seen in the village or she would be beaten to death.” Read more

Mar 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Delhi and Telangana also oppose Modi-Shah’s citizenship ‘Masterstroke’
Modi govt’s various measures on citizenship are running into difficulty. Delhi and Telangana are the latest to oppose the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register
A few days ago, the Bihar government, too, which is a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), voiced its opposition to the NRC and the NPR unless the latter adhered to the 2010 format. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision was hailed by his main political rival in the state, Tejashvi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), who said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had been “pushed back 1,000 km”. There are now 12 states and Union territories which have opposed these proposed legislations. Read more

Mar 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amit Shah’s NPR word vs rule: Yet another fine example of the deception of both Modi and his deputy Shah. This illlustrates why the world could not trust anything Modi government says. Theur public statements keeps changing everyday with no relevance to truth. They seem to be speaking from both sides depending on who they are talking to. Now they say,

'No document will be sought under the NPR; you are free to give whatever information you want'. 
Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday said no one would be marked “doubtful” if they did not provide all the information sought for the preparation of the National Population Register (NPR), adding that no documents needed to be furnished during the process, either.
Shah was responding in the Rajya Sabha to a specific question on the NPR from Congress MP Kapil Sibal during a discussion on the Delhi riots, for which the home minister and the BJP have sought to blame the countrywide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“No document will be sought under the NPR. You are free to give whatever information you want. Nobody will be marked a doubtful citizen. No one should be scared of the NPR process,” Shah said amid a volley of questions from the Opposition. Read more

Mar 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascim works swiftly, silently
Strong nationalism, xenophobia, 'us versus them' rhetoric are some common features of ultra-right-wing authoritarianism
Ultra-right-wing authoritarianism, as political ideology, is not constructed from any specific world view of human thought and social behaviour. It is a variety of political practice that usually emerges out of a dysfunctional liberal capitalist State, marked by widespread corruption, extreme inequality, and growing economic distress. There are variants of such political practices given the context of the nation where it strikes roots. There are also a few core features that are common across nations. These features are well known: a very strong brand of nationalism along with xenophobia targeted at some ethnic or religious groups. There is the ‘us versus them’ political rhetoric that defines the enemy within the borders of the nation, against whom popular hatred and anger is fomented. Read more

Mar 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha contradicts his own Home Ministry’s NPR gazette notification information
Amid concerns expressed by Opposition parties in Parliament and anti-CAA/NRC protesters on the streets about the National Population Register (NPR), Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in Rajya Sabha that no documents would be required to be submitted during the exercise while saying that no one would be marked “doubtful”
However, the "population register" gazette notification by Shah’s own ministry mentions the NPR as the first step towards preparing the NRIC. This is what the Sub-Rule (5) of Rule 3 of the 2003 Rules says: "The Local Register of Indian citizens shall contain details of persons after due verification made from the population register."
This is the first step towards NRIC as sub-rule (5) says this would be prepared "after due verification" of the population register. Read more

Mar 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Crime and Complicity: The Think Edge: How did we hand over the country to know-nothing, dogmatic reactionaries?
After targeted killings and mayhem started in northeast Delhi, I shared a friend's post on my facebook wall: "I have a question for all my friends who believe in this current government. If I can provide irrefutable evidence that this violence was committed by goons effed on by kapil Mishra and other BJP leaders and the police was specifically asked to co-operate, would you change your mind? Would you question the communal agenda of the people you voted into power? Because I have the evidence. You can decide that enough is enough and call out the people you voted in. Or you can continue to pretend that these are just fringe elements and irritations and the government and the likes of Adityanath and Shah ahve no communal agenda. Its getting to a point where you probably have to decide Read more

Mar 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing attacks against pastors in Karnataka; local sources blame police inaction
More than 150 radical Hindu nationalists wearing t-shirts that said "Jai Sri Ram" broke into a worship service in Bennakoop village, in Karnataka's Gadag district and brutally assaulted the church pastor who was later hospitalized.
Pastor Manju Keralli was leading the service on March 1 when a group of radicals entered and assaulted the Christian congregation. They destroyed the church furniture and instrument, and started to beat the pastor.
"I fell to the ground after receiving several punches and kicks," pastor Keralli told International Christian Concern (ICC).
"Then, they dragged me out of the meeting hall, tied me to a tree outside, and further released blows and punches. They took me to two other places in the same village and tied me to an electrical pole and a pillar in the marketplace. All the time they continued their physical harassment for more than three hours," pastor Keralli explained. Read more

Mar 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian Leader in India Run Over by Motorcycle borne Modi supporters
Violence against Christians in India hit a new level on Tuesday (March 3) when Hindu extremists ran their motorcycles over a key evangelical leader after beating him, sources said.
Armed with bamboo rods and a thick metal chain with a heavy lock on it, the 10 Hindu nationalists in Sehore, Madhya Pradesh state beat Isaac Paulose, 48, and then ran their five motorcycles over him, fracturing one of his ribs, said Uttar Kumar Deep, pastor of Grace Fellowship Church of CEA (Christian Evangelistic Assemblies), Sehore.
Paulose, an elder at the church and Madhya Pradesh coordinator of the New India Evangelistic Association, was attacked shortly after dropping his 5-year-old son off at school that morning, Pastor Deep said.
Paulose was in his car when a Hindu nationalist on a motorcycle stopped him and told him to get out, he said. Read more

Mar 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I grieve for my country as never before: Julio Ribeiro
People I have known for ages and counted as my friends are vertically divided. Our only hope of success is that our two great leaders suddenly begin to realise that India with its diversity will be destroyed if they insist on taking the suicidal path they have chosen.
To march to the desired goal of a Hindu Rashtra, which will compete with Pakistan in the number of religious extremists dictating terms to their armies and their governments, Mr Modi and Mr Shah conjured a well-planned strategy of winning as many elections as they possibly could. Unfortunately, for them, they have lost a spate of state elections. The Delhi election was too prestigious to lose and hence their fall-back on ‘galis’ and ‘golis’, which vitiated the political atmosphere to such an extent that I dread the long-term consequences of this misstep. The riots in Delhi were the natural consequence of all the hate that was spread by the BJP’s motor mouths. Read more

Mar 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modi govt muzzling democratic dissent : Opposition demands release of 3 former J&K CMs
Slamming the central government, the opposition leaders said, “in the government of Shri Narendra Modi, democratic dissent is being muzzled by coercive administrative action, which has threatened the basic ideals of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as enshrined in our Constitution”
“Nothing exemplifies this more starkly than the continuing detention, on flimsiest of grounds, of three former Chief Ministers of Jammu & Kashmir — Dr Farooq Abdullah, Shri Omar Abdullah and Smt Mehbooba Mufti — for over seven months. There is nothing in the past records of these three leaders to lend credence to the Modi government’s false and self-serving claim that they pose a threat to “public safety” in J&K or that they have endangered national interests with their activities,” Read more

