Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Incidents against the Christian community in October 2015 as reported by Evangelical Fellowship of India

Introductory Note EFI News October 2015
The Evangelical Fellowship of India has recorded at least 23 verified incidents targeting the Christian community in the months of September - October 2015. This includes one person being killed by unidentified people in Jharkhand while other incidents like arrests on cooked up charges and attacks on individual Christians and worship services continued. At least one act of vandalism of a cemetery was reported from Karnataka.

Most of the incidents came from the central Indian states of Madhya Pradesh (11 incidents) and Chhattisgarh (5 incidents). Jharkhand reported two incidents, Delhi, one; Uttar Pradesh, one, Punjab, one; Gujarat, one and Karnataka reported one incident.

Majority of the incidents centered on the tribal belts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand with tribal Christians bearing the brunt of most of the violence.

These incidents of hate crime and violence against the Christian minority are at best a partial indicator of the situation of Christians in the country for many incidents are not even reported. The Evangelical Fellowship of India urges the central government and the respective state governments to look into these incidents and take steps to check the hate and ensure justice and protection for the minority community.

Christian Cemetery Vandalised in Belgaum, Karnataka
September 7, 2015: A cemetery in Belgaum of Karnataka was found vandalized on September 7, 2015 when a group of people went to bury their dead. According to reports in the media, the vandals have uprooted more than a dozen crosses, broke up some gravestones and dig up some graves. The incident happened at Bharatnagar of Shahapur area, which is about 2kms from Belgaum city.

Three Christians including two pastors jailed at Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh
September 8, 2015: Three Christians including two pastors are in jail in Jagdalpur, Bastar district since September 8, 2015. Pastor Loknath Baghel, Pastor Suddu Baghel, and Tikaram Netam of Barpaguda village of Bastar district were arrested after they opposed the takeover of their village land. The land in question has been used as a graveyard in the past and now has been marked by the government authorities that want to develop a pond there. A FIR was filed against the Pastors when the villagers opposed the takeover of land. The sessions court has rejected the bail application for the Pastors twice.

Church members brutally attacked by Hindu extremists at Bastar, Chhattisgarh
September 8, 2015: Christian villagers in Karmari village, district Bastar, Chhattisgarh were brutally attacked by Hindu extremists following the passing of a resolution in the village banning all non-Hindu religious activities. A mob of over 50 Hindu radicals gathered and surrounded a Church building around 4 pm on September 8, 2015. Before any of the Christians could even ask what was happening, the radicals attacked, assaulting Christians with wooden clubs and sticks. When some women from the Church confronted the radicals, they too were brutally beaten with wooden clubs and fists. Two Christian women, Pulo Bhai and Ludri were seriously injured in the assault and lost consciousness. As Christians in Karmari village face a social boycott, life has become very difficult for them.

House Church Service stopped at Palian Kalan, Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh
September 13, 2015: Pastor Durgesh Yadav of Palian Kalan, Lakhimpur Kheri district, Uttar Pradesh was threatened by a mob of around 200-250 people led by local RSS and BJP leaders during Sunday worship service on 13 September 2015 at 11:00 am. The mob wanted him to stop conducting worship in the area. The house Church of about 100 members has stopped worship as of now because of the threats received. Pastor Yadav has filed a complained to the Palia Kalan police station but the police have not yet lodged the FIR against the local leaders.

Pastor and wife detained and interrogated by Police alleging force conversions at Chandia, Umaria, Madhya Pradesh
September 18, 2015: Pastor Gaya Prasad Dharwiya and his wife, from Shahdol district, Madhya Pradesh were apprehended and threatened by a local RSS leader who was accompanied by the police. The Pastor and his wife were returning from a friend's house at Chandia town of Umria District, Madhya Pradesh. The RSS leader and the policemen forcibly took the couple to the Chandia Police Station without assigning any reason and detained them there for more than eleven hours before letting them go late in the night. The Superintendent of Police, Umria District ordered Pastor Dharviya and his wife to be present at the Chandia Police Station next morning at 10:00AM.

