Christian anguish

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Calcutta, November 17, 2017: A national colloquium of Catholic missionaries in Calcutta on Thursday heard an assertion tinged with anguish: “We have a right to be present and that very right is being challenged.”

Father George Thadathil, who was moderating a discussion on “the Future of Christian Higher Education and Contemporary Transitions in India”, was underscoring the rights the Constitution guaranteed to the minorities.

“In 1817, when the Hindoo College (now Presidency University) was started, there was a huge rush of the elite of the time that was looking for what was coming from the West…. And there was a lot of anxiety: ‘What’s happening to all these young people going to this new college?'”

The missionaries too felt similar anxiety then, wondering if the objective behind bringing in western education was to override “traditional ethos and culture”.

Two hundred years on, “we are on the reverse side of the same picture”, Father Thadathil said. “Is it again upsetting the kind of ethos and tradition that India wants to preserve?”

The colloquium was held at the auditorium of Don Bosco School, Park Circus, to mark the 80th year of Salesian College, Sonada, Darjeeling.

Several speakers expressed their anguish at the sense of anxiety and apprehension that has crept into the country in the past three years.

“The situation is changing very fast…. In the last three years, we have come across certain changes which we could never think of before,” said Valson Thampu, former principal of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.

“We are passing through a stage when we need to be extremely circumspect. We can’t afford to stay static. We have to be cautious about the challenges. And we must understand our greatest challenge is to survive,” Thampu added.

Six speakers participated in the colloquium and almost all of them expressed dissatisfaction with the way the minorities were not being allowed to enjoy the rights granted to them in the Constitution.

Sister Christina Coutino, principal of Loreto College, Calcutta, said rights guaranteed by the Constitution were being breached. “There has been breach of ideals enshrined in our Constitution. Such as the Articles 29 and 30.”

Article 29 protects minorities from discrimination in admission to any institution receiving aid from the state and grants minorities the right to conserve their own distinct language, script or culture. Article 30 gives minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions.

“Christians are known… for their social responsibilities, in education, health and social services, and in their mission to transform persons to better,” Sister Coutino added.

Archbishop of Calcutta Thomas D’Souza said “the identity of Christian education should be clear.”

“Like Mother Teresa had no confusion about her mission: to work for the poorest of poor.”

– telegraph india

Hindu nationalists threaten Catholic missionaries for converting people in India

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, November 16, 2017: A Catholic bishop has sought protection for the Christian community in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh after Hindu nationalists marched through the streets waving burning torches and denouncing missionaries.

The marchers on Nov. 10 accused Sagar district authorities of not acting upon complaints they filed against missionaries for violating a law that restricts religious conversions. They said if the administration failed to act within two weeks, they would start an indefinite strike in front of a Catholic-run orphanage in the area.

Ucanews.com reported the trouble in Sagar started in September after government officials evicted a Catholic priest working in the orphanage and closed a 20-year-old mission following a dispute over the land title. Church leaders say the government action was instigated by Hindu groups.

The leaders of the fundamentalist religious awakening co-ordination committee, which organized the march, told media that the church’s social services and work in education and health care are all a facade to convert gullible people to Christianity.

The protesters said they were working with the government for a national law against religious conversions and to check missionary activities. Madhya Pradesh and five other Indian states already have laws that make religious conversion through allurement and force illegal.

“We are under tremendous pressure,” said Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar, who submitted a memorandum to district officials and the state chief minister and governor seeking their intervention for the protection of Christians.

Ucanews.com reported the bishop wanted the administration to take immediate steps to end this “false and malicious campaign” in the media that projects Christians as “out to convert Hindus, violating laws.”

The facts disproved the propaganda, he said. Sagar has some 300,000 people. But since its beginning in 1986, the diocese has only 1,000 Catholics.

“Our number has not grown in years. Still, we are accused of converting people,” he said.

The district has only 5,000 Christians among its 2.3 million people, 92 percent of whom are Hindus. In the predominantly Hindu state, Christians form less than 1 percent of the 72 million population.