Mar 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Radical group attacks family members when they did not find their target
A group of six radicals attacked a family in Chhattisgarh when they did not find the evangelists they were looking for and destroyed a year's food supply the family had stored.
The incident took place on February 20, when Podiya Tati was away from home. The radicals targeted Tati for attending a church service far from his home instead of taking part in the village's festival.
When the radicals did not find Tati at home on the day of attack, they beat his mother, Jimmey and wife, Hung, instead. The two were hospitalized and may take several days to be discharged. After beating the family members, the radicals destroyed a year's food supply that was stored in the house, their personal identification documents and a borewell that was recently installed to store Read more

Mar 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian hospital official arrested on false charges of proselytising near Bangalore India.
Hindu extremists beat up hospital staff. Arrested official was denied bail.
Members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu group, on Monday stormed the Sanjo Hospital, Mandya district in the state of Karnataka, and beat up Simon George, a public relations officer, and Sister Nirmal Jose the hospital administrator.
The extremists claim that the two denigrated Hindu deities. Instead of helping the victims of the attack, police took Simon George into custody. He applied for bail but the court turned him down.
For Fr Josekutty Kalayil, who takes care of the hospital's legal affairs, the incident stems from the hospitalisation on Sunday of an elderly Hindu with high blood pressure.
Just before he was discharged, the man asked why there was a Bible in his room. Simon George, who was doing a routine tour, replied that he could read it if he was interested. This was followed shortly afterwards by the attack. Read more

Mar 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A court in Karnataka, southern India, on March 5 denied bail to the public relations officer of a Catholic hospital.
The police arrested Simon George, the PRO of Sanjo Hospital in Mandya town, three days ago.
Kalayil said the case was connected with the admission of an elderly person with high blood pressure on March 1. The next day, as he was about to be discharged the man asked George, who visited the room as part of his routine job, why a copy of the Bible was kept there.
George answered that it was Christians’ holy book and those interested could read it.
The man called his son, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the umbrella body of Hindu rightwing groups, who came to the hospital immediately with some 20 people. They accused the hospital administrator of religious conversion.
More people joined the group, who entered the PRO’s room and thrashed him. The attackers also informed the police who came and took George into custody. The police then registered a case against him accusing him of attempts to convert, and hurting religious sentiments. A court then sent George to jail. Read more

Mar 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police officials remove religious pieces from Christian burial land in Karnataka
Christian leaders in Karnataka condemn the act of police and revenue officers for removing 14 crosses and a statue of Jesus Christ from the three-decade-old burial place in Doddasagarahalli village on allegations that Christians were infringing the government land.
Church officials denied the allegations of Christians encroaching on government land or engaging in religious conversions and said that the police acted according to the right-wing Hindu groups who would have pressurized the officials to remove religious pieces from the burial land in Mahima Betta hillock.
According to Father Cyril Victor Joseph of the archdiocesan media commission, the 4.5 acre burial land has been used by Catholics for almost three decades with no objections from local people and that the land was legally given to the Church by the government.
"We have documents to prove the ownership," he told UCA News on March 4. "It is unfortunate that officials pulled down the statue and crosses without even allowing to hear us." Read more

Mar 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Archbishop Machado: Return the statue of Christ, taken from the Christian cemetery. A statue depicting Jesus was removed from the Mahima Betta cemetery in the village of Doddasagarahalli (Karnataka) yesterday. The archbishop of Bangalore, Peter Machado criticizes the local authorities for bowing to the claims of groups outside the village, who accuse the faithful of having made forced conversions. In reality, the people of the village confirmed that there is peace and friendship between Christians and other religious communities. We publish below the statement issued by the archbishop. In Karnataka there are more and more episodes of intolerance by Hindu fundamentalist groups. In recent months, radical groups demonstrated against another statue of Christ in Kanakapura. Read more

Mar 4

 

 

 

Christianity crackdown. Nine Pastors beaten by police in India for spreading message of God. A group of nine Christians were assaulted by Indian police over claims that they were trying to foce people to change religions. Read more

Mar 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to uphold idea of India: Bishop Mascarenhas: The Church believes in an inclusive society, said Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas of Ranchi archdiocese.
He was also the secretary-general of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI). Bishop Mascarenhas told The Telegraph, “The present chief minister (of Jharkhand) is a nice person and we are hopeful that the Church would be able to continue its services in the state smoothly. There’s a lot of work to be done.”
He added that everyone, irrespective of religion, acknowledges the “contributions of the Church in the fields of education, health care and social transformation” and hoped it would continue.
Christians go back a long way in Ranchi. Though a small band of Christian missionaries belonging to the Protestant Church had reached Ranchi in 1845, the Roman Catholic Church started functioning in the region three decades later in 1885. Read more

Mar 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribal Villagers in India Beat Christian Family, Destroy Food Supply
Evangelist with injured relatives in hospital, afraid to go home.
Not finding the Christian evangelist they planned to attack at home, worshippers of village deities in central-eastern India beat his mother, wife and 11-month-old son and destroyed a year’s food supply, sources said.
Podiya Tati’s mother, Jimmey Tati, has been in a hospital bed in Dantewada District, Chhattisgarh state with a broken hand and injuries to her back and legs since the Feb. 20 attack with thick wooden rods. The six assailants left with threats that they would kill her son when he returned, sources said.
Evangelist Tati, 30, was away on a paint job in Kirandul, 93 miles from their home in Tikanpal village, when the tribal animists attacked his mother and his 28-year-old wife, Hungi Tati. They struck Hungi Tati with the rods on her hands, thighs and back, sources said. Read more

Feb 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

False Accusations Seriously Disrupt Lives of Eight Acquitted Christians in India: False charges against eight Christians acquitted on Feb. 19 of kidnapping and forcible conversion in central India have traumatized families and cost them jobs, sources said.
Schoolteacher Amiya Jal, one of the Christians arrested on May 22, 2017 for allegedly abducting and forcefully converting 59 children, was suspended from his job at a reputable school while he spent 103 days in jail unable to obtain bail, he said.
“Even after I was bailed out, my school did not take me back, and so I was jobless for more than two years,” Jal told Morning Star News. “In July 2019 I have joined a school but not at my terms, as I was still under trial when they appointed me.” Read more

Feb 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian leaders disappointed with Trump's silence over declining religious freedom in India: Christian leaders in India are greatly disappointed with President Trump's silence over declining religious freedom in the country during his first two-day state visit that concluded on February 25.
In Tuesday's media conference, Trump praised Narendra Modi for his government policy and said that the prime minister of India "wants people to have religious freedom very strongly."
Trump also stated that religious freedom or any religion-based violence going on in the country were an internal matter for India.
Trump's failure to comment on the violence that radical Hindu nationalists are carrying out in the name of religion against religious minorities in the country has disappointed Christian leaders who had great expectations from the leader. Read more