Christians Beaten Up, Chased Out from Home in Chhattisgarh
September 22, 2015: In Kongud, Kondagoan, Chhatisgarh, Hindu extremists beat up two Christian siblings after they refused to renounce Christ. The extremists summoned Mankuram Singh and his brother to a Hindu temple and asked them to renounce Christ However, the Christians refused and the mob thereafter started to beat them up, accused them of being involved in forceful conversions and proceeded to vandalize their home. The attackers later locked up their home and chased them out of the village. The brothers submitted a police complaint with the help of area Christian leaders, but the police did not register a case against the attackers and the extremists are threatening to harm them if they do not withdraw their complaint.

Delhi, Pastor threatened to stop Church service
September 27, 2015: September 27, 2015: Pastor Pradeep Kumar in Matiala, Uttam Nagar, New Delhi was manhandled and threatened by some of his neighbors who were led by local Hindu extremists. The attackers wanted to stop the Sunday Church service that was going on.

Three Christians arrested for alleged forced conversions in Satna, Madhya Pradesh 
October 3, 2015: Madhya Pradesh police arrested three evangelists accusing them of proselytizing and forced conversions. The arrest took place at a school located at Majhgawan, a small town in Satna district. The three Stephen Rajkumar, 40; Harilal 20; and Anil Kumar have been charged under the Madhya Pradesh freedom of religion act. The police also confiscated Bibles, books, CDs and projectors that were with them. 

26 Christian Families threatened with boycott and ouster from the village at Betul, Madhya Pradesh 
October 3, 2015: Suraj Sariyam, a Christian from Chattarpur, Ghoda Dongri, Betul district was threatened and harassed by local Hindu leader Kailash Sariyam alias Gabba on October 3, 2015. Gabba not only stopped Suraj from enter his own paddy field but also did not allow him to take water for next two days from the village river. The village has 26 Christian families. On October 5, 2015 the village council summoned all the Christian families for a hearing. Orders were also issued to the villagers to boycott all the Christian families. Villagers were told not to provide basic facilities like water etc. to the Christians. But due to police intervention the hearing could not take place. The Christians in the village are still getting threats from Hindu extremists and are living in danger.

Christian family pressured and threatened for Ghar Wapsi (re-conversion) at Satna, MP
October 5, 2015: A group of 15 Hindu extremists trespassed into the home of a Christian family at Motwa village in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh and threatened them. The extremists were pressurizing the family to do a 'Ghar Wapsi' (homecoming). This family had accepted Christianity 5 years ago. The extremists threatened the family and warned them not to partake in Christian worship service.

Pastor, his pregnant wife, and their 11-month-old baby beaten at Kapurthala, Punjab 
October 8, 2015: Pastor Arvinder Singh and his family were brutally beaten up to the point of  death by a mob that included his neighbours in Phagwara city of Kapurthala district, Punjab. Pastor Arvinder was hit with an iron object on his head, which made him unconscious for a couple of hours. His wife, who was seven months pregnant, was manhandled and struck many times over on her stomach by the mob. The couple's 11-month baby boy was also thrown at pile of bricks, which caused him serious internal injuries. No FIR has been registered till date.

Pastor's mother pelted with stones in Dahod, Gujarat
October 12, 2015: Dasudi Ben Bhuriya (58), mother of Pastor Rajesh Bhuriya was at tacked and pelted with stones by 6-7 Hindu extremists, on October 12, at Bilwani village of Dahod district. She was admitted at the Bilwani hospital as a result of the attack for treatment of her injuries.

Pastor Shot Dead in Jharkhand  
October 13, 2015: Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty of the Pentecostal Church at Sandih, Khunti district was killed as unidentified people opened gunfire at him after entering his house. The murder took place in the late evening of October 13. Pastor Chamu Hasda Purty was well respected and valued by the local community.

