Saturday, December 31, 2005

Indian Catholics Attacked on Way to Christmas Mass

Extremists beat four travelers, including priest, leaving them unconscious.

NEW DELHI, December 30 (Compass) - Hindu extremists launched two attacks on Catholics in the northern state of Rajasthan during the week before Christmas, in one case beating four people until they were unconscious.

On Saturday (December 24), nine members of the Hindu extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) attacked four Catholics, including a priest, in Jambuda, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the district capital of Banswara. Jaisingh Baria, Sunil Minama, and two people identified only as Father Thomas and Santosh were traveling by jeep to attend a Christmas mass in a nearby village.

The attackers had parked their motorbikes just after a curve in the road in Tandi Moti village, waiting for the four to arrive, a parish priest told Compass. After forcing the jeep to stop, the attackers hit Fr. Thomas with an iron rod.

"Then they pulled the other three off the jeep and beat them," said the priest, who identified himself only as Father Alexander. "They also made them strip down to their underwear."

The victims lay unconscious on the road for four hours until a local Christian discovered them at 9:30 p.m.

Fr. Alexander had asked for police protection for the four after villagers warned Fr. Thomas not to attend the Christmas celebration that night.

"Now I’m wondering how the attackers learned of their travel plans," Fr. Alexander said.

RSS members had spread a rumor that the Catholics were carrying two children with them in the jeep in order to sacrifice them as part of their Christmas worship. As this rumor spread, people living in nearby villages came out to join in the beating.

Attackers also broke Fr. Thomas' mobile phone and stole his wallet containing 5,000 rupees ($115), along with a small television and VCD player that were in the jeep.

Fr. Thomas and the other victims have since identified five of the attackers – Kamlesh Tambolia, Rakesh Damor, Bharat Nutt, Harlala Roth and Galjee Khatara – all allegedly members of the RSS.

Inspector Prithvi Singh said he had asked Fr. Thomas to stop by the police station on his way to the mass, but the priest had not done so.

"Why did he go straight to Pattia-Parvali without coming to the police post as I had asked them to?" Singh said.

He added that he had filed charges against the attackers and arrested four of them, though they were released on bail.

In a separate incident on December 23, three men assaulted two nuns, Sister Tessia and Sister Kletty, who were waiting at a bus stop in Ambapara sub-district at around 9 p.m.

"The men came on a motorbike and slapped and verbally abused them," a priest from the Udaipur diocese told Compass. "They also snatched the crosses they were wearing around their necks."

One of the attackers was identified as Motilal Patel, already named in several violent attacks on Christians. Patel had earlier used a sharp weapon to attack three Catholic youths waiting at a bus stand in Banswara on October 21.

The Banswara city police registered a complaint against Patel and arrested him on October 22, but he applied for bail and was released immediately.

Police have yet to arrest Patel in connection with the attack on the two nuns.

Police believe Patel was also involved in the theft of a statue of the Virgin Mary from St. Andrew's Church in Ambapara on December 22.

Inspector Devi Singh told Compass he had registered two separate complaints against Patel, who had gone into hiding – "but we will surely arrest him very soon."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christian Youth Gunned down in Assam

December 21, 2005

India (MNN) -- A 15-year-old member of Gospel for Asia's Believers Church was killed in Assam, India, as tribal violence has erupted again. Vidya Singh and one of his friends were returning to their recently destroyed village to recover some food when they were ambushed and shot.

Speaking from India, Gospel for Asia's founder KP Yohannan says while this was tribal violence, Christians are feeling the impact. "People take advantage of this kind of opportunity to actually go after believers who have left their tribal customs."

Yohannan says this is difficult for GFA. "We have believers in both of these tribes, as a matter of fact. We have very strong work in the Karbi people, including a Bible college. We are very concerned, very troubled that some of our believers are brutally murdered."

GFA Bible college students and missionaries, who converted from these tribal customs, are sharing the Gospel, says Yohannan. They're saying, "Your tribal practices and all this is only destroying you. And again, this is an opportunity used by many of the believers to witness to their neighbors and relatives and people are turning to Christ."

Christians are being asked to pray for the situation that's seen men, women and children killed. Pray for peace and that the church will be protected.

Yohannan says there's a lot of pressure being put on believers in this area of northeast India. "The government officials are telling us, the Christians, you people are the only hope. Please do whatever you can to bring peace to this area, that's a strange thing happening there."

Church attacked, Pastor intimidated in Goa

From our correspondent

Hindu fundamentalists ransacked a church at Ponda in Goa when the worship was going on and dragged its pastor to the local police station alleging that he was disturbing peace in the area. And the police refused to act, leaving the stage to the hooligans to do whatever they wanted.

As usual the church of the New Life Fellowship in Ponda, 40 km from Panaji, the capital of Goa, started the worship on 18 December 2005 with a gathering of about 80 believers. Just after the worship began, about 20 Hindus carrying chains, iron rods and sticks and barged in and started to smash the audio system and other equipment. When some believers tried to protest, they manhandled them and chased all of them out of the church.

The attackers threatened the pastor Rev Cajetan Tellis with dire consequences if he tried to preach in the church again. All this happened after alerting the local police in advance against the fundamentalists who had tried to intimidate him on 11 December 2005. In fact on that day the attackers had brought six policemen to the church who took him to the police station. The in-charge of the police station questioned the pastor but found nothing wrong. Yet he refused to take action against those who took law into their hands. The police arrested six persons for the attack on 18 December 2005 and detained them in the police station.

In a memorandum submitted to Governor SC Jamir, the All India Christian Council (aicc) condemned the attack and sought stringent action against culprits as well as adequate security for all churches in Goa.

"The devious insensitivity of the district administration and the police is a matter of great shame as we profess to be the world's largest secular democracy. These constant efforts by communal fanatics to strike at the heart of India's plurality to eliminate any semblance of diversity with a blatant disregard for the religious rights enshrined in the Constitution of India must be put to a stop. Such a shameful act is unacceptable in a civilized society such as ours in an era of globalisation and is in violation against the provision of the Article 25 of our Constitution and accepted 'Universal Human Rights Convention'. The Christian Council demands that the perpetrators of this crime be arrested and booked under the appropriate sections of the IPC viz. section 153 (A) and 295 (A)," the memorandum said.

The memorandum was signed by aicc president Dr Joseph D'Souza, aicc Maharashtra State General Secretary Dr Abraham Mathai, Goa United Christian Leaders Association Chairman Rev Gerson Coutinho, New Life Fellowship Coordinator Rev Felix Cardozo and Rev Mathew Kurien of the Assemblies of God Church,Goa.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pastor attacked in Hyderabad, police refuse to help

From our correspondent

Hindu activists attacked a pastor in Hyderabad on 3 December 2005 and threatened to kill if he did not stop preaching in the name of Christ.

The pastor Yesupadam of Ashaiah Nagar in Hyderabad works for Believers Church. While conducting a prayer meeting on 3 December, someone called him out. "Thinking someone was calling me for prayer, I went out without informing anyone. I saw seven people at a distance waiting for me. Without suspecting anything I went to meet them. Loke Raj, the leader of the locality, who was among them, first abused me for preaching Christ and then started to beat me."

Realising they were members of the Hindu fundamentalist group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the pastor sought their permission to inform his people and come back. But they did not give him a chance. Instead they held him by his collar and took him on a scooter to the local police station.

At the police station there were about 20 RSS people waiting for him. They took him to Sub-Inspector Sudershen Reddy. When they said the pastor was converting the people in the locality, the police officer said the Christians had become a big headache. "Then he asked me: `did your mother conceive you through a English man or Telugu man? Are you a Telugu man? Are you an Indian? If you desire to live, stop preaching about Jesus Christ. You know people are killing pastors in the city but still you do not learn anything."

Thereafter in the presence of the police, the RSS men forced a tilak on his forehead. "When I refused, they said if you do not listen, you will be another one on the list of pastors killed. We have a big network and it is easy for us to kill you outside the police station.

One of them Basvanna said, "I will cut off your genitals and ruin your family. I was very thirsty because I was fasting for the last three days. But they did not permit me to drink water. Nor they allowed him to call and inform his people." Finally someone rang up his residence and informed. When they came to the police station, the RSS men did not allow them to come inside."

When another Pastor Karunakar was informed, he came and got him released. "I was taken to the police station at 2 pm and was made to wait there till 10.15 pm. During this time the RSS men were arguing with me inside the police station and tried to beat me. The policemen just watched without doing anything. They threatened to kill me again."

Even the believers who came to the police station were threatened. "If you do not stop praying, we will even kill you. So you better leave the pasturing here and go back," they said. After the pastor was released, Loke Raj again threatened to kill him and take his wife. The pastor and the congregation are in great fear and could not conduct their regular Sunday service.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Hindu Extremists Claim Indian Pastor's House

Eviction notice sent to pastor; idol installed on verandah.

NEW DELHI, December 14 (Compass) – Pastor Feroz Masih of the Believers' Church in India (BCI), who had earlier received death and arson threats, was forced to vacate his house in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India, on December 7.

"The administration of Baijnath town had served us an eviction notice, and members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad [VHP or World Hindu Council] also installed a Hindu idol on the verandah of our house," Ramesh Masih, the pastor's son, told Compass.