Feb 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump compliments Modi over religious freedom despite ongoing persecution and riots. President Trump concluded his two-day state visit to India on Tuesday and said the prime minister of India "wants people to have religious freedom very strongly."
In a media conference in New Delhi, Trump said "I will say the prime minister was incredible on what he said... He wants people to have religious freedom very strongly. And he said in India they have worked very hard, they have great and open religious freedom."
His statement came after at least 20 people, including a policeman, were killed in a violent protest in New Delhi over the controversial citizenship law. Read more

Feb 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Modi keeps the American Christians at bay while befriending Trump: - George Abraham.
On the surface, President Trump appears committed fully to the idea of Religious Freedom. He has been very vocal about the issue on many forums that include the United Nations. To his credit, he has appointed Mr. Sam Brownback, a conservative Catholic, to the position at the State Department as the Ambassador of Religious freedom. Evangelical leaders in the U.S. are some of the most ardent supporters of this President anywhere because of his clear commitment to the cause. To the delight of his Evangelical base, he has not only spoken against the 'Johnson Amendment' that prohibits Clergy from commenting on politics from the pulpit but also issued an Executive order that lessens its enforcement power and limits its bureaucratic oversight. Read more

Feb 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religious community violence in Delhi, 20 victims: it is 'state terrorism'
The clashes have been raging for four days. Videos show the police standing by without intervening in beatings. Two mosques desecrated. Archdiocese spokesman: "India owes its freedom to non-violent struggle"
The toll of religious community clashes in the Indian capital has risen to 20 victims, which continue for the fourth consecutive day. The neighborhoods affected by the protests are those in the north-east quadrant, mostly inhabited by the Islamic population.
The clashes are the result of the new citizenship law, which discriminates against the faithful of Islam. Speaking to AsiaNews A C Michael, a former member of the Delhi Minorities Commission, condemns the violence and calls it "state terrorism". Read more

Feb 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi riots: Judge transferred after grilling government, police: The federal government on February 26 night notified the transfer of Delhi High Court judge Justice S Muralidhar to Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The transfere notification came just hours after Justice S Muralidhar grilled the federal government, the state government and the Delhi Police over the ongoing communal violence in parts of northeast Delhi over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Earlier, the proposed transfer of Justice Muralidhar to the Punjab and Haryana High Court drew strong reactions from the Delhi High Court Bar Association, which expressed shock and decided to abstain from work the next day. “Such transfers are not only detrimental to our noble institution, but also tend to erode and dislodge the faith of the common litigant in the justice dispensation system,” a resolution adopted by the Bar body read. Read more

Feb 27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi violence: abdication by elected twins, For three days, Delhi was left to smoulder: Two governments, both handsomely elected, have presided over the beast’s banquet that the capital has been since Sunday night — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s.
Here’s some of what’s been served out so far on their watch: 27 snuffed human lives, more than 200 injured souls, many of them grievously, thousands scarred and scared and fleeing, the debris of inestimable property torn and charred, the wantonly desecrated remnants of places and objects of worship, cocktails of sectarian passion stirred and set aflame. Read more

Feb 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi, seven killed during Trump's visit
Protests erupted between groups for and against the citizenship law. Among the victims, a rickshaw driver married for a month. A protester challenges a policeman by pointing the gun at his face. Trump announces three billion dollar military deals.
At least seven people died, including a policeman, and another 150 were injured in the clashes that broke out yesterday in Delhi during the demonstrations for the new law on Indian citizenship. It is the most tragic toll to date in a single day of protests since the legislation that discriminates against Muslims was approved in December 2019, precisely on the days when US President Donald Trump is on a state visit to India.
While Trump and his wife Melania landed at Ahmedabad airport, clashes were taking place in the north-east neighborhoods, mostly populated by Muslims. The riots had started since the evening before and today the police are under investigation, unable to predict and contain the situation. Read more

Feb 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump praised for raising issue of religious freedom in India:  An organisation of Indian-American Christians has thanked US President Donald Trump for raising the issue of religious freedom and the plight of minorities during his talk with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying political tranquility is fundamental to economic progress.
The Federation of Indian American Christian organisations in North America (FIACONA) said it “truly hopes” that the Indian government would respond positively to the concern expressed by the president that would be in the best interest of the country.
Asked specifically about allegations that Muslims are being subjected to discrimination and there have been rising cases of hate crime in India, Trump in New Delhi on February 25 said: “We did discuss that and specifically Muslims. We also discussed Christians.” Read more

Feb 26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump compliments Modi over religious freedom: President Trump concluded his two-day state visit to India on Tuesday and said the prime minister of India "wants people to have religious freedom very strongly."
In a media conference in New Delhi, Trump said "I will say the prime minister was incredible on what he said... He wants people to have religious freedom very strongly. And he said in India they have worked very hard, they have great and open religious freedom."
His statement came after at least 20 people, including a policeman, were killed in a violent protest in New Delhi over the controversial citizenship law. Read more

Feb 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians Suffer Two Months of Abuse in Jail on Baseless Charges in India
Police find no evidence for accusations but yield to Hindu extremist pressure. Three Christians in northern India spent more than two months in jail suffering abuse from other prisoners, even though police found no evidence of wrongdoing and the complainant retracted his accusation, sources said.
In Uttar Pradesh state’s Mau District, 23-year-old pastor Ajay Kumar, fellow pastor Om Prakash, 20, and another Christian, 62-year-old Kapil Dev Ram, still face fabricated charges after being released on bail late last month.
Pastor Kumar said the time they spent in jail was a “nightmare.”
“Every night was a traumatic night for us,” Pastor Kumar told Morning Star News. “We did not know when a mob would wake us in the middle of the night and torment us.” Read more

Feb 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump will raise issue of religious freedom with Narendra Modi: White House. Freedom of faith extremely important to Trump admin, says U.S. official: President Donald Trump will raise the issue of religious freedom with prime minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India that is starting on February 24, the White House said on Friday.
This is not very good news for India because there have been several instances of BJP ministers such as Giriraj Kishore speaking out on why Muslims should not have stayed on in India after 1947, and several cases of sedition cases being filed against Muslim or Christian protesters in some states, especially Karnataka in recent weeks Read more

Feb 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu extremists attack 70 Christians traveling home from conference on praying for peace in India: Hindu extremists brutally attacked a group of about 70 Christians, including children, as they traveled home from a national congress focused on praying for peace in India amid escalating persecution.
According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, three men on motorcycles attacked Christians traveling home from the Third National Congress of the Synod of Pentecostal Churches in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, on Feb 5.
The men verbally threatened the passengers before smashing the windshields of the vehicles, causing injury to the driver and passengers, which included women, children and the elderly. Read more

Feb 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian-American Christian group urges Trump to meet community members during India visit: An Indian-American Christian group has voiced its concerns about the safety and security of Christians in India and urged President Donald Trump to meet the minority community members during his maiden trip to the country next week.
"We fully agree with your policy of forging a strong bilateral relationship with India which is an emerging global power that shares the same core values of democratic principles," the Federation of Indian American Christian Organisations of North America or FIACONA wrote in a letter to Trump.
However, members of the Indian Christian communities in the US, the FIACONA said, feel compelled to bring few issues of concerns about the safety and security of Christians in India to his attention. Read more