Christians summoned at Police station for questioning on false charges of Conversion at Betul, MP 
October 17, 2015: Two Christians, Yuvraj and Kumar Singh were taken to the Bhimpur Police station in Betul district for questioning after local Hindu extremists complained against them alleging religious conversions. Christians have been gathering as a Church conducting regular Sunday worship at Bhimpur village for more than a year now but they are getting regular threats from local Hindu groups to close down the Church and move out of the village.

Christians detained at police station on the complaint of Bajrang Dal and VHP members in Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh
October 17, 2015: Members of Bajrang Dal attacked a prayer meeting near Rajnandgaon and beat up the preacher Dev Kumar Sahu on October 17, 2015. The meeting was held at the house of Mr. Lalit Sahu and about 50 Christians were in attendance when more than 20 armed members of the Bajrang Dal trespassed into the private property of Mr. Lalit Sahu and started pushing people and beat up the preacher. The police carried the Christians to the police station for questioning and they were let off later after EFI and other local Christian leaders intervened.

Christian meeting disrupted in Dalli Rajhara, Chhattisgarh
October 21, 2015: A prayer meeting organized at the home of Mrs. Dhaneswari Sahu was disrupted by member of the Dharm Jagran Samiti along with some representatives of the Sahu community who were angry that the family had started organizing Christian prayer meetings at their home since last many months. According to reports when the prayer meeting was going on, members of the Dharm Jagran Samiti and representatives of the Sahu community arrived at the house of Mrs. Dhaneswari Sahu in an inebriated state. They created a ruckus and stopped the prayer meeting. They accused the Christians of conversions and also charged them with scheming alleging that the Christians wanted to demolish the nearby temple. The Christians have not reported the matter to the police.

Christians arrested in Kanhiwada, Madhya Pradesh 
October 25, 2015: A Christian woman and a man were arrested by the police from a private prayer meeting at Bhatekhari village after a local Hindu leader complained against them alleging conversions through allurement. Mrs. Anjana Jharia and Mr. Manish Yadav were speaking at a private prayer meeting organized at the house of a Christian, when the police arrested them on the complaint of one Ashok Baghel. There is no evidence of Mr. Ashok Baghel even being present in the meeting according to local Christians. They were charged with sections 3 and 4 of the MP Freedom of Religion Act and under sections 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. They were later bailed out.

Christians including children arrested in Junardeo, Madhya Pradesh
October 25, 2015: At least 8 Christians plus two children were arrested from Silvada, Junnardeo on cooked up charges of forced conversion and of hurting religious sentiments this included a family from Bhopal who had come down to Junnardeo for their vacations. Pastor A J Thomas, his wife, and two children, John (14) and Kezia (12) were among the people arrested. Pastor Thomas and his wife were later put in a jail in Junnardeo while their children were taken to Chhindwara which is 50 kilometres away. Later the children were separated and while Kezia was sent to Shahdol (421 Kilometres away), John was sent to Narsinghpur (125 Kilometres away), where they await their bail till the writing of this story. Their parents have been bailed out. 

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Thursday, November 05, 2015

Indian Christians condemn growing intolerance in the country

We the undersigned Indian Christians as citizens of our country India and as Christians in unequivocal terms denounce the growing intolerance in the country. We also denounce the sinister attempts to do away with reservation policy and ultimately the attempt to undermine the Constitution of India; we denounce the planned move to utilize religion for politico-economic benefits; we denounce the well orchestrated efforts to use government machinery to achieve ones evil ends;  we denounce all the efforts to divide the nation into fiefdom of some elements.

We denounce all the attempts to erode scientific temper and scholarship by meddling with the education system of the country. We are in  special way concerned at how the Indigenous Adivasi People in our country are being coerced to leave their traditional nature-based religious beliefs and practices and are subjected to so-called ‘ghar vapsi’ by some hindutva elements thus ushering in disharmony within their communities. Under this pretext, they are being alienated from their natural habitat and resources.

