Friday, June 28, 2013

Assault on pastors' meeting in India shows depth of extremist hostility

Even in a state with no “anti-conversion” law, Hindu extremists in Andhra Pradesh this month levelled the accusation of forceful conversion at pastors as they belted the Christian leaders with iron bars.
At their monthly prayer gathering in Thukkugudu, Hyderabad, on June 4 about 20 pastors from various denominations were stunned when a mob of Hindu extremists approached with clubs and iron rods and accused the ethnic Telegu clergy of forceful conversion. Vaguely worded laws in other states banning forceful, fraudulent or coercive conversions provide a ready pretence for false accusations against Christians helping to provide for the needs of the poor, leading to numerous false arrests.
Lack of such a law in Andhra Pradesh, on India’s south-eastern coast, did not stop Hindu nationalists from shouting the accusation as they attacked. The assault was notable for its scope and intensity. Members of the Hindu extremist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh struck with fury, uttering obscenities as they denigrated the pastors’ faith and low-caste status. Hindu nationalists assert that people in India are Hindu by birth, and that conversion to another faith amounts to national betrayal.
“They suddenly intruded into the meeting at about 1 p.m. while we were having our lunch and started to beat up pastors who were standing outside the room,” said the Rev. B. Robert of the Bethel Saron Assembly of God Church.
Seven Christians received hospital treatment, including a 73-year-old pastor who goes by the single name of Krupiah.
“Pastor Krupiah was bleeding profusely when they took him to the hospital,” Robert told Morning Star News. “There was blood everywhere, as many pastors were beaten on the head.”
The pastor required five stitches on his left eyebrow. Four of seven pastors receiving hospital care were admitted for treatment of serious injuries, Robert said.
The assailants, led by Venkat Reddy, shouted anti-Christian slogans, over-turned chairs and tables, and seized and destroyed some pastors’ cell phones and cameras, he added.
“Some pastors even wore their [motorcycle] helmets in order to protect their heads,” Robert said. “However, the angry extremists beat them with iron rods and broke their helmets.”
The mob prevented the pastors from escaping the assault.
“The attackers pulled me and my friend Pastor Bhagati Timothy back inside the room,” Robert said. “I somehow managed to escape without major injury. However, Pastor Timothy was severely beaten on the head. Timothy sustained a deep cut on his head, and he started to bleed profusely.”
Robert was able to get to his motorbike and took Timothy to the hospital.
The All India Christian Council representative in Hyderabad, Moses Vattipalli, told Morning Star News that accusations that the pastors were forcing people to convert to Christianity were baseless.
“There was no case of forceful conversion – the pastors were having their monthly prayer meeting as usual,” Vattipalli said.
Also injured was Ganugapati Kumar, with broken bones in both hands, and V. Timothy, who hurt his leg.
Police at the Pahadi Sheerif police station registered a First Information Report against the attackers, but no arrests had been made at press time.
Local Christians planned a protest against the assault but postponed it on counsel of police.
Christian leaders have submitted a memorandum to the Mandal Revenue Officer, who has promised to take action.
In Gutta Begumpet, Rangareddy District, also in Andhra Pradesh state, Hindu extremists along with a government official from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on June 10 demolished the church building of Kresthu Mandiram (Christ Church), Vatipalli said.
The extremists had threatened pastor Paul Viswas, telling him to stop leading worship meetings in the area or face violence.
The AICC reported that the official from the GHMC, Dhanjiv Reddy, planned the destruction with the local Hindu extremists. They had been threatening Viswas for a year.
Andhra Pradesh has the fourth-highest rate of attacks against Christians, according to the 2012 Yearly Report of the Evangelical Fellowship of India. It is one of the more populated states in India, with a population of about 90 million people, of which about 2.3 percent are Christians, according to the 2011 census.
Five states – Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh – have passed “anti-conversion” laws, resulting in widespread harassment of Christians. Arunachal Pradesh has not fully promulgated similar legislation, and the Rajasthan chief minister has yet to sign into law an anti-conversion law passed by the state assembly.

