Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bible Students Beaten to Near Death

01/28/2006: Three Gospel for Asia Bible college students were severely beaten, threatened with death and their literature burned while witnessing in Bihar state during India's annual Republic Day celebration.

The first-year students, Michel, Jaipal and Balkishore, were visiting homes in a village near Purnia when they were attacked by a group of anti-Christian militants. The radical Hindus beat the students, then took them to a youth hostel where they tied them to a tree and encouraged others in the hostel to urinate on them.

When the hostel residents hesitated, the militant youth beat the Bible students with bamboo sticks and kicked them before they were rescued by the residents.

Amid the celebration of India's independence from Britain, the radicals accused the Christians of being "agents for the British," and set fire to all of their literature.

"If you ever come again to our area, we will burn you like we burned these books," they warned the Bible students.

When the victims finally reached their Bible college that evening, they were described as "half dead" by their teacher. After being treated at a local hospital, the three returned to the school, their faces still swollen and their joints aching from the assault.

GFA President K.P. Yohannan asks Christians around the world to pray that the Lord will heal these courageous students, and that those who attacked them will come to know the love of Jesus instead of the fear that drives their blind hate for the Gospel.

Click Here for Source

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Capital Shame: Christian meeting attacked and participants assaulted in Bhopal

By Vijayesh Lal and Rahul Pant

28th January 2006: A Christian retreat was disrupted and Christians beaten up on Saturday morning in the state capital of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

The incident occurred when an all-day prayer retreat and training organized by the Hallelujah Church had just begun. The trouble began at 10:30 a.m. when miscreants belonging to the Bajrang Dal, the militant wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) forcefully entered the house of Freddy Prasad in Govindpuri area where the retreat had been organized and began beating the Christians who had gathered for the meeting. Before beating the participants, the goons pelted stones from outside and shouted anti-Christian slogans and accused the organizers of indulging in “forced conversions”.

Thereafter, the mob which consisted of around 60 Hindu fundamentalists, a number of whom were clad in saffron clothing and were wielding rods, lathis (sticks) and other sharp-edged weapons assaulted the Christians and ransacked the room in which the meeting was going on injuring at least 17 Christians.

While 6 Christians have sustained serious injuries and had to be rushed to the Kasturba hospital in Habibganj where they have been admitted, other Christians present at the venue of the meeting at the time of the attack have also been injured. The meeting was being conducted at the house of one Freddy Prasad who is a local Christian.

Pastor Sam Francis who was coordinating the all-day meeting and training was hit badly and has received fractures in his hands and legs. The RSS activists also damaged his vehicle, a Toyota Qualis, completely while Freddy Prasad's scooter was also damaged by the attackers and the window panes of his house smashed.

Kishore Sadhwani, a Sindhi background Christian, who had been invited as the main-speaker to address the gathering has also received a fracture in one of his hands and eight stitches on his head. Reportedly he is also suffering from a blood clot because of the beatings and has been vomiting blood.

The others who have sustained serious injuries in the attack include Majit Masih, Lal Chand and Ivan Pereira all of whom are evangelists.

While the leader of opposition and others have visited the injured in the hospital, no one from the ruling Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party has bothered to enquire about the condition of the Christians who were attacked.

The regional media has reported the attack on Christians as a case of personal rivalry between two groups and the Superintendent of Police (SP) has issued a statement in the media saying that there have been only minor injuries to those who were attacked.

The very fact that such an attack has taken place in the State capital raises concerns over the rapidly deteriorating situation of law and order in the state and the complete failure on part of the state government to protect the minorities in the state. The local Christians have condemned the incident and have demanded that the state government provide adequate security to the Christian community all across the state.

This is the third recorded attack on the Minority Christian community in the state of Madhya Pradesh within the past three days.

Christian leaders locked up on false charges at Jabalpur on Republic day

By Vijayesh Lal

Three Christian leaders belonging to the Church of Nazrene were arrested Thursday the 26th January 2006 at Jabalpur on grounds of indulging in forced conversion of tribals.