As citizens, we uphold the democratic, secular and socialist principles and practices of our mother country; we uphold the basic foundations of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in our Constitution for all the citizens of the country; we uphold the right to freedom of different cultures, religions, ways of life, beliefs, traditions, practices, customs and orientations; we uphold the right of the citizens to live a life without any intimidation by anyone; we uphold the age old tradition of living in harmony and unity by all the citizens of this country; we uphold the value of rural reconstruction and nation building.

Further, we stand in solidarity with all victims of targeted violence against Adivasis, Dalits, Women, religious minorities and people of other orientations. We uphold freedom of expression and ways of life. We are in defence of human rights defenders and advocacy groups.

We stand in solidarity with all those from various walks of life, faiths, traditions, backgrounds, cultures, communities, professions and orientations who have raised voice against the growing intolerance in the country and call upon all the citizens to resist every move to create crisis and conflict by some vested interests.

We invite others too to stand up at this time and express concern and do whatever is needed to uphold inclusive development, peace, unity, integrity, sovereignty and harmony in our Country India.

Citizens of India

Mr. Francis Colaso – Former DGP Karnataka
John Dayal – Member, National Integration Council, Writer and Activist
Darryl D'Monte – Journalist, Maharashtra                 
Dr. Walter Fernandes – Social Scientist, Guwahati
Cedric Prakash – Social Activist, Ahmadabad                      
A.C. Michael – Former Minority Commission Member, Govt of Delhi
Lukose Vallatharai IAS (Rtd) – Bengaluru
Philomena Fernandez – Goans in Gulf
Dolphy Dsouza - Police Reforms Watch, Mumbai
Ms. Virginia Saldanhaz- Secretary, Indian Christian Women's Movement, Mumbai
Dr. Kochurani Abraham - Indian Women Theologians Forum, Kottayam
Managing Committee Members of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, Kalina Unit
BG Koshy - The Rainbow Forum, Bangalore
Margaret Gonsalves -  ANNNI Charitable Trust, Maharashtra
Ms. Mary Alfred, International Travel House, Mumbai
Fr. Dominic Immanuel – Media Person, Delhi   
Dr. Fr. Felix Raj – Principal, St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata
Aasha Ramesh – Bengaluru                     
Deepak Mukarji – Delhi                           
Clement Periera – Bengaluru                    
Alana Golmei – Guwahati                        
Ajaya Singh – Bhubaneswar                      
Manju Tirkey – Rourkela                         
Harvey Hoddings – Bengaluru                           
Cynthia Stephen – Bengaluru                            
Dominic Immanuel – Delhi                       
Dr. Keith D Cunha – Bengaluru                          
Helen Saldanha – New York                     
Alex Ekka – Ranchi                                  
Marie Charmaine  Lamount -  Bengaluru 
Rajesh M Singh – Bengaluru                    
Dr. Goldy George – Raipur                      
R. Viegas – Mumbai                                 
Gracias C – Bengaluru                                       
Benny Chiramel – Trivandrum                          
Venus Mario John – Bengaluru                          
Lynette Gomes – Mumbai                         
Sebastian Poomattam – Chattisgarh        
Harry Pereira – Bengaluru                        
Anthony Dias – Mumbai                                   
Santona Das – Bengaluru                                   
Ms. M. Shimray – Manipur                       
A R F Viegas – Mumbai                                    
Fredrick Francis – Bengaluru                         
Rebecca Kurian – Bengaluru                             
Angela L Viegas – Mumbai                      
Omena Matthan – Bengaluru                   
Mr. Eldred Tellis – Mumbai                     
Mr. Loyola Azavedo – Mumbai                         
Fulgence Lakra – Jashpur                        
Sannybhai – Surat                                             
Mario Jason Braganza – Thane                          
Ms. Prasanna Thomas – Mumbai             
Aloysius Irudayam - Madurai,                           
Joe Mattam – Vadodara
Joe Xavier – Madurai                               
Rosely Cheeramkunnel – Mumbai             
Sr Mariola BS – Mangaloru                     
Velangani Sinnamuthu – Kalol, Gujart
Stan Swamy - Ranchi
A.J. Philip - Delhi
Stanley H Mark - Bengaluru
Jothi – Kolkatt
Alwyn D’Souza – Bangkok
Julius Gonsalves - Bengaluru
Dorothy D'Souza - Pune
Manu Alphonse – Chennai
Fredrick Francis - Bengaluru
Ruth D’Souza - Maharashtra
Benedict Joy -  Bengaluru
R. Viegas – Mumbai
Rapheal  RSM - Bengaluru
Xavier Jeyaraj - Kolkatta
William Stanley – Vizag
Lewis James – Bengaluru
Dr. Rudi Heredia - Mumbai   
Bobby – Delhi
K.M. Selvaraj – Ooty
Freda Coelho -  Ahmadabad
Miss Anoushka Viegas - Mumbai
Ruby – Jammu
James Pochury - Nagaland
Xavier Manjooran – Songad, Gujarat
Shanta Mathai – Bengaluru   
Nithiya Sagayam – Trichy
Mr. Apem Shangh - Manipur
Premalatha  Kumar – Bengaluru     
Lydia Fernandez – Bengaluru
Mathai Kocuparampil – Ahmedabad       
Prashant Olalekar – Lonavala
Valerian Mendonca - Belgium
Rita Puthenkalam – Bihar
Leela Jose -  Kochi
Enid Fernandes – Mumbai
Antony Arulraj - New Delhi
Dinesh Braganza – Mumbai
Mathew AJ – Trichy
Rohit James Joseph – Mumbai
Sr Jessy Leena BS - Mangaloru
Velangani Sinnamuthu – Kalol, Gujart
Lynette Viegas - Lector at Our Lady of Egypt Church, Mumbai
Mrs. Praxedes Gomes – Senior Citizen, Mumbai
Sahaya Philomin Raj – Tamil Nadu
Owen Chourappa – Kohima
David Solomon - Dumka
Varkey Perekkatt - Delhi       
Jacob Kujur – Pathalgaon
Lilly Pereira BS - Austria
Lourdu Raju.D.Joy – Khammam, Telangana
Hazel D'Lima - Mumbai
Dr. Pius Kizha - Kerala
Nestor J Rodrigues - Bengaluru
Samuel Kapani - Austria
Vedanayagam – Dharmapur, Tamil Nadu
Arockiasamy Arulandu
Dr. Prakash Louis – Patna