Feb 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor warned of facing dire consequences if he returned the village he was expelled from:
Pastor falsely accused of engaging in illegal religious conversion by radical Hindu nationalist was expelled from Mayurbhanj village in Odisha where he held regular worship service.
On February 2, pastor Salit Barik was leading his regular Sunday worship when a mob of radical Hindus disrupted the service and abused the pastor with filthy language.
According to local Christians, the radicals accused pastor Barik of using "psychological tricks" to illegally convert Hindus to Christianity.
The mob kicked out the pastor from Mayurbhanj and warned him not to enter the village and that he would face "dire consequences" if he tried to return.
The radicals filed a complaint against pastor Barik and based on the false accusation the local police told the pastor not to return to the village if not he would be arrested and jailed for engaging in illegal religious conversion. Read more

Feb 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATEMENT: The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA) has written to President Trump yesterday expressing deep concerns about the rapid deterioration of the rule of law in India in Mr. Modi’s regime where Christians are assaulted, intimidated and even killed by his party supporters. Christian properties are damaged, demolished or burnt by members of Mr. Modi’s party with police often taking the side of the Hindu party. The judiciary is also largely intimidated, bought or undermined by the Hindu nationalist party officials causing common people to lose faith in it.
FIACONA has urged President Trump to take all that into consideration and make a public show of support for the plight of over 100 million people who follow Christianity in India Read more

Feb 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrow, divisive cultural nationalism no patriotism: Catholic bishops:
India’s Catholic bishops on February 19 concluded their 34 biennial plenary, asserting that none has the right to question patriotism of any citizen on subjective grounds.
“We believe that patriotism is different from narrow and divisive cultural nationalism, which is radically different from Constitutional nationalism,” stated 192 members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) after their February 13-19 assembly at St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, capital of Karnataka state.
The bishops’ assertion came in the backdrop of a raging controversy over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enacted on December 15, 2019. The amendment aims to provide citizenship to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, barring Muslims. Read more

Feb 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight Christians charged with kidnapping and forced conversions acquitted in Madhya Pradesh: Eight Christians charged with kidnapping 60 children for forcibly converting them to Christianity were acquitted on February 18 by the criminal court in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh.
The six men and two women falsely accused of the crime they never committed were arrested in May 2017 while they were accompanying a group of tribal children to a Bible summer camp in Nagpur. 
The police separated the children from the adults and charged the eight Christians with kidnapping and forced conversions in accordance with the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act.
According to the law, anyone involved in conversion activities by offering money or other fraudulent means will be imprisoned for up to three years with a heavy fine. If the conversion involves tribals or Dalits, the imprisonment is extended to four years.
The accused Christians served three months in prison before being released on bail. Now, after more than two and a half years, justice has been granted to the condemned and the court has acquitted them as innocents. Read more

Feb 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They called us traitors’: In MP, a teenager is among 10 people charged with forced conversions
In May 2019, a group escorting children from Jhabua to a camp in Nagpur was accused of trying to convert them – even though their parents said they were Christian. Almost six months after Pandusingh Vasuniya and nine others had been arrested by the railway police in the Madhya Pradesh town of Ratlam, the small-built farmer was still incredulous. “I had my own sons with me but the police still said that we were going to sell our own children,” said Vasuniya, 31, who lives in Jhabua district. “Would any parent do it?” Vasuniya was recounting the events that unfolded on May 22, when he was escorting 60 children from Adivasi Christian families in his district to a religious retreat in Nagpur in Maharashtra. But when they reached Ratlam, they were detained by the railway police, who registered a case of kidnapping and forced conversion against ten members of the group. Read more

Feb 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elderly pastor brutally beaten, mocked by Hindu extremists: 'I am ready to die for Christ. Hindu extremists in Andhra Pradesh, India, brutally beat an elderly pastor and verbally abused his wife amid escalating tension over the presence of a Christian church in their community.
Morning Star News reports that Pastor Eswara Rao Appalabattula was attacked by a group of Hindu extremists after he pleaded with them to stop building a wall meant to block people from attending worship services at his home in L.B. Patnam village, Andhra Pradesh.
"They wanted to build a wall right in front of the church and ban us from using the path," Appalabattula told Morning Star News. "I pleaded with them to not do so. But the group of at least six neighbors, both male and female, punched me in my stomach several times and pushed me to the floor." Read more

Feb 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Necessary for govt to hear voices of protest, says Montek Singh Ahluwalia on CAA. He says the Citizenship Amendment Act and possible creation of a National Register of Citizens have led to large-scale protests from students and the youth in many parts of the country
Ahluwalia, who served as one of India's senior economic policymakers for three decades, makes these observations in his latest book "Backstage: The Story behind India's High Growth Years" which traverses the politics, personalities, events and crises in the country's recent history.
He asserts that there is an urgent need to create an environment of social harmony. "To create an environment conducive to the revival of investment it is necessary for the government to hear these voices and bring a healing touch. The need to create an environment of social harmony and peace is also vital for the survival of the idea of India," he says. "The voice of the youth is unlikely to be silenced easily. In any society, students and the youth are the ones most likely to speak truth to power if only because they have the least to lose and the most to gain," he says. Read more

Feb 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British MP Debbie Abrahams heading group on Kashmir stopped at Delhi airport.
A British MP heading a parliamentary group on Kashmir on Monday claimed she was denied entry into India despite a valid visa after she landed at the airport in New Delhi, a charge denied by the government which said she had been informed that her e-visa was cancelled.
Debbie Abrahams, a Labour Party member and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Kashmir, said in a statement that she arrived in Delhi on Monday morning and was informed that her e-visa, which was valid till October 2020, had been cancelled.
A Home Ministry spokesperson said the British parliamentarian had been duly informed that her visa was cancelled and she arrived in Delhi despite knowing this fact. Read more

Feb 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vigilante attacks on Christians increase.
The odd barking dog was the only thing that cut through the silence as Jai Singh stirred in his bed in his unadorned two-room house in the sleepy, sun-bathed village of Bitchpuri.
After a simple breakfast with his wife the pastor led the morning prayers at his home for several of the village’s 120-strong Christian population.
But the peace was suddenly shattered as the air filled with the sound of anti-Christian slogans outside.
Flinging open the door, he was faced with an irate mob of around 200 people. Before he could reason with them, the crowd beat him and his 15-year-old son and dragged him to the village square.
“They hit me with their fists and then took me into the temple and beat me with sticks, before stretching my legs back as far as they would go,” he told The Sunday Telegraph. He suffered two broken feet, as well as permanent nerve damage in his legs. Read more

