Thursday, February 26, 2009

Christian Father of Two Murdered in Orissa, India

Nephew, mother suspect Hindu hardliners shouting anti-Christian threats that morning.

NEW DELHI, February 25 (Compass Direct News) – Family members of a Christian found murdered last week in the Pandagadu area of Orissa state’s Kandhamal district said they believe the killers were Hindu nationalists such as those responsible for more than two months of violent anti-Christian rioting last year.

Hrudayananda Nayak, a 42-year-old father of two, was found dead on Thursday (Feb. 19) with several injuries to his head sustained as he took a shortcut through a forest to his home village of Rudangia, two kilometers from Pandagadu and five kilometers from G. Udayagiri.

His mother, Prasanna Kumari Nayak, has submitted a written complaint to police alleging the killers were associated with Hindu hardliners involved in last year’s rioting. His nephew Sujan Nayak, a lawyer and resident of Rudangia who saw the victim’s body, said that his uncle appeared to have undergone a fatal beating.

Sujan Nayak told Compass that on the day of Hrudayananda Nayak’s death, Feb. 18, his uncle told him before leaving home that he had received threats from three drunken men who were standing outside shouting threats at Christians in general that morning.

“He quoted them as saying, ‘We will not burn houses this time but will kill all Christians one by one,’” Sujan Nayak said.

Describing the injuries on his uncle’s body, Nayak told Compass there were wounds on his forehead, a severe wound on the left side of his head near the ear, as well as injuries to the back of his head and “marks around his neck.” He added that a blood-stained towel and flashlight battery were found near the body.

“From the battery and the injuries on his head it is evident that a huge torch was used for hitting him, and the mark on the neck shows that the towel was put around his neck to drag him,” he said.

There is reason to suspect the men who had threatened anti-Christian violence, he said.

“The three men threatening violence in the morning were seen on the same road passing through the forest where Hrudayananda was murdered at 11 at night on the date of the murder,” Nayak said, adding that the three suspects have absconded. “It is one week since the murder, and the suspects have not returned back home.”

He said that the victim’s mother also witnessed the threats that her son and others received the morning of the murder, “but due to fear of revenge from them she did not reveal this to the police.”

District Superintendent of Police S. Praveen Kumar reportedly said it is not clear that the murder was related to last year’s anti-Christian rioting.

“I am not sure if his death has anything to do with the communal violence,” he told media. “Our investigation is on. Somebody may have hit him on the head, causing his death.”

The killing is the third such murder since October 2008, when the more than two months of large-scale, anti-Christian violence that began in August officially came to an end.


Sujan Nayak said that his uncle left home in Rudangia for a market at G. Udayagiri on the afternoon of Feb. 18.

On his way back, Hrudayananda Nayak took a vehicle from G. Udayagiri as far as Gressgia village, from which he took a shorter route to Rudangia, crossing the forest by foot. It was around 7 in the evening. He had covered a distance of two kilometers and reached an isolated part of Pandagadu when he was attacked.

When he did not return home as expected that day, the following day villagers went searching for him in different directions. Around half a kilometer from the site of the murder is a school, and students there informed the search team of a blood-stained slipper lying near the school grounds.

The victim’s mother identified the slippers as belonging to her son, Hrudayananda Nayak. A rigorous search began around the area, and soon they noticed blood spots on a path leading up a hill. Reaching the top of the hill, between two huge rocks forming a cave shape they found Nayak’s body.

“His shirt and pants were taken off and kept aside, which means they had intentions of burning the body,” said Sujan Nayak. He explained that it is normal practice in the area to remove clothes on a body to be burned to reduce the time necessary for cremation.

Police were immediately informed, he said, adding, “Sniffer dogs were brought who led them to the lane of the house that belongs to one of the men who screamed threats the other morning, and then to a pond located in the same area used for bathing.”

Police suspect the killers had washed in the pond after committing the crime, Sujan Nayak said.

The house of the suspect to which the dogs led police is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the house of the victim.

According to Sujan Nayak, even after the dogs traced the lane where one suspect lives, police have been slow to proceed with the case.