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sikhs, Christians more likely to be jailed than Hindus and Muslims

They make up no more than 4% of India’s 1.2 billion people but Sikhs and Christians are more likely to be undertrials, detenues and convicts than Hindus and Muslims.

Hindus are least likely to be undertrials and convicts. Christians are most likely to be detained and imprisoned. These data, contained in Prison Statistics India 2014, were released last month by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

There are relatively more Sikhs in prison (as undertrials, convicts, detenues and other prisoners) than followers of any other faith. 840 per million Sikhs are in prison followed by Christians (601), Muslims (477) and Hindus (305).

In India there are a total of 4,18,536 prisoners, of which 282,879 are undertrials followed by convicts (131,517), detenues (3,237) and other prisoners (903). 346 per million people in India are prisoners.

The proportion of Sikh and Christian undertrials in Indian prisons is two times their proportion in the general population, according to the NCRB data.

As convicts, the proportion of Sikhs is three times their proportion in the general population and for Christians, it’s two times.

There is no official explanation for the higher relative proportion of Sikhs and Christians in jail. The highest number of Sikh undertrials is in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, which account for 83% of all Sikh undertrials in the country.

The highest number of Christian undertrials comes from Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Orissa, accounting for nearly half (46%) of all Christian undertrials. These are also states where the Christian population is overwhelmingly poor: drawn from scheduled-caste converts in Tamil Nadu and tribal converts in Jharkhand and Orissa.

