Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sikhs, Christians more likely to be jailed than Hindus and Muslims

They make up no more than 4% of India’s 1.2 billion people but Sikhs and Christians are more likely to be undertrials, detenues and convicts than Hindus and Muslims.

Hindus are least likely to be undertrials and convicts. Christians are most likely to be detained and imprisoned. These data, contained in Prison Statistics India 2014, were released last month by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

There are relatively more Sikhs in prison (as undertrials, convicts, detenues and other prisoners) than followers of any other faith. 840 per million Sikhs are in prison followed by Christians (601), Muslims (477) and Hindus (305).

In India there are a total of 4,18,536 prisoners, of which 282,879 are undertrials followed by convicts (131,517), detenues (3,237) and other prisoners (903). 346 per million people in India are prisoners.

The proportion of Sikh and Christian undertrials in Indian prisons is two times their proportion in the general population, according to the NCRB data.

As convicts, the proportion of Sikhs is three times their proportion in the general population and for Christians, it’s two times.

There is no official explanation for the higher relative proportion of Sikhs and Christians in jail. The highest number of Sikh undertrials is in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, which account for 83% of all Sikh undertrials in the country.

The highest number of Christian undertrials comes from Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Orissa, accounting for nearly half (46%) of all Christian undertrials. These are also states where the Christian population is overwhelmingly poor: drawn from scheduled-caste converts in Tamil Nadu and tribal converts in Jharkhand and Orissa.

As many as 282,879 people are undertrials in jails across India. 70% of these undertrials are Hindu, 21% Muslim, 4% Christian and 4% Sikh.

Of 131,157 convicts, 72% of convicts (95,348) are Hindus, 16% (21,550) are Muslim, 4% Christian and 6% Sikh.

The proportion of undertrials who are Hindus (70%) is 10 percentage points less than their proportion in the general population (80%), according to an IndiaSpend analysis of NCRB data. The proportion of Muslim undertrials is seven percentage points more than their proportion in the general population.

490 per million Sikhs are undertrials, the highest for any faith. The figure for India is 234 undertrials per million people.

An estimated 397 per million Christians, 346 per million Muslims and 204 per million Hindus are undertrials.

The religious profile of convicts is along similar lines.

The proportion of Hindu convicts (72%) is eight percentage points less than their proportion in the general population (80%). The proportion of Muslim convicts is two percentage points more than their proportion in the general population.

350 per million Sikhs are convicts, the highest for any faith. The national figure is 109 convicts per million people.

An estimated 185 per million Christians are convicts, compared to 125 per million Muslims and 99 per million Hindus.

Christian undertrials increase 53% over five years

There was an 18% increase in undertrial prisoners across India over the past five years.

Christian undertrials increased 53% from 7,198 in 2010 to 11,048 in 2014; however, there was a decline of 11% in 2014 over 2013.

In overall terms, there was an increase of 5% in convicts over the past five years.

Sikh convicts increased 32%, from 5,500 in 2010 to 7,286 in 2014, while Christian convicts went up 24% over the same period.

The number of Hindu convicts rose 4%; Muslim convicts declined 5%.

Tamil Nadu, home to most Christian undertrials

The highest number of Christian undertrials is in Tamil Nadu (2,538).

Hindu undertrials increased 18% over the past five years, followed by Sikh (17%) and Muslim (12%).

As many as 197,273 Hindus were undertrials at the end of 2014 across India, followed by Muslims (59,550), Christians (11,048), Sikhs (10,203) and others (4,805).

Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country with 200 million people, had 62,515 undertrials. Bihar (26,800) is second, followed by Maharashtra (19,895), Madhya Pradesh (19,188) and Punjab (15,467).

In terms of undertrials per million people, Delhi tops with 606, followed by Dadra and Nagar Haveli (579), Punjab (558), Mizoram (506) and Haryana (439).

There are 3,237 detenues in jails across India; of these 63% (2,030) are Hindu, 20% (658) are Muslim and 16% (505) are Christian, mirroring the profile of undertrials and convicts.

(Mallapur is a policy analyst with IndiaSpend)

This story was originally published in IndiaSpend , India’s first data-journalism initiative.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pentecostal pastor shot dead in eastern India

A Christian minister was shot dead in eastern India, an act a church leader said points to a trend of terrorizing Christians in the tribal-dominated Jharkhand state.

Chamu Hasda Purty, 54, of the Independent Pentecostal Church, was shot dead Oct. 12 in Sandhi village of the state's Khunti district. Police officials said they are unsure of the motives for the murder and that the attackers are on the run.

