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    The last thing pastor Shelton Vishwanathan recalled happening before he lost consciousness in a village in northeast India was Hindu extremists threatening to offer him as a sacrifice to their god as they belted his head. “They punched my back and told me that they would offer me as a sacrifice to their deity as a punishment for distributing gospel tracts,” he told Morning Star News. “They struck severe blows on my head, so that I soon fainted.” When the six radical Hindus first stopped him and told him to quit handing out tracts in Tiryani village, in Bihar state’s Sheohar District on Oct. 5, he had told them “Fine” and was about to go on his way when one of them seized the keys from his scooter, took away his phone and signalled the others to attack him, he said. When he regained consciousness, he found himself locked in a dark room. “I shouted for help, cried loud hoping someone would hear my cries and come to help me, but nobody could hear me,” Pastor Vishwanathan said. “I was lying down on the floor without food or water for the next few days. They did not give me anything to eat or drink.” Seven

    Several families are in hiding after tribal animists in Chhattisgarh state, India threatened to kill them for reporting a mob attack to police last week that sent 21 Christians to hospitals, sources said. Armed with bamboo sticks, iron rods, bows and arrows and iron sickles, the large mob at 1 a.m. on Nov. 25 attacked a home and adjoining church hall in Chingrwaram village, Sukma District, where Christians had celebrated a child dedication the previous evening. Some 20-25 friends and family were sleeping in the home and another 25-30 in the church hall when the villagers, many of them drunk, attacked while accusing the Christians of converting people and celebrating with loud music. “They beat up the children as well as the women who were cooking food outside,” said Laxman Mandavi, a 21-year-old survivor of the assault. “While the children were beaten up with hands and feet, the others were shot at with arrows and beaten up with iron rods.” The assailants shot Mandavi’s father, the 50-year-old homeowner Madvi Muka, with arrows, leaving him wounded, and attacked Madkam Sanni with a sickle that left deep cuts between her fingers and fractured her hand, Mandavi said. “It was complete mayhem, and people were running to

    Pragya Singh Thakur is no ordinary member of BJP, the ruling dispensation in the country. She is an MP from Bhopal and was also made the member of defense committee before she was removed from that committee for her statement hailing Nathuram Godse. She first came to lime light after the Malegaon blasts, in which six people were killed. Hemant Karkare, the police officer who was killed in 26/11 (2008) attack was investigating the case and he came across the fact that the motor cycle used in Malegaon blast was previously owned by Thakur. That led to her arrest and unearthing of the plot in which many were arrested. She is currently under bail on medical grounds. Then she came to prominence as she stated that Karkare had tortured her and it is due to her shap (curse) that Karkare got killed. Under pressure from top, she withdrew this statement. After this she went to state that Nathuram Godse was a nationalist, is a nationalist and will remain a nationalist. Again she was pressurized to withdraw this statement, and Mr. Modi even said he will not be able to forgive Thakur. Latest in the series of her statement come the one about Varna

    Two plaster statues of the Virgin were smashed whilst the concrete statue of Mother Teresa was damaged. Police and the Minorities minister expressed solidarity. For Bishop Shyamal Bose: “This attack is puzzling. People of different faiths keep statues of Mother Teresa in their homes. Many NGOs and non-Christian clubs are named after Mother Teresa.” She is “an inspiration for her commitment to serve the poor”. Two weeks after two statues of the Virgin Mary were smashed to bits and a statue of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta damaged at the Sacred Heart parish church in Morapai (diocese of Baruipur), local Catholics are still wondering why no one has been arrested in connection with these acts of vandalism. The statues were in two grottoes outside the church on parish land next to the road. “Two of the statues were removed from the grottoes and smashed into pieces since they were made of plaster,” said bishop Shyamal Bose, speaking to AsiaNews. “The other statue, that of Mother Teresa, is made of concrete and the vandals were unable to destroy it; they damaged and defaced it.” “The day after the accident I visited the place and everyone present expressed regrets and showed solidarity. I asked our people

    Representatives of eight village councils in central India first summoned a new Christian to give him an ultimatum in October. They interrupted a church service on Oct. 18 asking for Sattar Singh Markam. “I was conducting the church service when some men came to call Markam and asked him to present himself before the council,” pastor Chitrasen Sahu told Morning Star News. “He went to see them after the church service was over.” At the joint meeting in Bargaon, in Chhattisgarh state’s Gariaband District, they told Markam to renounce Christ or “leave with your Christian faith and never come back,” Pastor Sahu said. Markham, who was suffering three epileptic seizures a day before he put his faith in Christ 12 years ago, told them the Lord had healed him and given him life and that he would never turn away from his Christian faith. A week later, on Oct. 25, a tribal mob of about 300 people incited by radical Hindus attacked his house after his church, which meets there, had finished worship. Two women remained inside, praying, when the mob arrived and began manhandling and arguing with them while Markam was working in his field. The mob also damaged his house. When he returned, the