According to sources, in a well-planned move by the local unit of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh affiliated Dharama Raksha Manch (or Religion Defence Platform) two Christian leaders residing in the Civil Lines area of Jabalpur and one Christian leader from Dindori, close to Jabalpur, were falsely accused by the Hindu fundamentalists of forcibly converting and attempting to forcibly convert 23 tribals from Dindori.

The local police acting on the directions of Sudhir Agarwal of Dharam Raksha Samiti conducted a raid on the Gurudev lodge in Madan Mahal area of Jabalpur in order to scare the tribals who had voluntarily put up at the lodge to spend the night while on their way to attend a Christian convention organized by the Church of Nazarene at Nagpur city in Maharashtra. The tribals were going to participate in the convention by their own free will from 27th January 2006 onwards.

After conducting the raid at the lodge, the police under the leadership of City Police-Inspector Siddarth Chaudhary arrested the three Christian leaders namely Pravin Pawar, Sanat Pawar and Maclin Masih. They were arrested and put into custodial lock-up where they were till the writing of this report.

The three Christians have been accused and booked under Section 420 and Article 4 of the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance. The police have also confiscated Christian literature, documents related to the Church of Nazrene and 35 passenger tickets of a private bus agency.

Anti-Christian reports appearing in the regional media have made the situation critical as it may lead to a flare up in the situation leading to further attacks on the Christian community. According to these completely one-sided and biased reports investigations have revealed that 23 tribals were being taken from Dindori district to Nagpur to forcibly make them participate in a convention of the Christian community in order to convert them forcefully. False allegations of enticing the tribals to Christianity by lure of money and under the pretext of taking them for sight-seeing have been levied by the police on the falsely accused Christians.

When we spoke to the Police Inspector Mr. Siddharth Chaudary, he maintained that the Christians arrested had conspired to convert the poor tribals by luring them for sightseeing and promising them physical healing through prayer during the convention.

Mrs. Indira Iyengar, member of the Madhya Pradesh State Minority Commission spoke to us where in she informed that she too had spoken to the police officials in Jabalpur and they had appeared biased against the Christians. When Mrs. Iyengar questioned a senior police official as to why the Christians had been arrested when the tribals were going to Nagpur of their own free will, she did not receive an answer. The police also kept mum when Mrs. Iyengar questioned them as to how three Christians can force 23 tribals to travel to a place they did not want to go?

As the misinformation against Christians was spread by the Hindu fundamentalists among Hindus living in and around the Gurudev lodge, a large mob of Hindus, mostly mobilized by the Dharma Raksha Samiti, gathered together and beat the Christians black and blue. They continued to thrash the Christians even as the police tried to register a case against the Christians. Activists belonging to the militant wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak sangh shouted anti-Christian slogans while all this was going on and tried to incite communal frenzy.

However when we spoke to Mr. Chaudhary, he denied reports that the Christians had been beaten up even though this was reported in the local media.

The situation in Jabalpur continues to be volatile and the Christians are fearful that this wave of anti-Christian violence against them may increase in the days to come.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tribal Pastors attacked in Jhabua again

Tribal Pastors attacked and beaten up in a case of blatant state atrocity
By Vijayesh Lal

25th January 2006: In a gross violation of human-rights a group of local policemen barged into a Christian home where a prayer meeting had to be conducted in Chapri village of Jhabua in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh and beat up two tribal pastors who were supposed to leading the prayer meeting.

On Wednesday morning at 10:30 am, as local Christians had gathered together for a time of prayer at Rai Singh's home, as many as nine policemen belonging to the state police barged into the Christian home a few minutes before the prayer meeting could begin.

In utter disregard of their responsibilities as keepers of law, these goons became breakers of law and badly beat up the two tribal pastors who had to lead the prayer meeting.

After beating the two pastors of the Philadelphia Church of Chapri, namely Rai Singh Amblia at whose house the meeting was going on and Hatehsingh Rawat mercilessly, the police put them into their vehicle and dragged them to the police station repeatedly threatening them of dire consequences if they coinued to gather together for prayer or for any other kind of 'Christian activity'.

Raisingh and Hatesingh were locked up in custody for more than four hours where they were not only beaten up more but their Christian faith was also mocked at. The pastors were assaulted on their stomach and hands and the policemen also struck blows on their neck. The wounds which the two pastors received as a result of the police beatings forced them to be taken to the local hospital the next day.