The VHP had earlier assaulted Masih and told him and about 60 members of the BCI that if they did not "re-convert" to Hinduism in a ceremony scheduled for November 20, they would be burned alive and their houses destroyed. (See Compass Direct, "Hindu Extremists Attack Church in Himachal Pradesh, India," November 14.)

Police stepped in and prevented any physical harm to the believers and their homes. (See Compass Direct, "Threat to Burn Christians to Death in India Defused," November 21.)

Local authorities then served an eviction notice on the Masih family on November 30. When Masih pleaded for more time, the eviction date was extended to December 16.

Masih's family did not own the land they were living on, but the Indian government usually affords squatter's rights when a family has lived on the land for at least 20 years.

These rights date back to a Supreme Court decision in 1985, when the court ruled that the right to adequate housing, shelter and livelihood was part of the all-encompassing right to life as outlined in Article 21 of the India Constitution. The court also said new accommodation must be arranged before squatters are evicted.

The Masih family could have fought to stay in their home, but they were intimidated by the VHP.

"On December 2, about 20 VHP members came and created a disturbance outside our house," Masih explained. "They said a large crowd would soon gather at the temple to make trouble for us."

The family locked the house and went to stay with relatives that night. When they returned on November 4, a small group of VHP members who were standing guard outside the house told the family that it no longer belonged to them.

"Instead of arguing, we moved the worship service to another believer's house," Masih said. "However, later that day we heard that the VHP had put an idol on the verandah."

Because of this intimidation, Masih's family was forced to vacate the house even before December 16, he said.

"Otherwise," he said, "we could have taken a stay order from the court, asking the administration to arrange for alternative housing, since we have documented evidence that we have been living in the house for more than 20 years."

Sandeep Kumar, a local official in Baijnath, confirmed that the VHP had installed a Hindu idol on the verandah. "I have ordered that the idol be shifted to the temple next door, and the VHP has agreed to do so," he said.

V.V. Augustine, a member of the National Commission for Minorities, told Compass, "It is extremely unfortunate that the administration evicted the Masih family and allowed the Hindu fundamentalists to occupy the house."

Augustine has asked the chief secretary of the Himachal Pradesh government to intervene, he said. "I also intend to visit the family and the area personally."

Kumar, the Baijnath official, said there was no connection between the VHP death threats and the eviction notice being sent just days afterward.

"It was a coincidence," he said. "Our office cannot be influenced by the VHP or any other organization."

Kumar said his office had serviced eviction notices to Masih since 1991. Masih appealed a notice in 2001 but it was rejected, he added.

"Masih is from Punjab [state] and according to our state law, he cannot buy a property in Himachal Pradesh," Kumar said. "Our office will not provide him with alternative housing."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Catholic families forced to convert

13 December 2005

Catholic families forced to convert

In the village of Roopapali more than 40 Catholic families have had to convert to receive government aid for the poor. "I would have lost my job," says a teacher. "They were threatened," says a catechist.

Raipur (AsiaNews/UCAN) - In the village of Roopapali, about 1,400 kilometres south-east of New Delhi, more than 40 Catholic families had to abandon their faith in favour of Hinduism.

"The sarpanch (village chief) told me that I would not be able to continue doing my work if I remained Christian," said Kaithabai Surjha, kindergarten teacher.

Her husband Hemlal, who is a farmer, said he converted to Hinduism for otherwise he would not get government subsidies for Dalits, the outcaste group at the bottom of India's caste system, after the government decided to freeze financial aid for Catholics.

The couple, who had a Catholic marriage and who had their three children baptised, said they have asked their parish priest "not to visit and not to send catechists to our village."

"They were threatened," said Abraham Narayan, a catechist, who is related to some of the converted families.

Madhu Nag, another catechist who used to visit the village, said that the archdiocese had promoted many initiatives in Roopapali because of its substantial Catholic community. Catholicism, he explained, arrived in the area about 75 years ago when missioners helped locals with food during a drought.

Both catechists noted that local Christians had registered their children at school as Hindus to benefit from government scholarships given to Hindus.

The Indian Constitution guarantees special benefits to underdeveloped Dalit groups, listed as "scheduled castes", to help in their socioeconomic advancement. These benefits include quotas on admissions to educational institutions and seats in legislative bodies.

Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh Dalits are entitled to these benefits at present. Christians and Muslims are excluded on the ground that their religions do not recognise the caste system.

Though all the village's Catholic families renounced Christianity, the Kumar family, who belong to the Mennonite Church, refused to embrace Hinduism.

"We have been Christians for generations," said Moosa Kumar, who has a medical practice in the village.

"We have been ostracized socially, economically and religiously," Gyanendra Kumar, Moosa's son, said. But "we are not afraid of the persecution, because he (Jesus) is with us," he explained, adding that he has decided not to take any government aid reserved for Dalits.

The parish priest, Father Swaminathan, refused to comment on what was happening in the village.

The two catechists said that troubles trouble began when three Christians and one Hindu contested the local election last January for a reserved Dalit seat. The Hindu candidate Rabbi Chowhan threatened to expose his rival Christian candidates for appropriating statutory rights.

After the elections he said he would not allow Christian children to register as Hindus so as to enrol in schools, and would ask the government to investigate Christians who secured jobs or loans under government concessions for Dalit.

The state's ruling pro-Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is investigating Chowhan's complaints.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christians Attacked in Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh

New Delhi, December 4, 2005: In two separate incidents in the states of Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, Christians were attacked and harassed while participating in Sunday worship service. At the time of writing this report 2 Pastors are reported to be in police custody.

Raipur Chattisgarh: A Church in Sarora Industrial Area was attacked by Dharma Sena activists. The House Church has been functioning since three years in the home of one, Kanhaiya Lal Sharma. This particular Sunday i.e. the 4th December 2005, two speakers, Masih Das Rai and Anmol Kamble from Raipur had gone to worship with the congregation. The worship started at 10:30 and was almost over when at about 12:00 the Dharma Sena activists attacked.

"25 – 30 people suddenly came and attacked the fellowship which was going on the first floor of the house of Kanhaiya Lal Sharma. As they started beating Masih Das Rai, Anmol Kamble, Kanhaiya Lal Sharma and Ram Vilas Yadav panic spread throughout the congregation of about 30 people for there were many Children present too." Akhilesh Edgar from Milap Mandali told us.

The Dharma Sena had planned this event for long it is learned by us for according to sources they had been threatening the Christians for some time. Edgar also told us that while there were about 30 people beating the Christians, the Dharma Sena had about 200 more people gathered in front of the house so that no one escapes.

"When the Sena activists had beaten the 4 Christians to their satisfaction they tore their clothes and paraded them in the entire area still beating them. While doing this they dragged Ramesh Das Manikpuri from his house and also started to beat him. Manikpuri is a Pastor living in the same area but he was not part of the worship that morning. They also treated him in the same way." Edgar told us further.

By this time some Christian leaders in Raipur had got to know about the incident as some young men had managed to escape and call them from a public phone. Akhilesh Edgar, Arun Pannalal, Rakesh Jaiaj and a few others with them went to Sarora Industrial Area to help. But when they got there the Christians and the attackers could not be found. So they went to the police station of the area instead to report the matter.

It was later learned that the Sena activists took the 5 Christians to a temple where they forced them to bow down to the idols and to shout "Jai Shri Ram". "The Christians flatly refused", Edgar told us, "Masih Das Rai, even went up to the extent of saying, 'you can kill me but I will not bow down to the idol,'" Rai has been attacked and framed by Sena men earlier too.

"The Sena activists had a document with them which they had prepared already. The document stated that the signatory deals in forced and fraudulent conversions and the Sena activists forced the 4 Christians to sign the document. Anmol Kamble and Kanhaiya Lal Sharma signed the document, while M D Rai and Ramesh Das Manikpuri did not." Arun Pannalal of the Chattisgarh Christian Forum informed us.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon the Dharma Sena activists brought the Christians to the Urla police station where the Christian leaders were also present. Out of the 5 Christians only 4 reached the police station, the 5th i.e. Ram Vilas Yadav was let off by the Sena people. M D Rai and Ramesh Das Manikpuri were sent by the police for medical examination as they had received the maximum beating. Anmol Kamble and Kanhaiya Lal Sharma were let off after questioning and were threatened again by the Sena activists as they were returning from the police station.

Last heard M D Rai and Ramesh Das Manikpuri were detained by the police for questioning. No FIR (First Information Report) against the Dharma Sena was filed by the police despite the persistence of Christian leaders present to do so.

The Dharma Sena led by Leela Dhar Chandrakar has been very active against Christians in the recent past.

Bhabhra, Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh:

In another incident in Bhabhra, Jhabua District, Madhya Pradesh, Pastor Anil Mehda working with the Indian Evangelical Team was attacked while conducting Sunday worship service by the fundamentalists.

According to reports received by the Madhya Pradesh Minority Commission, Pastor Mehda was allegedly beaten up and then handed over to the police. The police had registered an FIR (First Information Report) against him under IPC (Indian Penal Code) Sections 151 and 101.

Section 151 states, "Whoever knowingly joins or continues in any assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace, after such assembly has been lawfully commanded to disperse, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both."

