Thursday, April 16, 2009

Church attacked in Karnataka

Shimoga, 16 April 2009:

On 12th April 2009 a group of Hindutva radicals attacked the Padmos Prayer Hall at Analekoppa, Sagar Taluk, Shimoga district, Karnataka.

A group of 20 people led by Chowdappa barged into the Padmos Prayer Hall house church while the service was going on. The radicals caught the pastor, Rajesh G. Kurdekar, and accused him of indulging in forceful conversions. They took photographs of the church and accused the pastor of converting innocent Hindus to Christianity.

When Pastor Rajesh approached the Sagar City Police Station for help, instead of giving him protection, the police official accused the pastor of conducting worship services. The police warned the pastor not to conduct any more prayer services or he would have to face dire consequences.

Source: GCIC

Monday, April 06, 2009

Staines killer Dara Singh is contesting elections

Rabindra Kumar Pal alias Dara Singh, convicted in the killing of an Australiam missionary and his minor sons, filed his nomination for Ghasipura assembly constituency in Orissa, a top official said.

Dara Singh, presently lodged in a Keonjhar jail, submitted his papers to the sub-collector of Anandapur through an agent identified as Netrananda Mahanta.

"Rabinda Kumar Pal has submitted his papers for Ghasipura seat on the last day of filing nomination as an independent candidate," sub-collector Suresh Chandra Mallick told PTI over phone.

However, Dara, sources in the election office said, has not attached certain documents like his affidavit.

Manoharpur village, where the missionary Graham Staines was murdered on the night of January 22, 1999, is within the Ghasipura assembly segment.

Dara, convicted in September 2003 for the killing, had set fire to the station wagon in which Staines and his two minor sons Philip and Timothy were sleeping.

Though Dara and his associate Mahendra Hembram were given capital punishment, Orissa High Court later commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment.

Besides, Dara was also accused in 11 other cases including killing of another Christian priest Arul Doss and a Muslim trader.

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Dalit Christians can get SC status by reconversion

CHENNAI: In a significant decision, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to grant Scheduled Caste community certificate to children of converted Christian parents who reconvert to Hinduism. The Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department has issued a government order to this effect.
"The children born to Christian Schedule Caste parents i.e., Christian by birth, converted to Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism at a later date and the Scheduled Caste parents embracing Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism converted to other religion and subsequently reconverted Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, if they are accepted by their community people, the revenue authorities can issue Scheduled Caste community certificate to them to become eligible for the constitutional privileges conformed on the Hindu Scheduled Caste (following Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism) and order accordingly," the government order said.
Granting Scheduled Castes status for re-converted Hindus has been one of the long standing demands of Adi-Dravidar groups in Tamil Nadu. In fact, the current government order has been issued after a long-drawn legal battle.
In Tamil Nadu, Dalit converts to Christianity are treated only as Backward Class and do not enjoy the SC benefits. The latest order will enable those aggrieved by this rule to reconvert to Hinduism or Sikhism or Buddhism and avail Scheduled Caste status.
During 1995, the state government had clarified that the born Christians (Children born to Christian parents), even after conversion to Hinduism at a later date, they are not eligible to obtain the Community Certificate as Hindu Adi Dravida and they cannot enjoy the constitutional benefits conferred to the Hindu Adi Dravida.
However, this was challenged before the Madras high court. Delivering its verdict on the petition in 2007, the court had set aside the government's stand and directed it to reexamine its position.
Subsequently, the Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department sought the opinion of the advocate general on the matter based on which they issued SC certificates to reconverted Hindus on a case on case basis.

Click here for source

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Look who's talking now: Modi Blames Naveen for Orissa violence