Nuas Mundu, a close family friend, told ucanews.com that a group of armed men barged into the minister's house and one of them shot him.

Mundu, also a minister with the same church, said the incident has created panic among the area's Christians.

Christian leaders have reported several cases of attacks against Christians after pro-Hindu groups gained political importance in the country.

Jharkhand state, as well as the federal government, is currently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is considered the political arm of Hindu nationalist groups.

The motive "is to terrorize Christians" said Subhash Kongari, a lawyer and district president of Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, the national Christian forum.

He told ucanews.com that the area is impoverished and mostly indigenous people and the poor have benefited from the church's charitable works. This has antagonized Hindu groups.

The murder should not be seen as an isolated criminal action. "Every year we witness an average of two murders in the area and several other forms of violence," Kongari said. "They are all part of an agenda to terrorize people (so that they) disassociate with Christianity."

He noted that for centuries, indigenous people "have lived in servitude (and were) subjugated and lived cut away from mainstream of life."

Hindu leaders have often warned that Christian missionaries would be dealt with drastically if they do not desist from "forcible conversion" of indigenous people and poor people.

Jharkhand, created in 2000 from tribal-dominated areas of Bihar state, is home to a vibrant, mostly tribal Christian community.

Hindu groups have also accused Christians of luring poor villagers to Christianity with material offers and have reiterated the party's demand for laws to check conversions to Christianity.

Media have reported several instances of churches being destroyed and of Hindu groups beating Christians and threatening to kill them if they do not renounce Christ.

Jharkhand, with a population of 33 million people, now has some 1.4 million Christians, most of whom are indigenous people or those belonging to the dalit or former untouchable castes.

The state's 4.5 percent Christian population is almost double that of the national average.

UCA News

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bastar panchayat ban: HC says right to religion is fundamental

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh high court has ordered that tribal Bastar region's panchayat resolution passed last year, imposing ban on non-Hindu religious missionaries, won't come in the way of exercising fundamental right to preach and propagate religion.

The bench of Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava passed the order last week while hearing a writ petition filed by Chhattisgarh Christian Forum and others challenging constitutionality of resolution adopted by panchayat bodies last year banning non-Hindu religious missionaries in their areas. The court order, copy of which was made available on Wednesday, said advocate-general will get three weeks to seek instructions and make appropriate submission on the dispute raised before court.

Advocate general J K Gilda and deputy advocate general R K Gupta appeared for the state while counsel Alok Bakshi appeared for petitioners.

Christian bodies had moved high court in Bilaspur last year after a number of gram panchayats in tribal Bastar region passed resolutions at gram sabha, quoting provisions of Section 129 (G) of Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act, banning "non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in villages".

The copy of the impugned resolution had stated, "To stop forced conversion by outside religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, Sirisguda gram sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions."

The petitioners had contended the ban was a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed in Constitution and provisions of Panchayati Raj Act cannot have an overriding effect. They also sought legal action against officials for dereliction of duty for allegedly not acting in accordance with law.

There have been reports few right-wing organizations had motivated local villagers to adopt such a resolution under provisions of Panchayati Raj Act. 

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Hindu Extremists Beat Christian Pastor With Clubs, Leave Him Unconscious in Pool of Blood

Pastor Ajmer Singh Damor.  <br/>EFI

A pastor in Madhya Pradesh state is recovering after Hindu extremists last month beat him unconscious and left him in a pool of blood, sources said.
About 20 Hindu extremists in Fattiguda, Jhabua on Sept. 10 kicked, punched and beat with a club pastor Ajmer Singh Damor of Shalom Church, after storming into a prayer meeting at the home of Tihiya Vasunia, church leaders said.
"Pastor Ajmer remained unconscious for about five hours, and the local doctors transferred him to the district hospital due to the severity of his injuries," area Christian leader Amiya Jal told Morning Star News. "He was treated in the hospital for more than a week."
Most of the Christians at the gathering scattered and escaped harm, but the Hindu extremists also abducted church member Dilu Katara and beat him before releasing him later that evening. Katara received hospital treatment for abrasions and internal injuries. The assailants also beat Pastor Damor's wife, Runita Damor, but she was able to flee with her 18-month-old baby, said the Rev. Sam Francis, an area Christian leader.
Yelling that all Christian worship meetings must cease, the assailants destroyed household items and slaughtered one of Vasunia's goats, church leaders said.
"They killed the goat of Vasunia that was tied outside as they continued to shout that no such prayer should take place in the village in future," Jal said. "It was a male goat worth about 6,000 rupees [US$92]. Vasunia is only a poor farmer, and he also lost most of his household items."