As many as 282,879 people are undertrials in jails across India. 70% of these undertrials are Hindu, 21% Muslim, 4% Christian and 4% Sikh.

Of 131,157 convicts, 72% of convicts (95,348) are Hindus, 16% (21,550) are Muslim, 4% Christian and 6% Sikh.

The proportion of undertrials who are Hindus (70%) is 10 percentage points less than their proportion in the general population (80%), according to an IndiaSpend analysis of NCRB data. The proportion of Muslim undertrials is seven percentage points more than their proportion in the general population.

490 per million Sikhs are undertrials, the highest for any faith. The figure for India is 234 undertrials per million people.

An estimated 397 per million Christians, 346 per million Muslims and 204 per million Hindus are undertrials.

The religious profile of convicts is along similar lines.

The proportion of Hindu convicts (72%) is eight percentage points less than their proportion in the general population (80%). The proportion of Muslim convicts is two percentage points more than their proportion in the general population.

350 per million Sikhs are convicts, the highest for any faith. The national figure is 109 convicts per million people.

An estimated 185 per million Christians are convicts, compared to 125 per million Muslims and 99 per million Hindus.

Christian undertrials increase 53% over five years

There was an 18% increase in undertrial prisoners across India over the past five years.

Christian undertrials increased 53% from 7,198 in 2010 to 11,048 in 2014; however, there was a decline of 11% in 2014 over 2013.

In overall terms, there was an increase of 5% in convicts over the past five years.

Sikh convicts increased 32%, from 5,500 in 2010 to 7,286 in 2014, while Christian convicts went up 24% over the same period.

The number of Hindu convicts rose 4%; Muslim convicts declined 5%.

Tamil Nadu, home to most Christian undertrials

The highest number of Christian undertrials is in Tamil Nadu (2,538).

Hindu undertrials increased 18% over the past five years, followed by Sikh (17%) and Muslim (12%).

As many as 197,273 Hindus were undertrials at the end of 2014 across India, followed by Muslims (59,550), Christians (11,048), Sikhs (10,203) and others (4,805).

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country with 200 million people, had 62,515 undertrials. Bihar (26,800) is second, followed by Maharashtra (19,895), Madhya Pradesh (19,188) and Punjab (15,467).

In terms of undertrials per million people, Delhi tops with 606, followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli (579), Punjab (558), Mizoram (506) and Haryana (439).

There are 3,237 detenues in jails across India; of these 63% (2,030) are Hindu, 20% (658) are Muslim and 16% (505) are Christian, mirroring the profile of undertrials and convicts.

(Mallapur is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend)

This story was originally published in IndiaSpend , India’s first data-journalism initiative.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Pentecostal pastor shot dead in eastern India

A Christian minister was shot dead in eastern India, an act a church leader said points to a trend of terrorizing Christians in the tribal-dominated Jharkhand state.

Chamu Hasda Purty, 54, of the Independent Pentecostal Church, was shot dead Oct. 12 in Sandhi village of the state's Khunti district. Police officials said they are unsure of the motives for the murder and that the attackers are on the run.

Nuas Mundu, a close family friend, told that a group of armed men barged into the minister's house and one of them shot him.

Mundu, also a minister with the same church, said the incident has created panic among the area's Christians.

Christian leaders have reported several cases of attacks against Christians after pro-Hindu groups gained political importance in the country.

Jharkhand state, as well as the federal government, is currently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is considered the political arm of Hindu nationalist groups.

The motive "is to terrorize Christians" said Subhash Kongari, a lawyer and district president of Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, the national Christian forum.

He told that the area is impoverished and mostly indigenous people and the poor have benefited from the church's charitable works. This has antagonized Hindu groups.

The murder should not be seen as an isolated criminal action. "Every year we witness an average of two murders in the area and several other forms of violence," Kongari said. "They are all part of an agenda to terrorize people (so that they) disassociate with Christianity."