Click Here for Source

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Vandalism at church complex in Manipur

IMPHAL: Residents of the Kongpal area in Imphal East on Monday damaged some articles, furniture and makeshift tents in a newly built complex of the Victory Church of India (VCI) as they considered it an insult that the complex has come up adjacent to a historical site. The actual church is yet to be constructed in the complex.

Various clubs and Meira Paibis (women's vigil groups) of Kongpal who have formed a self-explanatory body - Coordinating Committee against the Construction and Establishment of the VCI Complex at Kongpal Nandeibam Leikai - staged a demonstration on Monday. They then went on to vandalize the items and structures in church complex, sources said.

The committee said the setting up of the church complex adjacent to the historical site, where rituals are performed annually, and which is under the Manipur Historical Monument Act, is an insult to the people of the state.

It also imposed a "public curfew" at the spot even as police launched a sharp vigil to thwart unwanted eventualities. There is no report of any arrests yet.

Following the incident, the All Manipur Christian Organization (Amco) urged the government to protect the sanctity of the place of worship.

"We take serious note of the incident at the VCI church complex. The land on which the complex stands has been bought by the functionaries concerned. They have full rights to set up the place of worship," said Amco president Rev Prim Vaiphei. He urged the government to do the needful to protect the victimized church and the complex.

The matter was brought to the notice of the Manipur assembly on Tuesday as legislator Paonam Brojen demanded that the home department look into the matter during zero hour. A Meitei Christian convert, Brojen, representing the Wangjing Tentha constituency in the valley of Thoubal district, said setting up of a church in the valley area would enhance moral education and love between people of the hills and the plains.

Monday's incident came barely 20 days after the state government evicted 26 families and three churches at a small locality in Kabo Leikai in the heart of Imphal to set up a five-star hotel despite a court's ruling maintaining status quo in the area.

Click HERE for source

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Orissa: after the pogroms, Christians get a fraction of the damages


Bhubaneshwar - "In the Kandhamal context, the central and state governments have failed to discharge their constitutional mandate to protect the fundamental rights of citizens," said Mgr Raphael Cheenath, archbishop emeritus of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, as he presented AsiaNews with a report whose findings show the gross inadequacy of state and national compensation offered to the victims of the violent incidents of 2008.

Released last Friday, the study, titled Unjust Compensation: Assessment of Damage and Loss of Private Property during the Anti-Christian Violence in Kandhamal, India, was authored by the Centre for the Sustainable Use of Natural Resources (CSNR, in Bhubaneshwar) and the Network for the Right to Housing and Land (HLRN, in New Delhi). The two NGOs presented their work in cooperation with the Church and the Red Cross.

According to the study, the Orissa government paid out money only in the case of deaths and damaged or destroyed houses. All other type of property-land, personal valuables and furniture, documents, farm equipment, tools, and food reserves-were excluded from the compensation package. This, the prelate said, "has seriously damaged people who suffered almost total ruin."

As the study indicates, the problem is that there are no policies in the country, at the state or national levels, to settle such losses.

The issue of compensation also goes for destroyed or damaged places of worship. "The government," Mgr Cheenath noted, "says it cannot fund the rebuilding of damaged churches and religious facilities because India is a secular country."

In the past, the bishop had presented a petition to the Supreme Court, asking for 30 million rupees (about US$ 500,000) to repair damaged Church buildings.

Even though, the court ruled in favour of compensation, the government has only devoted a fraction of the funds originally requested.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Twenty Pastors attacked in Andhra Pradesh

Twenty Baptist pastors were attacked allegedly by Hindu extremists in Andhra Pradesh Wednesday.
About 50 fundamentalists raided a prayer meeting at a church in Maheshwaram Mandal in Hyderabad.
They attacked the pastors with sticks and rods and verbally abused them.
The mob also accused the church leaders of forcing people to convert to Christianity.
Seven of the pastors were rushed to hospital as they had sustained injuries.
A case has been registered with the police in this regard.
All India Christian Council (AICC) said that the victims were all from Telugu Baptist Church and had gathered for a regular monthly prayer meeting.
“We are deeply concerned that anti-Christian attacks are taking place in the state. After Karnataka, such violence against Christians has started in Andhra Pradesh,” said John Dayal, AICC secretary general.
The AICC said that up to 1,000 local Christians are planning a peaceful rally to protest against the attack.