At the time of writing of this report, because of the intervention of concerned people and the Madhya Pradesh Minority Commission, Pastor Mehda was set free although he is still not discharged of the charges against him. He is summoned again to the police station on the 12th December 2005, according to sources from the Indian Evangelical Team.

Nadia church attacked

Statesman News Service

JALALKHALI (Nadia), Dec. 4. - A group of armed men sneaked into the Sadhu Luis Catholic Church at Jalalkhali, Nadia, 10 km from the district headquarters early this morning and burnt a copy of the Holy Bible besides looting a crown of Virgin Mary, a chain and a rosary – all made of silver. The attackers also burnt some Holy Communions which are served among the congregation in the course of Holy Mass, in memory of Christ’s last supper.

The Holy Mass was not held in the church today following the incident. Fr Antony Kariakatyl, one of the priests of the church, said: "It is an unfortunate incident as Christmas is approaching. The nature of the vandalism only proves that the attackers had some ulterior motive. They have not looted any valuable items but burnt a part of the Holy Bible (182 to 250 pages) and some Holy Communions. They might have had an intention to hamper the Christmas programmes."

He added: "The attackers entered the church after breaking open the front door, probably in the wee hours of this morning. They sneaked into the sacristy room and broke open two almirahs. The incident was first noticed by our catechist Mr Sujan Khan when he went to the church for ringing the bell at 5.30 a.m. He then informed the neighbours and me of the matter. I then lodged an FIR with the Kotwali police regarding the matter".

Tension gripped the area soon after news of the attack spread. Locals are clueless about the incident.

It is the second attack on churches in Nadia in the past two years. Earlier, the Maliapota Catholic Church near the Indo-Bangla border in Tehatta PS area was attacked by a group of 40 armed men on the Christmas night of 2002.
The secretary to the bishop, Mr Subhash Barui, said: "It is more an attack on our basic faith rather than on the church. We suspect an ulterior motive." The additional SP, Nadia, Mr Biswarup Ghosh, visited the church and detained a person for interrogation. The SP, Nadia, Mr R Rajasekharan, said: "Though the motive behind the incident is yet to be ascertained, no communal angle is suspected. There was a confrontation between the church authorities and members of a local club over drinking of alcohol on the church premises during Durga puja immersion. The police are looking for a man who is absconding."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Christian Workers Attacked in Maharashtra State, India

Extremists put up posters warning Hindus of Christian conversion.

NEW DELHI, December 2 (Compass) - A group of young people attacked three Christians as they distributed Christian literature in the western state of Maharashtra on Saturday (November 26). Two of the three injured were hospitalized.

"It's a miracle that we are alive today," Shaji Samuel, a Christian worker with the Panvel Brethren Church, told Compass. "We were beaten up very badly. I still can't take a deep breath, as I have received numerous internal injuries and my mouth is still hurting."

The attack took place at about 7:15 p.m. behind the State Transport Bus Terminal of Panvel Taluka in Raigad district, near the state capital, Mumbai.

Biju Jacob, 35, said he, Samuel and 30-year-old Reji Paul distributed and sold literature and Bibles at the Panvel bus terminal from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. without incident. When they returned in the evening, he said, "a group of about 30 young people brutally thrashed us."

Paul and Jacob were sitting inside the jeep, and Samuel was standing near the hood, where a stack of literature lay.

"A young man approached Samuel, took a piece of literature and asked him why there was no mention of 330 million Hindu gods in it," Jacob said. "Soon he got furious, and about 30 more young people came and started beating him."

According to Vedas (Hindu scriptures), there are 330 million gods in India.

"When Paul and I got out of the jeep, they started beating us also," Jacob said. "They beat us for about 15 minutes."

The attackers then dragged the three and made them sit in a motorized rickshaw. They asked the driver to take them to the Panvel police station and followed them in their own vehicles.

"As we reached the police station, they [the attackers] alleged that we were converting Hindus," Jacob said. "I told the sub-inspector, S.H. Warenkar, that we were only selling Christian literature without any force."

Warenkar agreed to take the victims to a nearby government hospital, where they were treated for their injuries, he added.

The Panvel Municipal Hospital referred the three to a private hospital for further treatment. En route, however, the police asked at least one of them to report to the station for statements.

Samuel, who bore the brunt of the attack, went to the Thane Lok Hospital, where he was admitted immediately. Paul was able to return to his home.

When Jacob reached the police station, the attackers had given a written complaint to the police accusing him and his associates of conversion.

The police interrogated Jacob until 1:30 a.m.

"On Sunday, I had fever and terrible headache - therefore I went to a hospital and was admitted," Jacob said. "The police had to come to the hospital for further interrogation. I was released on Tuesday. But I still have swelling on my head."

The police, however, did not file charges against the Christians but against the attackers. Anil Madhukar Kalyankar, Kishore Madhukar Kalyankar, Sanjay Yashwant Wahulkar and 25 others were charged with rioting and disturbing the public peace, said the investigating officer, Warenkar.

"The miscreants wanted us to register their complaint against the Christians, but we did not accept it," he said.

Warenkar added that the persons charged were absconding. "The police will arrest them very soon."

The situation is still tense, Samuel said, as the attackers have put up posters on area walls warning Hindus of conversion attempts. "The posters allege that a Christian program is on to convert Hindus in the area," he said.

Samuel said he and the other victims have nothing against the extremists.

"We have forgiven them," he said. "However, it is sad that we were misunderstood, as we were simply distributing Christian literature that talks about love and peace."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Convert from Islam in India Remains on Death List

Unfazed, son of devout Muslim cleric strives to teach seekers the essence of Christ.

CALICUT, India, December 1 (Compass) - The Rev. K.K. Alavi, called "one of the bravest Christians in India," is the son of a staunch Islamic cleric.

Since receiving Christ at age 21, Rev. Alavi has endured at least four attempts on his life. Because of his ministry among Muslims, he receives numerous death threats by phone or by letter. Nearly every day he is assailed in Muslim speeches, newsletters and newspapers. Islamic groups have slapped 11 court cases on him, and last August a gunman shot at his house. He has also noticed two men stalking him lately.

Short with a thickly bearded face, the 53-year-old Alavi disarms others with a serene smile and a high singing voice.

"Last month, a few reporters came to me warning that killers were out to take me down," Alavi said. "All my life I have had threats from fundamentalists. So I wasn't surprised to hear this from reporters who were tipped off by a source with a radical, Indian Islamic group."

Though Muslim extremist organizations deny having any part in the attempts on his life, police officials and intelligence agencies have confirmed their role.

Machetes and Reproach

Higher-ranking police officials have asked Alavi to be cautious as extremist groups have issued warnings about attacks planned against him.

In Manjeri, a predominantly Muslim town in south India, Rev. Alavi pastors an independent Lutheran church, New Hope India Mission. He also oversees a literature program of tracts, booklets and study aides examining Islamic viewpoints on Christianity.

Many such works analyze Quranic arguments in favor of violence, contrasting them with Christianity's peaceful approaches. Rev. Alavi, a graduate from Concordia Seminary in Nagercoil, has written more than 20 books and tracts calling upon Muslims to understand the true essence of the teachings of Jesus.

In an Islamic area where Christianity is considered blasphemy, Rev. Alavi has led at least 50 Muslims - estimates range as high as 200 - to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Each year thousands of inquiries pour in. Working out of his home in Calicut, he meets curious and questioning Muslims asking about Jesus.

The threats on his life began in 1981. "A mob of Sunni Muslims stormed into my property looking for me with machetes," he said. "I ran all the way to the police station. Later I took refuge at the home of a Hindu attorney." The lawyer's family fed him and eventually provided an escort back to his home.

Rev. Alavi is not attacked merely for being a Christian, he said.

"I happened to be the first Muslim in a Muslim town who still converts Muslims in modern times," he said. "They saw clearly that I'm a sort of a bridge for many to walk to Jesus. They could never stand the idea. Hence I happen to be their foremost enemy."

The National Development Front (NDF), a major Indian Islamic group emerging in 1993 following the destruction of the Babri Masjid mosque, has launched several public campaigns against Rev. Alavi.

During prayers, Muslim clerics are known to hold up Alavi as a prime example of an enemy of Islam. Rev. Alavi has copies of a collection of audio cassettes - circulated in India and the Middle East - that revile him and his Christian mission.

In 1998, an Islamic group prompted various activists to file 11 charges against Alavi, including rape and fraud.

"All were well-planned and backed by renowned lawyers supported by Islamic groups," he said. "They also produced a woman who claimed I raped her."

Muslim groups announced these crimes throughout the towns of Manjeri, Calicut, Tirur, and others, he said. Posters appeared on walls saying he smuggled arms. These attacks were hard on his family, including his wife Yasmin Alavi, the daughter of Muslim converts, who is very active in extending hospitality to the hundreds of people who come to the Alavi home. The Alavis have three grown children.

"My family was shaken, but I knew the Lord would protect me," he said.

One by one, courts dismissed all charges against Rev. Alavi. Moreover, the Kerala High Court ordered protection for him.

Death Threats

Rev. Alavi still receives many threatening letters from organizations such as Tiger Force and the Islamic Front. His church has been attacked and the cross destroyed.

