Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Jesus Christ lived in India, was buried in Kashmir: RSS chief

"JESUS CHRIST lived in India for 15 years, was buried in Kashmir and learnt his lessons of love and non-violence from reading Buddhism," claimed RSS Sarsanghchalak K S Sudarshan on Sunday.

Addressing a tribal congregation organised by the Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra at Bargaon village in Dindori district, situated about 90 km from Jabalpur, the RSS chief claimed that Jesus had come to India when he was 12 and returned when he was 27.

"Christian evangelists should know that what Jesus Christ preached, he had learnt during his 15-year stay in India," Sudarshan averred. The function was held to mark the birth centenary of second RSS Sarsanghchalak M S Golwalkar. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan was also present at the function.

Yet another claim that Sudarshan made at the gathering was that Christ die not die on the Cross. "He (Jesus) was only injured and after treatment returned to India where he actually died. His grave still exists in a place called Isha Nagar in Kashmir."

Cautioning tribals against Christian evangelists, Sudarshan said Christianity considered every one a sinner by birth. "Can God send a newborn to the world as a sinner," he asked?

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he had given more teeth to the anti conversion law in the State to ensure that no one converted to another faith due to allurement, fraud and coercion. He said that the State was committed to ensuring strict action against cow slaughter.

He also said that the State Government was popularising Sanskrit language and a Sanskrit University would be opened in Ujjain shortly. The state government will bear half of the expenditure for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, Chouhan said.

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Christian meet attacked in Bihar by Bajrang Dal activists

Patna, Jan 30 (IANS) Tension gripped a Bihar town after a Christian prayer meet was attacked by suspected Bajrang Dal activists, injuring several people.

According to police, a group of armed men Sunday attacked the meet at a Christian missionary in Sasaram in Rohtas district, 200 km from here. They beat up people present there, tore down posters and burnt books and leaflets.

Complaints have been filed against nine Bajrang Dal activists.

The injured were immediately admitted to hospital.

Witness said that about 40 masked men attacked the Christian prayer meet and warned against holding similar weekly meetings, said K.K. Sharma, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Sasaram).

"The attackers shouted slogans against the conversion of Hindus to Christianity," he added.

Bajrang Dal leaders in the district were apparently unhappy over the missionary converting many Dalits. In the last two months, nearly 50 Dalit families have reportedly converted to Christianity.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Bible School Students beaten in Himachal Pradesh

Three Bible school students in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh were beaten on the morning of Saturday, January 27, and their Bible school vandalized by a group of Hindu extremists who oppose the growth of Christianity in their nation.

The students had divided into groups and were witnessing in nearby villages when they were confronted and beaten by members of an extremist group. The group then took the students to the police station.

Shortly after the attack, a mob of about 60 members of this same group came to the home Bible school and vandalized the facility.

"They caused a lot of damage," reported a field correspondent, "breaking the windows and shelves and tearing apart the books before they left."

The extremist group is a branch of the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or "World Hindu Council"), an organization dedicated to promoting an ultra-nationalistic philosophy that “to be Indian is to be Hindu." Groups such as these often oppose Christian work with violence.

Local police responded to the attack, locking up the Bible school and taking everyone—staff, students and a women's ministry team—into custody.

"It was first thought that the police were against us," said the correspondent.

"But then we came to know that the police took them in order to protect them."

By Saturday evening, police released the group and posted four officers to guard the Bible school overnight.

"It is not sure whether or not the fanatics will return," our correspondent stated.

Gospel for Asia currently trains thousands of students in Bible colleges throughout Asia. First-year students typically attend home Bible schools, which offer a more personal mentoring environment, and which then feed into the larger Bible colleges for the students' final two years of missionary training.

Gospel for Asia leaders are asking Christians to pray for this situation to be resolved, for the safety of everyone involved and for continued freedom to preach the Gospel in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Himachal Pradesh recently became the eighth state in India to pass anti-conversion legislation. If the bill is signed into law by the governor, it would impose fines and prison time on both those who embrace Christianity and those who introduce them to Christ.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Christian beaten up in Karnataka, Pastor threatened

Please pray for Pastor Neil Armstrong of the Full Gospel Assembly, who has been threatened by fundamentalists today in Harpanahalli, Davangere district, Karnataka state. He has been asked to not hold the Sunday service on coming Sunday, 28th January 2007 of his house Church. He has been threatened with dire consequences if he disobeys the threat and goes against the directive.

