Thursday, March 24, 2016

Madhya Pradesh Christians want Good Friday break back

Political parties and labor unions have joined Christians in demanding that Good Friday be reinstated as a public holiday in India's Madhya Pradesh state.

Church officials and politicians said the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party state government has deliberately not listed the day as a holiday in the official gazette, following its policy of overlooking other religions.

"This shows the government's hatred towards Christians," said K.K. Mishra spokesperson for the state chapter of the opposition Congress Party.

Good Friday was recognized as a statewide holiday until a gazette notification issued on Nov. 26 failed to have it listed as one. Good Friday is a holiday in most of India.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power in the state 13 years ago, has been gradually promoting a Hindu ideology, critics have said.

"It deliberately made Good Friday a working day," Mishra told

Father Maria Stephen, spokesman for Bhopal Archdiocese, said the government's move is unfortunate and will divide people along "sectarian lines, and eventually destroy peace and harmony."

The decision undermines the spirit of the Indian constitution, which is based on secular principles, the priest said. Such ideas will also sow the seeds of fundamentalism, said Father Stephen. The state government should reconsider the decision, he added.

Communists have also weighed in on the issue. Badal Saroj, state secretary of the Communist Party of India, said Good Friday is not just a Christian holy day. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ provides a message for everyone working for truth and human equality, he said.

The United Forum of Bank Unions said it sent a memorandum to state Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to tell him that Good Friday should be a holiday.

However, Anthony DeSa, the state's chief secretary, said no political group or employees union have approached him so far about having Good Friday off.

There are 59 millions Christians in India which has a total population of 1.3 billion people.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Persecution of Christians spreading in India; Hindu radicals enjoying immunity, humanitarian groups say

Attacks against Christians in India are increasing alarmingly this year, with about 30 incidents of religiously motivated violence reported in just two months, according to humanitarian groups.

The International Christian Concern (ICC) said at least 26 documented incidents spread across the subcontinent have been culled since Jan. 1. Hindu nationalists are leading the campaign of persecution and attacks on Christians, Fox News reported.

Such persecution cases used to be limited to a particular region or issue. However, the violence has now become more widespread with Hindu radicals enjoying immunity for their actions, ICC said.

"They are wolves in sheep's clothing," Jeff King, president of the ICC told Fox News. "There has been an increase in attacks because these nationalists feel emboldened with [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi in power."

"The government, which came into power with the election of Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has strong Hindu nationalist ties. As a result, radical Hinduism, which was already present under the previous government, has increased steadily,'' David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA also told Fox News.

Curry said since 2014 there has been a significant rise in attacks on Christians and Christian communities by radical Hindu forces.

ICC lamented that Indian police usually take no action against the aggressors. One case was when a mob of over 30 radicals "attacked, beat, and dragged" a Catholic priest and three church officials from their car in the village of Ettimadai in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu last Jan. 29.

The men tried to escape from the mob but failed. Police did not intervene, resulting in the hospitalisation of the four men, said the report.

Two weeks earlier, a local pastor and members of his congregation in the Nizamabad district of Telangana state were "savagely beaten" by a mob of 40 Hindu radicals after they allegedly tried to convert Hindus to Christianity.

The attack, which occurred during a Christian prayer gathering, resulted in the hospitalisation of six persons, including a four-year-old girl whose leg was broken, according to locals.

"It was a very scary scene," Pastor Nitin Kumar said. "They tore my cassock and I received blows, punches, [and] kicks from all directions as I was their prime target. [Our] Bibles were snatched from us and were tore and trampled. [Other] believers ran to all directions as they were chased by the mob."

Last Sunday, a Pentecostal church in the Chhattisgarh state was also attacked during prayer services by a mob believed to have been a part of the militant Hindu Bajrang Dal organisation.

Despite the growing atrocities, the administration of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP has yet to publicly condemn the attacks, the humanitarian groups said.

They criticised the Indian government for its refusal to speak out against the atrocities, adding that its silence has encourage radical Hindus to step up their attacks against Christians.

To stop the wave of extreme nationalism, the ICC has brought its campaign to Washington following the rash of outbreaks. Eight U.S. senators and 26 members of Congress have sent a bipartisan letter to Modi requesting that he strongly and publicly condemn the acts of persecution.

But India's leader has yet to respond, according to news reports.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

5 Hindu Outfit Members Held for Vandalising Church in Coimbatore

COIMBATORE: Following an act of vandalism perpetrated by members of some Hindu  outfits at a church in Kalapatti, the Kovilapalayam police arrested five persons on Sunday night.

Of the arrested persons, P Sampath (43) is the formal zonal secretary of the BJP. The other four were identified as R Kutty (34), S Sakthivel (29), N Vignesh (25) and K Devaraj (60). The four men are said to belong to a fringe Hindu outfit.

Based on a complaint by the person in charge of the church, a case was registered under Sections 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapons), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) and 506 (ii) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act.

The Hindu outfit members were against the church functioning as a temple was also located nearby.

The church has been in existence since 1948 and was recently renovated and expanded, though the Hindu outfit men approached  the court seeking a stay order. The High Court had given green light for the church renovation and had directed the district police to give adequate protection. 

The church was dedicated on Wednesday.

On Saturday, a group of Hindu outfit activists vandalised the property.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 people from seven churches, led by the Presbyter and Chairman of the CSI Christ Church, petitioned the Collector, seeking protection of the church and the congregation.

CSI Christ Church’s honorary secretary P Dharmaraj, told Express that they sought the Collector’s help to implement the High Court order. He said around 20 families congregated at the church every week and they feared for their safety.

Police said that they were on the lookout for the culprits who had vandalised the church property and were also searching for some serial offenders, who would be booked under Section 107 of the Code for Criminal Procedure, whereby the anti-social elements would be made to sign a bond stating that they would not indulge in any illegal act.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Christian Forum Releases 'Video' Of Raipur Church Attackers

Within hours of the arrest of nine men today, the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum released a cellphone video to the media, claiming it contained the footage of Sunday's attack on a church in Raipur.

The video shows four men vandalizing furniture, musical instruments and mocking the devotees.

Forum President Arjun Pannalal has claimed around 25 slogan-shouting men of Bajrang Dal had barged into the church premises during a prayer meeting, beaten up men women and children and vandalized the church. Around 65 worshippers were present at the time.

This morning, the police however, claimed the arrested men did not belong to any party or group.

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