He noted that for centuries, indigenous people "have lived in servitude (and were) subjugated and lived cut away from mainstream of life."

Hindu leaders have often warned that Christian missionaries would be dealt with drastically if they do not desist from "forcible conversion" of indigenous people and poor people.

Jharkhand, created in 2000 from tribal-dominated areas of Bihar state, is home to a vibrant, mostly tribal Christian community.

Hindu groups have also accused Christians of luring poor villagers to Christianity with material offers and have reiterated the party's demand for laws to check conversions to Christianity.

Media have reported several instances of churches being destroyed and of Hindu groups beating Christians and threatening to kill them if they do not renounce Christ.

Jharkhand, with a population of 33 million people, now has some 1.4 million Christians, most of whom are indigenous people or those belonging to the dalit or former untouchable castes.

The state's 4.5 percent Christian population is almost double that of the national average.

UCA News

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bastar panchayat ban: HC says right to religion is fundamental

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh high court has ordered that tribal Bastar region's panchayat resolution passed last year, imposing ban on non-Hindu religious missionaries, won't come in the way of exercising fundamental right to preach and propagate religion.

The bench of Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava passed the order last week while hearing a writ petition filed by Chhattisgarh Christian Forum and others challenging constitutionality of resolution adopted by panchayat bodies last year banning non-Hindu religious missionaries in their areas. The court order, copy of which was made available on Wednesday, said advocate-general will get three weeks to seek instructions and make appropriate submission on the dispute raised before court.

Advocate general J K Gilda and deputy advocate general R K Gupta appeared for the state while counsel Alok Bakshi appeared for petitioners.

Christian bodies had moved high court in Bilaspur last year after a number of gram panchayats in tribal Bastar region passed resolutions at gram sabha, quoting provisions of Section 129 (G) of Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act, banning "non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in villages".

The copy of the impugned resolution had stated, "To stop forced conversion by outside religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, Sirisguda gram sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions."

The petitioners had contended the ban was a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed in Constitution and provisions of Panchayati Raj Act cannot have an overriding effect. They also sought legal action against officials for dereliction of duty for allegedly not acting in accordance with law.

There have been reports few right-wing organizations had motivated local villagers to adopt such a resolution under provisions of Panchayati Raj Act. 

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Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Hindu Extremists Beat Christian Pastor With Clubs, Leave Him Unconscious in Pool of Blood

Pastor Ajmer Singh Damor.  <br/>EFI

A pastor in Madhya Pradesh state is recovering after Hindu extremists last month beat him unconscious and left him in a pool of blood, sources said.
About 20 Hindu extremists in Fattiguda, Jhabua on Sept. 10 kicked, punched and beat with a club pastor Ajmer Singh Damor of Shalom Church, after storming into a prayer meeting at the home of Tihiya Vasunia, church leaders said.
"Pastor Ajmer remained unconscious for about five hours, and the local doctors transferred him to the district hospital due to the severity of his injuries," area Christian leader Amiya Jal told Morning Star News. "He was treated in the hospital for more than a week."
Most of the Christians at the gathering scattered and escaped harm, but the Hindu extremists also abducted church member Dilu Katara and beat him before releasing him later that evening. Katara received hospital treatment for abrasions and internal injuries. The assailants also beat Pastor Damor's wife, Runita Damor, but she was able to flee with her 18-month-old baby, said the Rev. Sam Francis, an area Christian leader.
Yelling that all Christian worship meetings must cease, the assailants destroyed household items and slaughtered one of Vasunia's goats, church leaders said.
"They killed the goat of Vasunia that was tied outside as they continued to shout that no such prayer should take place in the village in future," Jal said. "It was a male goat worth about 6,000 rupees [US$92]. Vasunia is only a poor farmer, and he also lost most of his household items."

Police registered a First Information Report against the attackers after the intervention of area Christian leaders, but it does not include the damage to Vasunia's house and the killing of his goat, church leaders said.