Feb 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church shut down as a result of continued harassment by Hindu radicals
A house church was destroyed and the church pastor was severely injured in a mob attack by radical Hindu nationalists in L.B. Patnam village in Andhra Pradesh.
Pastor Eswara Rao Appalabattula leads the small house church together with his wife Karuna Appalabattula.
According to reports from Morning Star News, before the actual attack on January 27, the radicals have been harassing pastor Appalabattula's house church for several years.
Pastor Appalabattula told Morning Star News that the radical Hindus wanted to build a wall right in front of his house church. He pleaded with them to not do so, but a group of at least six neighbors, both male and female, punched him in the stomach several times and pushed him to the floor. They picked up a wooden pole and started to beat his hands repeatedly. Read more

Feb 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Christians falsely accused of forced conversions arrested in Uttar Pradesh
In Udaypatty village in Uttar Pradesh, five Christians falsely accused of engaging in forced conversions were arrested and kept in police custody overnight on February 11. The five Christians were arrested when they had gathered for a prayer service at 12 in the noon. According to one of the accused, a mob of radical Hindus along with two police officials from the Barasti Police Station entered the prayer service shortly after it had started the disturbed the gathering. They accused the Christians of forced conversions and took them into custody. "We have been harassed several times in the past," Sunder Bhardwaj, one of the accused Christians, told International Christian Concern (ICC). "However, this time the Hindu radicals came with the police to arrest us." "We were terrified by the ferocity of the mob and the believers were scattered," Bhardwaj continued. "It is very sad that this is going on. We don't interrupt or disturb anyone when we gather for worship." Read more

Feb 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalism gives rise to vigilante attacks on Christians: The Telegraph UK

Churches torched and priests charged with 'conversion' for owning bibles. The odd barking dog was the only thing that cut through the silence as Jai Singh stirred in his bed in his unadorned two-room house in the sleepy, sun-bathed village of Bitchpuri.
After a simple breakfast with his wife the pastor led the morning prayers at his home for several of the village’s 120-strong Christian population.
But the peace was suddenly shattered as the air filled with the sound of anti-Christian slogans outside.
Flinging open the door, he was faced with an irate mob of around 200 people. Before he could reason with them, the crowd beat him and his 15-year-old son and dragged him to the village square. Read more

Feb 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church Decimated after Upper-Caste Hindus Stir Hostilities in Andhra Pradesh, India. Attacks and harassment of a house church in southern India have decimated the 40-member congregation and left the pastor injured and demoralized.
Pastor Eswara Rao Appalabattula on Jan. 27 pleaded with about a dozen local residents to stop building a wall meant to block people from attending worship services at his home in L.B. Patnam village, Andhra Pradesh. Led by a local Hindu extremist, the group attacked him, breaking his hand, he said.
“They wanted to build a wall right in front of the church and ban us from using the path,” Pastor Appalabattula told Morning Star News. “I pleaded with them to not do so. But the group of at least six neighbors, both male and female, punched me in my stomach several times and pushed me to the floor.” Read more

Feb 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor arrested on false charges in Uttar Pradesh: A small house church pastor and his family in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh were taken into police custody for a crime that they did not commit and questioned until 1:30 in the morning. The incident took place on February 9, after the members of the Bajrang Dal broke into pastor Sanjay Raj Singh's house church and disturbed the Sunday worship service. According to pastor Singh, the radicals manhandled the congregation and verbally abused the Christians. International Christian Concern (ICC) reported that the radicals were carrying Hindu idols with them. When they entered the house church, they broke the idols on the floor. "They started to film the broken idols that they dropped as evidence that I had destroyed the idols," pastor Singh told ICC. "The angry mob came prepared to accuse me of destroying the Hindu idols. That is the reason they brought these idols and dropped them where the worship was going on." Read more

Feb 13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No ‘Padayatra’ (Walkathon) without permission in Uttar Pradesh, draconian conditions for bail. The 12 ‘Padayatris’ had undertaken a walk to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial at Rajghat in New Delhi, starting from Gorakhpur. They wanted to spread the message of goodwill and communal harmony and talk to people on the way.
They covered some 200 Kilometres between February 4 and February 11, when they were arrested by Ghazipur Police for the crime of walking without permission.
And when their bail application was moved the next day, the SDM court-ordered stringent conditions and demanded that each of them submit bonds amounting to ₹2.5 lakh each besides producing two sureties of equal amount from two gazetted officers. Read more

Feb 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians happy for Arvind Kejriwal victory, a blow to Modi's hatred: Arvind Kejriwal's landslide victory in Saturday’s Delhi[*] election is a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies of hatred, local Christian community leaders told AsiaNews. The anti-corruption Aam Aadmi[†] Party (AAP) took 62 seats out of 70, giving its leader a third mandate as Delhi Chief Minister.
The other eight seats went to the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Congress party, which hoped for a better result, was completely shut out. For Michael Williams, president of the United Christian Forum, "APA’s victory by an overwhelming majority clearly shows that the politics of polarisation and hatred have no room in the nation’s capital. Instead, “People need jobs, the economy needs revival, women need safety and minorities need reassurance.”
In all these areas, Williams explained, the central government “is failing miserably. I hope that the rulers of India are able to align their ideology with the needs and concerns of citizens.” Read more

Feb 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OPINION: Communal venom did not help BJP in Delhi polls; Modi-Shah duo’s hyper-nationalism loses. Will the BJP tone down its communal rhetoric or convince itself that the party has to indulge in more of the same?
Few would have expected the Aam Admi Party (AAP) to repeat its stellar performance of five years ago when it won 67 out of the 70 Delhi assembly seats. But the fact that it is touching the 60-seat mark and succeeded in retaining its well over 50 per cent vote share shows that there has been very little diminution of its political appeal.
However, it is also undeniable that the BJP put up a creditable fight, running the AAP close in a number of seats. There has also been an eight per cent jump in the BJP’s vote share from 32.8 per cent in 2015 although it has dropped sharply from the 56.9 per cent which the party received in last year’s parliamentary polls. Read More

Feb 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians humiliated on streets in Andhra Pradesh: In Machilipatnam Mandal, Andhra Pradesh, an offensive video of a man chasing a group of Christians in an attempt to purify them from their faith using water mixed with cow dung dragged attention on social media on February 7.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), called this as an latest episode of discrimination against Christians in the country. "This is the pathetic situation in which Christians live, dishonoured in public because they praise the name of Jesus," Geroge said.
The video was posted with a comment that said, "Christian pastors came to foist their propaganda and conversions but were chased away by throwing water mixed with dung on their faces," and it was viewed thousands of times on the Internet. According to ADF India, in 2019 alone, over 300 incidents of mob attacks against Christians were reported of which only 40 were prosecuted by police. Read more