He received news that on 22nd January 2007, the radical outfits operating in the area had meetings, whereby they decided to come down heavily upon the Christian community in Harpanahalli a big way. To get their point across, M. Subbarao - a Christian working as a crusher mechanic was badly beaten up today morning. The fundamentalists informed Pastor about this incident, and further told him to not try to assist the Christian Brother, now in the police lock up.

Pastor Armstrong who is also the president of the Harpanahalli chapter of the Karnataka Missions Network, is being watched carefully by the fundamentalists. He has been told not to step out of his home, or to try and network with other pastors for any help. Please pray for God’s hand of protection to be upon Pastor Armstrong at this time. Pray also for the Lord to guide Pastor with His wisdom at this crucial time. Pray that the police would be impartial as we seek their help in this matter. In the meanwhile we are trying to find out a way to get in touch with bro Subbarao. Please pray for his safety as well.

Christians beaten up in Badwani, Madhya Pradesh

Christians assembled for Sunday morning devotions at the Philadelphia Church in Nawapada, Badwani were targeted by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on January 28th 2006. The shouts and screams of a Christian woman, who was one of the first to be beaten up, drew the support of the Hindu neighbors who came to the rescue of the Christians. Assembling in large numbers to defend the Christians, the Hindus forced the RSS men to withdraw from the area. However, in the skirmish three Christians, namely Bablu, Guman and Sushil, went missing.

Initially it was feared that the three had been kidnapped. After searching at length, they were found at the Badwani Police station. The RSS had got them grounded at the police station on charges of forceful religious conversions. When asked to release the young men, the Thana Inspector insisted they would not release them till the investigations were not complete. To make matters worse, the RSS men brought in two more believers whom they insisted they had found involved in conversions. Pastor Hatey Singh and Pastor Raju contacted us to intervene on their behalf.

We got in touch with the Superintendent of Police (SP) looking after Badwani, who was helpful enough to hear out the details in an impartial manner. He addressed the situation in due time, and at night by 8.30 pm all five had been released. However the updates that we have received from the Christians who were in the police station is that the SP has "forbidden" them from baptizing people from now on and has given them an instruction to take people to Gayatri Mandir whenever they want to help people i.e. helping alcoholics or praying for them.

The situation in Badwani, and the adjoining areas - Jhabua and Nimad; is increasingly being communalised. The Hindutva forces are targeting these heavily populated Christian areas to enforce their majority status. Please pray for the safety of Christians residing in Badwani, Jhabua and Nimad, that the Lord’s special hand of protection would be upon his people even as large scale Hindu gatherings are being organized to ‘reawaken’ the Hindus of the area.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More than 80,000 people take to the streets to defend missionaries accused of stealing

The Chattisgarh state government, which accuses missionaries of stealing the land of Tribal people in order to convert, has filed 262 cases against the Church to force it to “give back” the land. Demonstrators defend the Church and want politicians to stop manipulating the law.

Jashpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 80,000 Tribals have taken to the streets in the eastern state of Chattisgarh in defence of the Church accused by the local government of stealing lands from locals in order to convert them.

The land on which Catholic missionaries have built mission institutions “was not stolen from us, but was regularly sold to the Church by our ancestors, which now uses it to help,” said one demonstrator. “We are happy for the schools and hospitals,” which now stand on the contested land, because they “educate us and provide us with medical care”,.

The demonstration, which took place last Monday, is a response to a local court decision requiring the Sisters of the Holy Cross return to Tribals 12 acres of land on which they built a monastery and a school.

The judge motivated his decision based on local legislation 170 (b) which bans land sales in Tribal areas to non Tribals.

The state government, which is controlled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatya Janata Party, filed 262 cases alleging unlawful occupation of tribal land by Catholic missions.

“We have never asked that the land be returned,” said Tarcitius Toppo, one of the demonstrators. “It was never stolen and is not used to convert us but only to help us. The government should stop manipulating the law for its own purposes.”

Monday, January 22, 2007

VHP activists attacks Christian Meeting in UP

VHP stall alleged conversion proceedings by Christian missionaries in UP

Chakeri (UP), Jan 21 (ANI): Activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal today stalled what they called was an alleged conversion proceeding by Christian missionaries.

About 30 VHP and Bajrang Dal activists disrupted a meeting conducted by Christian missionaries accusing them of attempting religious conversion.

"We came to know that in Richa guesthouse, some Christian missionaries were holding discourses on religious conversion. We would not have allowed that to happen. If they try to conduct such meetings again in future, we will give them a fitting reply and will take to the streets," said Sunil Singh, a VHP activist.