However, when reports last came in the two pastors were denied access to medical aid by the local hospital authorities who demanded that the pastors obtain written permission from the police to receive medical help.

Those involved in this unlawful act of atrocity against the minority community include Babu Bhabor, Pal, Jaisingh, Gadwan, Shamra, Mukesh, Shisodia and other policemen. The incident took place in the very presence of the Sub-Inspector, Kalidevi Police chowki, Mr. Samrath Devanji. The T.I. of the area was however absent when the incident took place.

The Christians in Chapri village are in a state of shock while Christians in Jhabua maintain that acts of state atrocities like this are shaking their confidence in the state machinery which they say is anyway conniving with anti-Christian elements to terrorize the Christian community in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Mrs. Indira Iyengar of the Madhya Pradesh Minority Commission expressed her concern over the incident. She said, "It is shocking in the manner in which the Christians in Jhabua are being targeted almost systematically by communal forces. It is becoming a regular affair and almost no protection is being offered by the government." She expressed her surprise at the incident as it happened just a day before the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh; Mr. Shivraj Chauhan was in Jhabua for Republic Day celebrations.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Arjun Singh, Central Human Resource development minister had called on the government to protect the Christian community in Jhabua from systematic attacks by Hindutva forces just a few days ago.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Children's Homes Face Opposition from Hindu Militants in Uttaranchal India

On Saturday, Jan. 14, approximately 40 Hindu militants opposed to a children's home and school being constructed in the village of Tikri in northeastern India's Uttaranchal state came to the construction site and threatened to kill the workers who were building the new facility. The workers fled for their lives.

Ashish Massey, the head of the North India Evangelistic Association (NIEA) who is funding the project, was also threatened with death by the militants. According to a local report, some of the local villagers allegedly complained to the activists that the Christians had come to their village to convert them.

In a separate incident in West Bengal, the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority demolished a church building and orphanage on Monday, Jan. 16, despite ongoing legal proceedings. According to Indian Express, the development authority claimed that the buildings were impeding a planned road expansion. At the time of its destruction, the orphanage was home to 30 children and 20 women. (Voice of the Martyrs)

Source: Persecuted Church of India Yahoo Group

Christians Attacked, Houses Burned in Orissa, India

No relief provided to Christians, who remain without shelter, food or spare clothes.

NEW DELHI, January 25 (Compass) - A pastor and his cousin charged with attempted forced conversion in Matiapada village, Orissa state, were released on bail yesterday, while five Hindu villagers charged with assault and setting fire to the pastor's house are still in custody.

The trouble began on January 15, when Hindu villagers "abused and slapped Rabindra Mallick, the younger brother of Pastor Kulamani Mallick, without provocation as he returned home from a nearby market," said the Rev. Dr. Dandia Basi Hrudaya, secretary of the Orissa chapter of the All India Christian Council (AICC).

On the following morning (January 16), a group of about 15 villagers armed with sticks stormed Pastor Mallick's home and assaulted him and members of his family. The pastor and two other family members required hospital treatment for minor injuries.

When the family fled, the village Hindus set fire to the house. Seven adjacent houses also caught fire and were destroyed; six of the eight homes destroyed belonged to Christians.

There are only nine Christians in the village, which has a total population of 70 families.

Hrudaya said Hindus had repeatedly threatened the Christian minority before the assault last week. He said the villagers were influenced by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council), a Hindu extremist group active in the district.


Later that day, Kabit Mallick, a local woman, lodged a complaint against the pastor and two of his relatives, both recent converts, alleging that they had tried to force her to accept the Christian faith.

Hindu villagers also claimed the Christians had set their own houses on fire.

Even as the ashes cooled, members of the Bajrang Dal - the youth wing of the VHP - alleged that Christian missionaries were torturing Hindus in Orissa as a means of forcing them to convert to Christianity.

Both Christian and Hindu villagers lodged police complaints, with the Christians naming 14 attackers. Police then arrested five Hindus: Ramesh Mallick, Gandarbha Mallick, Bandhua Mallick, Suman Mallick and Baga Mallick.