Police have informed Rev. Alavi of two attempts on his life. No one was aware of the attempts until suspects revealed them while questioned on other charges. Rev. Alavi's outpost among Muslims was once forcefully shut down; the Lutheran church sponsoring his work temporarily moved him to Bangalore to save his life.

A decade ago, a group of Islamic extremists came looking for him while another team was dispatched to murder Chekannur Maulvi, a liberal Muslim teacher who broke with convention and decried Islamic fundamentalism. Maulvi was murdered that day, but Alavi was away from home and thus spared.

"Now, sources have alerted me that I'm second on the hit list prepared by the Muslim fundamentalist NDF," he says.

Last August, while he was still in Manjeri, someone shot at his house in Calicut at around 10 p.m. "The stone wall still carries the mark," he said.

On another occasion, as he was speaking in church, there was a man in the church holding a gun. "But he had to flee when a Lutheran sister tried to talk to him," he said.

Such are the ordeals of a pastor whose widely-published testimony has inspired many Indian Muslims to turn to the path of Jesus. His life story, published in a booklet titled An End of a Search, is translated into 32 languages and circulated in many cities in southern India.

In spite of the dangers, Rev. Avali said he has declined the court-approved security offered to him.

"I can claim security from police wherever I go, but I believe if I do that I'll lose the protection of my guardian angels," said Rev. Alavi, who has been diagnosed with a weak heart. "So I've declined man's support and have turned to God's care and protection. Who can kill me if God's with me?"

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Extremists Lock Up Church, Attack Christians in India

Pastor suffers broken hand; extremists threaten to kill church members.
by Vijayesh Lal and Rahul Pant

NEW DELHI, November 29 (Compass) - Christians in the Kakradara area of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh state are living in fear after extremists barred access to their new church and beat up their pastor and visiting evangelists after a church dedication ceremony on November 5.

Pastor Ramesh Bhuria established the Christian community in Kakradara about 15 years ago. When membership rose to over 100 people, the congregation raised funds and contributed materials for a new church building.

Several evangelists from Jesus Redeems Ministries in Tamil Nadu state were invited to speak at the dedication service. The ceremony completed, they started back home at around 4 p.m., accompanied by a few local Christians.

Just 100 meters away from the church, they were confronted by 12 men carrying long sticks. These men forced the evangelists to stop and asked them what they were doing in the village.

Taken aback, Pastor T. Samuel, the district coordinator for Jesus Redeems Ministries, began answering their questions. As he spoke, one of the assailants hit Bhuria from behind. The mob then beat all five Christians.

Samuel tried to protect one of the injured men, and the assailants broke one of his hands. Another injured Christian managed to escape and used a public telephone to call for help.

Samuel later required surgery to repair his hand.

Family members and other villagers have since learned that village headman Sen Singh (also known as Patel) and two other village officials planned and instigated the attack.

Witnesses identified several of the attackers by name: Jam Singh Babur, Sabon Khelson, Jethra Vasuriya, Boocha Singh (Singh's son) and Singh's brother Kasan Him Ji.

Locked Out

On November 6, Singh and two other officials used a padlock to block access to the new church. They claimed the district collector had ordered the church closed.

Singh warned the Christians not to lodge a complaint, saying that if the collector gave orders for the church to be reopened, it would lead to more trouble for the Christian community.

Local Christians overcame their fear of Singh and approached police on November 7, but officers refused to file an official charge on the grounds that it could only be lodged by the victims. By this time the evangelists from Tamil Nadu had already left the area, and Samuel was in hospital receiving treatment.

A legal expert told Compass this requirement was an abuse of the law, since anyone can file a charge.

Singh and other residents then visited Bhuria’s home and threatened to "cut [him] into pieces" if he continued his Christian activity in the village. The same threats were issued to other church members.

Bhuria and several other men from the church have since fled the area, fearing for their lives.

V. Devdos, the leader of a local mission connected with Bhuria's church, told Compass he was unwilling to file a charges on Bhuria's behalf unless he returned to the village to give a statement.

Meanwhile, the new church remains empty and all Christian meetings are suspended in the village. Most Christians in Kakradara live in fear of further attacks.

Jhabua has a reputation for violence against Christians. In January 2004, when the body of a young Hindu girl named Sujata was found dumped on the grounds of a Catholic school, riots ensued. Hindu extremists gathered mobs and made provocative speeches, demanding the arrest of school staff. Banners insulting the Christian community appeared in neighboring villages, and several Christian homes and churches were ransacked or burned to the ground.

A few days after the murder, police arrested Manoj Jadhav, a Hindu who reportedly confessed to raping and killing Sujata, before throwing her body into the mission compound. (See Compass Direct, "Indian City in Uproar Over Death of 9-Year-Old Girl," January 22.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pastor Charged with "Forced Conversion" in India

Feigning baptism, false convert lays trap in which Hindu extremists attack.
by Vijayesh Lal

NEW DELHI, November 18 (Compass) - Govind Verma, chief of a local chapter of the Bharatiya Janata Party, approached Pastor Masih Das Rai of Chattisgarh state last month saying he had had an encounter with God and wanted to become a Christian.

Just six months ago, Verma had threatened to harm Rai if he continued his pastoral work in Palari town in Raipur district. But Rai arranged for Verma to participate in a baptism ceremony on November 10, along with a few other villagers who had received Christ.

On the morning of the baptism, Verma told the group he would join them later in the day. Sources later discovered that Verma contacted the Dharma Sena ("Religious Army," a militant Hindu organization) and complained about Rai, disclosing the details of the planned baptism.

Members of the Dharma Sena then attacked Rai and 12 other Christians as they were worshiping during the ceremony. Leela Dhar Chandrakar, chief of the Dharma Sena in Chattisgarh, led the attack. Chandrakar has been implicated in other attacks against Christians. (See Compass Direct, "Christians Protest Church Attacks in Chattisgarh, India," September 20.)

The mob beat Rai and his companions and handed them over to the police, who interrogated the pastor before arresting him for "forced conversion" under the Freedom of Religion Act, and a section of the Indian Penal Code that bans deliberate insults about another person’s religious beliefs.

The believers who attended the ceremony said policemen and members of the Dharma Sena pressured them to give statements against Rai, who works for the local Christian organization Milap Mandali.

"The police have been uncooperative," Arun Pannalal of the Church of North India confirmed to Compass. "Eight of the Christians were forced to give statements against Pastor Rai. And when we as a delegation went to visit him at Palari [police station], we were not allowed to talk to him or see him privately."

Pannalal's delegation tried to file a counter-complaint with the police, but failed. "The police are just not entertaining a counter - complaint in this matter, even though Pastor Rai has been beaten up and still has the marks of the beatings on his body."

Pannalal pointed out that the attackers had verbally insulted the Christian faith, illegal under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Offenders may be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined.

While Rai has been charged with this offense, his attackers have not.

Under the Freedom of Religion Act "forced conversion" charge, meanwhile, Rai could be imprisoned for up to one year and/or forced to pay a fine of 5,000 rupees ($109).

Akhilesh Edgar, the director of Milap Mandali, has also been implicated in the case, although at press time he had not been arrested.

When Rai appeared at district court on November 11-12, his application for bail was rejected on grounds that police had not yet handed over the necessary paperwork.

A second bail application hearing is set for Monday (November 21). In the meantime, Rai remains in custody.


Christian Escapes "Forced Conversion" Charge

Lawrence Rao, a Christian from Jabalpur city, Madhya Pradesh, narrowly escaped criminal charges on November 6 after Hindu extremists accused him of attempting to convert Jagdish Costa, a Hindu villager.

"About 15 people, along with a few policemen, stormed a prayer meeting in our home at about 1:15 p.m.," Rao told Compass. "As soon as the extremists entered the house, they started shouting, 'Who are the Jesus people who have come here for conversion?' Then they tried to attack us physically, but the police intervened and saved us."

The police took Rao, his wife and Costa to the police station. On the way there, the extremists continued to threaten and abuse them. "They were also trying to pressure Costa to say that we had forcibly entered his house to convert him," Rao said.

Costa categorically denied that he was forced to convert to Christianity, and told the police he had joined the prayer meetings after Rao successfully prayed for the healing of his 10-year-old son.

The police released Rao, his wife and Costa after holding them at the station for about six hours. They later called for Rao at 3.30 a.m. and asked him to come to the police station. A local Christian who requested anonymity said about 200 members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, had surrounded the police station that night, demanding Rao's arrest.

Rao and Costa were asked to give their respective statements at the police station and were released without charge at 4 p.m.

Arun Mishra, chief superintendent of police of Gorakhpur district, told Compass that Rao was innocent.

Rao, a retired government officer and member of the local Jeevan Jyoti church, was shocked at these events. "I have never been opposed like this," he said later. "Many people believe in prayers and ask us to pray for them."

Extremists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bajrang Dal had earlier attacked a prayer meeting organized by the Jeevan Jyoti Church in Dhanora village on February 23, seriously injuring a 65-year-old Christian convert. (See Compass Direct, "Hindus in India Attack Church While Police Take 'Lunch Break,'" March 14.)

