Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Press Release: USCIRF’s 2013 Annual Report on the State of International Religious Freedom Identifies World’s Worst Violators. India placed on Tier 2 list.


April 30, 2013| By USCIRF

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent federal advisory body created by the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) to monitor religious freedom abuses abroad, today released its 2013 Annual Report.  The Report highlights the status of religious freedom globally and identifies those governments that are the most egregious violators. 

“The state of international religious freedom is increasingly dire due to the presence of forces that fuel instability.  These forces include the rise of violent religious extremism coupled with the actions and inactions of governments.   Extremists target religious minorities and dissenters from majority religious communities for violence, including physical assaults and even murder.  Authoritarian governments also repress religious freedom through intricate webs of discriminatory rules, arbitrary requirements and draconian edicts,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF’s Chair.

The 2013 Annual Report recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate the following eight nations as “countries of particular concern” or CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.  USCIRF finds that seven other countries meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated:  Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

“The Annual Report ultimately is about people and how their governments treat them. Violations affect members of diverse religious communities around the world, be they Rohinghya Muslims in Burma, Coptic Christians in Egypt, Buddhists, Uighur Muslims and Falun Gong in China, Baha’is in Iran, Ahmadis and Christians in Pakistan, or Muslims in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan and in non-Muslim nations like Russia.  We recommend that the White House adopt a whole-of-government strategy to guide U.S. religious freedom promotion and that Secretary of State Kerry promptly designate CPCs, before currently designated actions expire later this year,” said Lantos Swett.

In Burma, ongoing political reforms have yet to significantly improve the situation for freedom of religion and belief.  Sectarian violence and severe abuses of religious freedom and human dignity targeting ethnic minority Christians and Muslims continue to occur with impunity.

In Egypt, despite some progress during a turbulent political transition, the government has failed or been slow to protect from violence religious minorities, particularly Coptic Christians. The government continues to prosecute, convict, and imprison individuals for “contempt” or “defamation” of religion, and the new constitution includes several problematic provisions relevant to religious freedom. 

In both Pakistan and Nigeria, religious extremism and impunity have factored into unprecedented levels of violence that threaten the long-term viability of both nations.  Targeted violence against Shi’i Muslims in Pakistan is pervasive, while repeated Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria exacerbate sectarian tensions.

“Many of these countries top the U.S. foreign policy agenda, and religion is a core component in their makeup.  Successful U.S. foreign policy recognizes the critical role religious freedom plays in each of these nations and prioritizes accordingly. Religious freedom is both a pivotal human right under international law and a key factor that helps determine whether a nation experiences stability or chaos,” said Lantos Swett. 

USCIRF also announced the placement of eight nations on its Tier 2 List for 2013.  The Tier 2 category replaces the Watch List designation USCIRF previously used.  These nations are: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos and Russia. USCIRF found the violations these governments engage in or tolerate are particularly severe, and meet at least one criterion, but not all, of IRFA’s three-fold “systematic, ongoing, egregious” CPC standard. 

In Russia, religious freedom conditions suffered major setbacks in the context of growing human rights abuses. In Indonesia, the country’s rich tradition of religious tolerance and pluralism is seriously threatened by arrests of individuals the government considers religiously deviant and violence perpetrated by extremist groups. Federal and provincial officials, police, courts, and religious leaders often tolerate and abet the conduct of religious freedom abusers.

The USCIRF report also highlights the status of religious freedom in countries/regions that do not meet the Tier 1 (CPC) or Tier 2 threshold. These include: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Ethiopia, Turkey, Venezuela and Western Europe. The Annual Report also addresses in-depth thematic issues:  Constitutional Changes; Severe Religious Freedom Violations by Non-State Actors; Laws against Blasphemy and Defamation of Religions; Imprisonment of Conscientious Objectors; Legal Retreat from Religious Freedom in Post-Communist Countries; Kidnapping and Forced Religious De-Conversion in Japan; and Religious Freedom Issues in International Organizations.


USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government advisory body with its commissioners appointed by the President and the leadership of both political parties in Congress.  The 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) requires that the United States annually designate as CPCs countries whose governments have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of the universal right to freedom of religion or belief.  IRFA also tasks USCIRF with assessing conditions in these and other countries and making recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress.

In accordance with IRFA, USCIRF uses international standards, as found in UN conventions and declarations, for assessing religious freedom conditions.

To interview a USCIRF Commissioner please contact Samantha Schnitzer at (202) 786-0613 or sschnitzer@uscirf.gov


Click HERE for source

Friday, April 26, 2013

Rector murder: Christian community seeks answers

BANGALORE: It has been 23 days since the murder of Father KJ Thomas, rector of St Peter's pontifical seminary. With no word from the city police on who perpetrated the killing, a prayer meeting was held by the Christian voice forum at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral ground here on Tuesday, to appeal for speedy investigation by the city crime branch.
The meeting was solely held to "assert more pressure on the Bangalore police authorities to take action as soon as possible," stated Amith Nigli, forum member.
"It is very shocking that someone could enter a religious place and commit such a heinous crime on a priest," said Father Bernard Moraes, Archbishop of the Church of Karnataka, "The culprit must be found at the earliest, or it is going to give rise to many rumours and suspicions which we do not need right now."
Father Ronnie Prabhu said: "It isn't right to blame them (police) completely. Everything takes its own time, but we do need immediate answers and that's our only request to the authorities."
President of Karnataka region catholic bishops' conference (KRCBC), Father Archibald Gonsalves asked the crowd to fight for justice constantly. "Why is it taking as long as 23 days for them to catch the culprits?" he asked. "It was not just death that took him away, it was a murder and we need our answers."
A memorandum was issued by the KRCBC to be presented to the state governor seeking speedy investigation.
Click HERE for source

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Christian victims tell People’s Tribunal about arrests on false charges by highly communalized Karnataka police


Christian victims tell People’s Tribunal about arrests on false charges by highly communalized Karnataka police

Sangh Parivar hoodlums had free hand in assault on pastors, demolishing churches during 2012-2013: Uttara Canara worst impacted.

Benguluru, April 19, 2013

More than 70 Christian Pastors told a People’s Tribunal in Bengaluru city today how a highly communalized Karnataka police arrested many of them and kept them confined in police stations or jails on false charges in league with hoodlums of the Sangh Parivar. Women too were also not spared. The Women victims broke down as they narrated the violence against them.

The victims remained in confinement from overnight to several days, the distinguished jury consisting of eminent social activists heard in the Tribunal organized by the All India Christian Council to assess the victimization and persecution of Christian pastors and attacks on churches in the state. It was quite clear from the narrations that Uttara Canara was the foci of the anti-Christian violence, but incidents of persecution were reported from every one of the 30 districts of the state during 2012 and in the first three months of 2013.

The “People’s Hearing on Persecution of Christians in Karnataka” was held at the Institute of Agriculture Technologists in the city. The Jury consisted of Mrs Brinda Adige, the celebrated Founder member of Global Concerns India, Advocate Omkar KB, and Mr K L Ashok, general secretary of Komu Souhardha Vedhike [Communal Harmony Front].and Mr. Mohamed Rafi Ahmed,General Secretay Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity.

The Public Hearing comes in the wake of  the statement by former Karnataka High court judge Michael Saldanha that Karnataka had witnessed 1,000 cases of persecution of Christians in  three years between 2010 and 2012 – an average of more than  300 a year. This was the situation in 2012 also.  Most of the victims remain in great fear. Of the 200 persons requested to come to the hearing, only 80 agreed to come. But all of them were afraid of what would happen to them if they spoke in public at the hearing. Many asked the Christian Council how they would be protected if anything happened to them after they gave their evidence.

