Monday, February 25, 2008

More attacks in Madhya Pradesh

22nd February 2008:

Christian participating in a lent meeting were attacked in the Kosmi area of Balaghat district of MP by Bajrang Dal people who then dragged Christians to the police station to lodge an FIR against them.

The Bajrang Dal people attacked without provocation and they were constantly shouting, "Dharmantaran Band Karo." (Stop Conversions).

Mr. Sunil Marawi and Brother Tom George from Kerala are the ones who have suffered physical injuries the most.

The police took complaints from both the parties and FIR's were lodged the next day but no one has been arrested till now.

24th February 2008

Masihi Mandir Church in Chawni area Indore was vandalized by a group of around 125 RSS people who kept shouting "Jo Hindu hit ki baat karega woh desh par raj karega." (The one who will talk of Hindu favor will rule India).

Since the Church was not having any service that time and was locked they damage though extensive did not include any human casualties apart from one Christian boy who was roughed up by 5 Hindutva goons.

The police has arrested 7 people so far.

The Masihi Mandir Church is under litigation for some time now with 4 parties laying claim to the property of the Church. Pray that this incident will unite them and they see sense in standing together at this time.

In another incident in MP, Father Joseph Kappilparampil from Ujjain diocese was arrested following complaint from the students  and was allegedly beaten up by a mob.

HE is heading the AMBODIYA parish, under which the Sanjeevan girls hostel at Ujjain is also being run.

He was released on bail on February 14th after his lawyer argued that the charges did not warrant remand.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Christians March in Pune, Maharashtra

Pune, February 18 Christian leaders from different denominations will take out a silent protest rally on Monday from YMCA, Quarter Gate, to condemn the attacks on Christian institutions in Orissa and Gujarat. They have urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps to ensure the safety of the community.
Disrupting church services and burning churches is deplorable, especially during the festive time, and the community fears a repeat of an infamous spate of violence in Gujarat's Dangs district in 1998.
Dangs witnessed violence for ten days in December 1998.
More than 14 churches, four convents, three houses of priests and eight hostels were fully or partially destroyed besides injuries sustained by Christians in Kandhamal district's Baliguda sub-division, Orissa, they said.
Shocked at the violent incidents during Christmas, Christians in Pune will meet on Monday to take out a silent protest rally, Father Sebastian Mony of St. Patrick's Church said. There are at least 1.5 lakh Christians residing in Pune.
The rally is being organised by the Catholic Association of Pune and the Indian Christian Movement to condemn the violent attack on churches in Orissa and Gujarat, Father Mony said. The rally will begin from YMCA at 3.30 pm and wind its way via Hotel Shantai, Narpatgir Chowk, Pudumjee park, Babajan Chowk and culminate at City Church. Bishop of Pune Valerian D'Souza and Bishop of the Church of North India Vijay Sathe will participate and hand over the memorandum of their demands to Suresh Kalmadi MP and district collector Prabhakar Deshmukh at the City Church.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The cross they bear

Politics fuels religious violence

THE blackened shell of a burnt car lies in the yard of Radha Bai's farm in this bucolic village of whitewashed houses and unhurried bullock carts in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh. On January 16th, as she prayed with a large group of Christians, a mob of Hindu extremists arrived. They chased worshippers away, set fire to a car and ten motorcycles and, says Mrs Bai, threatened to cut her “into pieces”.

In recent weeks Hindu extremists in India's “tribal belt”—where missionaries have long sought to convert traditionally animist forest-dwellers—have stepped up a vicious anti-Christian campaign. Over Christmas in neighbouring Orissa mobs set fire to 55 churches and 600 houses. Asghar Ali Engineer, of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, a Mumbai think-tank, calls it the worst anti-Christian violence independent India has seen.

Ramesh Modi, Chhattisgarh state president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or World Hindu Council, which propagates “Hindutva”, or “Hinduness”, says that Christians are “responsible for the violence themselves”. Missionaries in the area, he says, are converting Hindus illegally. Chhattisgarh and Orissa are among several Indian states to have laws banning forced conversions.

It is true that an expansionist evangelist movement is in full swing in India's tribal belt. Its targets are tribal people, Hindus, even Christians, many of whom say they have switched churches to join independent Pentecostal groups. Officially, fewer than 3% of Indians are Christian. But Arun Pannalal, of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, reckons the true proportion may be twice that. Christian converts often claim to be Hindus to keep access to government jobs and college places “reserved” for Hinduism's lower castes. Most Indian Christians are dalits, at the bottom of the caste system, once known as “untouchables”.