The district court later charged the five with destruction of a property by fire and rejected their bail application.

Police also arrested Pastor Mallick and his cousin Gunanidhi Mallick in connection with the accusations of forced conversion. The local magistrate's court rejected a bail application for the Christians on January 18, but the district court granted bail for them on Monday (January 24).

Christians in Maliapada said Jagannath Pareda, officer-in-charge at the local police station, had declined to charge the attackers with destruction of property by fire. Pareda is allegedly a supporter of the VHP.

Both Pareda and the superintendent of police of Jajpur district were unavailable for comment at press time.

The Rev. Pran Ranjan Parichha, president of the Orissa AICC, wrote to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday (January 20), urging him to ensure compensation and rehabilitation for the villagers who had lost their homes. These villagers were still without shelter, food or spare clothes.

Parichha also asked for "a permanent solution" to repeated attacks against Christians in the state.

In another letter written to the district collector of Jaipur, Parichha sought police protection for the Christians of Matiapada "until normality is restored."

Click Here for Source

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Two held for attacking Pastor in Andhra

From our correspondent

Two activists of the the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisath (ABVP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been arrested in connection with the attack on Pastor Aaron in Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh on 12 January 2006. The police are on the lookout for the rest of the activists who joined in the brutal attack.

The victim, accompanied by some other Christian activists, was distributing pamphlets at important junctions of the town in connection with the ongoing Christian congregation at Polytechnic Grounds. Aaron was severely beaten up by ABVP and RSS activists and the police arrived on the scene and saved him, according to eyewitnesses. He was shifted to hospital later.

Aaron complained that about 100 ABVP and RSS activists had attacked him without any provocation. It is now learned that the attackers tried to take him to an isolated place with an intention to set him on fire. They also carried a can of petrol for the purpose. However the timely intervention by the police saved the situation.

The police moved into action following rallies held in the town on the following day by the Christian community protesting against the attack. The police also seized a still camera and a video camera containing all that happened during the attack. The attack was led by one Jaipal Reddy, an active RSS member.

Click Here for Source

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Pastor abducted and Shot in Manipur

Pastor abducted and shot at in Manipur town, bandh observed in protest

From our correspondent

Life in the border town of Moreh was paralysed on 10 January 2006 following a lightning bandh called by the Moreh Pastor Fellowship in the wake of the abduction of Moreh Hindi Baptist Church Pastor Mohan Lal and church secretary Kishan Yadav by unidentified persons. While the kidnapped men were released shortly before noon, Pastor Mohan Lal was shot on the left hand by his abductors and had to be hospitalised.

Pastor Mohan Lal (45) and Kishan Yadav (26) were kidnapped around 9 am on 10 January 2006 by two unidentified persons at Moreh Ward No 3. The armed men reportedly accosted them near JS Photo Studio and at gunpoint bundled them into an auto-rickshaw.

Pastor Mohan Lal, along with Kishan Yadav, was kidnapped by militants suspected to be members of the United Liberation Arm Front (ULAF) on the charges that they were informers to security personnel about the militant movements in Moreh town. They were taken into their custody and accused with the charges of informing the whereabouts of the militants.
In the wake of the abduction, the Moreh Pastor Fellowship called for a lightning bandh that lasted till 4 pm. A rally, participated by some 500 people, mostly Christians, was also taken out through Moreh town to protest against the incident.

In the meantime, the two kidnapped men were released by their abductors at around 11:30 am. While Kishan Yadav was unharmed, the abductors shot Pastor Mohan Lal on his left hand. The latter was given first aid at the Moreh community health centre upon his release and was later referred to Regional Medical Institute of Science in Imphal.

Owing to the bandh, nearly all shops and business establishments in the border town stayed shut till evening. The roads were deserted. No buses left the town for Imphal, while buses coming from Imphal had to wait at the Moreh small town gate till the end of the bandh.

Pastor Mohan Las has been pastoring a small Hindi speaking congregation at Moreh for last two years supported by Kuki Baptist Convention based in Imphal. He along with the church has been involved in evangelisation among Hindi-speaking communities and Nepalis of Moreh town.