From the statements of the victim, it is clear that the police have been heavily penetrated and politicized under the BJP rule of Mr. B S Yediyurappa and of his successors, while local thugs and Sangh activists across the state have been encouraged to take the law into their own hands. Many villages show a sharp increase in intolerance, encouraged by the inaction of police forces. Incidents of intolerance included Sangh Parivar members goading villages to stop the construction of churches, demolition of existing structures and stopping people from preaching or peacefully distributing literature. Witnesses identified their attackers as belonging to RSS, the Bajrang Dal and some local frontal organizations. 

Justice was procured only after the victims approached the local and higher courts. The High Court had to intervene in one case to allow the construction of a religious structure.

The victims were, in essence, suffered four types of persecution – those who were imprisoned, those who had their churches destroyed, those who were physically assaulted and beaten up by mobs, and others who were stopped from praying or preaching.

Speaking on behalf of the jury, Advocate Omkar said it was clear the machinery of the state was used by the radical political elements to harass the Christian community and specially the pastors and religious leaders. There was a well-organized anti-Christian violence in 2008. It seems there is still a strong nexus between the police, the local village chiefs, tehsildhars against the community at the behest of the Sangh Parival. The state is also fully culpable. Advocate Omkar said the protectors had become the attackers.

Mr. K. Ashok called upon the community to make common cause with the civil society and progressive forces in asserting fundamental rights including freedom of faith. He also called for legal literacy in the community.

Mr. Mohamed Rafi Ahmed said it was heart rendering to hear the tales of horror and the many incidents of police complicity the Bajrang Dal and others. The Government must take notice of it. India has a secular Constitution and it is the right of every citizen to practice,  profess and propagate his faith. He asked the victims to stand for firm and pursue justice with the perseverance

The All India Christian Council expressed its deep regret at the inaction of the State Government and the State Minority Commission in coming to the rescue of the persecuted Christians.  The Council demanded that the Governor and Chief Minister send out categorical instructions to every police station to take notice of such incidents of violence and take stern action the aggressors.

The Council has also demanded a single-window redressal  system by the State Director General of Police to  listen to complaints because local police station are not recording the incidents, said Dr. John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council and Secretary General of All India Christian Council.

The testimonies have been recorded and are available for the press and the government. Copies will be sent to the concerned departments and a copy will be sent to the Chief Justice of Karnataka.

For further details, please contact,

Rev. Kumar Swamy, National Secretary for Public Affairs aicc, 09980917316

Rev Anand Kumar, State coordinator aicc 9739810548

and Dr John Dayal, Secretary General, aicc, 09811021072

Friday, April 19, 2013

Christians targeted in the valley again

Srinagar - Police in Srinagar, capital of Indian Kashmir, rejected as "false and misleading", a complaint by some mullahs who accused the Christians of "conversion of children." As sources of Fides report, the complaint stated that the foreign staff that arrived at "Agape House," a social and educational center run by the Christian faithful Indians, "were trying to convert Muslim children to Christianity."

The local police, after having carried out the investigation, dismissed the complaint of the mullahs. Fides sources note that the parents and relatives of children – all Muslims – who attend the center have expressed strong support towards Christians, praising their work in the field of education and denying any wrongdoing.In previous months some mullahs had taken some children who attended "Agape House" to join them to their "madrasa" , even if the parents did not agree.

The Christian faithful who run "Agape House" - part of the "Agape Mission" initiated in 2006 by a community of Christians of various denominations - were also threatened and intimidated with night raids. Some extremists also set the house on fire, and were stopped by the police.

In the past, the same accusation of "proselytizing of children" had hit C.M. Khanna, Protestant Pastor of the "All Saints Church" in Srinagar. The Pastor was arrested and an Islamic court, after a summary trial found him guilty . The High Court of Kashmir had then canceled the charges, releasing him .The Kashmir region is 99% Muslim. Some local Islamic organizations would like it to be an independent Islamic state, governed by the Sharia law.