Hrudayananda Nayak is survived by his 35-year-old wife, Reena Nayak, a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Christian house burnt in Karnataka

Hindu extremists on February 3 burned a believer's house and threatened to build a Hindu temple on his land in Karnataka's state Tumpur, Tiptur area.
According to EFI, the extremists demanded Dasappa's land for a Hindu temple and urged him to give the land since three months back. On the night of February 1, Hindu extremists went to the believer's house and demanded his site for building a Rama Temple once again.
The extremists also verbally abused the believers claiming that there is no place for Christians in the village.
Dasappa refused the demand of the extremists and informed them that the land was allotted in his son's name and ratified with a court order.
On February 3, about 15 extremists armed with weapons barged into the house. They splashed petrol and burned the house to ashes.
The local Christian leaders lodged a police complaint but the police refused to register a case.
Source: EFI

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Orissa: Hindu temple being built atop rubble of Batticola church

by Nirmala Carvalho
Hindu radicals had previously tried to destroy it in 2000. The situation remains tense. Christians are humiliated and marginalized, unless they convert to Hinduism.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - The foundations have been laid for a Hindu temple on the rubble of the church in Batticola, in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa). And the Christians returning to their villages are being pressured to convert to Hinduism. This information comes to AsiaNews from Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, who has received eyewitness testimonies from the northwestern state.

The church in Batticola was rased to the ground and burned last August, at the beginning of the violence against Christians. Now, a foundation about one meter high has been laid in order to build a Hindu temple there. "On Feb 2nd around 12 noon, about 17 people, mostly men, left the G. Udaygiri relief camp to check on conditions at the Dokewadi hamlet in Jhimangia village before returning there. These Christians were surrounded by the Hindu villagers and given a dire warning: if they wanted to come back to the village, they had to convert to Hinduism."

Batticola is one of the primary targets of the anti-Christian campaign. Sajan Geogre says that last October, a Hindu fundamental group released a falsified document purported to be the minutes of a Batticola Catholic parish council meeting on May 25 that allegedly conspired to assassinate 85-year-old Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. The killing of the swami last August 23 was the spark that ignited the series of attacks that killed at least 500 people, destroyed thousands of homes, burned hundreds of churches, and made more than 50,000 Christians flee.

The text of the minutes falsified by the extremists depicted the Christians as wanting to "offer sacrifices" against the "Satanic activities that stand opposed to the expansion" of the parish. The only problem is that the ritual words used in the document - in the Oriya language - belong entirely to the Hindu tradition, not to the Christian tradition, leading to the suspicion that the document is a complete fake.

This news from Batticola is a sign that the situation on the ground is not calm, although the government continues to give assurances that the danger has passed, and is closing the refugee camps, sending Christians back to their ruined homes.

Other sources say that some Christians who have gone back to Batticola have faced constant humiliation and discrimination. The Hindus in the village have instituted 15 unwritten rules against the Christians. One of them is that Christians should always give way to Hindus in the street; that in the public baths, the Christians should bathe last; etc.

All of this - the sources say - is very strange, because until recently "these people have lived together, celebrated festivals together, and basically a communitarian spirit prevailed, and yet there is a perverted sense of superiority and crushing the dignity of the Christians."

The Catholic church in Batticola was inaugurated in 1995. The Hindu radicals, under the leadership of Swami Laxamananda, tried to rase it to the ground in 2000.

Monday, February 09, 2009

One more arrested in Orissa nun rape case

Bhubaneswar (IANS): One more person has been arrested in Orissa for his alleged involvement in the rape of a nun during the communal violence last year in the state's Kandhamal district, police said Sunday. "Jayaban Digal, a resident of Sainpada village, was arrested Saturday night. With the latest arrest, the number of people arrested in the case has gone up to 11," investigating officer D.K. Mohanty told IANS from Kandhamal.

"We are likely to arrest about four to five more people in the near future," he said.

The 29-year-old Catholic nun was attacked by a mob and raped Aug 24. She filed a complaint with the police two days later.

The nun was earlier reluctant to attend the identification parade of the accused in Kandhamal despite orders by a court. She submitted a petition in the Orissa High Court seeking change of the venue to Cuttack.

The high court Dec 18 asked the police to conduct the test identification parade in the Choudwar jail, some 30 km from here.

The parade was conducted Jan 5. The victim identified only two of the 10 people arrested. The crime branch police, probing the case filed a preliminary charge sheet in the local court Jan 26.

Mohanty said they will submit a final charge sheet in the case after completing the investigation.

Kandhamal, about 200 km from here, witnessed widespread communal violence after the murder of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides at his ashram Aug 23.

At least 38 people were killed in the state and thousands of Christians were forced to flee their homes after their houses were attacked by rampaging mobs. About 5,700 people are still living in government-run relief camps in the district.

Click here for source

Friday, February 06, 2009

A facade of normality in Kandhamal

Prafulla Das

KANDHAMAL: From outside, the situation appears normal in Orissa’s Kandhamal district, which witnessed large-scale anti-Christian violence five months ago. But interaction with locals and administration officials on Monday made it clear that the divide on the lines of religion, caste and political affiliations was hampering restoration of peace.