Relating their experiences, Kishan Yadav said their abductors, who were altogether five in number, had accused them of frequenting the local Army camp and acting as informers. They were also told to leave Moreh.

He said the abductors had taken them to the Chavangphai area, where they were manhandled. However when he clarified that he had come to Moreh only two years back and was serving as staff at Hindi Baptist Church, he was allowed to go unharmed. The abductors spoke both in Manipuri and Hindi, Yadav said.

Moreh Pastor Fellowship chairman Rev Thongam issued a press release strongly condemning the kidnapping and the shooting of Pastor Mohan Lal. The release demanded a clarification on the reasons behind the incident and further appealed to all underground groups not to harass religious workers.

Click Here for Source

Stop VHP reconversion drive, Minorities panel tells Centre

Express News Service

New Delhi, January 15 After failing to broker peace between the saffron brigade and tribal Christians in Dangs, Gujarat, the National Minorities Commission (NCM) has asked the Centre to intervene to check the "illegal and unconstitutional" reconversion of tribals reportedly being planned by VHP-led groups next month.
In a letter to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, NCM member V V Augustine has said that the proposed programme of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and the local Adivasi Kalyan Samiti "had led to simmering tensions which could flare up any time".

The NCM member had visited Dangs to assess the situation arising out of the proposed "re-conversion" - the Ghar vapsi samaroh to be organised at the Sabri Kumbh Mela in mid-february.

In its report on the situation in the district, the NCW says that "tribal Christians are feeling insecure and fearing attacks as the day approaches". Dangs' 1.8 lakh population is spread over 113 villages and there is a tussle between missionaries and Hindu groups to bring the tribals into their folds.

The NCM report says the Hindu organisations "made no bones about their plans to reconvert the tribal christians and bring them back to the Hindu fold" when the minorities panel met their leaders.

Augustine alleged that "the Hindu groups are violating the Constitution and also the anti-conversion law of Gujarat by holding such a programme."

The NCM has conveyed its apprehensions of a likely flare up in the communal situation in Dangs to Chief Minister Narendra Modi too.

The report says the VHP had distributed pamphlets in which the Adivasis have been advised to hoist an orange flag on their houses during the Kumbh. "This, the Christians fear, was meant to make identification of the Christian houses easier and make them vulnerable," the report says.

Click Here for Source

136 Christian tribals reconverted to Hinduism in Orissa

Rourkela, Orissa: Nearly 136 tribals who were converted to Christians were reconverted to Hinduism at a function organised by the local unit of the Viswha Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajarang Dal.

The reconversion ceremony was held at a remote village in Tumbei under Gurundia police station, about 40 kms from here.

Those reconverted to Hinduism included 61 male and 75 female from as many as 25 tribal families belonging to Kodaligochha, Pankadihi and Tumbei villages.

Rourkela VHP unit Prsident Mitrabhanu Panda and several other Bajarang Dal and VHP leaders were present at the reconversion ceremony.

Click Here for Source

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Pastor assaulted in Andhra Pradesh

From our correspondent

Mild tension prevailed for a brief period in the town of Nizamabad of Andhra Pradesh following alleged assault on pastor Aaron of Indian Pentecostal Church by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parisath (ABVP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists at RTC bus stand area on 12 January 2006.

The victim, accompanied by some other Christian activists, was distributing pamphlets at important junctions of the town in connection with the ongoing Christian congregation at Polytechnic Grounds.

Aaron was severely beaten up by ABVP and RSS activists and the police arrived on the scene and saved him, according to eyewitnesses. He was shifted to hospital later. Aaron complained that about 100 ABVP and RSS activists had attacked him without any provocation.

According to In-charge Circle Inspector K Pochaiah, a case had been booked under Sections 153A, 324, 506, 147 and 149 of IPC. The accused persons were absconding and manhunt was launched to arrest them, he said.

Meanwhile, The Council condemned the attack on the pastor and large numbers of Christians staged a rasta roko in protest against the attack on the pastor at the Railway Kaman affecting the vehicular traffic for about 45 minutes. The Council leader David said in a democratic and secular country everyone had the right to preach and propagate ones religion.

