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    A pastor of a Protestant church was held by the police after a mob of pro-Hindu activists barged into a church in the Indian state of Karnataka and began singing bhajans or Hindu devotionals as a protest against alleged forced religious conversions. A video clip of the incident reported from Hubbali town on Oct. 17 showed activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, the Bajrang Dal, forcibly entering Bairidevarkoppa Church and singing devotionals. Pastor Somu Avaradhi and some of his associates reportedly sustained minor injuries in a scuffle but Arvind Bellad, a local member of the legislative assembly belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), blocked a highway along with his supporters demanding their arrest. Local media reported both the groups claiming they were attacked. The pro-Hindu activists in their complaint charged the pastor with “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.” Pastor Avaradhi was held by the police but let free after questioning. The church's authorities too filed a complaint on Oct. 18. City Police Commissioner Labu Ram said investigations were underway. Brother Simon of the Divine Deliverance Ministry in Dharwad told UCA News that he and his community had full faith in the law

    JOHN DAYAL/ OPINION: Oct 19, 2021. It is a moot question which of the two October developments poses a more potent threat to the Christian mission in India, or at least in states other than Christian strongholds like Kerala, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. The first development is a firman or diktat issued by Sikhism’s top body, the Shrimoni Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC), to curb Christian evangelical activities among the Sikhs in the northern state of Punjab. The SGPC has sent 150 teams, each comprising seven preachers, to scour the 12,729 villages in the state. This is ostensibly to extend their own pastoral care to the young in Sikh families so that they can resist temptations that may come their way. This is almost exactly what the Islamic Tabliqi Jamaat does among Muslims, and the Hindu groups such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Arya Samaj do among Hindus. Unexceptional, on the face of it. The second development is a decision by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the southern state of Karnataka through its backward classes and minorities welfare committee to investigate “official and non-official” Christian missionaries. The state is expected to join nine other states that have passed laws against “forcible and fraudulent

    HIS COMMENTS DREW CRITICISM FROM THE FORMER CHIEF MINISTER AND CONGRESS LEADER SIDDARAMAIAH AND PROGRESSIVE GROUPS IN THE STATE. New Delhi: Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai has stoked a controversy with his statements that appeared to justify incidents of moral policing in the state. According to the Indian Express, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief minister seemed to perceive nothing wrong with right-wing vigilantes impinging on the privacy of people to prevent inter-community relationships. “This is a sensitive issue. We all have responsibilities in a society. There are multiple sentiments in society and people will need to function in a manner that does not hurt sentiments. When sentiments are hurt, there will normally be action and reaction,” Bommai said. “Today, we cannot live without morality. Peace in society and relationships are dependent on morality. When there is no morality there will be action and reaction. There is a responsibility on everyone and not just one section of society,” the Karnataka chief minister said. His comments drew criticism from the former chief minister and Congress leader Siddaramaiah and progressive groups in the state. “Is your loyalty towards our Constitution or towards Manu Smriti?” Siddaramaiah asked in a series of social media posts addressed to the Karnataka chief

    THE BJP LEGISLATOR IN THE CENTRAL STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH ASKED HINDUS TO KEEP AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS. RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS IN INDIA HAVE CONDEMNED A CALL BY A RULING BHARATIYA JANATA PARTY (BJP) LAWMAKER URGING HINDUS TO STAY AWAY FROM CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS TO SAFEGUARD THEIR RELIGION, CULTURE AND TRADITIONS. Rameshwar Sharma, a member of the legislative assembly in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, told a crowd at a recent Dusshera festival celebration in the capital city of Bhopal “to stay away from Father and chadar [ceremonial cloth offered at Muslim shrines],” warning that they “would spoil you.” He further said Hindus should also keep away from Sufi shrines and spiritual guides, calling them obstacles in their path to Hindu temples. A video of Sharma’s speech went viral on social media on Oct. 17, inviting criticism from the opposition Congress party, which asked the BJP to clarify if it agreed with the lawmaker’s public pronouncement dividing people on the basis of their religious beliefs. “It is unfortunate that a lawmaker is dividing people calling from a public platform to boycott Christians and Muslims,” said Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal. The prelate told UCA News that such insensitive remarks “hurt the sentiments

    Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad alleged that the church authorities were conducting forced religious conversions - a charge that has been denied. They sang Bhajans at the makeshift church in Hubbali.Activists of the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad forced their way into a makeshift church in Karnataka's Hubbali on Sunday morning and sang bhajans or Hindu prayer songs as a protest, alleging forced religious conversions there. A video of the incident showed dozens of women and men sitting inside the Bairidevarkoppa Church in Hubbali around 11 am singing bhajans with folded hands over their heads. Later, the local BJP MLA Arvind Bellad blocked a highway demanding the arrest of pastor Somu Avaradhi. Both sides - members of the church and the activists of the right-wing organisations - alleged that they were attacked over the incident. Pastor Somu and some of his associates were admitted to hospital with minor injuries. The pastor and others have been named in a complaint under the law for protection of Scheduled Castes and Tribes as well as one against "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings". He has been arrested and three others were let off after questioning. The church authorities said they filed

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