Christians Attacked, Arrested
Christians in Madhya Pradesh have grown increasingly alarmed over recent violence and false charges against them.
Authorities in Barkhat village, Bagh block, Dhar, on Sept. 6 arrested 14 Christians after the village head, Chetan Singh, summoned a meeting and threatened to kill Pastor Dayal Davar of Gram Barkhat Church (GBC).
"At 9 a.m. on Sept. 5, the village head along with the Hindu extremists threatened to beat up Pastor Davar if he continued to conduct any kind of Christian meetings, told him that they will not allow him to stay in the village and threatened to kill him if he did not renounce Christ," GBC pastor Suresh Mandloi told Morning Star News.
Later that day at about 6 p.m., Pastor Davar and other area church leaders reported the matter to officers and sought police protection. Two hours later, police summoned Pastor Davar and ordered him to stop leading prayer meetings in the village; he was compelled to sign a paper stating that only he and his family would pray in his house.
The next day, however, before the pastor was able to notify the congregation not to gather forSunday worship, about 100 Christians arrived. Hindu extremists showed up and began beating the Christians.
"They beat up the congregation with their hands, clubs and footwear, including a woman, Sagar Bai, 50 years old, and tore up the clothes of one teenage girl, Bhawanti, and claimed that no Christian meetings should take place in the area," Pastor Mandloi said.
Officers took 14 Christians to the Tanda police station, including an 11-year-old boy who was later released without charges. The other 13 were charged under Section 151 of the Indian Penal Code for disturbing the peace.
The Christians also submitted a complaint against the attackers, but police have not filed First Information Report against them.
On the same day (Sept. 6) in Kesla Kala village, Seoni, police arrested Christians Sunny Oman and John Alexander after a villager filed a police complaint against them of forceful conversion.
"Oman and Alexander were visiting a friend in Kesla Kala when a mob surrounded them and took them to the police station and falsely accused them of forceful conversion," area church leader Rev. Jaykar Christy told Morning Star News. "The two were just visiting the village on the invitation of Chand Gedam, and there was no case of forceful conversion."
The Christians were charged under the state's "anti-conversion" law, the so-called Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, which prohibits forcible or fraudulent conversion. They were released on bail later that evening.
The previous day in Amjhera, Dhar, police arrested Pastor Paras Bilwal and two Christians after a Hindu extremist mob harassed them for their faith in Christ.
"Pastor Bilwal and two Christians, Raju and Roop Singh, were visiting some church members in the Nankhodara area when the anti-Christian people manhandled them, threatened them with dire consequences if they visited the village again and filed a police complaint against them of forceful conversion," said the Rev. Paul Munia, an area church leader.
The Christians were arrested under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of others, and under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. They were released on bail after four days.
Area church leaders said the Christians had engaged in no forceful conversion.

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3 Christian preachers arrested for conversions in Satna district

BHOPAL: Three people were arrested in Satna district late on Saturday under state's anti-conversion law. The trio reportedly told police they work for Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS), an NGO which preaches Christianity and has a presence in northern states for more than four decades, police said.
Of three, one accused Stephan Rajkumar, 40, is a resident of Chennai, other accused Harilal, 20, is a resident of Rewa and the third, Anil Kumar is resident of Azamgarh, said Majhgawan police station in charge Khem Singh.
"The trio has been booked under sections 3 and 4 of Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrya Adhiniyam, besides Section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), Section 506 (criminal intimidation). They did not inform the collector before converting locals," he said.

"They converted two people by offering Rs 5,000. One of them complained to us. Subsequently, all three were arrested from a local school while they were holding preaching sessions on Saturday night. CDs, projectors and other material used to propagate Christianity were recovered."
"They converted more than 10 people in Satna district. We have recorded statements of the two, who were converted. We are tracking 10 others, who were allegedly converted. Their statements will also be recorded," Singh said.
Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968, bans conversions by force, allurement or fraud and there is a provision of imprisonment up to three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 as per recent amendments in the Act.

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