Click Here for Source

Friday, January 13, 2006

Rise in attacks on Christians in Madhya Pradesh

Bhopal, January 12, 2006

ALLEGING 45 per cent rise in crimes against missionaries during the last two years of Bharatiya Janata Party rule in Madhya Pradesh, the Madhya Pradesh Christian Association today claimed that fake cases were being registered against Christians, accusing them of being involved in religious conversion.

Conveniently, the attacks are targeted conventionally at the poor, rural Christians, who usually have no way to protect themselves, association secretary Anil Martin said in a letter to State Minorities Commission, while submitting a report of a survey conducted among 4105 Christians in Khargone, Dhar, Dewas, Indore, Jhabua and Ratlam districts.

The State Government has been sheltering communal elements and organisations to frame fake charges against Christians, the survey conducted by the Association and National Forum for Reconciliation, Religious Liberty and Social Justice alleged.

Claiming 45 per cent rise in crime against Christians, the report accused the administration and police of acting at the behest of the government and communal organisations and of being reluctant to file FIRs or registering complaints.

The attacks had taken place on tribal Christians in rural areas where their population was above the State's average and literacy levels were low, it said claiming that cottage churches in Chhindwara and other tribal belts were almost on the verge of closure.

Lone pastors, who are preaching are hammered or arrested on any pretext, usually on charges of converting or conversions, Martin said, seeking the commission's intervention in restoring faith of Christians on the State Government by preventing such attacks.

Click Here for Source

Christians Targeted in Dangs, Gujarat

By Sankar Ray from Kolkata

After the Muslims, now is the turn for the Christians below-the-poverty-line in India. Some 8000 "wretched-of-the earth" - Dangs - are targets of three rightwing Hindu militants in western India: Viswa Hindu Parishad ( World Hindu Council - VHP ). Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM - Hindu reawakening platform) and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram (mission-home for welfare of forest -dwellers - VKA).

Very much at home in triggering communal riots, these storm-troopers, indoctrinated by the Hindu fascists, have planned a proselytization programme between 11-13 February this year among Dangs, one of the most backward aborigines (known as adivasis in India) in the state of Gujarat in India. The religious conversion programme has been okayed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS,), also coined by the Indian media as Sangh which is the guiding centre of right wing Hindu nationalists.

The proselytization plan coincides with a Hindu religious festival, Shabri Kumbh, based on a myth. Rama, the hero in the Sanskrit epic, Ramayana , and his brother Lakshmana who stayed in Chamak hill in the Dang district, Rama met one of his devotees, Shabari Mata, there. Hence the Shabri Kumbh or holy dip.

However, the religious sanction to the Shabri Kumbh is questioned by orthodox and non-militant Hindu religious monks. A citizen's inquiry report, a summary of two fact-finding teams in Dang and adjoining districts, snaps fingers at this issue. Saying, "at best described as a pseudo- Kumbh, for which there is no religious sanction". Kumbh Mela or festival takes place by turns in four fixed locations of India, Nasik, Hardwar, Allahabad and Ujjain. The propaganda materials in CDs, prepared by the RSS, has nothing in common with the Kumbh mela (festival) traditions, built over many centuries, argues the report. The ultra-rightist Hindu propaganda portrays Christianity as a dangerous foreign faith, and calls for its destruction in the same way as Ram had killed the demon Ravana. The inflammatory slogan is Hindu Jago, Christi Bhagao (Arise, Oh Hindus and drive Christians out).

There is a forest habitation, almost wholly of Dangs. Devout and innocent Hindus believe that Rama was a real hero some 500,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to attend the festival. The RSS-affiliates have "money power" to convert the Dangs, according to fact-finding teams that visited the region between 10 and 21 December last.

The VHP, HJM and VKA have set up a website that wages a provocative tirade against the Christian missionaries. For a long time, India, it states, "has been a special target of the Christian Church worldwide. To the Church, the Hindus represent the greatest stumbling block in their grand design to establish Christs kingdom on earth. The poor, illiterate, mild Vanvasi Hindu is an obvious target in this nefarious scheme. For years, under the garb of social service, the Church has been spreading its tentacles in far-flung, tribal regions of our country. These converted vanavasis become alienated from their customs and traditions. They get uprooted from their cultural milieu."