Click HERE for source

False complaint against Christians rejected

SRINAGAR, India) - The mullahs of Srinagar in Kashmir lodged a police complaint saying that many foreign visitors come to the Agape Home and try to convert children to Christianity in Shivapura area of Srinagar. The local newspapers also printed this false story the next day. But after proper investigation, the police have rejected the complaint by the mullahs. A case was also filed against the mullahs by the victims. Every child’s parents and relatives, including friends, had come to the police station to make statements, demonstrating strong support towards the Christians and the good work which is being done at Agape Children’s Home. The situation was indeed very traumatic, especially for the kids, but now everyone is fine.
Kashmir is a predominantly Islamic region (99%). Some organizations would like a completely Islamic state ruled by the Sharia law although India is a secular democratic republic country. These organizations have strong misconceptions about Christians and so they persecute the Christians.Last month a group of bearded mullahs (Islamic religious leaders) took Javid & Firdous from the Children’s Home to join their Madrasas. Unfortunately their parents did not or could not, object to it as they were threatened in the village by masked individuals at midnight on the previous day. The same group returned to the Children’s Home to take away other kids and also attacked the person in-charge of the home. The inmates objected and asked them bring the children’s parents or relatives, if they wanted to take the children away.
In the meanwhile, another group of men arrived with huge stones and sticks and attacked them also beating their guests who tried to escape. The culprits smashed their car, broke the windows of the Home and forcibly entered it. The inmates locked themselves inside the bathroom and began praying. Then the police arrived and pushed the men outside. This gave them sufficient time to hide in the attic where they could just crouch and crawl about. Watching through the floor boards, they could see the men searching the rooms for them. They tried to set the house on fire, but the police stopped them from doing that. In the mean time the riot squad arrived with heavy weapons and armored trucks. They secured a perimeter and took the inmates to some safe place.The same people also threatened their landlord and killed their dog. Unfortunately, the terrorized landlord asked the inmates of the Home to vacate the place immediately. As a Christian minority they have already petitioned the Chief Minister and also the States’ Chain of Command for personal security for them and a safe place to live in. Please pray for the safety of Christians and other minorities in Kashmir.

Click HERE for source

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

“Ghar Wapsi” and the not so veiled threat of the Sangh

“Ghar Wapsi” and the not so veiled threat of the Sangh


Not many people in the world, and specially Christians in India, will recognize Phalgun Amawasya, Kaliyug Varsha 5114 as April 10, 2013. But it is an important date to remember. That was the date that in the well-known Samantwadi, a pretty place near the southern tip of the state of Maharashtra, saw a meeting of what they described as “devout” Hindus.  Samantwadi, a former principality under the Bhonsales, is known for its Brahminic traditions. But what was unusual about this meeting was a resolution passed by about 6,500 persons in the ‘Hindu Dharmajagruti Sabha’ organised by the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) to create awareness amongst Hindus “towards increasing attacks on Hindu Dharma, conversions of Hindus; oppression of Hindus to appease minorities demoralizing Hindus; slaughtering of cows revered by Hindus; efforts to eliminate Hindu Dharma through the medium of ‘love jihad’.”

After a series of fiery speeches, the meeting resolved “to establish Hindu Rashtra for elimination of anti-nationals and anti-Hindus; to stop attacks on Hindu Dharma; even if they have to sacrifice everything.”

This could be passed off as a one-off attempt by some lunatic fringe, goaded by its Islamaphobic leaders, to articulate its angst.

But two factors demand that secular India and its government take serious note of such fulminations. One is a series of parallel events involving the top brass of what is called the Sangh Parivar saying the same thing as they boast of their growth in recent years, even under “friendly” Indian National Congress regimes. And these fringe elements are mushrooming by the night.

The second is a statement, that can well be taken as a threat, made by the head of the Sangh Parivar, Dr. Mohan Bhagwat, that conversions will be “reversed”, a challenge he has knowingly thrown to the Christian church in India. The last is a claim by the Sangh that they have indeed made as many as 200,00 Christians, mostly Dalits and Tribals, into Hindus, a process they call “Ghar Wapsi”, a Return Home in the mistaken belief that all Dalits and Tribals are anyway Hindus.

