Friday, June 30, 2017

Christian accused falsely of insulting Hindu religion in Madhya Pradesh

Four Christians including a Pastor have been charged with insulting the Hindu religion in Sidhi in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh last month. They have been accused of defiling Hindu idols and treating them with disrespect. The accused completely denies the charges and calls it an “evidence planted story”.

Pastor Geeta Dixit

Pastor Geeta Dixit, 46, Rajpal Gharwaar, his wife Asha Gharwaar and another Christian Ruby Toppo have been falsely blamed of the act according to Pastor Geeta Dixit.

All four have been booked under Indian Penal Code 295 (Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 294 (obscene acts or words in public), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

A first information report (FIR) was filed against the four in the month of April, wherein Rajpal Gharwaar was detained by the police for two days before he was bailed out. 

This is the second time in the end of last month that another FIR has been filed against the four with Geeta Dixit named as the main accused. Both the times, the complainants were Rajpal Gharwaar’s mother, elder brother and his wife and younger brother. “They all live next door to Rajpal’s house,” said Geeta Dixit while narrating the complete story to Global Christian News.

Asha and her husband come from a Hindu ‘Rajput’ family. Asha became a follower of Christ 10-years ago after she started to visit Geeta’s church along with her ailing sister, who was also the wife of Rajpal’s elder brother, in the year 1993. Asha and her sister committed their life to Christ and faced opposition from their families. Unfortunately, Asha’s sister passed away after two years and Rajpal’s brother remarried. 

“Rajpal’s younger brother was at the verge of dying, when he was carried to my Church on a stretcher. He was prayed-upon by the Church members and God healed him completely. Rajpal’s mother and other family members have been coming to Church occasionally, whenever they were facing difficult times and wanted prayers.

“Asha’s husband Rajpal regularly got his wife to Church but never entered the Church himself until two months ago, when he saw a dream one night that Jesus descended from the sky and Asha and his children were lifted up above the ground and carried by Jesus and Rajpal was left all alone. He also saw Jesus raise a dead man to life.

“Rajpal woke very restless and wanted answers. He spoke to Asha and then to me about his dream. I advised him to repent for his sins and explained him the meaning of his dream,” narrated Geeta.

It was when Rajpal took baptism early April that his mother and brothers started to raise questions and registered a false case against Geeta, Ruby, their own son Rajpal and Asha.

“They got a Hindu idol and putting mire on it, presented it as a witness to the police, blaming me and the others of disrespecting Hindu gods,” said Geeta.

Geeta denying the allegations said, “It is completely a fabricated story. We have not desecrated the idols.”

Geeta, who is a widow and has three daughters, feels harassed and mentally traumatized because of the false case that she has to fight along with the three others.”

Geeta and the others have to appear for their first court hearing on 17 August, 2017.

The Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam (Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act) prohibits religious conversion through force, allurement and fraudulent means. Changing one’s religion without informing the authorities is also punishable under the Act.

Madhya Pradesh is one of the five states in India besides Gujarat, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh which has enforced the anti-conversion laws. 

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Christian Families Get Beaten and Were Denied Water in India

Christian families were beaten by villagers, forced to take part in Hindu rituals and had the water for their crops cut off in the latest horrifying persecution in India. The families that were targeted in the attack are from Jalalabad village, Ghazipur District in the northern state of Utter Pradesh.

The incident happened on April 25 when a mob led by the village president and his advisers beat up a group of Christians with sticks. Pushpa Kumari, one of the victims, said the mob forced them to eat basil leaves and drink water from the Ganges River that was considered holy.

They were also made to deny Christ. At least 13 young Christians caved in to pressure and reconverted back to Hinduism. The four couples who refused were beaten up. Their water supply was also cut off, leaving their crops exposed to temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius.

During a confrontation at the police station, the victims were accused of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. One of the victims, Manoj Kumar, denied this, saying the Christians just gathered at his house on Sundays as they were unable to go to town for worship.

An amicable settlement was reached that both sides will follow their own respective religious practices peacefully, and no charges were filed. But the water problem wasn't settled. Villagers still refused to sell water from their boreholes, and the Christians' crops were left to die.

"We are ready to pay the hourly price, but the president and villagers have decided to not let us irrigate. Our field is going dry; it's burned dead," Kumar said. Last June 14, Gupta told the Christians if they want water, they have to stop following Christ and holding their worship services.

The oppression against Christians has long been common in India. In 2014, it ranked 28th on the Open Doors World Watch List of Countries where Christians faced the worst persecution. The persecutions enormously increased since then and the country is now ranked 15th.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Christians beaten up in Kondagaon

9 Christians were beaten up by fundamentalists at Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh on 23rd June 2017.

The villagers, under the influence of Hindu fundamentalists had accused the Christians of practising witchcraft. The beaten up Christians included women.

Christians were also told that they must abandon their Christian faith or else they will be killed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Nun detained in India, in latest anti-Christian incident

MUMBAI, India - A religious sister in India has been charged with human trafficking after she accompanied four young women on a train in central India on June 13.

The Railway Police and Hindu nationalists stopped the women in the state of Madhya Pradesh as they were travelling to Bhopal.

Hindu nationalists accused the nun of trying to convert the others to Christianity.

The police said one of the girls was a minor, although Sister Bina Joseph maintains all were over the age of 20.

Madhya Pradesh state, which is over 90 percent Hindu and less than 1 percent Christian, is ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also controls the national government.

The BJP has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization. Groups affiliated with the RSS participated in the detention of Joseph and the women accompanying her to Bhopal.

In two separate incidents in May, groups of Christians in the same state were taken into custody, charged with trying to convert Hindus to Christianity, after being stopped on trains.

“I strongly condemn this harassment by rogue elements who profess their political allegiance-alliance with the ruling party,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal.

He told Crux the detention of the nun was “absolutely wrong,” and violated her rights as a citizen of India.

“The Catholic nun was travelling in a public transport, and was subjected to harassment, intimidation and humiliation by the police,” the archbishop continued.

“This behaviour of the police is strongly condemned, the minority community, is being targeted by fringe elements of the ruling party and in any devious manner, the ‘conversion’ allegations are levied against the minority Christian community, even in the case of travelling, as in this case,” Cornelio said. 

He told Crux the Government is not doing enough to curb “these fringe elements,” who he says are taking advantage of the fact that the BJP is in power. 

“Scores of poor students from remote rural areas study in our schools and reside in our hostels and they need to travel,” he said.

The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, passed in 1968 and amended in 2013, makes it mandatory to seek government permission before conversion. The law imposes jail time for alleged “forced” conversions.

Cornelio said it seems that in the present time, even travelling by public transport is being linked to conversion.

“I strongly condemn this harassment of the minority,” the archbishop said.

Sister Tripti, the vice provincial of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa, the order in which Joseph belongs, told Crux the religious sister was detained until midnight after spending nearly 12 hours at the railway police station, together with the three young women.

The one determined by the authorities to be a minor was turned over to a child services agency.

Charges were filed after the young woman’s relatives filed a complaint, which Father Stephen Maria, a local priest, told Crux was made under pressure from “right wing extremists.”

Tripti said despite the harassment, the order will continue in its mission.

“These girls hail from impoverished families from remote rural areas, and were enroute to Bhopal for their own empowerment,” Tripti said. “This incident, however, does not deter us. We will continue to serve the poor.”

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