Although life turned a bit normal with the opening of some schools and colleges, distrust among those belonging to different religions and supporting different political parties, and Kui tribals and Dalit Panas continues to be conspicuous. Such was the level of fear that virtually no one was ready to divulge his identity.

Situation in camps

But many of those sheltering in relief camps, having losing all hopes of returning to their villages, were eager to reveal their identity.

“We are not able to go back to rebuild our homes as Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists have been reiterating that we should convert to Hinduism if we want to return to our village or else leave Kandhamal for good,” said 60-year-old Bitaliya Digal of Toparbali, who is staying with his family members at the Tikabali camp.

More than 25,000 people took shelter in different relief camps in the district when communal violence was at its peak. The riots broke out after the killing of VHP leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati on August 23 last.

But a vast majority of those who were in these camps left the district, while a few hundred families returned to their villages. Many of those who returned to their villages reconverted to Hinduism.

CRPF presence

Despite heavy deployment of Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many people are apprehensive that the situation could turn worse in the run-up to the Assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

More than 30 companies of Central paramilitary forces are now on duty in Kandhamal and the administration is trying its best to maintain this level until after the elections are over. But locals are of the view that tension will continue in Kandhamal for many more months to come.

Click here for source

Church calls for dissolution of Madhya Pradesh minority commission

On 2009-2-4

JABALPUR, India (UCAN) -- Church leaders in a central Indian state have demanded the dissolution of a commission meant to protect the interests of religious minorities.

The demand came after the Madhya Pradesh Minority Commission recommended a law to bring Church properties including cemeteries under government control.

Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, who heads the Catholic Church in the state, said on Jan. 25 the minority commission members have acted "in total ignorance and gross violation" of the country's laws.

According to media reports, the commission on Jan. 15 recommended that the government enact a law to set up a board to manage Church properties, similar to the Muslims' Waqf (foundation) Board. The Waqf Board, set up in 1995, manages properties for religious and charitable purposes. It also supports Muslim schools, colleges, hospitals and charity institutions, using money it generates from its properties and donations.

The Church opposes such a move for the Christian community because Church assets, unlike the Waqf properties, "are purchased after paying money and not taken from the government on charity," Archbishop Cornelio explained. He added that the Church manages its own properties legally following all government laws and regulations, and does not need additional institutional help to monitor the use of properties.

The prelate also pointed out that the commission's mandate is to protect the interests of religious minorities and to ensure their religious and civic freedom, as guaranteed in the constitution. On the contrary, he said, its latest recommendation "shows beyond doubt that it is disloyal to minorities" and "loyal to the government."

Church leaders suspect the commission was acting on behalf of the state government. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian people's party), considered the political arm of groups trying to make India a Hindu nation, rules the state.

Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur described the recommendation as "politically motivated" and aimed at curtailing Christians' freedom. He noted that the commission made it without consulting Church leaders.

Father Anand Muttungal, spokesperson for the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, called the recommendation arbitrary and against the constitution. He wants the commission to withdraw it.

Christian laypeople are planning to campaign against the move through the ecumenical Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh (Christian grand assembly). According to Christi Louis Abraham, coordinator for the state-wide campaign, Christians plan to ask state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan to reject the recommendation.

Christian leaders say their community has suffered harassment and violence ever since the BJP government came to power in 2003. The party retained power for another five-year term in the state election this past November.

Click here for source

Orissa Gov't to Boot Christians from Refugee Camps

After more than six months, the security situation remains perilous for Christians living in Orissa, India. But the lives of these persecuted Christians may soon be even worse now that the Orissa government is evicting them from refugee camps where thereafter they will again be vulnerable to attacks from Hindu extremists.

Tens of thousands of Orissa Christians are now being told to leave government camps to return to homes that no longer exist and to villages where Hindu militants openly wait with threats of violence.

The Orissa government is reportedly turning people away with just 110 lbs of rice and about $200 (10,000 rupees) for survival, according to Mission Network News.

During a speaking event last week in Washington, D.C., Catholic Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Orissa criticized the government’s plan of providing Christians money in three installments to rebuild their homes.

Based on the government’s plan, the 10,000 rupees are meant to be used to build the foundation of a new home. After the foundation is built, the government will give more money to build the rest of the home.