Feb 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu radical 'anoints' Christians with water and cow dung, as if they were Dalits. Such a "blessing" is a typical purification ritual used against untouchables, deemed impure from birth.
A man chasing a group of Christians to “anoint” them with water mixed with cow dung in order to "purify" them from their faith is the prime character in a video posted yesterday on social media.
The incident, which occurred in Machilipatnam Mandal, Krishna district, Andhra Pradesh, has been viewed thousands of times.
For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), this is but latest episode of discrimination against India’s Christian minority.
“This,” he told AsiaNews, “is the pathetic situation in which Christians live, dishonoured in public because they praise the name of Jesus.”
"Water and cow dung are usually used for purification rituals, especially if Dalits touch something making the place or object ‘impure’,” George explained.
"Below the video, someone wrote that ‘Christian pastors came to foist their propaganda and conversions but were chased away by throwing water mixed with dung on their faces."  Read more

Feb 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hindu Extremists in Southern India Beat Christian Children, Accuse Worshippers. Hindu extremists in southern India who beat Christian children during worship on Jan. 19 and then filed a police complaint against the congregation left them with a warning.
“If we hear that you stepped out of your homes and told anybody about this, we will set your homes on fire and will burn you alive,’” some of the 20 assailants told Christians gathered for worship on the terrace of a home in Malasamudra village, Karnataka state, according to those present. The Christians had begun worship at 7 a.m. when the radical Hindus came up the stairs to the terrace, unnoticed. Soon the small congregation saw the intruders taking photos and videotaping them, said Mary Bellary, who along with her husband Hanumanthappa Bellary was hosting the worship. Read more

Jan 31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goa church body booked for misusing children at rally
Officials of a Church-backed NGO and a human rights’ body, which had organized an anti-CAA rally in Goa, have been booked under sections of the Goa Children’s Act and the Juvenile Justice Act.
The First Information Report filed on January 30 at the Goa Police Women station in Panaji states that officials of Council for Social Justice and Peace and the Goa chapter of the National Human Rights Organisation had “exposed children to political ideology and aggressive language thereby subjecting the children to psychological abuse and not providing safe environment.”
The Church-backed council headed by Father Savio Fernandes co-organized the rally on January 24 at Margaon in southern Goa. The rally opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Citizenship Register and National Population Register the federal government insists on implementing. Read more

Jan 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

72nd Aniversary of Assasination of Gandhi:

Gandhi's killer Godse and Prime Minister Modi believe in same ideology, says Rahul Gandhi. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday compared Mahatma Gandhi assassin Nathuram Godse with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying both believed in the same ideology. Addressing participants at "Save the Constitution" march at Kalpetta in Wayanad, his Lok Sabha constituency on Martyr's Day, Gandhi said there was no difference between Godse and Modi. "Today, an ignorant man is trying to challenge Gandhi's ideology. He is creating an atmosphere of hatred. The ideology is same. Nathuram Godse and Narendra Modi, they believe in the same ideology. There is no difference except that Modi does not have the guts to say he believes in the ideology of Godse," the Wayanad MP said.
Attacking the Prime Minister on the new Citizenship Law, Gandhi questioned Modi and asked who was he to ask Indians to prove that they were Indians Read more
 

Jan 30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RSS claiming the legacy of both Gandhi and his assassin, is amusing as well as outrageous. If RSS is serious about appropriating Gandhi, it must embrace what he said: “Free India will be no Hindu Raj…it will be Indian Raj based not on the majority of any religious sect or community…” A recent editorial in the Organiser, the official organ of the RSS, in the guise of questioning the right of the Congress to lay claim to the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, staked the Sangh Parivar’s claim to be the true inheritor of the legacy. As if this was not audacious enough, the editorial is followed and buttressed by an essay which is by way of a tribute to the Mahatma by Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief. An innocent reader would indeed be impressed by the devotion expressed to Gandhiji and his values. But the innocent reader could still ask why the BJP-RSS establishment has taken no action to expel Sadhvi Pragya, who remains a BJP MP after publicly praising Gandhiji’s assassin, Nathuram Read more

Jan 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian pastors beaten and arrested for 'forced conversions'
Pastors and faithful arrested in Uttar Pradesh;  in Haryana a pastor beaten in turn by six people.  Christian leader complains of constant harassment of the "tiny Christian community": "Far-right radicals create public order problems, but then Christians are arrested." Pastors and faithful arrested on charges of forced conversions to Christianity;  a pastor surrounded by 250 Hindu radicals, beaten and detained in prison on the same charge.  These episodes have been taking place in northern India since the beginning of the new year,  confirming the climate of intolerance present in the country.  Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), condemns this "harassment of Christians" to AsiaNews. Yesterday two pastors arrested on 25th November in Uttar Pradesh were released on bail on charges of conversions extracted by force;  today another Christian should be freed.  The three men are: Rev. Om Prakash, 23, Rev.  Ajay Kumar, 20, and Kapil Dev Ram.  The arrest occurred following the assault on Mr. Ram's home, where a prayer rally was held.   Read more

Jan 29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians faced 1,774 hate crimes in four years. From 2016 to 2019, Indian Christians have faced 1,774 cases of hate crimes across 25 states and 3 Union Territories, says Persecution Relief report. In other words, India witnessed 59.6 percent rise in hate crimes against Christians during the same period, says Persecution Relief’s much-awaited “Annual Report-2019. Persecution Relief is an ecumenical forum that records Christian persecution in India. In 2019 alone, the forum documented 527 cases compared to 447 cases in 2018, 440 in 2017 and 330 in 2016. It was a drastic leap of 179.4 percent. Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, emerged as the most hostile place for Christians for three consecutive years. Tamil Nadu continues at the second spot with 75 cases, followed by Karnataka, 32 cases, Maharashtra 4 with 31 cases and Bihar with 30 cases at number 5. Read more

Jan 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian leaders criticize the act of reconverting Christians to Hinduism. A Hindu group that claims to have reconverted 144 members of a tribal Christian community in Dang district in Gujarat was highly criticized by church leaders and activists in the country. Several years ago, as many as 144 tribal members accepted Christ and embraced Christianity as their new faith. But according to a religious leader from the region, the 144 were reconverted to Hinduism in Waghai taluka's Bhogadiya village. In an event organized by the Gujarat unit of Agniveer on January 24, Neha Patel, state president of Agniveer, told media that "We came to know that many tribals were converted to Christianity many years ago and many of them expressed interest to convert back to Hinduism, so we organized this program." Read more

Jan 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor dragged out of house worship and severely beaten.
Pastor seriously injured after a group of six men took turns to hit him after he was dragged out of a house worship in Bichpari village, Sonipat District, about an hour north of Delhi. At first, Hindu extremists attacked pastor Jai Singh and forced him into a nearby school where he was severely beaten by six assailants. Later, they took him to a Hindu temple and forced him to sit before idols. "They told me that they 'are policemen, we can make you admit whatever we want.' They had beaten up my legs with wooden sticks and pulled my legs apart," pastor Singh told Morning Star News. Read more

Jan 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catholics slam ruling that allows the government to choose teachers in minority schools. Religious schools enjoy administrative autonomy under the Indian Constitution. However, the Supreme Court now opens them up to state interference. “Minority institutions must respect minimum criteria for the admission of students as well as the recruitment of teachers, like any other institution,” Kolkata teacher noted. Indian Catholics are against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the government to appoint teachers in religious minority schools. “Article 30 of the Indian Constitution gives religious minorities the right to establish and administer their own educational institutions,” said Fr Felix Raj, vice rector of St Xavier's University in Kolkata, speaking to AsiaNews. The ruling came on 6 January and refers to the West Bengal Madrasa Service Commission Act of 2008. The court upheld a law that allows the federal government to screen teachers in state-aided madrassas (Islamic schools). The same principle can be applied to Christian schools, which run in  Read More.