Christian leaders say the state, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party, has been tacitly supporting violence against Christians orchestrated by Hindu nationalists, pushing to establish a Hindu-only nation in India.

Missionaries in the diocese say the campaign by hardline Hindu activists has made their work increasingly difficult as villagers view them as criminals.

– catholic register

Indian Hindus attacking Muslims, stealing their cows

November 17, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, November 16, 2017: The beating that ended Pehlu Khan’s life in April was captured on video.

A group of men hit the 55-year-old man, threw him to the ground and stepped on him in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. He asked them to stop but they refused.

As the beating continued, people nearby were stealing Khan’s cows. They took the cows to a nearby Hindu-run shelter that accepts stolen cows and sells them. Cow theft and sales have brought money to needy Hindu communities in rural areas.

About 14 percent of the 1.3 billion people living in India are Muslim. Public attacks on the Muslim population have raised concerns about the direction the country is taking. The attackers are mostly nationalistic Hindus who helped Narendra Modi win the office of prime minister in 2014. They are working as private militias in the cow stealing operations.

Modi has worked since becoming prime minister to persuade the world that India is a good place for foreign investment. But, the violent crime clashes with this image. His strongest supporters are now seen as shaping India through violence and religious discrimination. But public demands that Modi stop the crime have gone unanswered. Many wonder if Modi has enough influence over his supporters to make them stop.

States that Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, governs are reported to have had a notable increase in the stealing of cows from Muslims.

There is no official record on the number of cows stolen from Muslims since 2014. But Reuters news service says it spoke to two main northern Indian groups of cow thieves, called cow protectors there. Reuters reports they said they had stolen about 190,000 cows since Modi’s election. Sometimes they stole them in the presence of police, the groups’ leadership reportedly said. Reuters reports the groups also said Muslims were the victims in almost every case.

It is difficult to put value on the stolen cows. Prices go as high as $385 for young healthy animals. That is a lot of money in India, where some 270 million people live on less than $2 a day.

Hindus view cows as holy animals. The killing of cows for meat is illegal in most of India. Dinesh Patil is a district head of the Bajrang Dal group in the southwestern state of Maharashtra. The group is closely linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or RSS, a major nationalist Hindu organization.

Patil told Reuters, “Everyone in this world is born Hindu. They are turned into Muslims when they are circumcised and Christians when they are baptized.”

The RSS argues that foreign intervention by Muslims and then Christians has polluted India’s purity for more than one thousand years. The RSS helped create Modi’s political party. The prime minister first attended the group’s meetings as a child.

Patil said that the Bajrang Dal took almost every one of the 1,700 cows at the center he manages from, in his words, “Muslim slaughterers.”

Sudhanshu Trivedi is a national spokesman for the ruling BJP. He said his party expects anyone with knowledge of illegal acts, such as cow slaughter, to tell the police. He added that in cases where cows were taken, it was because their owners had broken laws.

“It is not redistribution of wealth. It is just stopping of illegal activities,” he said.

Modi’s office directed Reuters to the Home Ministry for comments on this issue. The ministry said it is “not correct” that cow stealing has risen on Modi’s watch. Also, it said it is “preposterous” to suggest that Hindus are organizing to steal and redistribute cattle.

Some people have taken the law into their own hands “in the name of protecting the cows,” the ministry noted in a written statement. But, it said, “the Government is committed to protecting the legal rights of all citizens, including minorities in India.”

The Supreme Court has also dealt with the issue. In September, the court ruled that central and state governments must deploy police to prevent cow theft and related violence.

Some Hindu activists seem to ignore Modi’s calls to end the attacks. One group of cow protectors, known as Bharatiya Gau Raksha Dal, claims 10,000 members mostly in western and northern Indian states. Pawan Pandit, a part-time computer program engineer, is their leader. He said the prime minister’s condemnation of what he called “anti-social activities” did not move the group to stop.

“The cow protection movement totally belonged to the BJP before 2014,” Pandit added. “Now groups like ours have the momentum.”

He said militias operating under his cow protection group captured as many as 60,000 cows in the three years before Modi came to office. Since 2014, Pandit noted, the group has taken more than 100,000 cows, often working with police.