Update on Pastor Feroze Masih in Himachal Pradesh

Special to Christian Persecution India
19th November 2005

Pastor Feroze Masih can breathe a sigh of relief for now. Day before yesterday i.e. on the 16th November 2005, the VHP has denied any plans of reconversions of Christians against their will. So the threat of reconversions and burnings against the Church in Baijnath pastured by Feroze and his son Ramesh have come to naught.

Pastor Feroze Masih had complained against the attack on him to the Local Police station, District Collector and also the Minority Commission at Delhi. Following this the police had issued a warning to the VHP against indulging in violence against Christians.

Pastor Feroze and his family have conveyed thanks for all the help and prayer support for them.

Presently Pastor Feroze is physically weak and relaxing at his home at Baijanath and his son Remash is taking his care of him. Ramesh and his family works with the Believers Church of India (BCI).

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Families ostracised for conversion to Christianity

Nellore, Nov. 14: Seven families belonging to the fishermen community of Kottasathram have been ostracised by village elders for converting to Christianity. They have been treated like outcasts for the last one and a half years for embracing Christianity and for refusing to take part in the Srirama Navami festival at the local temple in August 2004.

While four members of the family of Katamgari Mangamma have not been allowed to step into the village after their conversion, the other six families were asked to leave the village. Ms Mangamma said that she was unable to donate money for the temple festival because her husband’s death had left her a pauper. "I was unable to run my family and decided to convert on the advice of some of my neighbours", she said. "I wanted to make a living with the blessings of Jesus Christ".

The angry village elders, however, said that only those offering prayers to Lord Ram will be allowed to stay on in the village. This decision was supported and villagers were warned not to have any connection with the converted families. Saddened by the social boycott, the families left the village and constructed huts in the forest land, which is one and a half km away.

However, the vendetta of the villagers was not over and they allegedly destroyed the borewells dug by the families. The villagers have also reportedly persuaded forest officials to destroy the huts they built in forest land. This has left the families without a roof over their heads.

To add to their woes, village elders have warned nearby Pottemma Nagar residents not to give the families water and other necessities. When one Levamma went into the village with a Bible five days ago, the villagers drove her out and asked the families to leave the area by November 15.

(Asian Age 15/11/05)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

OM team attacked in Maharashtra

From our correspondent

A media team working with Operation Mobilisation India (OM) was attacked in Pune, Maharashtra on 10 November 2005.

OM's Media team along with another Christian organisation MUST organised the screening of an Indian version of Jesus film "Dayasagar" on the night of 10 November 2005 at Kothrud, 20 km from Pune. There were around 250 people to watch the film.

After the film show, the four team members were returning home around 9.30. While waiting for a bus, they were surrounded by half-a-dozen youth, enquiring about their whereabouts. While the team members were explaining to them, a mob of over 25 people belonging to the Siva Sena joined them. Besides abusing them in foul language, they manhandled the team members, hitting them on their faces.

Later they dragged them to police station and complained that the team was involved in forceful conversions of Hindu families to Christianity. They also brought a false witness who testified before the police that the team had asked him to leave Hinduism and become a Christian, promising handsome rewards. The mob also damaged the film equipment costing more than Rs 100,000.

Later the police inspector called OM leader Deepak on his mobile on the pretext that one of his team members had met with an accident and asked him to rush to the police station. Upon arriving at the police station, the mob surrounded him and beat him up severely. Thereafter the police took the team into the station office and confiscated their ID cards and film equipment. The police also beat up the team members, resulting in serious injuries to one of them.

Around midnight Deepak rang up AICC state leader Dr Abraham Mathai, who is also former Chairman of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission. On his intervention, the police released the team after filing a false case of using the loudspeaker in the public place without prior approval from the police.

The AICC chapter of Maharashtra is in the process of filing a case against Siva Sena activists and the police officers.

Click Here for Source

Friday, November 11, 2005

VHP converts Christians to Hinduism in Orissa

Press Trust of India

Rourkela, November 8: Fifty-eight people, said to be Christians, returned to Hinduism at Dharanidharpur village in Orissa's Sundargarh district today, VHP sources said.

They included 31 men and 27 women belonging to 12 families, Gadadhar Sahu, secretary of the VHP's dharma prasar wing said.

The men and women, all tribals, were provided with new clothes and lockets carrying images of different Hindu gods and goddesses on the occasion, he said.

Asked as to whether the VHP had sought the permission of the district administration in this connection as required under the provisions of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA), he said as it was not reconversion, no permission was needed.

Those who were brought back to the Hindu fold had embraced Christianity a few years ago, but they were following Hindu rituals for the last two years, he said.

Senior police officers at Banai, a sub-divisional headquarter, confirmed that the programme had taken place but there was no law and order problem.

Click Here for Source

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Tortured for the sake of Gospel in Himachal Pradesh

Pr.Feroz Masih, is a servant of the Lord and serving Him in Himachal since twenty years with his wife and children. This sixty five years old Pastor came to the Lord with his family from an interial poor back ground. He lives in his house and having a church where 40-60 people are gathering on every Sundays and has many house churches in the surrounding villages.

On 4th of November, Friday he went to the village called ‘Noura’ as usually. This village is 6 kilometers away from Baijanath where he lives. While he was going to the village a few VHP activists saw him. When Pastor Feroz reached the house where he wanted conduct the prayer meeting, the VHP people who saw him called more people and arrived to the house where Pastor Feroz was.

They started to argue with Pastor Feroz and the house owner whose name is Lekharaj and with the people who came for the prayer. By this time a lot of VHP supporters assembled from different places.

The argument soon turned bitter and the VHP activists abused Christianity and the people present verbally. Not only this they also beat and kick Pastor Feroz, Lekharaj and other people who had gathered there for prayer.

Pastor Feroze tells us that around 200 people gathered there to beat them. Among the mob young people beaten him on his head many times and kicked in his abdomen very badly. This happened at 3 O clock in the afternoon.

In the village there was nobody to help him. After a while the VHP activists send a group of Police to the village and they brought the Pastor to the Police station.

The mob also arrived at the station and again beat him in front of the Police. The Police put him in the cell till 10 O clock in the night and allowed him to go home only later.

While he was in the station the VHP people and Police questioned him, and ask him to sign some of the documents which he doesn’t know and asked about his Christian activities. He himself doesn’t know what he said in the painful condition.

The next day (Saturday) this was one of the major news in the front page of a daily news paper called 'Amar Ujala'.

The VHP people have also threatened Pastor Feroze Masih that they will come to the temple which is in front of his house after ten days for a small festival. According to reports on that day Pastor Feroze has been asked to call all his believers there as well so that the VHP might reconvert Christians back to Hinduism.

The VHP have threatened him that if he is not going to comply then his house will be burnt and his life also will be in jeopardy.

The Christians somehow managed to conduct the Sunday worship in the Church under great pressure while the VHP came again to the church and threatened the Pastor and his son Ramesh Bhatti.
Special to Christian Persecution India

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hindu Extremists Disrupt Large Prayer Meeting in India

Threatening to kill family in Uttar Pradesh state, nationalist youths confine 200 people.

NEW DELHI, November 8 (Compass) - Hindu extremists disrupted a large prayer gathering in the house of a Christian family in Pratapgarh district, Uttar Pradesh state, on Sunday (November 6).

Confining 200 people in the house's prayer hall for hours, the extremists threatened to kill the members of the family if any "Hindus" were seen "again" at such meetings.

Allegedly members of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the extremists accused the Christian family of converting Hindus to Christianity.

Prem Prakash, superintendent of police of Pratapgarh, has promised to provide police protection to Pastor Tarun Khosle and his wife, Asha Khosle, said M.D. Jose, public relations officer of the All India Christian Council (AICC).

Jose, who was with the Khosle family at press time, said eyewitnesses reported that the extremists belonged to the BJYM, which was formed in 1980 by the BJP and its parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The prayer meeting, known as Satsang, is held every Sunday in the house of the Khosle family in Pratapgarh city, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Allahabad city.

"The BJYM has warned [local authorities] that if all the members of the Khosle family are not arrested within 72 hours, its members would come on the streets to protest," Jose said. "However, the superintendent of police has assured us that the BJYM will not be allowed to organize any protest."

When the extremists stormed the prayer meeting, Pastor Khosle was away and his wife was leading the gathering.

"At about 12:30 p.m., when I was leading in praise and worship, I noticed that about 10 people had intruded into the prayer hall, and they were standing near the door disturbing some people in the gathering," Asha Khosle said.

Asking someone else to lead worship, she immediately left to see what was happening, she said.

"When I went nearer, I heard the intruders asking some people if they were given any money to attend the meeting," she said. "Soon they became louder and started telling the gathering that, being Hindus, they should not attend the religious program of a foreign religion."

Shortly after, another 150 people came and gathered outside the house, protesting against the Khosle family.

In the meantime, extremists began locking up the prayer hall from inside, saying, "No one will leave the hall before we investigate to see how this family is converting Hindus."

Asha Khosle assured them that no one would leave before the extremists were satisfied that conversions were not taking place in the prayer meeting.

"They [the extremists] began interviewing everyone individually," she said. "They warned them not to come again to the prayer hall again."

The crowd accused the Khosle family of converting Hindus in the guise of social service, as the family runs a sewing machine center and a charitable medical clinic.

Local Hindi newspapers - Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala and Aaj - reported today that, according to their respective investigations, the Khosle family was not converting Hindus to Christianity.