But Cheenath pointed out that the Orissa Christians have been unemployed for months as they hid from the extremists in refugee camps. When they receive the 10,000 rupees, they will use it to buy immediate necessities such as food instead of the foundation for their home. As a result, these Christians will not be able to receive the subsequent housing fund because they failed to build the foundation with the initial 10,000 rupees they received.

Moreover, Orissa Christians leaving the government camps will be hard pressed to find local Hindus willing to hire them, according to Mission India, a ministry that assists the Indian church and Christians.

With no housing, little money, and no immediate employment, Mission India warns that there is an urgent need to provide basic supplies to Orissa Christians. The ministry’s staff is working with local ministry partners to distribute emergency items in relief camps, including cooking utensils, rice, a water jug, blankets, clothing for adults and children, a Bible, and a picture New Testament in the local language, according to MNN. Food and medicine are also being given out where they’re most needed.

Hindu campaigns against Christians began last August after the assassination of a Hindu fundamentalist leader in Orissa. His followers accused Christians of being the masterminds behind the murder and maintained this position despite a public statement by Maoist rebels claiming responsibility for the Hindu leader’s death.

Indian Christian leaders charge Hindu fundamentalists of using the swami’s death as an excuse to attack Christians.

Since August, at least 60 Christians have been killed; 18,000, wounded; 181 churches, razed or destroyed; 4,500 Christian homes, burned; and more than 50,000 Christians, displaced. More than 30,000 of those displaced were staying in refugee camps or hiding in the jungle, according to media reports.

India’s Supreme Court recently ordered the Orissa government to do everything within its power to protect its Christian citizens from being attacked. The Orissa government was also ordered to compensate Christians whose homes were destroyed or whose family members have been killed.

Archbishop Cheenath reported that the situation in Orissa has improved since the Supreme Court order because the Orissa government now knows that Christian leaders will not just stand still and watch their flock being attacked and abused.

The eastern state of Orissa has a large population of people from “outcast” groups – untouchables and tribal. Cheenath noted that it is the poorest state in India despite being the biggest supplier of minerals in the country. He contended that the government failed to stop the violence against the Christians in Orissa for months because of the “discrimination” against its poor population.

“Orissa, in the eyes of the government, is a non-entity as a state,” Cheenath said at the event hosted by Washington-based Hudson Institute. “There is discrimination. There is a neglect from the state as well as the central government because Orissa is not an important place.”

Cheenath filed the Supreme Court petition on behalf of Christians in Orissa.

Click here for source

V-Day celebration is Christian culture, says Mutalik

5 Feb 2009, 0009 hrs IST, TNN

Bangalore: Unfazed by the strong criticism he has been drawing from all quarters and the national outrage he has kicked off, Rashtriya Hindu Sena (RHS) chief Pramod Mutalik on Wednesday reiterated his stated intention to disrupt Valentine's Day celebrations.
In a speech whipping up communal emotions and defying court orders (which had insisted he exercise restraint), Mutalik said Valentine's Day celebrations are akin to Christian culture. Addressing workers of Sri Rama Sene (whose parent body is the RHS) in Uttarahalli here, he said: "The Sene plans to write letters to colleges, hotels and greeting card shops not to promote Valentine's Day on their premises. Colleges should enforce strict action against students celebrating Valentine's Day.''
Mutalik, who is out on a conditional bail after Sene members attacked women in a Mangalore pub on Jan. 24, told reporters his organization would approach governor Rameshwar Thakur, CM B S Yeddyurappa, home minister V S Acharya and Bangalore police commissioner in this regard.
Asked on the alternatives before the Sene if the government fails to rein in celebrations, Mutalik said: "That question will arise only after the government or police fails to stall the celebrations.''
His release from the jail was celebrated by his followers as Vijayotsava (victory celebration). Prasad Attavar, the main accused in Mangalore pub attack, T S Vasanth Kumar Bhavani, Sene's Bangalore city wing president, were present.
The state government has no new plan of action to counter it. "We will not allow anyone to take the law into their hands," said CM B S Yeddyurappa.

Click here for source

National Anthem Controversy in Madhya Pradesh and St. Thomas School


The Republic Day celebrations of this year in Madhya Pradesh remembered for quiet a number of days. It is due to the controversy arose from political, Governmental and social sector. The first controversy was heard Bhopal ward no. 31 of Bhopal Municipal Corporation. Here the Cooperator Mrs. Vandana Parihar un-noticingly hoisted the BJP Party flag in place of National Flag. She got over with it by the support of Mr. Alok Sanchar, the district of BJP. He said that the function was organized for the party to pray for the nation, and it has nothing to do with hoisting of national flag. The Second was from the State Minority Commission member Mr. Kulvant Singh who stopped National Anthem in between and asked all the participants to sing the National Song – Vande mataram- . He justified himself saying that he had issued instructions to all members to sing the National Song in place of National Anthem. The third was alleged to be a minister of the Sivrag Singh Government in Ashoknagar District of Madhya Pradesh unknowingly hoisted the National Flag Upward-down. In all these incidents no action is taken against anybody. The action of the Minority Commission is being justified by the alleged offender. He issued press statements in this regard justifying the act. In-spite of this the police is silent on this issue.