The HJS itself has by its own accounts organized more than 870 ‘Dharmajagruti Sabha’ and “created awareness amongst more than 11,00,000 Hindus towards “Dharma”.

The 7th April 2013 was interesting also for the participation of organisations people may not have heard of before – the Hindu Rashtra Sena, the Sanatan Sanstha, and  ‘Ranaragini’, apparently a gender focused group.  This demands a study of the manner in which the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the parent organisation, now works through perhaps as many as 125 to 150 different organisations working at the grassroots under various disguises targeting groups as different as Dalits and Tribals on the one hand, professions such as engineers and doctors, all the way to the organised and unorganized labour where it has made serious inroads into a sector once dominated wither by the Communist parties or by the Indian National Congress Trade Union Congress.

Even as genuine data on the growth of the RSS remains hidden in the records of the Intelligence Bureau, and now perhaps the National Investigation Agency after the detection of Hindutva terror against Muslims and State players, some figures are now available, though terribly dated, from RSS sources. These record phenomenal growth in the subsidiary Sangh agencies.  The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh had crossed the One crore mark by 2009. According to the last official count by the labour ministry in 2002, the BMS had 62.2 lakh members while the Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) had 38 lakh and the Communist Party of India’s AITUC, 33 lakh.

The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, which faces tough competition from other Other Backward Community and peasantry groups in North India, claims One million people. Dinesh Dattatreya Kulkarni, organising secretary of the farmers’ union, told the The Telegraph newspaper of Kolkata: “Our only competitor used to be the Shetkari Sangathan of Sharad Joshi. But he too converted it into a political party, the Swatantra Bharat Paksha. Not being in politics gives a core of integrity to our work because we are not forced to make compromises or deals, or to defend the indefensible.”

The Rashtriya Seva Bharati, an important and silent agency that does grassroots work for the Sangh in towns and villages, now as 1,57,776 members. The students wing active in universities, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad which has now penetrated even the Left wing Jawaharlal Nehru University student politics and which boasts the senior leader Arun Jaitely as its brightest alumni, claims a membership of 19 lakh, or nearly two million, in major universities and colleges. The ABVP has the largest following in BJP-ruled Karnataka and in Andhra Pradesh, a state where the party practically doesn’t exist.

The most alarming is the growth is in the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, which works in the tribal areas of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, including Kandhamal, grows at the rate of a 1,000 units a year and now totals close to 14,500 by its figures disclosed for 2009. Kripa Prasad Singh, joint general secretary of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in his interview with he Telegraph said,  “Congress governments have never harassed us because they appreciate the services we render to the Tribals,” Singh said. “Even the CPM government in Tripura has been friendly.”

In Kerala, under the nose of the Marxists, the Congress and the Christian Church, the RSS Pranthiya Karyakarthru Sibiram has announced it will increase the Sangh’s influence in the rural areas of the State by launching around 10,000 shakhas, one each in specially-identified villages, a doubling of its presence in the middle of the last decade.

It is in this not yet fully decoded matrix that one looks at the carefully orchestrated crescendo of statements from RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, and those in charge of the Ghar Wapsi movement, militant groups in Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in particular, who have been articulating this direct challenge not just to the Church in India, its evangelical wings in the Catholic and Pentecostal groups specially but to the secular society at large. It is also a challenge to the State because conversions, and the logical conclusion of the progress of evangelisation and propagation of faith, is a guarantee enshrined not just in the Constitution but upheld by the Supreme court and High courts repeatedly even as they warn against forcible or fraudulent conversions. Interestingly enough, the courts are silent on Ghar Wapsi, and at the moment of writing, do not treat them as conversions, much less forcible conversions despite the massive evidence of violence in the Sangh campaigns.

The RSS has long been calling for a national law against conversions. It wants the so called Freedom of Religion Laws of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and several other states, extended to the entire country, putting in place as strict regime that can make it all but impossible for Christian pastors to either preach directly or baptize any convert without the permission, sometimes prior permission, of the civil and police authorities of the state.