The newspapers said the Christian family was only offering prayers for the healing of the sick.

Khosle said that her family did not convert anyone. "We just want others also to receive the blessings of God that we ourselves have received," she said. "If they choose to believe in Jesus, they are free to do so."

According to the 2001 census, there are only 212,578 Christians in Uttar Pradesh state out of a population of more than 166 million.

Dalits Christians Attacked in Gujarat


Violent attack on minority Christian community and Vankar community by Ex-President of Taluka Panchayat of Congress.

Christian members have been admitted in Civil Hospital of Nadiad.

National Executive Member and Joint Secretary of All India Christian Council, Mr. Samson Christian states in his Press-Release that Bhoomas village is in Mahudha Taluka in Kheda district of Gujarat State. This village has population of absent 3000 including Thakore, Patels, Vankar, Christians, Harijans, Vaghari as well as Muslims. But among all Thakores are in majority.

The incident took place while celebration of New Year, during night on 02/11/2005 and on 03/11/2005 morning as Thakore community was playing ‘Bhavai’ by erecting shamiyana. This was cultural programme so, the members of minority Christians community and of Vankar community went to watch this programme on 03/11/2005, together.

At that time the Thakores of the village attacked on Christians and Vankars with swords, sticks, sickle type instruments, pipes. They used dirty language in the name of religion "Dhedao, why have you come?" saying this they pelted stones heavily, hurt the members of minority community, snatched ornaments, beat up in public.

The attackers were a mob of 100 to 150 persons. To save lives the Christian members ran to their houses. The attackers were led by Ramanbhai Sanabhai Patel, Ex-President of Congress-Nadiad Taluka Panchayat. The main leader of this attack was Ramanbhai Sanabhai Patel who led the Thakores to attack.

The Christians ran to save their lives but the attackers were not satisfied so under the leadership of Ramanbhai Sanabhai Patel, the mob came to Christian street of Bhoomas village, beat up the women, young girls and young boys in public, behaved badly pelted stones. A youth Babubhai Jethabhai and Kashiben Ramanbhai were hurt more and were admitted in Civil Hospital, Nadiad.

In regard of the above incident Shri Hanokhbhai Somabhai Vankar of this village took the people who become prey of this incident to Mahudha police station on 03-11-2005 the same day at 12.00 noon to file police case. But the police on duty did not take the complaint so Hanokhbhai Somabhai Vankar went to District Superintendent of Police of Kheda District in Nadiad and gave complaint in person. So, D.S.P. phoned to Mahudha police station. So, the Police Inspector of Mahudha Police Station had to take complaint.

The complaint was taken on 03-11-2005 at 2.25 noon. So, in Mahudha police station F.I.R. No. 152/2005 according to IPC 337, 504, 394, 147, 148, was filed and according to Atrocity Act 3(1), 10, 3(2),5 the crime was registered. In spite of registering the crime as per Atrocity Act regarding this serious attack on 03-11-2005 and inquired by Deputy Superintendent Of Police of Kapadvanj Shri R.F. Singada the culprits including congress leader having strong political position have not been arrested by police and the people who have become prey have not been given justice.

The main thing is to be noted that during 1986 the Thakores and Patels of the village had attacked and Patels of the village had attacked and pelted stones on Christian street by making issue of filling water. At that time Rameshbhai Sanabhai Patel of Congress had taken leadership of the attack.

At that time the Christians asked police protection so, Mahudha police rushed immediately to the village. The Thakores and Patels had pelted stones on police vehicle and the vehicle was damaged heavily and the police vehicle was over turned. In this way police was attacked by Thakores and Patels. So, S.R.P. force was called and the situation was brought under control. At that time S.R.P. arrangements was remained in Christian street for six months. Thakores threaten Christians to burn alive and kill.

It is our strong demand to arrest congress leader Rameshbhai Sanabhai Patel under PASA and other attackers according to police complaint and give enough police protection to the Christians as minority Christian community is becoming more unsafe in Gujarat State., taking serious note of the above incident.

Date: - 07/11/2005.

Place: Ahmedabad.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christian family attacked in Maharashtra

Christian family attacked and terrorized by Fundamentalists
Urgent Appeal to help.

November 5, 2005

Chikli, Distt. Dhulia, Tehsil Sakri, Maharashtra:

29th October 2005: Raman Kashinath Pawar and his wife Walibai Pawar had embraced Christianity out of their own initiative three months back. Their two sons Subhash Pawar and Sonya Pawar are also professing Christians although not baptized so far.

Raman and his wife were beaten up by fundamentalists in the village for changing their religion when they became Christians three months back. Since then they have been receiving threats on life continually from the fundamentalists allegedly belonging to the VHP and its affiliates who are quite actively involved in the village and the near by areas. It is to be noted that Raman and his family are tribals (scheduled tribe) belonging to the 'Bheeli' tribe.

Lately, on 24th October some goons who had been opposing Raman and his family for becoming Christians descended at their house in the evening and beat up Raman and his wife inside their house and left them injured. The mob accused Raman and his wife of indulging in witchcraft and black magic.

The Mobs further targeted Raman's two school-going sons Subash and Sonya Pawar. The sons who sometimes take time off from school to do labour work in order to add to the family income had gone to work in the field of one of their relatives (maternal uncle) near their own village on 26th October.

As they were returning home after a hard day's work, the fundamentalists, who had been hiding on the way to their village and waiting to pounce on them as soon as they went that way, suddenly attacked them and beat them up badly. They struck severe blows on them as a result of which the two brothers sustained some injuries. One of the brothers Subash was not in a very good condition and had been taken for medical treatment.

(Background information - Raman’s father Kashinath who was under the influence of alcohol, received injuries on his head as he collapsed and fell to the ground on losing consciousness so much so that he doesn't even remember the place where he had fallen down. This happened a few days before the two attacks took place on Raman and his family. However, people who are opposing Raman and his family are alleging that Kashinath was beaten up by Raman as well as by Raman's wife and sons while using it as an excuse to falsely accuse and trouble them.)

Ever since they became Christians, the family has been living under terror and has to sneak in and out of village quietly in order not to catch the eyes of those who have been opposing and accusing them.

The fundamentalists have incited the villagers against Raman and his family and have also lodged a false complaint against them at the Sankri police station in the area to the effect that the family is involved in witchcraft and other such acts and are having a bad influence on the society.

They have also complained that Raman and his family beat up Kashinath (Raman's father) while Raman and his family maintain that Kashinath had received injuries on his head after falling down due to the consumption of excessive alcohol (see background). According to Raman Pawar, his father Kashinath, who is angry at the change of Religion of his son and his family, is also conspiring against them along with those who have registered the complaint though Kashinath's name dosen’t appear among those who have registered the complaint.

Raman also alleged that those behind the attacks and those who have been opposing as well as threatening him and his family belong to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and its affiliates. He also identified the attackers as:

Lal Singh Phul Singh Pawar
Pandit Daga Pawar
Sanjay Lal Singh Pawar
Kanhe Lal Singh Pawar
Daga Rai Singh Pawar

According to the family, Lal Singh Phul Singh Pawar is the one who is creating the most trouble. They have threatened Raman and his family that they would kill them like a goat and cut them to pieces if they did not leave their village.

When we tried to contact the T.I. Kohli, he wasn't available for any comments. However, another official on duty at the police station A.S.I. Patole informed us that all that he knew was that Raman had been asked to return to the police station on Monday the 31st October 2005.

Further Developments

Raman Pawar and his family have been to the police station time and again and were under the impression that the police have filed an FIR against the people who have troubled them on the 31st October 2005.

However when we spoke to the police on the 3rd November 2005 the TI, Mr. Kohli denied any knowledge of the incident and when he was able to recall it, he denied having any knowledge of an FIR filed.

Raman and his family have further been threatened by more fundamentalists on the 4th November 2005. The group that threatened the family this time was a new group, says Raman, and were allegedly sent by the VHP. They came to Raman's home at night and warned the family of dire consequences.

We request the Minority Commission to kindly look into the matter and to ensure that the freedom of conscience as enshrined in the constitution of India is upheld.

Respectfully Submitted by

Vijayesh Lal
Associate Coordinator
National Forum for Reconciliation, Religious Liberty and Social Justice

Monday, November 07, 2005

Diwali gift to minister creates controversy

Statesman News Service

Jaipur, Nov. 4. - Gifts, specially during festivals like Diwali, are used for creating goodwill, even among bitter rivals. But it seems gifts don't work always.

A charitable Christian organistion which has constantly been accused of indulging in forceful conversions by Sangh Parivar outfits, is in the middle of a controversy for sending Diwali gifts to Rajasthan's social welfare minister, Mr Madan Dilawar, a politician closely associated with several Sangh Parivar outfits in Rajasthan.

As the minister had accused the Kota-based Emmanuel Mission Society of abetting such acts of conversions in the past, Mr Dilawar has alleged that the organisation tried to buy him out by sending expensive gifts on the occasion of this year’s Diwali. He did not accept the gift.

The Emmaneal Mission Society, however, denied the charge saying that being a charitable organisation it did not have the resources to fund expensive gifts for political leaders. It further claimed to have sent a gift pack containing dry fruits and sweets only to the minister, as is the routine during festivals like Diwali.