The Christian missionaries are accused of having fanned up, separatism and terrorism in north-east India by the Shabari Kumbhsponsors. "There are several areas in our country which have become hotbeds of Christian missionary activity", the Hindu militant propaganda states forcefully. The Dangs district is a distorted form of Dandakaranya, the Ramayana heroes stayed during their 14-year banishment. "The immortal devotee of Sri Rama met her Lord and lovingly offered him sweet berries which she had tasted herself", the organizers claim. There is indeed a temple, named after the mother Shabari.

The two teams presented a brief summary of their findings on 3 January. The first committee included Irfan Engineer, director Center for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, Suresh Khairnar, convener Dharma Nirpeksh Nagrik Manch (secular citizen’s platform), Nagpur,Ram Puniyani, secretary, All India Secular Forum and Digant Oza, wellknown journalist social activist of Ahmedabad.

The second team, mostly representing NGOs, comprised Harsh Mander, formerly a top bureaucrat of Gujarat and now a senior functionary of an NGO, Anhad, Uttambhai Parmar and Rohit Prajapati, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties and Prasad Chacko of ActionAid . They went around places like Ahva, Subir, Unai, Saputara and met local people and activists. They also spoke to local government officials and Sangh leaders .
RSS constituents focus on tribal belts and states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Orissa and Gujarat. "The efforts of the Sangh organisations is to see that adivasis lose their identity, culture and traditions of worshiping nature without being part of any mainstream religion, by asserting that they are Hindus", the fact-finding committees states.

In Gujarat, which witnessed a two-month long communal riot against Muslims in February and March 2002 and killing of over 2500 people by RSS affiliates such as the VHP, VKA and Bajrang Dal, moral and administrative backing is an added advantage for the proselytizers as the state is ruled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), political arm of RSS. The chief minister of Gujarat is Narendra Mody whom Indian National Congress and other secular and Leftist parties described as the main backer of communal killings.

The fact-finding document describes the plight of Dangs. "With very small and uneconomic holdings, the majority of the cultivators barely manage to survive for few months of the year on the crops harvested. The agricultural laborers find some employment only during the agricultural season. The political economy of Dangs presents a typical case of utter neglect, dispossession and non-development. The Gujarat state administration in close collaboration with the RSS outfits, "is engaged in a systematic campaign to divide the Dangi adivasis on religious communal lines and pit them against each other", and the survey report added.

The proselytisation aims at "suppression of the basic religious rights of the adivasis practicing Christianity and thereby also curbing the rights of the Christian missionaries to carry on their activities", the two teams feel. The conversion is subtly aimed at diversion of what is perceived as a growing consciousness of the Dangi adivasis about their traditional rights and self-rule onto communal and anti-tribal and anti-people issues.

The Hindu militants, owing allegiance to the RSS, began anti- Christian propaganda among Dangs in 1995. The campaign got a fillip in 1997, especially after the arrival of Swami Aseemanand, a VHP functionary from West Bengal. A "vicious anti-Christian propaganda and started projecting the work of Christian missions as a threat to both Hinduism and the national security. He has been visiting village after village, doing propaganda against Christian missionaries and Islamic Jehadis. He has also been propagating so-called re-conversion, ghar-vapasi (or homecoming) to Hinduism amongst the adivasis."

The inquiry report wages a polemical battle against the RSS tentacles which the two communist parties - CP of India and CP of India (Marxist) - brands as replica of "Nazi storm-troopers of the 1930s. "The religion of the Dangi adivasis in animistic, with varied gods and goddesses like animals, plants, trees and hills, the forces of nature like rain, mountain, ghosts and spirits, including tigers, cows, serpents, the moon, and gods of corn, the rains, the wind, the hills and forests."

Christian missionaries have been working there for over a century. The RSS constituents launched violent attacks against them during the regime of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance in New Delhi between 1998 and 2004. "Throughout the year 1998, there were 38 recorded cases of anti Christian violence, especially attacks on places of worship. A number of leaflets were published and the Gujarati newspapers added fuel to the fire, supporting the propaganda against the tiny Christian population of Gujarat," the report noted.