Jan 24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Violent Attack in Northern India Devastates Families, Church
Pastor, house-church homeowner lose their means of earning a living.
Before Pastor Jai Singh appeared before a judge in northern India and was jailed on false charges of luring people to convert, Hindu extremists had dragged him from house worship to a school where groups of six beat him in turns, he said. “From the school, they took me to a Hindu temple and forced me to sit before the idols,” Singh said. “They told me that they ‘are policemen, we can make you admit whatever we want.’ They had beaten up my legs with wooden sticks and pulled my legs apart.” He was wearing a long, white tunic called a Kameez that was soaked in blood from the beatings on Jan. 5 in Bichpari village, Sonipat District, about an hour north of Delhi Read more

Jan 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christian tribals beheaded by a rival group. Archbishop Toppo: 'deeply pained’ Seven tribals have been kidnapped and beheaded by a group of supporters of the "Pathalgadi movement", who in Jharkhand are fighting for land tenure. Their bodies were abandoned in the Saranda forest, West Singhbhum district, and found by the police on January 20.
Despite the mutilated bodies, the inhabitants recognized the victims. They are: James Buda, Songe Topna, Lomba Buda, Etva Buda, Jawra Buda, Nirmal Buda and Bonam Longa. The tribals were 24 to 35 years old. Mr. Buda was a representative of the local panchayat, i.e. the village council. The corpses are currently at the Sadar Hospital in Chaibasa for autopsy investigations. Read more

Jan 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrary to claims being made by top BJP leaders in public rallies and media statements, the countrywide movement against the Citizenship Amendment Law and the National Register of Citizens is gathering strength with each passing week.
Less than two weeks ago, on January 10, a fact checking site monitored 261 CAA-related protests across 24 States of which 230 were against the law and only 31 were in favour. The latest data compiled by the same agency on January 23 shows that the total number of protests has risen to 374, of which 322 are anti-CAA-NRC and 52 are pro. Read more

Jan 23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 incidents of violence against Christians reported within first 19 days of New Year Helpline records of United Christian Forum (UCF) reported 17 incidents of violence against Christians in the country within the first 19 days of the New Year 2020. UCF is a national organization that documents cases of violence against churches and Christians in India and upholds fundamental freedoms and promotes values of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity. The incidents recorded at UCF's helpline number showed nine states with Uttar Pradesh leading the list with six incidents of violence against Christian minorities. A. C. Michael, convener of the UCF, lamented that "Year 2020 has begun well for those who like to harass the Christian community." Read more

Jan 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The St Francis Assisi Catholic Church in Kengeri, Bengaluru (Bangalore) was vandalised last night. Reacting to the outrage, Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore said: “I am not only terribly shocked but also greatly grieved that desecration was done to the Eucharistic Lord in that church.” The prelate said that the parish priest, Fr Satish, of the Order of Capuchin Friars, informed him of the wreckage. Perhaps in an attempted theft, hooligans ransacked the altar, destroyed the tabernacle, and scattered the hosts all over the place. At present, little is known about the reasons behind the desecration. A complaint has been filed with the local police and an investigation is underway. According to early witness accounts, nothing was stolen, suggesting that vandalism was the goal; however, police have not ruled out anything. Read more

Jan 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fact-finding committee of the Congress on the JNU violence on Sunday said the January 5 attack inside the university campus was "state-sponsored" and recommended Vice Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar be dismissed and criminal investigation initiated against him.
The Congress had appointed a four-member fact-finding committee to carry out a detailed inquiry into the violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). Sushmita Dev, member of the committee, said the committee recommended that Kumar should be dismissed immediately and all the appointments in faculty should be probed and independent inquiry should take place. Read More

Jan 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veteran poet N D Mahanor on January 9 opened All India Marathi Literature Festival amid tight security in view of threats from right-wing Hindu organizations. The groups had warned Mahanor, a Padma Shri and Sahitya Academy awardee—not to inaugurate the festival as a Christian priest, Father Francis D’Britto, presided over the festival. The priest is a Marathi writer. The literature festival was held January 10-12 in Osmanabad in Maharashtra, some 410 km southeast of Mumbai, the state capital. Read More

Jan 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands join multi-prayer program in Delhi against citizenship law
People of different faiths came together on January 12 to participate in a ”sarva dharma sambhava” – a multi-faith prayer ceremony – at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, where anti-citizenship law protesters have been demonstrating for almost a month now. The inter-faith ceremony had a traditional Hindu-style “hawan” and chants of Sikh “kirtan.” The participants read out the Preamble of the Indian Constitution and took an oath to preserve its “socialist, secular” values. Read More

Jan 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apostle of Hate: Historical records expose the lie that Nathuram Godse left the RSS, the parent organization of Modi's BJP

SHORTLY BEFORE HIS EXECUTION, in the early hours of 15 November 1949, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the Hindu-supremacist fanatic who killed Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on 30 January 1948, recited a prayer:
Namaste Sada Vatsale Matrubhume
Twaya Hindubhume Sukham Vardhitoham
Mahanmangale Punyabhume Twadarthe
Patatvesh Kayo Namaste, Namaste!
O affectionate motherland, I eternally bow to you
O land of Hindus, you have reared me in comfort
O sacred and holy land,
May this body of mine be dedicated to you and I bow before you again and again!
These four Sanskrit sentences constitute the first of the three stanzas of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s official prayer, which continues to be sung to this day at its shakhas—regular assemblies meant for physical and ideological training. Read More

   

Jan 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year 2020 may be a challenging year for Christians in India: Last year, there were several incidents of attack on house churches, Christian leaders and worship places in India, and following the re-election of BJP, Christians in the country see 2020 as a year of challenges to practice their faith freely. "Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith," said Tehmina Arora, a practicing Supreme Court lawyer and Director of ADF India. "In India, more and more Christians suffer from an increasing number of physical and verbal assaults. According to Arora, majority of the violence against Christians is planned and executed by the radical Hindu nationalists, frquently incited by the pro-Hindu government's nationalistic polices. Even though more than 300 cases of mob attacks against Christians of all denominations are registered, only less than 40 of those cases were prosecuted by the police, Arora pointed. Read More

Jan 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind Campus Attack in India, Some See a Far-Right Agenda
Hindu nationalists view Jawaharlal Nehru University, where a mob rampaged last weekend, as “a symbol of everything that is bad in this country,” one analyst said. For decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party and its affiliates have struggled to control one of India’s most fertile ideological recruiting grounds: university campuses.