But the minister said the mission never sent him a gift before this and this time it had sent him jewellery and money as gifts.

Mr Dilawar also alleged that the mission was trying to buy off politicians and those who oppose religious conversions, through such expensive gifts. The minister has threatened to take the matter to the state's chief minister and demand a probe to know whether the society paid gifts to others leaders in Kota as well.

The Emmaneul Mission Society had last faced the wrath of Sangh Parivar activists last week only, for holding a three-day convention in the city. Sangh Parivar outfits had alleged that the programme was being organised for religious conversions of poor Hindus.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Hindus protest against Britain's X'mas stamp

London: Leaders of the Hindu community in Britain have protested against one of this year's six Christmas stamps issued by Royal Mail on the ground that its image amounts to an insult to Hinduism.

The stamp in question is based on a 17th century picture that shows a man and a woman with 'tilak' marks on their foreheads worshipping the infant Jesus Christ. The image is reported to be on display in a gallery in Mumbai.

Ramesh Kallidai, secretary general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, told IANS: "Would the worldwide Christian community feel comfortable if the government of India issued a Diwali stamp with a Christian priest offering worship to baby Krishna?"

A Royal Mail spokesman said no offence had been intended. "We thought it would be nice to return to a religious theme," he said.

Kallidai asked Royal Mail to withdraw the stamp, and accede to his earlier demand to issue a stamp to mark Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. However, this demand has evoked no response from Royal Mail.

"It is striking to see that Royal Mail thinks it prudent to issue Christmas stamps that can cause resentment in the worldwide Hindu community but remains silent on issuing stamps for Diwali, the festival of lights celebrated by the third largest faith community in Britain and by a billion Hindus worldwide," Kallidai said.

The controversial stamp is priced 68 pence and will be used to send mail to India. It went on sale Tuesday.

According to the city art gallery, the picture on the stamp is an Indianised version of a European print of "The Holy family with St Anne and the two angels".

The Telegraph reported that the picture has a European theme but with a Mughal setting.

The picture was chosen for Royal Mail by this year's stamp designer, Irene Von Treskow, an Anglican priest in an English-speaking church in Berlin.

She told the paper that she was fascinated by the image because it was so interesting to see a Mughal painting with a Christian subject.

Treskow does not believe the picture is offensive. "How can it be?" she asked. "It is 17th century art."

She said she found the painting in a book and then looked up the image on the Internet.

Kallidai said the man in the painting has a tilak marking on his forehead, clearly identifying him as a Vaishnava Hindu.The woman has the traditional 'kumkum' mark on her forehead, identifying her as a married Hindu woman.

"These are exclusively used by Hindus," he said.

"While many people doubt the authenticity of the age of the painting, we believe that even if this were true, it would be insensitive to use it at a time when the issue of conversions in India has been a subject of heated debate.

"Even if we accept that an artist in 1620 made the mistake of portraying practising Hindus worshipping the infant Christ, we should be asking if this is politically and communally correct in the 21st century," Kallidai said.

Ferdie Flores is alive

NOTE: This is being run as a special announcement even though we are focused on the Indian Subcontinent as far as covering Persecuted News is concerned yet we had to feature this because of the rumor going around on Pastor Ferdie Flores.
As of this morning we had received dozens of e-mails and phone calls from several countries from many concerned parties requesting information concerning rumors about the impending execution of Bro. Ferdie Flores. Apparently the information is circulating via e-mail and SMS. I've contacted a source close to Bro. Flores regarding those rumors. That source has responded as follows:
"The information you have received is not correct. That information has been going all over the Philippines and even to the States the last couple of days. Actually Ferdie and his family have experienced quite a bit of persecution recently instigated by the Roman Catholic Church. Several threats have been made by priests, but there has not been any physical harm done to Ferdie as of yet. Although last week a mob of about 250 people did surround Ferdie with stones, sticks, and machetes, but the Lord intervened and the crowd was dispersed without incident. As of now things are calm, but could erupt at any time. Ferdie has requested much prayer. But, he was never arrested and was never scheduled for execution as was reported. Hopefully this will clear things up for you. Thank you for writing."
This is all the information we have at this time. Further updates will be posted on this page as we deem necessary to do so.
While we praise the Lord for this report, we do want to encourage you to continue in prayer for the Flores family.
Widest dissemination of this information is appreciated.
Robert D. Monteith

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Hindu Extremist Attacks Curb Christian Festival in India

Revival meetings in Rajasthan cancelled after more than 50 attacks on Christians.

NEW DELHI, October 27 (Compass) – For nearly two weeks, Hindu extremists have been attacking Christians in the Banswara district of Rajasthan state, resulting in the cancellation today of the last day of a revival festival.

The violence accelerated on Tuesday (October 25), when the Tribal Christian Welfare Society's Christian revival meetings began in Sagwa village. At least 50 incidences of beatings have occurred since then. Late yesterday, government officials ordered the Society to cancel the remainder of the three-day festival because of escalating violence.

The Society annually organizes the festival, known for miraculous healings, with as many as 15,000 people usually in attendance. Only 5,000 managed to attend this year, as the Christians closed the festival this morning with a prayer for victims of the attacks.

In anticipation of the festival, the Hindu extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) issued a call for a meeting of its own in the same area, according to a Society official.

"They then went on to bring many volunteers from different places and tried to disrupt the meeting by pleading to authorities to cancel the event as they were alleging conversions," he said.

Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Kumar Narjari confirmed the RSS activities, saying the group and its affiliates had alleged "forcible conversions" and had asked the government to stop the festival.

"At the behest of the RSS and its affiliates, the government authorities had demanded in writing from the Christian leaders that no 'forcible conversions' would take place in the meetings, and that the Christian leaders had given this to the authorities in writing." Narjari said. "The police would be videotaping the whole meeting to make sure that the people are not influenced in the 'wrong way' so that they may be converted by the Christians."

Blocking Roads

Nonetheless, the RSS and its affiliates targeted participants going to the festival, placing members on all approach roads to the venue, beating them, and sending them back.

As a result, only 3,500 people arrived the first day of the festival.

"The RSS people are everywhere, blocking roads, staging protests and beating up our people," said the Society official. "Many teams coming from distant areas have been beaten up and forced to turn back. Our only contact with the teams coming now is through phones, as the RSS is inflicting heavy violence."

He added that the RSS is rummaging through the baggage of all persons arriving in Sagwa. If RSS members find a Bible, they beat the owners of the baggage and order them back.

A team from Dahod (Gujarat) was en route to attend the meeting, but the conductor of the state-owned bus in which they were traveling informed the RSS. The Christians were dragged from the bus, beaten, and forced back.

"The police are present at each place where our people are being beaten up, but they do nothing to stop the RSS people," the Society official said. "Even if we plead with them, they ignore us."

Asked about the police's inaction, after much hesitation Superintendent Narjari acknowledged the violence against Christians but maintained that these were small incidents.

After the beatings, many participants tried to contact the nearest police station but were turned away. One committee member of the Society said the situation is "is quite hopeless."

"Since the police had to protect us at the venue, they gave the RSS a free hand on the approach roads to the venue," he said. "The aim of all of this is to spell trouble for Christians, one way or the other."

Nuns Attacked

The latest spate of violence began on October 16, when the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, objected to a Roman Catholic program in Rajasthan to mark the end of the Eucharist year celebrations. The Hindu extremist groups said the program was meant instead for conversion purposes.

The activists blocked roads and beat participants on their way to the program. The Catholic Bishop of the Udaipur diocese, Joseph Pathalil was not spared, as the extremists stopped and stoned his vehicle.

Elsewhere in Banswara District, VHP workers in Kushalgarh subdivision severely beat five Catholic nuns after boarding a bus for Udaipur.

A young man from the Sangh Parivar, a Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) institution, spotted the nuns waiting at the bus stop. He left and returned with a dozen more youths, all carrying bamboo poles. By this time the nuns had boarded their bus, but the Hindutva group dragged them out of the bus and beat them.

The most severely beaten was a 68-year-old nun known as Sister Rosario. The attackers fled when bus passengers intervened.

An official from Gayatri Rathore area said that the youths apparently believed that Christian groups were holding events to convert tribal peoples. "Various Christian groups have now given it in writing that conversions are not on their agenda," she added.

Banswara District in Rajasthan has long been a place of turmoil for Christians. In April 1997, VHP General Secretary Giriraj Kishore threatened to make Banswara "Christian-free" within three years, according to Asian Age newspaper. In other incidents, Christian worshippers were forced to bow down and worship Hindu idols.

Source: Compass Direct

Pastor, Wife and Driver Attacked in Gujarat, India

Hindu extremists stop vehicle and leave couple, driver with internal injuries.

NEW DELHI, October 27 (Compass) - About 30 Hindu extremists attacked a pastor, his wife and their driver in the western state of Gujarat on October 23. The three sustained internal injuries.

The Rev. Arthur Jebaraj and his wife, Nyana Sundari Jebaraj, and their driver, Dattu Daulat, all belonging to the Friends Missionary Prayer Band (FMPB), an indigenous Christian organization, were assaulted in Kaparada Taluka, in south Gujarat state.