“Hinduism doesn’t accept conversions. Hindus try to reverse conversions,” Bhagwat said, inaugurating an Rs 18 crore convention centre of the RSS in Kerala, the first of its kind in that enlightened state. “Conversions are not necessary. If you have the basic human values, what you wear, what you eat and what you pray all these are immaterial,” he said. Calling for a new law to stop religious conversion, he said the Scheduled Tribes, who convert into Christianity, should be debarred from the benefits of reservation.

This year on 6 January, Bhagwat said “Prevalent untouchability in society is breeding conversion and a ‘samras samaj’ (casteless society) is possible only by stamping out the menace. Discriminations based on caste and religion do not end even after converting to Christianity or Islam hence conversion is no solution to end discriminations.” To promote unity in the society, he suggested, all communities shall together celebrate birth/death anniversaries of great saints of all religions. Bhagwat said he would ask RSS regional heads to organise an ‘All Religion Unity Meeting’ at block level. The RSS has long held it against the Christian community that those who convert cut themselves off from local saints and holy places, or events, there by also cutting themselves from the local culture and the community at large.

Earlier, in 2011 February 11, Bhagwat had vociferously asserted that there is a need to frame a new law to stop religious conversion.”To stop the religious conversion in the country, to give employment to the poor people from the scheduled tribes, to give them education, to give them jobs, we need to frame a new law, guaranteeing that whoever converts from their religions should not get the benefit of reservation,” he said at Madhya Pradesh’s Mandala District where the Sangh had organised a Kumbh religious “mela” on the river Narmada. “If some body becomes a Christian from the scheduled caste, then why should they be given the benefits of the reservation?” he added.

The church has so far not woken up to this argument, and priests and pastors at the grassroots level have not been educated to challenge the thesis.

They are also ignorant, if not entirely impotent, in how to respond the Ghar Wapsi movement.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, an adjunct of the Sangh, claims over 200,000 Christians had been converted to Hinduism by 2011, for which they released data earlier this year. The Ghar Wapsi has been through Andhra and the Tribals states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh, even Maharashtra.

In Balasore in Orissa in one such mass conversion rally, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) said its focus was on preventing religious conversion and asked its members to protest wherever there is an attack on any Hindu. With its attention focused on checking conversion, VHP has succeeded in preventing about 50 lakh Hindus from switching over to other faiths in last 10 years,” VHP’s international general secretary Praveen Togadia claimed.

What happens at these rallies? Here is an account from one account of a function held at Mothi village in Algona district of Andhra Pradesh the VHP Dharma Prasad Samiti “around 500 children were presented the locket of Hanumanji and all those who returned home were gifted new clothes.”

I have had occasion to document Ghar Wapsi events in various villages of Orissa, and not just in Kandhamal, where the process has involved shaving off the head of men and women, their purification through a mixture of cow dung and cow urine, the chanting of mantras around the fire, and wherever possible, the burning of “alien” books such as the Bible. Colleagues who have documented the Ghar Wapsi organised by former BJP minister and strongman Dilip Singh Judeo speak of how his armed cadres – armed with bow and arrow as much as with modern guns – would surround the place and keep watch while he “initiated” the Christian into the Hindu fold.

My own observations after field studies are of Ghar Wapsi as a movement that uses armed force and violence, certainly the threat of violence, towards a conversion of neo-Christians to Hinduism.

It cannot be called a home coming because the Tribals do not accept Hinduism ad a default language, and over the past years, there has been a vigorous movement among those of them who are not Christians to assert their roots in the Sarna and other indigenous religions. The 2011 census was slightly better than the 2001 census in allowing some space for indigenous religions to have their voice heard as opposed the past when they were all routinely lumped under the Hindu label. This lacuna still remains in law and the BJP ruled states list all so called “Indic” religions as Hindus.  The matter needs to be taken to one of the superior courts in the interests of constitutional provisions for freedom of faith and belief guarantees every Indian citizen.