Police registered a First Information Report against the attackers after the intervention of area Christian leaders, but it does not include the damage to Vasunia's house and the killing of his goat, church leaders said.

Christians Attacked, Arrested
Christians in Madhya Pradesh have grown increasingly alarmed over recent violence and false charges against them.
Authorities in Barkhat village, Bagh block, Dhar, on Sept. 6 arrested 14 Christians after the village head, Chetan Singh, summoned a meeting and threatened to kill Pastor Dayal Davar of Gram Barkhat Church (GBC).
"At 9 a.m. on Sept. 5, the village head along with the Hindu extremists threatened to beat up Pastor Davar if he continued to conduct any kind of Christian meetings, told him that they will not allow him to stay in the village and threatened to kill him if he did not renounce Christ," GBC pastor Suresh Mandloi told Morning Star News.
Later that day at about 6 p.m., Pastor Davar and other area church leaders reported the matter to officers and sought police protection. Two hours later, police summoned Pastor Davar and ordered him to stop leading prayer meetings in the village; he was compelled to sign a paper stating that only he and his family would pray in his house.
The next day, however, before the pastor was able to notify the congregation not to gather forSunday worship, about 100 Christians arrived. Hindu extremists showed up and began beating the Christians.
"They beat up the congregation with their hands, clubs and footwear, including a woman, Sagar Bai, 50 years old, and tore up the clothes of one teenage girl, Bhawanti, and claimed that no Christian meetings should take place in the area," Pastor Mandloi said.
Officers took 14 Christians to the Tanda police station, including an 11-year-old boy who was later released without charges. The other 13 were charged under Section 151 of the Indian Penal Code for disturbing the peace.
The Christians also submitted a complaint against the attackers, but police have not filed First Information Report against them.
On the same day (Sept. 6) in Kesla Kala village, Seoni, police arrested Christians Sunny Oman and John Alexander after a villager filed a police complaint against them of forceful conversion.
"Oman and Alexander were visiting a friend in Kesla Kala when a mob surrounded them and took them to the police station and falsely accused them of forceful conversion," area church leader Rev. Jaykar Christy told Morning Star News. "The two were just visiting the village on the invitation of Chand Gedam, and there was no case of forceful conversion."
The Christians were charged under the state's "anti-conversion" law, the so-called Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, which prohibits forcible or fraudulent conversion. They were released on bail later that evening.
The previous day in Amjhera, Dhar, police arrested Pastor Paras Bilwal and two Christians after a Hindu extremist mob harassed them for their faith in Christ.
"Pastor Bilwal and two Christians, Raju and Roop Singh, were visiting some church members in the Nankhodara area when the anti-Christian people manhandled them, threatened them with dire consequences if they visited the village again and filed a police complaint against them of forceful conversion," said the Rev. Paul Munia, an area church leader.
The Christians were arrested under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code for deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of others, and under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. They were released on bail after four days.
Area church leaders said the Christians had engaged in no forceful conversion.

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3 Christian preachers arrested for conversions in Satna district

BHOPAL: Three people were arrested in Satna district late on Saturday under state's anti-conversion law. The trio reportedly told police they work for Gospel Echoing Missionary Society (GEMS), an NGO which preaches Christianity and has a presence in northern states for more than four decades, police said.
Of three, one accused Stephan Rajkumar, 40, is a resident of Chennai, other accused Harilal, 20, is a resident of Rewa and the third, Anil Kumar is resident of Azamgarh, said Majhgawan police station in charge Khem Singh.
"The trio has been booked under sections 3 and 4 of Madhya Pradesh Dharm Swatantrya Adhiniyam, besides Section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), Section 506 (criminal intimidation). They did not inform the collector before converting locals," he said.

"They converted two people by offering Rs 5,000. One of them complained to us. Subsequently, all three were arrested from a local school while they were holding preaching sessions on Saturday night. CDs, projectors and other material used to propagate Christianity were recovered."
"They converted more than 10 people in Satna district. We have recorded statements of the two, who were converted. We are tracking 10 others, who were allegedly converted. Their statements will also be recorded," Singh said.
Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968, bans conversions by force, allurement or fraud and there is a provision of imprisonment up to three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 as per recent amendments in the Act.

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