The attack took place at about 11 p.m. on Sunday as they returned from Garma village, where they had conducted a thanksgiving prayer meeting, to their home in Chempa village.

As a supervisor of FMPB churches in the area, Rev. Jebaraj regularly visits congregations in different villages.

"On our way back, we saw a jeep parked on the road with about 30 people armed with sticks standing in front of it," he said.
"As we approached them, they stopped our vehicle. Moti Ram Choudhary, a supporter of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), came to us and asked who we were and where we were coming from."

Rev. Jebaraj reminded Choudhary that he knew him and that he went regularly to several villages every week for prayers. "I requested him to allow us to go," he said. "But he said, 'Christians campaign for the Congress Party, and you too visit villages for such campaigns.'"

Rev. Jebaraj told Choudhary that they never discuss politics at the prayer meetings. "I also told him that we had gone to Garma village to conduct a thanksgiving prayer for a couple that, through prayers, was blessed with a child after seven years of their marriage."

The driver, fearing the crowd, rolled up his window, and immediately the mob attacked him. Then they beat Rev. Jebaraj and his wife before vandalizing their vehicle.

The attackers tore Jebaraj's upper garment and hit her on the chest, arms, and back. Similarly, they hit the church official on his arms and back, causing pain in his spinal chord.

"On October 26, I went to a hospital in Nasik district in neighboring Maharashtra state to see a doctor, as my spinal chord is still in pain," Rev. Jebaraj said.

He was able to identify three more attackers besides Choudhary: Gakal Gounda, allegedly a leader of the BJP of Kaparada Taluka; Vidhyabhai Bikabhai; and Kalubhai Bikabhai.

Rev. Jebaraj and a few more Christians approached the Kaparada police station to lodge a complaint the following day. The police, however, refused to file their complaint, saying it had no substance.

Doing Justice

The police filed a First Information Report (FIR) only after numerous Christians from different churches in the area went to the police station to express their concern.

"The FIR was lodged at 8:45 p.m. on October 24," said Assistant Sub-Inspector Babu Bhai. "The accused are yet to be arrested." he added. The FIR carries the names of the attackers identified by Jebaraj.

If police act, charges that would be filed against the extremists include violating the modesty of a woman by assault or criminal force, robbery and causing injury, and causing financial loss or damage.

Police Inspector Jhala was not available for comment.

Later, villagers identified four more attackers: Bhagwanbhai Arjunbhai, Devibhai Balubhai, Devubhai Raghubhai, and Kishanbhai Kalubhai.

Rev. Jebaraj said trouble began when the FMPB started its work in Chempa village 15 years ago. At the time, Choudhary, who allegedly led the October 23 attack, threatened FMBP workers and lodged false complaints against them.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the Hindu nationalist BJP, has been operating in Valsad and other districts of south Gujarat for several years.

According to the Indo-Asian News Service, the RSS was preparing for a rally of more than 500,000 people in the nearby Dangs district, to be held in February next year to counter alleged conversion of tribal people to Christianity.

Dangs witnessed a spate of anti-Christian violence in December 1998 following a similar rally. Numerous churches and Christian institutes were destroyed in the attack.

According to the 2001 census, there are only 284,092 Christians in Gujarat, which has a total population of more than 50 million.

Source: Compass Direct

Christians attacked in Rajasthan, Situation Tense

Christians attacked in Rajasthan, situation tense as Christian meeting goes on

By Vijayesh Lal

26th October 2005: According to reports received activists of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal have been attacking Christians in the Banswara District of Rajasthan since a fortnight. The violent incidents against Christians have increased since the Tribal Christian welfare Society organized a Christian festival from the 25th October 2005. At the time of writing of this report physical violence against Christians coming to attend the Christian festival were still on. It is reported that nearly 50 incidents of beatings have occurred in the past 24 hours.

25th October 2005, Banswara - The Tribal Christian Welfare Society, an organization representing the tribal Christians in the Banswara (Waghad) Belt had organized revival meetings for Christians in the area. The meetings are held every year and are focused mainly on Christians as the emphasis is on revival. Usually the meetings are heavily attended with attendance escalating up to 15000 people. A few non Christians also attend the meeting in the hope of healing and miracles, which do take place.

This year too the Society after taking due permission from the administration had organized the meetings from the 25th – 27th October 2005. Pastor Benjamin a member of the society informed us, "The permission had been given and all the necessary paper work was done, but the RSS knowing that a Christian meeting was taking place issued a call for one of its own meeting just a week or two before this event in the same town."

"They then went on to bring many volunteers from different places and tried to disrupt the meeting by pleading to authorities to cancel the event as they were alleging conversions." Pastor Benjamin said.

When we spoke to the Superintendent of Police Mr. Sanjeev Kumar Narjari, he confirmed the information saying that the RSS and its affiliates had alleged 'forcible conversions' in the meeting and had asked the government to intervene and stop the meeting.

"At the behest of the RSS and its affiliates, the government authorities had demanded, in writing from the Christian leaders that no 'forcible conversions' would take place in the meetings and that the Christian leaders had given this to the authorities in writing." Mr. Narjari further informed us. He also told us that "the police would be videotaping the whole meeting to make sure that the people are not influenced in the 'wrong way' so that they may be converted by the Christians."

But in spite of all this the RSS and its affiliates were not satisfied. They started targeting the participants coming for the meetings. According to information received they placed their activists on all approach roads to the venue and whenever participants for the meeting came the Hindutva activists would beat them up and send them back. Within 24 hours nearly 50 incidents of violence against Christians have been reported from Banswara and reports are still trickling in.

This affected the participation in the meetings and only 3500 people could arrive the first day which was very less than anticipated according to the organizers. "The RSS people are everywhere, blocking roads, staging protests and beating up our people. Many teams coming from distant areas have been beaten up and forced to turn back. Our only contact with the teams coming now is through phones as the RSS is inflicting heavy violence." Pastor Benjamin told us.

He further added, "The RSS is checking baggage of all persons arriving in Sagwa (venue of the meetings) forcibly. If a Bible is found in their baggage they are beaten up and sent back. A team from Dahod (Gujarat) was coming to attend the meeting but the conductor of the State Transport bus, in which they were traveling, informed the RSS about the group. They were then dragged out of the bus and beaten up and sent back forcibly. The police are present at each place where our people are being beaten up, but they do nothing to stop the RSS people. Even if we plead with them, they ignore us"

When we spoke about this situation to the SP, Mr. Nirjari, he acknowledged the violence against Christians after much hesitation, but maintained that these were small incidents and that the police was able to handle these.

But the ground reality is far removed from this. After the beating many participants tried to contact the nearest police station to register their complaints but they were all turned away. The situation as one Committee member of the Tribal Christian Welfare Society says "is quite hopeless. We are safe in the venue for security arrangements are good here. But the RSS had a different game plan. Since the police had to protect us at the venue they gave the RSS a free hand on the approach roads to the venue. The aim of all of this is to spell trouble for Christians, one way or the other."

As the RSS was busy beating up the participants in Sagwa Village, else where in the Kushalgarh Subdivision also in Banswara District, five Catholic nuns were attacked and beaten up. They were attacked by VHP workers while they were waiting to board a bus for Udaipur.

A young person from a Hindutva run institution spotted the Nuns waiting at the bus stop. He soon left and arrived with a dozen more youths who were all carrying lathis (bamboo poles). By this time the Nuns had boarded their bus, but the young Hindutva brigade dragged them out of the bus and beat them severely. The most severely beaten up was Sister Rosario, 68 years old. The attackers fled when the passengers agitatedly objected to the nuns being beaten up. The Collector of area Gayatri Rathore said that 'the attacks were seemingly provoked by a notion that Christian groups were holding programmes to convert Adivasis (Tribals).' "Various Christian groups have now given it in writing that conversions are not on their agenda." she added.

Banswara District in Rajasthan has always been a place of turmoil for the Christians. Whether it be declarations by the VHP's General Secretary Mr. Giriraj Kishore of "declaring Banswara Christian free in three years time" on April 27th 1997 as recorded by the newspaper Asian Age; or incidents of physical violence against Christians where in Christian worshippers were forced to bow down and worship Hindu Idols (as recorded by the PUCL, India), life has never been easy for the Christian community there.

A new chapter of violence is being written now as this report is being drafted. It all started on October 16th 2005 as the Sangh Parivar organizations namely the VHP and the Bajrang Dal objected to a program organized by the Catholic Church in Rajasthan to mark the end of the Eucharist year celebrations, saying that the program was meant instead for Conversion purposes.

The Hindutva activists once again blocked the roads leading to the venue and beat up the participants who were on their way to attend the program. Even the Catholic Bishop of the Udaipur diocese, Joseph Pathalil was not spared and his vehicle was forcibly stopped and stoned.


27th October 2005: The tribal Christian welfare society was ordered by the administration to cancel its meeting late on the 26th October 2005. This was done as situation was getting worse as far as law and order were concerned.

So even after having all the necessary permissions the Christian community had to cancel their program. According to reports received, the Christians held a brief prayer on the 27th October morning for the victims of the attacks and closed the meeting. The participants are now returning back. The meetings which used to gather crowds to the capacity of 15 – 20 thousands could only manage 5000 this time, because of the successful implementation of the RSS strategy that could rightly be called aided by the police and the administration.