About 100 attendants who were forced out of the hall however, said the discourses were on religious teachings and not on conversions.

"There was no attempt converting people's religion. You can ask anybody who attended the meeting," said Anita Joseph, one of the attendants of the meeting.

Hindu hardliners have repeatedly accused Christian missionaries of engineering conversions by incentives of jobs and education to the poor.

Christian activists deny the charge and say they are only involved in charity work.

Christians make up less than three percent of India's more than one billion population. (ANI)

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pastor and Wife beaten in Karnataka

Pastor David and his wife were beaten up for preaching the Good news to the slum dwellers in Bangalore

Pastor Paul David 29 years and his wife Prasanna Kumari (25) were beaten up by fanatic mob on 15th January '07.Pastor David has been in the ministry for about 10 years in and around Bangalore. Prasanna Kumari his wife is a convert from a lower Hindu caste and has completed the graduation course in Law.

Pastor David lived in J.P Nagar, Bangalore and conducted church services at his house for the last 2 years. About 40 members attended, most from the slum near by. But David’s messages against sin caused misgivings among others in the slum. Anti-social elements in the slum warned the pastor not to preach such messages as people were turning away from activities such as prostitution, drunkenness, theft etc.They raised objections several times even as services were going on and warned him not continue.

On11th January'07 some people gathered around pastor's house intimidated him and forcibly vacated their belongings. He was also beaten up by the mob. Fearing further violence, he and his wife moved out of the house and were forced to spend the night on a terrace as they had no place to go. None of the church members came forward to help the couple fearing attack from antisocial elements. The couple managed to keep their belongings in some space offered by a church member and fled on an overnight bus, so that they passed the night. The next day they returned to Bangalore and managed to find a small room in the slum to keep their belongings, and stayed there for 2 days. At 6:30 pm on 15th Jan, a group of people gathered around their room and again started accusing them.

They physically attacked both the pastor and his wife, snatched their mobile phones and gold chain from them and beat them mercilessly. The pastor insisted that he had not done any wrong and demanded to be taken to the police station, but of course the antisocial were not comfortable to go to the police station. However after about one and half hour of beating them, the mob took the couple to the Mico layout police station at 8 pm and lodged false complaint. The police let the couple go at 10 in the night and asked them to return to the police station next day morning.

Fearing a fresh attack, the pastor and his wife ran out of the police station, reached a school compound, and stayed under a half constructed structure the whole night. Next day morning, they escaped from the place, and reached a friend's place and stayed there for a day.

During the mob attack, they lost their cell phones/money/ gold chain etc. All their belongings are kept in the slum and they are afraid to go there for fear of life.

Please keep Pastor David and his wife Prasanna Kumari in your prayers.

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Hindu radicals to protest against Christian orphanage in Himachal

Activists belonging to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Sangh Parivar outfits will hold a sit-in dharna in front of Pastor Behal orphanage at Kamgra town in Himachal Pradesh on 20 January 2007. The activists are demanding that Pastor Behal and his family along with other Christian workers leave the place and stop all their activities in the town.

Pastor Behal is a retired army captain serving the people in Kangra. He runs a children home looking after around 15 orphans. He also has a church and a Bible training centre where around 15 students are studying.

The fanatics have accused him of using the children to do various works for him. They are also not happy with the service offered by the Christian institution in the area.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Evangelists attacked in NCR region

Four evangelists were attacked while they were preaching and distributing tracts near Indirapuram in Uttar Pradesh by a mob of orthodox Hindus on January 2, 2007. The evangelists were part of a group of seven who belong to the Brethren Assembly.

The evangelists were beaten up and their van was also damaged. They were accused by the Hindus of offering money so that people will convert.

After the evangelists went to the police station, they were asked by the police not to unnecessarily create disturbance in the area. They were further asked to take permission before preaching or distributing tracts in the future.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Rewriting of history to blot out Indian Christians

Rajasthan state government to "correct imbalances" in official history in an effort that professional historians and Catholic Church consider unscientific and an effort by the ruling party to impose Hindu nationalism

Rajasthan's state government in India plans to 'correct imbalances' in its official history, chronicled by colonial officials. It will do so by revisiting all 41,000 villages and 186 cities and towns in this western Indian state to collect fresh historical material and set the record straight.

The decision has however caused controversy and criticism. Professional historians but also the Catholic Church have said that the project is unscientific; instead, they view it as another attempt by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to impose its Hindutva-centred nationalism.