The conversion programme synchronizes with the new turn in the BJP. It has serious rift over the issue of Hindu militancy, imposed by the RSS. The new president Rajnath Singh is an adherent of the new line in contrast to his predecessor L K Advani, former Union home minister, who tried in vain to reorient the Hindu nationalist party in tune with the traditional secularism.

Click for Source Here

Friday, January 06, 2006

Police in Indian Village Ban Church, Allow Hindu Temple

Dispute in Orissa state leads to extremist assault on three Christian women and one man.

NEW DELHI, January 4 (Compass) - Police decided yesterday to allow a make-shift Hindu temple in Umarkote village but banned Christians from worshiping at a nearby house church following a conflict that led to Hindu extremists attacking four people.

The attackers had set up their temple near the house in October last year and then complained to police that the Christian worship disturbed their own rituals. On Thursday (December 29) they lodged an official complaint charging the Christians with forced conversions.

When three Christian women arrived at the house to attend a prayer meeting on Friday morning (December 30), the extremists slapped them and pulled their hair, warning them not to attend any more services. They also slapped church member Samraj Rai, who had come to warn the women, and damaged his motorbike.

Fearing further violence, the victims did not go home but stayed with friends that night.

A delegation of church members went to the Umarkote police station on Saturday (December 31) to lodge a written complaint. The police accepted the document but would not register an official complaint.

Inspector Narayan Chand Barik told Compass that he had "received a complaint from the villagers saying that people in the house church were disturbing the temple. But I have not received a complaint from the Christians."

Barik also said he had discovered that some of the church members had not informed district authorities before they converted to Christianity. Prior notification of conversion is required under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act of 1967 and the Orissa Freedom of Religion Rules appended to the Act in 1989.

"Why is there a church if there are no Christians?" Barik said. "And if there are Christians, why haven’t they fulfilled the requirements of the law?"

When asked if the construction of the Hindu temple on public land was legal, he answered, "This is their traditional way of worshipping their god."

Temple Under a Tree

Roots of the dispute go back to October 2005, when Umarkote villager Govind Nath set up a photo of a Hindu god under a tree about 50 meters from the house church, mission supervisor Chaitanya Nayak told Compass. Neighbors say Nath is a member of the Hindu extremist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Two weeks later, Nath put a statue under the tree. A little later he built a small cement structure there and declared it to be a temple.

"Every Sunday morning after that, the temple started using loudspeakers for religious programs which disturbed the church," Nayak said. "But we did not object to it, since we felt they also had a right to worship."

On Thursday (December 29), Nath lodged a complaint with police, alleging that the church was disturbing temple worship and that its members were forcibly converting local residents.

Later that day, police summoned home-owner Tirinath Nag and Pastor Jacob Khare and interrogated them for more than five hours at the police station.

Unaware of these developments, the three Christian women went to Nag's house the next day for prayer and fasting and were attacked.

As a result of a meeting at the police station yesterday (January 3), police said they would allow the Hindu temple built on public land to continue to function. The Christians, however, were banned from holding services in Nag's house. Inspector Barik said the Christians could meet at the home only for prayer - not for worship, preaching, or any other church-related activity.

At the meeting, he also asked both parties not to insult each other's religious sentiments and not to use loudspeakers without prior permission from the other party.

Regarding the extremists' charge that the Christians did not register their conversions, the Rev. Dr. D.B. Hrudaya said that some believers avoid public declarations of conversion because of lengthy and complicated procedures required by the state.

Under current laws, would-be converts must give a declaration of intent to a Magistrate. The police then check for any objections from family, friends or neighbors before the conversion is officially registered.

"Those who do get baptized and send a declaration to the district authorities are harassed by Hindu fundamentalists, who somehow get the information," said Hrudaya, who represents a local chapter of the All India Christian Council. "It is a difficult situation for new converts."

The state government ordered more stringent enforcement of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act in July 2005, following similar religious disputes. (See Compass Direct, "Hindu fundamentalists allege 'Forced Conversion,'" July 28, 2005.)

Monday, January 02, 2006

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."