Twenty Christian pastors were beaten by suspected Hindu radicals in India's southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday after radicals accused the pastors of forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity.

As a result of the attack, seven of the 20 pastors required hospitalization because of the severity of the injuries they sustained. Christians have staged peaceful protests to encourage local authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Twenty pastors from Telugu Baptist Church gathered at a church in Hyderabad, a major city located in Andhra Pradesh, for their monthly prayer meeting on Wednesday. According to witnesses, about 50 Hindu radicals broke into the church building and began "brutally attacking" the pastors with sticks and metal rods, causing severe injuries. Six of the pastors were dragged into the streets by the enraged mob, where they were beaten unconscious and verbally abused by their attackers. Seven of the pastors, identified by BosNewsLife as Thimothy, Kumar, Krupaiah, Roberts, Rosaiah, Lazarus and Thinothy, were rushed to the hospital for serious injuries.

The mob of Hindu radicals is suspected to be connected with the Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). RSS had no immediate comment regarding the attack when the right-wing group was contacted by media sources.

This vicious attack comes weeks after another Hindu nationalist group, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), lost control of the government of Andhra Pradesh's neighboring state, Karnataka. Under BJP's rule, an atmosphere of impunity for Christian persecutors allowed Karnataka to become one of the most dangerous places for Christians to live in India. Christians in Andhra Pradesh are concerned that the persecutors in Karnataka are now moving into their state.

"We are deeply concerned that anti-Christian attacks are taking place in [Andhra Pradesh]. After Karnataka, such violence against Christians has started in Andhra Pradesh," John Dayal, secretary general of the All India Christian Counsel (AICC), told media sources after the attack.  

Fearing the creation of an atmosphere of impunity similar to the one that exists in Karnataka, Christians in Andhra Pradesh are staging peaceful protests, demanding the government to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice. While condemning the attack itself, the AICC has called on the local government to take "stern action" against the culprits.

"Attacks on Christians in southern India, especially those on Christian leaders, have unfortunately been increasing over the past year," says William Stark, International Christian Concern's regional manager for Africa. "Members of Hindu nationalist groups like RSS and BJP use India's anti-forced conversion laws as a pretext to curb the spread of Christianity by intimidating Christian leaders and terrorizing new converts.

"In areas where these groups hold power in the local government, Christians are allowed to be attacked with impunity. For years, local authorities acquiesced and sometimes actively encouraged this sort of behavior. Decisive action must be taken. Such heinous acts must not be allowed to spread to new areas in India."

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Tripura: Christian man beheaded for not converting to Hinduism

A 35-year-old Christian man was beheaded for refusing to convert to Hinduism. Indian media that covered the affair revealed that the man, Tapas Bin, was killed by his own father-in-law in the village of Teliamura (West Tripura District), in the north-eastern part of the country, where the victim's body was found a few days ago in a stream.

According to police, three years ago Bin married Jentuly, the daughter of 55-year-old Gobinda Jamatiya, the member of a local tribal religion. The Christian man had been a private tutor of Gobinda's daughter, and the couple had a one-year-old son.

Since the marriage, Gobinda had been pressuring Bin to abandon Christianity and join his tribal religion. When Bin persistently refused, Gobinda decided to kill his son-in-law with the help of an ojha (shaman), Krishnapada Jamatiya (no relation), and dispose of the body.

Police arrested the 42-year-old shaman but were unable to find Gobinda, who works at the West Tripura Science and Technology Department, and is thought to be on the run.

Khrishnapada confessed to the crime, providing detailed information about the killing. For example, he said that before the assassination, Gobinda and he had performed a puja, a ritual prayer.

Bin's wife Jentuly told police that her father did not recognise their marriage and had pressured Bin to convert. What is more, "My father might kill me and my son too," she said.

Click HERE for source