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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