    December 8, 2020. Washington, D.C – The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA), an advocacy group that promotes religious freedom, expressed its deep disappointment with the U.S. Administration for their lack of resolve in naming India to the "Countries of Particular Concern" (CPCs). Although the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has recommended in their 2020 Annual Report to place India on the CPC list, the Trump Administration appeared to lack the political will. The USCIRF report cited that in 2019, India's religious freedom conditions experienced a drastic turn downward, with religious minorities under increasing assault. The national government allowed violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity and engaged in and tolerated hate speech and incitement to violence. The Indian government headed by the Hindu nationalist BJP party continues to claim so conveniently that all such violence against Christians in India are isolated incidents and not the policy of the government. While it may not be the policy of the Indian government, it is public knowledge that it is the policy of Prime Minister Modi's Hindu nationalist political party in power. The Trump administration that showboats its advocacy for religious freedom in America, especially on behalf

    Catholics in Delhi Archdiocese pray during an annual rally on Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News) The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has reconverted 23 people from five Christian families to Hinduism. A reconversion ceremony on Nov. 29 was organized by Anant Kumar Hegde, a BJP leader and MP for Uttara Kannada district. “Hegde was handpicked by the Hindutva hierarchy to create communal divisions and tension in the coastal belt of Karnataka,” Sajan K. George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, told UCA News. “After BJP victories in the 2014 and 2019 general elections, the Sangh Parivar [fanatic group] moved with the speed and cunning of a barracuda to attack and weaken the constitutional institutions needed to transform Indian society into a more equal and just one.” George said the BJP has used the twin weapons of a brute majority and communal polarization to implement laws and policies that have impacted most adversely those who are denied all rights and can make no claims to equality: women, Dalits, backward castes and tribal people. “This advance towards a Hindu Rashtra [Hindu nation] is viewed with concern and alarm by many, but as far as the majority

    St George’s Orthodox Church in Cheppad is in middle of a dispute. Activists and Christian groups have launched a protest to save the building, including a hunger strike. The church’s 800-year-old apse contains prised murals and paintings. Under pressure, the authorities changed the original route, endangering the future of the church. Delhi (AsiaNews) – Protests, including an 11-day hunger strike, are intensifying in India over the fate of St George’s Orthodox Church in Cheppad, Alleppy district (Kerala). Recently the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) finalised plans to extend National Highway (NH) 66, which would require tearing down part of the church. Activists and Christian groups have geared up for a fight to save the building, which has over 800 years of history behind it. According to scholars, the church – famous for the antiquities and mural paintings on the walls of the apse (Madbaha) – dates back to the 12th century. Although the structure was rebuilt in 1952, the apse at its eastern end, has remained intact to preserve its value and identity. To fight its destruction, the faithful have set up a Facebook page, with thousands of members. “The authorities have laid stones marking the new alignment of the NH. Half the church building will

    Tribal people from all religions take part in a mega-rally demanding recognition of their rights in Gumla district of India's. Jharkhand state on April 24, 2018. (Photo supplied) Right-wing Hindu groups in India have urged the federal government to bar tribal Christians from benefiting from a scheme intended for indigenous people. The groups, who started the campaign early this month and have submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were condemned by Catholic leaders. “Caste and religion are two different things which can’t be mixed. By birth we belong to a particular caste but religion is one’s choice. People who are campaigning against tribal Christians are ignorant of the Indian constitution,” Father Nicholas Barla, secretary of the Indian bishops' Commission for Tribal Affairs, told UCA News. “Article 25 of the constitution grants us the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health. The federal government’s scheme for tribal people is only to help them socially and economically. “Those groups don’t want tribal people to come up in their lives and indirectly try to target Christian missionaries whom they always accuse of religious conversion. Their campaign is only to disturb the peace-loving tribal people. They work to

    Tribal people attack the house of a Christian family in a village in India's Chhattisgarh state for refusing to abandon the Christian faith on Sept. 22. Some 100 Christians who fled three villages following the attack have returned after a court ordered in their favor. (Photo supplied)  Some 100 Christians have returned to their villages in India's Chhattisgarh state following a court order, almost two months after they were attacked and driven out of their homes. The state High Court in Bilaspur last week ordered the Kondagaon district administration to facilitate the safe return of the displaced Christians from three villages and to ensure their protection. "We have returned to our villages as the court has ordered our protection," Shiv Ram, one of the petitioners to the court, told UCA News on Nov. 17. Ram said all 66 Christians from 10 families driven out of his Kakrabeda village have returned to the village. Some 30 Christians from six families, who fled from two other villages, also have returned, he said. A mob of suspected Hindu right-wing activists attacked 16 houses in three villages in the state's Bastar region on Sept. 22 and 23. The attack came after Christians refused a demand to abandon their faith in Jesus Christ. They also attacked Christians,

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