In this raw we have to see the National Anthem controversy in St. Thomas School , Bhopal. The Principal of the school Fr. Thomas Malancharuvil narrates that Sports teacher Arvind Gupta as per the custom of the School was given the responsibility of making arrangements for the Republic Day Celebrations. He is alleged to be a disobedient teacher came that day also late. He came only after eight thirty i.e one hour late as the decision of the school. The school had told him to do the preparations between seven thirty and eight. So that the school can begin the function by eight am. The whole programme could start only by eight forty five because no-one knew where the flag is kept by the sports teacher. After having all programmes related to Republic day the Principal announced that the school is hurt by the irresponsible behaviour of the teacher and the administration is suspending him for three days.

The teacher pleaded that he will not repeat laxity in duty and pardon him. The teacher with the cooperation a Lalit Sahu, the Drawing teacher and Thomas , the Music teacher wanted the principal to ask pardon to Sports teacher infront of all teacher and students. Their argument was that the pricipal suspended him in the public gathering so it must be equal in all regard. The School administration refused to do so. The three immediately took the help of Hindu organizations and accused the principal of insulting the National Anthem. An indentedent committee met the teachers in this regard and it was told by the staff that these teachers are trouble makers ever since the new principal toook charge.

The police knew that the incident has no link to the National Anthem so no FIR was made under the complaint made by the teacher. The issue took a new turn when on 2nd February a group of ABVP activists vandalized school premisses. They destryed the office of the school. The police says that they are under pressure from all sides so they have registered a cae against father under the disrespect to National Anthem. It is a non-bailable offence. So the pricipal had to take bail from District Court. In this incident the ABVP activists also attacked one police personnal. He was injured so the police canned and they were arrested.

Mean while the Christian organization Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh asked the Colector and SP of Bhopal District to conduct a Magiserial enquiry on the matter to assertain the truth, order a high leven enquiry into the role of the Piplani station officer for he has worked in a partisan manner, the district administration must ask the ABVP to pay for the dammage. They have told the district administration that if in three days time if no action is taken then the organization will approach the court for justice.

The Congress Party, Marxists, Different Religious Heads and Secular Organizations have raised question on the partician behaviour of the Police. They held protests in suppport of the Principal. They alos have asked the district administration to withdraw the case against the principal. The whole incident has put a question to the Government that what is the critieria of taking action against a person with regard to the national anthem ? How does the police take action on a person by flauting the law to save themselves from political preasure ? What is the condition of Law and Order under the BJP regime ?

Fr. Anand Muttugnal

PRO & Spokesperson

Catholic Church, M.P


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

ABVP men ransack missionary school in Bhopal

Monday, 02 February , 2009, 17:37

Bhopal: Protesting against the alleged insult to the National Anthem in a missionary school in the Govindpura area of the city, Ahkhil Bhartiya Vidyarti Parishad (ABVP) workers on Monday created ruckus in the school by indulging in violence, police said.

The ABVP workers staged a demonstration before the school for allegedly insulting the National Anthem during the Republic Day function on January 26.

As the ABVP activists indulged in ransacking the school property, police cane-charged them to disperse from the spot and arrested nearly 15 of its workers, Bhopal superintendent of police (SP) Jaideep Prasad said.

Police also arrested the school principal, Thomas Malancheruvilla on the issue of allegedly disrespecting the National Anthem, the SP said.

Earlier, Vishwa Hindu Parishad's joint publicity chief, Devendra Singh Rawat, alleged at a press conference that on the Republic Day after the National Flag hoisting at the Saint Thomas Convent School, the school's Physical Training Instructor Arvind Prakash Gupta started singing the National Anthem as was the custom.

However, the school principal allegedly prevented him from doing so and insisted that he should sing the school prayer.

But Gupta did not stop in between and sang the National Song completely following which the principal announced his suspension from job from the dais itself, Rawat said in the presence of Gupta.

A complaint had been registered against the school in the Govindpura police station in this regard, he added.