The Ghar Wapsi activities also encourage lumpen elements and smaller organised village level groups to gather strength and demand homogenization in the villages. This is not simple matter and has in it seeds of grist future violence in rural groups deeply divided on the basis of a militant new version of Hinduism.

That is a threat to peace. The State must wake up to it.

[First published in Indian Currents,  14 April 2013]

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Christian Priest Beaten and Murdered

Police in India are still searching for the murder suspects after the priest and rector of a major Catholic seminary was found beaten to death on Thursday.

Priest and rector K.J. Thomas was found dead in Bangalore’s main Catholic seminary.

K.J. Thomas, age 64, was discovered by another priest lying in a pool of blood in the corridor near his room at Bangalore’s ‘St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary’ early Monday, April 1, police and Christians said.

Archbishop Moras explained: “Early today I received the shocking and the sad news of the most brutal murder of Fr K J Thomas, Rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary, Bangalore in the early hours of 1 April. I immediately rushed to the Seminary to initiate the Investigation. The top police officials came to the spot and are investigating this murder case. This is a most heinous crime… Please pray for the repose of his soul, and consolation and strength to the bereaved family members to accept this irreparable loss.”

The motivation for the murder is still unclear, although at least three individuals appear to have been involved. The students were all away on holiday at the time. Fr Thomas’ room was ransacked but, as far as they could judge, the police found the priest’s valuables intact.

Fr Patrick Xavier, the seminary Procurator, discovered the body and raised the alarm. Preliminary investigations suggest that the 65 year-old Rector died as a result of “severe head injuries.”

Fr Thomas, a native of Kerala, had taught Systematic Theology in the seminary for more than 30 years and, at his death, was serving his second term as Rector.

Click here for source

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Church burnt in Chhattisgarh again

Church burnt in Kondagaon district Chhattisgarh last night. More backlash expected as extremists are meeting now to discuss further plans. Please pray for Pastor Padam Patel and the rest of the believers. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Communal forces targeting Chhattisgarh Christians, alleges forum

The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) has alleged that the community is being systematically targeted by “communal and anti-national forces” by way of regular “attacks almost every month.”
In a press note, the forum charged the police with conniving with anti-Christian, fundamentalist forces to harass the community. It highlighted the recent arrest of the head of a children’s home and its warden in Durg district. The police had contended that Reverend Swaminathalu and warden J. Dilip Kumar of the Bethel Children Home were booked on the basis of “sufficient evidence,” it said.
The controversial Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was invoked against them for ‘coercive sex against minors.’ They were also facing charges of criminal intimidation and falsification of information.
They were charged under Section 23(cruelty to a child) under the Juvenile Justice Act. The anti-conversion law, 1968, which Chhattisgarh inherited from Madhya Pradesh, has also been slapped on them, the CCF noted.
The Sub-Divisional Officer (Police) of the Patan Block in Durg, Nivedita Pal, who is the supervising officer of the case, told The Hindu that the two were arrested on complaints from “minors from the children’s home.”
But a journalist from Durg, Dinesh Kumar, said the allegations were “concocted.”
“I spoke to the boys who were allegedly molested on Friday. They were eager to move back to their home from the rescue centre and said they had no complaint against anyone.
On Saturday, after recording their statement in the presence of senior police officials, the six boys were taken to the district general hospital for medical examination, where they told journalists that nobody molested them and that they were being coerced to give statements,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu.
According to Mr. Kumar, Father Swaminathalu had said the children were compelled to frame charges against him. He also claimed that a local NGO “masterminded the conspiracy” against him and the warden.
According to Ms. Pal, there was “evidence” against Rev. Swaminathalu and Mr. Dilip Kumar.
“They were arrested on the basis of strong prima facie evidence,” she said. She denied the charges that they were “falsely implicated” in the case. Both Rev Swaminathalu and the warden were remanded in judicial custody.
Click HERE for source