Mr Pannalal, whose own church belongs to the Anglican Communion, regrets the proselytising style of some pastors, and their habit of ripping into Hindu gods from the pulpit. They lay themselves open to accusations of illegal conversion. More than 230 people have been arrested on conversion charges in the state in the past two years. But Mr Pannalal says very few cases go to court “because the conversions are not forced and there is no case”.

As in other religious conflicts in India, the trouble between Christians and Hindus in the tribal belt has more to do with politics than theology. In Orissa, the Christmas violence was mostly directed at Catholics, who tend not to proselytise. But identifying religious minorities as a common enemy has proved an effective rallying cry for right-wing Hindu groups.

In December the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won elections in the western state of Gujarat, where it has had a well-documented hand in the persecution of Muslims. Christians in the tribal belt believe Hindu extremists have been emboldened by its success. Later this year, Chhattisgarh itself goes to the polls. Christians fear more violence.

Click here for source

India's terrorized Christians

CAIRO — Indian Christians are feeling the heat of the rising Hindu nationalism in the South Asian giant.

"They came into my house waving sticks and chanting," Radha Bai, a Christian resident of Bothali village in the central state of Chhattisgarh, told The Christian Science Monitors in an interview published on Wednesday, February 6.

"They were looking for me, saying they would cut me into pieces," he added, referring to 50 Hindu extremists.

The attackers, members of a group calling itself Dharma Sena (Army of Religion), assaulted several men and set fire to 10 motorcycles and a car on January 16.

It was the latest attack by Hindu extremists against Christians in India's eastern states.

Hindu mobs destroyed 55 churches and 600 houses on Christmas in the state of Orissa.

"It is getting worse all the time," lamented Arun Pannalal, the general secretary
of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum.

"Few of those cases go to court.

"But by then the extremists have done their job, which is to terrify people."

He said Christians often conceal their faith for fears of losing rights to government jobs and university posts.

Christians make up less than 3 percent of India's 1.1 billion population.Dirty Politics

Many blame the rising attacks against Christians on political goals, citing a rise in attacks in Chhattisgarh, ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, a few months before the state went to polls.

"This is a movement that stirs the religious sentiments of Hindus and then makes political capital out of it," maintains Lalit Surjan, editor-in-chief of a group of newspapers in Chhattisgarh.

Hindu leaders argue, however, that Christians have only themselves to blame for tying to proselytize people in the predominantly-Hindu nation.

"They are converting Hindus by all means possible," charged Ramesh Modi, the president of Chhattisgarh's branch of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council).

"We cannot wear bangles [an expression meaning we cannot be feminine, gentle] all the time."

With the rise of Hindu nationalism, Hindu extremists have stepped up efforts to enact legislation to curb conversions from Hinduism.

At least seven states – including Chhattisgarh and Orissa – already have laws stipulating that Hindus must inform the authorities before changing religions.The Hindu ideology holds that India is a Hindu nation and religious minorities are outsiders.

Indian Muslims, estimated to number 160 million, have had their share of Hindu attacks.

In 2002, at least 2,000 Muslims were hacked or burned to death by Hindu mobs in Gujarat after 59 Hindu pilgrims died in a train fire first blamed on Muslims but which a later inquiry concluded was accidental.

Recent videotapes showed the massacre was backed by Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi, recently reelected as chief minister of Gujarat, a post he has kept since 2002.

Click here for source

Pastor attacked in Andhra Pradesh

A mob of about 100 Hindutva activists attacked Pastor Ratnam Babu from the Kristu Aseenudu Prardhana Mandiram on January 15 in Mahalakshmi Nagar, Jagannadhapuram, Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

According to local sources, Pastor Ratnam Babu was attacked when the activists barged into their special gathering on the 15th night. They activists arrived with belts to beat those who attended the meeting. Because the Revenue Officer was present at the meeting, they returned after ransacking the place where the meeting was held. The next morning, the Sub Inspector along with his crew came inside the church, took away the microphone system and took the pastor and three leaders of the church to the Endu Palem, the police station where they were detained for some time.

At the intervention of some senior officials, however, the believers were released. However, the extremists keep giving daily threats to the pastor saying, "We have destroyed the churches and killed so and so, now your fate will be the same unless you leave this place"

Pastor Ratnam Babu has denied any wrong doing in his past. The community around him is supportive of the pastor and his activities.

The DSP officer of the area is supportive of the pastor and will offer his help as needed.