Bhubaneswar (Orissa): Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hits out at his Orissa counterpart Naveen Patnaik for the recent communal violence in the State.
The firebrand BJP leaders, who extensively addressed several public meetings at State’s western part, blamed Naveen for the communal clash.
The Chief Minister is responsible for the communal violence. Forcible conversion should be stopped with immediate effect to restore communal harmony among various communities, he added.
He also came down heavily on Patnaik for his failure to nab the killers and conspirators behind the murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati. “It was unfortunate the killers and running freely and the Government making all out effort to appease the minorities,” he added.
Modi, who also addressed at a huge gathering at Raikia in riot hit southern district of Kandhamal, about 270 kilometers away from here, demanded immediate arrest of the killers.
Earlier in the day, stepping up his party’s poll campaign for the first phase, he came down heavily on BJD president for the split in the 11-year old alliance.
“The BJD has betrayed not only us but it has also betrayed the people of the State by breaking the alliance,” Modi said while addressing a huge public meeting at Nuapada. He also alleged that the BJD is falsely propagating its success by ignoring BJP’s contribution for the development of the State.
“We were part of the Government while several of our Ministers did well in their respective Department but BJD alone claiming all success,” he said directly castigating the regional outfit’s media campaign on development.
He further added that the BJP could only provide a stable Government and avail good governance. “It was BJP, which could do well than others,” he added.
After addressing Nuapada rally, Modi reached Balangir, where party’s Sangeet Singh Deo seeking re-election at around 11 am and addressed an impressive rally. At Balangir meet, he came down heavily on Congress led UPA Government as well as on the Left leaders, who are desperately making efforts for a Third Front. “The UPA and the proposed Third Front are two separate sinking boats,” he ridiculed.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

From Archbishop of Orissa to Election Commission: An appeal to put off polls

To Chief Election Commissioner,

Election Commission,

Govt. of India, New Delhi

Sub: Request for postponing the Lok Sabha and Assembly Elections 2009 for the constituencies covered under Kandhamal district, Orissa in view of continuing abnormal situation caused by communal violence.


As announced by your august office the electoral process for forthcoming elections to Lok Sabha and Orissa Legislative Assembly has already commenced for the whole State of Orissa including the district of Kandhamal with effect from 2nd March 2009 and various political parties have fielded their respective candidates for different constituencies keeping an eye on the two-phase polls to be held on 16th and 23rd April 2009.

Needless to reiterate that the first and foremost requirement for holding a free and fair poll is a secure and peaceful environment where the candidates and their supporters do enjoy freedom of movement and speech to go round to every nook and corner of a constituency to meet the voters and canvas votes from them. And at the same time, the socio-cultural environment of the constituencies should be so conducive as to enable citizen who may be willing to speak out, propagate and join in any rally or meeting in favour of a party or candidate of his/her choice.

However, as the entire nation knows, the situation in Kandhamal, greatly disturbed by the continuing communal holocaust since the last week of August 2008 is still very tense and abnormal, completely unsuitable to the possibility of a peaceful electoral process, let alone free and fair polls on the scheduled dates. We cite the following reasons as to why we consider the Kandhamal situation as exceptionally abnormal and therefore unsuitable to the scheduled holding of Lok Sabha and Assembly Polls –

There are still nearly 3,200 persons living in the refugee camps run by the Government in different places of Kandhamal. Their houses were destroyed/burnt away and valuables looted by the communalist miscreants during the riots beginning from last week of August 2008.

In the process their Voter Identity Cards were also lost away. The efforts made by the Government to provide the duplicate Voter Identity Cards to these hapless refugees is neither complete nor satisfactory.

They know not whether their names are enrolled in the Voters’ List and where they have to go to exercise their franchise.

At a conservative estimate about 50 thousand persons of Kandhamal belonging to minority community of Christians comprising both SCs and STs and Hindu Dalits were affected by the communal violence that raged for months together. While a faction of the affected lot preferred to take shelter in the Government run refugee camps in and outside Kandhamal including Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, a considerable number, out of a mortal fright altogether fled Kandhamal to unknown destinations leaving their house, valuables, cattle and crops behind just to save their life. The worst affected are the women. Till date the Government has not made any survey whatsoever of these people and no body knows where they are at present. There is no possibility at all that such people would ever be able to return within a short span of time to their respective villages, to re-arrange the Voter Identity Cards lost in the riots and exercise their franchise in the forthcoming elections. And needless to say, the elections if at all held bypassing such a big faction of Kandhamal electorate would produce a fractured verdict to the glee of rioters and miscreants who always want the election to be held without the affected minority and Dalit members being able to exercise their franchise.