That project erupted in violence last weekend, as masked men and women stormed the New Delhi campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University, one of India’s premier liberal institutions.

Witnesses said police officers stood by as students were attacked with rods and bricks. Some assailants shouted slogans associated with Mr. Modi’s governing party and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or R.S.S., which for decades has aspired to turn India into a Hindu nation. Read More

Jan 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House church shut down in Uttar Pradesh. Pastor accused of forced conversion: Hindu Yuva Vahini, a Hindu youth militia founded by Yogi Adityanath, attacked a house church worship service in Kalwanakara village in Uttar Pradesh on January 5, following which the local authorities shut down the house church.
According to the village head pastor Veerendra Kumar, 15 radical Hindu nationalists disrupted the Sunday worship service where around 40 Christians had gathered. According to local reports, the radicals attacked the service around 12 noon and threatened the church pastor and the attendees. The radicals accused pastor Kumar of forced conversions, and said that the pastor was attracting poor Hindus to Christianity by promising them benefits and physical wellness. Read More

Jan 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tennessee pastor is still being barred from leaving India three months after his arrest even though a customs case against him for allegedly not paying duty on the money he brought into the country has been resolved, according to a lawyer representing the family. Cece Heil, senior counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice, told The Christian Post that pastor Bryan Nerren was scheduled to have a hearing before a court in Siliguri on Thursday morning as his case has gone back and forth between customs and the court system. Read more

Jan 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Indian Supreme Court agrees to hear petition on reservations for Christian Dalits: Christians want Scheduled Caste status to be granted regardless of religious affiliation. Changing religion does not end the discrimination imposed on the Dalit community. For years, the Church has asked for the revision of a 1950 presidential order that excludes converts to Christianity from quotas in public administration. India’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition filed by Franklin Caesar Thomas, a lawyer representing the National Council for Dalit Christians (NCDC), seeking inclusion of Dalit Christians in the category of Scheduled Castes
The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde with Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant will hear the petition and issued a notice to the federal government about the matter. Read More
 

Jan 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Pastor Held 3 Months in India Could Finally Have His Day in Court.

American Pastor Bryan Nerren, a US citizen, was arrested and has been detained in India for three months because of his faith, his attorneys say.
Nerren, 58, was facing the Siliguri Court on Thursday, which may finally release his passport and allow him to return home to the US and his family, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) which is representing Nerren. After more than 17 years ministering to the people of Nepal and India – training Sunday School teachers – he was stopped on his way to a conference in India. He was questioned about his Christian faith and whether funds he was carrying would be used to support any Christian work; he was subsequently arrested and has been detained in India since October 5, 2019. Read More

Jan 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

India Catholics aim to build 100-foot Jesus statue, despite Hindu criticism
Catholics in India are seeking to erect the nation’s tallest statue of Jesus, over objections by Hindi groups who say one of their gods lives on the hill designated for the project. Work began last week on the statue, planned to be nearly 100 feet tall, on 10 acres of land owned by the Archdiocese of Bangalore. If completed, the statue would be almost as tall as Poland’s 108-foot Christ the King statue, completed in 2010. Poland’s statue is believed to be the tallest statue of Jesus in the world.
Hindu groups have opposed the project, objecting that the Kapalabetta hilltop is the abode of their deity Kapali Betta. They said Christians cannot set up a statue there. Read More

Jan 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delhi, BJP youth wing attacks Jawaharlal Nehru University: A crowd of men and women covered in masks and armed with sticks, knives and hammers has attacked the campus of Jawaharlal Nehru University (Jnu) in Delhi, one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
The attack took place on the night of January 5 and resulted in over 30 injuries among students and teachers. For witnesses, the attackers are said to be militants of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Hindu nationalist party that rules the country. Read More

Jan 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Church in India won't host next Asian Youth Day: Church officials in India have said the nation will not host the 2021 Asian Youth Day as planned, ucanews reported Monday.
“Our country was given the responsibility of hosting Asian Youth Day … After consultations with higher authorities, it was decided that it was better to call off the event as the present scenario does not allow us to hold the program,” Bishop Nazarene Soosai of Kottar, head of the Indian bishops' youth commission, told ucanews Jan. 6. India's ruling political party, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, has been increasingly hostile to religious freedom for minorities. Read More

Jan 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police in Uttar Pradesh, India, Most Harsh on Christians, Sources Say
Officers frequently bow to pressure from Hindu extremists.
Police in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state work in tandem with Hindu extremists to treat Christians and other religious minorities especially harshly, sources said. “The UP police force is very different from the rest of India,” Dinanath Jaiswar, a volunteer with legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom-India, told Morning Star News. “They are very brash in their dealings with Muslim and Christian minorities, and there have been several cases of violence in police custody, but by God’s grace we have tried our best to reach them on time, and even while in the clutches of the enemy, God protects His people.” Read More

Jan 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now they have come looking for professors and students in Universities to silence them - an erie ghost from Gernmany's past.A day after hundreds of unidentified masked men allegedly belonging to the RSS and its student wing ABVP, unleashed terror on JNU by mercilessly beating up students and teachers, former Home Minister P Chidambaram termed the situation in India as the “rapid descend into fascism.” Calling the attack “the gravest act of impunity, shocking and shameful” Chidambaram asserted, “This incident is perhaps the most clinching evidence that we are rapidly descending into anarchy. Read more

Jan 4

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you wish and whom you hug: Former Foreign Secretary and National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon warns on CAA.The impact of the CAA, the NRC and other recent internal decisions on our external decisions, on our image abroad and our foreign policy (cannot but be adverse). Because what has happened as a result of the last year or so specially is that we are increasingly isolated Read more

Jan 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continues across India as the country welcomed New Year Yesterday.
Activists and students in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, challenged the government by marching and reading out India's Constitution in the cold evening. The new law passed by the BJP government provides citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Christian and Parsi refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, the law intentionally omits Muslims from the illegal immigrants list. Read More

Jan 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians face ‘heightened intolerance’ in India, activist claims. The four people arrested in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, were reading the Bible at a park close to the Mallikarjuna Temple, a popular tourist destination. The state police charged them with violating a 2007 law forbidding the propagation of other religions in places of worship or prayer.According to local news reports, the four men were spotted by security guards opening the Bible and posing with it for photographs. The guards then brought the men to the local police station. Read More

Jan 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians in India Spend Christmas in Jail, Accused of Illegally Practicing Medicine. Christians arrested in central India after Hindu nationalist, tribal villagers disrupted their worship service spent Christmas in jail before they were released on bail after 11 days – accused of illegally practicing medicine.
Pastor Mukam Kiraad, 35, along with two members of his church, 40-year-old Lalsingh Tomar and 38-year-old Nanliya Rawat, were shocked to learn that they were charged under a Madhya Pradesh state law prohibiting unregistered medical practice, punishable by up to three years in prison.
Their attorney, Rahul Parihar, said he also was stunned Read More

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