Under the plan, called Aapno Dharti, Aapno Log (our land, our people), starting January 4 school teachers are to talk to village leaders and elders to check for any errors in the histories of local villages, towns and cities.

For Rajasthan's Education Minister, Ghanshyam Tiwari, whilst the history written by British author Colonel James Todd during the days of the Raj was believed to be authentic, it was controversial in certain points and so should be reviewed.

The project, which should be completed by 2008, includes listing and recording the state's numerous monuments, historical and heritage sites, old idioms and phrases, folk dance, folk songs and all other culturally, socially, economically and politically relevant items.

Data collection will be done using pre-prepared standardised forms that will be distributed in all of the state's villages, towns and cities.

Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has slammed the decision to rewrite history books claiming that the operation is part of the BJP'S attempt to 'saffronise history'. Saffron is the BJP's colour.

For Fr Babu Joseph, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, "researching and writing history is a complex exercise and cannot be left to untrained citizens. Myths, legends and hear-say cannot be the basis of history as a scientific discipline. History cannot be arbitrarily written, especially when it has the potential of creating social cleavages".

Other sources, who preferred to remain anonymous, told AsiaNews that in its attempt at historical revisionism the BJP will likely try to belittle and distort the important work Christians have done in favour of the oppressed and the marginalised.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

'Christian bashing' disturbs Christmas in central Indian state

By Francis Maria Britto


RAIPUR, India (UCAN) – Christmas 2006 brought a bundle of trouble for Christians in a central Indian state.

Newspapers in Chhattisgarh carried negative reports about missioners along with Christmas greetings and features. Some Catholics in Raipur Archdiocese stayed away from Christmas programs, fearing violence or harassment by right-wing Hindu groups.

The pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people's party) has ruled the state for the past three years. Raipur city, the Chhattisgarh capital, is 1,745 kilometers (about 1,080 miles) southeast of New Delhi.

Monica Bagh, a village catechist, said members of her Baloda parish refused to hold traditional Christmas programs this year for fear of their village chief. The local official "was coming around to watch whether we were celebrating Christmas," the dalit Catholic told UCA News on Dec. 27. "So we did not even make the crib in our (village) chapel."

Most parishioners are Gada, one of the groups referred to as dalit, low-caste groups formerly considered "untouchable." They have a tradition of receiving an Infant Jesus statue in their home after Christmas. The family would sing carols and venerate the statue with incense, flowers and coconut.

In Singharpur, no dalit Catholic went to their parish church for Christmas celebrations, fearing Hindu neighbors, villager Rashid Bagh told UCA News.

Earlier, a rumor spread in the region that a witch would come begging for an onion and chapati (flat bread) at houses not marked with the phrase Om Namah Shivai, expressing homage to the Hindu god Shiva. A member of each family she visited would die, it was said. Most families, including Christians, scribbled the phrase with cow dung on their mud walls.

Christian students seemingly were targeted as well. Previously the state's educational institutions had observed a winter holiday the week after Christmas. The BJP government not only canceled the holiday but also conducted semiannual examinations before and after Christmas. "The exams have spoiled the Christmas mood," 10th-grader Padmini Sona told UCA News.

One BJP parliamentarian even led a "reconversion" ceremony on Christmas Eve. It made front-page news in a local daily.

Nav Bharat (new India) reported that about 110 Christians became Hindus at the ghar vapasi (homecoming) conducted by Dilip Singh Judeo in Basna, base of a Raipur Archdiocese parish. The paper also reproduced various allegations Judeo leveled against Christian missioners.

The Hindu activist accused Christian missioners of "secretly" converting Hindus through "fraud and allurement."

The paper said that initially 543 people had registered for the ceremony. Judeo later said his people would investigate the reasons why many had not turned up despite "voluntarily" registering their names.

Father Felix Fernandez, the Basna parish priest, dismissed the reconversion program as "a flop." No Catholic from his parish attended the program, he told UCA News.

However, Purendar Sagar, a catechist of nearby Baloda parish, told UCA News on Dec. 31 that some "nominal" Catholics from his Baelmundi village went in two jeeps to the Hindu program, "expecting to get something."

Chitranjan Tandi, a dalit Christian teacher in Navapara village, alleged that the Hindu organizers "pestered" him to attend the reconversion ceremony. Although he did not go to that ceremony, he also did not attend Christmas Mass, fearing harassment.

On Christmas Day, Hitavada, a local English-language daily, reported that police arrested Church of God Pastor Rajendra Prasad and 10 other Christians in Dhamtari town for "alluring and forcing" people to embrace Christianity. A state law bans conversion through fraud, allurement or by force.