As regards the thousands of members of refugee camps, who as per the Government records have returned to their respective villages, their condition is also equally pitiable. On nagging pressure by the Government officials the refugees, batch after batch, left the camps on different dates supposedly to resume their life in their respective villages. But as soon as they reached their villages, they were threatened by a hostile crowds led by the communalist miscreants with a serious warning, which went on thus - To live in the village, you must leave Christianity, reconvert to Hinduism, pay fine, withdraw all cases and vote for our candidate, otherwise you won’t be allowed to stay on in the village. After getting such hostile treatment some families returned again to the refugee camps and many others left Kandhamal for unknown destinations in and outside the State. The Government has not made any survey of the numbers and present conditions of such families. And there is no possibility at all that these families would ever be able to exercise their franchise in the coming elections.

As is well known, there is increasing incidence of violence in different pockets of Kandhamal by both extremist groups, namely Maoists and M-2. The first group targets the hindutva fundamentalists while the second group, strangely enough, targets its retaliation, not against Maoists as such but against the selected leaders of minority and Dalit community. As a result, the overall atmosphere of Kandhamal is charged with both extremist and communal violence of every sort, leading to cessation of free movement and free expression on the part of the common people. Since the State machinery has conspicuously failed to nab the frontline leaders of such extremist outfits till date, it is also very much likely that they can destroy polling booths and polling process at any place at any time victimizing the common voters in the process.

It is a fact that a section of innocent Adivasis and Dalits were somehow implicated in various non-bailable charges concerning riots, while the real masterminds and ring leaders were let loose by the Government to continue their acts of violence against minority and Dalits. The innocent persons so charged are found to be taking shelter in forests and strange places and leading a life of under-grounder all the while as a part of their hide-and–seek game with police. There is no possibility at all that such innocent Adivasis and Dalits be ever able to participate in the canvassing activities during the electoral process or exercise their franchise in the coming polls.

The atmosphere of Kandhamal is still pervaded by the air of communal violence against minority and Dalits as fanned out by the fundamentalist hindutva forces aided by rabidly anti-Dalit verbalizations indulged in by the so-called Kui leaders. And the State machinery instead of nabbing such open advocates of communal and caste violence are found to be providing special protection to some of them and thereby vitiating further the already polarized and communalized society of Kandhamal. In such a situation there is no possibility at all for the poor, unorganized members of minority or Dalit community to come out in the open to participate in the electoral process, let alone caste their votes on the day of polls.

Till recently the leadership of the affected people thought that situation would improve, with the intervention of the state in the context of the elections. But, day by day the scenario it is deteriorating. From different sources I hear that as the election is fast approaching many those who are in Kandhamal fearing backlash, are planning to leave Kandhamal.

Under the circumstances, when there is no possibility on the part of a massive chunk of Kandhamal electorate comprising especially the minority Christians and Hindu Dalits to take part in the electoral process as free citizens and when the entire atmosphere of Kandhamal is still rent with aggressive communalism and extremist violence, and when the State machinery can’t possibly restore justice, peace and harmony in the given short span of time, and above all when there is no possibility of the people of Kandhamal exercising their right to vote freely and fearlessly, I as citizen of this country and leader of the Christians in Orissa, Most Rev. Raphael Cheenath SVD, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, earnestly request that the proposed elections to Lok Sabha and Orissa Legislative Assembly in all constituencies of Kandhamal district be postponed to a future date, when an ideal situation will have been restored in full.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath,

Archbishop’s House,

Satyanagar, Bhubaneswar, Orissa

Copies to:

The President of India

The Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India The Chief Justice, Orissa High Court Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission Chairperson, National Commission for Women Chairperson, National Scheduled Castes Commission State Election Commissioner

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Young Christian man killed in Orissa in what police describe as an “accident”

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) – Gunjan Digal, a young 23-year-old Christian man, was killed by a tractor on the side of the road in Gungibadi, a village in Kandhamal district. Police dismissed the case as a simple road accident, but a Christian activist described it as a “targeted murder” against Orissa Christians.

For the police at Saranghar station, the death, which occurred on Monday, was an ordinary road accident, a claim that Sajan K George, chairman of the Global Council of Indian Christians, rejects.

“We categorically reject claims that young Gunjan’s death was purely accidental,” he said. “The young man’s faith was well-known in the village, where there are only 21 Christian families,” forced to live in utter poverty, sheltering under plastic tents.

“Last Sunday, after ten months, Mass was finally celebrated, attended by about 50 people,” he said.

Eyewitnesses who were at the site of the accident confirm that it was “premeditated murder.”

Gunjan Digal was walking on the side of the road leaving a wide berth for the tractor to drive buy when the still unknown driver swung the vehicle against the young man, killing him on the spot.

The body is now being in police custody for the autopsy.

“Christians are victims of abductions and assassinations like that of Hrudananda Nayak, who was killed by Hindu fundamentalists last February,” Sajan K George said. “In most cases the culprits are never punished.” And according to the Christian activist the situation in Orissa is deteriorating.

Manoj Pradhan, one of the people who masterminded recent anti-Christian pogroms, is running for office under the banner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is closely aligned with Hindu fundamentalism, in an upcoming Assembly election in G Udayagiri riding, Kandhamal district.

The Hindu extremist leader is currently in jail and has police has ten files against him, seven of which include charges of murder.

Click here for source

Orissa effect: City Christians demand rights

KOLKATA: Rarely have they been fiercely vocal about their demands or pressed hard for implementation of projects that would benefit them. But the Kandhamal riots changed all that. For the city's fast-shrinking Christian community, the attacks on missionaries in Orissa served as a wake-up call. Shaken by the atrocities and the politicians' "lack of concern" for their security, they have come together to form People for People a platform of like-minded people including Muslims. They have come up with a charter of demands that will be distributed across the city and to candidates in the run up to the polls.
"For the first time, we have come together and raised a few demands. Even though we don't believe that our security is at threat in Kolkata, there is a need to change the way candidates look at us. Issues like our education, employment and security have never been given due importance. We are going to approach parties and candidates with our list of demands. So long, election issues have been dictated by parties. But now we are going to tell them what we need," said Sunil Lucas, general secretary of People for People.
The charter has demanded the withdrawal of all anti-conversion laws and banning of re-conversion. Quick compensation for victims of communal violence and punishment for remarks against communities have also been demanded. Parties have also been asked to ensure security for all communities and implement the Sachar Committee report for uplift of Muslims.
"Our demands are not entirely community-specific. But we have become more conscious of the need to raise our voice after Kandhamal," said Sister Vianny, vice-president of the organization. She pointed out that Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), too, has come up with a similar manifesto.
To begin with, People for People will distribute their "manifesto" in the form of leaflets. Later, candidates will be approached in their constituencies and asked to address the issues that are relevant in their areas. "It could be sanitation, schools or water supply in some areas and measures against trafficking in others. The problem of child labour, for instance, is a big one in Kolkata and it has never been addressed properly. We will press for it," added Lucas.
Candidates will be called for a panel discussion and asked about their views on the manifesto. "They might find it a little awkward to be asked to address issues. But it's time we made ourselves heard. Minorities have never felt insecure in Bengal but we felt we should speak out for all communities, not just us. We will benefit if the major issues are addressed," said Lucas.

Click here for source

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

1130 Christian families took up Hinduism

THANE: In a major setback to the Christian missionaries, involved in conversion of Hindus in the country since decades, about 1130 Christian families adopted Hinduism during a function at Kalyan in the district recently.

The conversion was solemnised in the presence of Jagadguru Narendra Maharaj and thousands of people admist chanting of hymns and sounds of the conch shells.

Talking to reporters durint the event on Saturday last, the spiritual guru said the government should work towards giving reservations to people with poor socio-economic status instead on basis of cast, creed and religion.

He also lambasted all the political parties saying that none worked for the interest of the Hindus but tried to appease them only during the elections.

Jagadguru also appealed to all the Hindus to keep aside their political affiliation and vote for the party that worked for the community.

He also expressed serious concern over the rapid conversion of Hindus to Christianity after being 'bribed' by the missionaries, he said if this continued then the day is not far away when the Hindus would become minorities in their own land.

He also urged all the spiritual gurus to come out of their Ashram's and take up mass awakening programme for the Hindus to stop them from adopting any other religion and work towards the spreading Hinduism.

Click here for source