Soon after the arrest, a mob gathered at the police station and shouted slogans against missioners. Police official Vijay Agrawal told media the police confiscated Christian literature from those arrested and registered a complaint against them.

Pastor James Ram told media the arrested Christians were going around singing carols and distributing literature to interested people, when some Hindu activists complained to the police and gathered a mob. Distributing Christian literature is not an offense, Pastor Ram insisted.

In another incident, police on Dec. 21 arrested a Christian schoolteacher and registered a case against her for distributing copies of the New Testament to 10th-grade students. They reportedly acted on a complaint from the principal. Members of Dharam Sena (religion army) demonstrated at the school and condemned the "conversion" of students.
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Another State in India Passes Anti-Conversion Bill

Christians term Congress Party's move in Himachal Pradesh a 'cruel joke.'

NEW DELHI, January 3 (Compass Direct News) - The Congress Party has passed an anti-conversion bill in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, where only 8,000 of the more than 6 million people are Christian.

The Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Bill was passed on Saturday (December 30) during the four-day winter session of the state assembly. It remains to be signed into law.

Vijay Kumar, principal secretary of the state home department, told Compass that under the bill any person found forcibly converting another person could be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined up to 25,000 rupees (US$565).

Kumar also said that any person wishing to convert to another religion must give prior notice of at least 30 days to the district government. "If he or she fails to do it, the penalty will be a fine up to 1,000 rupees (US$23)," he said.

Asked if the government had any official data on forcible conversions in the state to justify the bill, Kumar said no such data was available.

"It is not a reactionary measure, but a proactive one, to infuse confidence among the people of the state that the government is thoughtful of the issues," he said.

Dr. John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Council, termed the move of the state government a "cruel joke."

"[Congress Party leader] Sonia Gandhi had written to me expressing her government's and party's opposition to such laws being passed by the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] governments," he told Compass. "But now, her own party in Himachal Pradesh has brought about such a bill."

Dayal, who is also member of the National Integration Council, said the state chief minister, Vir Bhadra Singh, was playing into the hands of Hindu extremists.

"It is no honor to the Congress Party, and it must disown the bill and have it withdrawn," he added.

Ministry as 'Allurement'

Known as "Freedom of Religion" acts, anti-conversion laws are in force in the states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Arunachal Pradesh.

Christians point out that anti-conversion laws allow Hindus to term any social work among people of other faiths as "allurement," and any talk of eternal destiny as a consequence of sin as "force."

Anti-conversion laws recognize the sacrament of baptism as conversion and hence require churches to report all baptisms of non-Christian converts to government officials.

The opposition BJP, a Hindu nationalist party that had in September 2006 promised to enact an anti-conversion law if it came into power in the state assembly elections in 2008, welcomed the bill’s passage, reported Asia News International (ANI).

The leader of the opposition, Prem Kumar Dhumal, told national daily The Indian Express last September 22, "After coming to power in Himachal Pradesh, the BJP would bring legislation against religious conversion and slaughtering of cows [considered holy by Hindus], as the present government has completely failed to protect the rights of the Hindus."

On April 7, 2006 the BJP passed a similar bill in Rajasthan state. It also passed bills to amend the existing anti-conversion laws in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh on July 25 and August 3 respectively.

In addition, the party passed a bill to amend dormant anti-conversion legislation in Gujarat on September 19 of last year.

The chief minister of Tamil Nadu state, J. Jayalalithaa, had announced the repeal of that state's "anti-conversion" law (the Prohibition of Forcible Conversion of Religion Act) in May 2004, following the poor performance of her party in April 2004 general elections.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

More incidents of hitting out at Christians


Today at 13:00 Hrs. 9 Christians are being beaten up by a group of 100 Hindu fundamentalists because their relatives were visiting and celebrating New Year festivities.

Mr. Nahum Das retired manager from NTPC and his family members were visiting Mr. Gulab Saket (also a Christian) in village Devra, Thana Waidhan, (Singroli) Dist. Sidhi, Madhya Pradesh. During their visit to their relative’s house a mob of 100 Hindu fundamentalists claiming to be from various 'Dals' and 'Senas' started beating them. The Police is not taking any action what so ever and giving these goons a freehand to vandalize.

Similar 45 incidents have happened in Dhamtari and Raipur, Chhattisgarh, during the Christmas week wherein two pastors have suffered fractured bones and multiple injuries. No preventive action or assistance from the state government machinery is being given.