– voa

Indian extremists beat Christian parents, force children to hail hindu gods

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, November 15, 2017: Christian parents and their children have reportedly been beaten by Hindu extremists in India, who then forced police to charge two believers with kidnapping and forcible conversion for taking the youths to a Bible conference.

“I am shocked at the way the Hindu extremists take law into their hands with impunity knowing that the government is theirs,” Amrit Kumar Matera, one of the Christians who was arrested, told Morning Star News.

A group of nationalists from Hindu Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, apparently confronted Christians Anita Francis and her daughter, 19-year-old Sophia Francis, on Oct. 23.

The women had boarded a train from a railway station in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, and were taking seven children, with the permission of the Christian parents, to a youth Bible study program in Mumbai.

The Hindu extremists accused the two women of receiving money to convert the children to Christianity, and forced them off the train.

Matera and his 19-year-old son, Alex, Francis’ nephew, who were traveling with the group, were also targeted by the nationalists.

“They interrogated us as if they were from the Crime Branch and recorded the entire episode on their mobile phones,” Matera said.

“They gathered the children from where they were seated and collected them all at one place, interrogating and intimidating Anita without even giving her the chance to reply. The children were pushed and pulled in the most ruthless manner.”

He explained that the extremists refused to hear that the the children were baptized Christians, and kept accusing the adults of forcibly converting them.

“Three men caught me from behind and started to hit me with their legs and boots,” he said of the assault. “I could not even see who was holding me and what they were beating me with. They beat me all the way through, while they dragged me to the GRP (Government Railway Police) police station from the platform.”

Some of the children were also beaten in the incident, the Christians said. Local media were called by the extremists to document the alleged “kidnapping” of the children.

“There was a mob waiting at the platform with media persons clicking pictures, recording videos and asking all kinds of questions,” Matera said. “The presence of the media and the crowd was evidence enough that the Christians were ambushed with a well-planned strategy.”

The beatings escalated on the train station platform, with Francis and Matera dragged toward the railway police office.

“They tried to force us to hail Hindu gods, and when we did not, they beat us,” Matera continued.

“They intimidated the children to repeat the slogans or else face the beating. The 5-year-old boy and girl were made to chant the slogan, ‘Hail lord Ram’ repeatedly. We felt so helpless as they intimidated the little children before our eyes, and we could do nothing to help them.”

The parents of the Christian children, who were called earlier on the phone by Francis, were also beaten as the they arrived at the station and tried to retrieve their children.

Christian witnesses said that the believers were assaulted in front of police officers, who “stood there as mere spectators.”

Police then arrested Matera and Francis, charging them with kidnapping and forcible conversion, along with a number of other crimes that could lead to heavy fines and several years in prison.

The parents were, meanwhile, not allowed to meet or even see their children, who were taken by police for medical examination, before being transferred to locations not shared with the parents.

After a week of being detained, the children were finally handed back to their parents, while Francis and Matera were released on bail on Nov. 3.

Christians, who are a minority in the country, have been accused and charged with kidnapping and forcible conversions of children on a number of occasions this past year.

Six believers were arrested in May for taking 72 children to a Vacation Bible School camp in Madhya Pradesh, with authorities refusing to recognize the children as Christians, and insisting on treating them as Hindus.

– christian post

Diocese seeks government help to check Hindu radicals

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Diocese seeks government help to check Hindu radicals Madhya Pradesh, November 16, 2017: A Catholic diocese in a central Indian state has sought government help to reign in radical Hindu groups that indulge in malicious campaigns against the Church.

“Well orchestrated campaigns are going on against us since two months to portray all our works as means for religious conversion. This is totally false and aimed at creating distrust and discord against us among other religious communities,” Father Biju Thottungara, public relation officer of Sagar diocese in Madhya Pradesh state, told a press conference on November 14.

The priest accompanied by two other priests – Fathers Anto Kannanpuzha and Sabu Puthenpurackal — addressed the media at the diocesan social work center in Sagar, the headquarters of the Syro-Malabar diocese after radical Hindu group carried out series of malicious media campaigns against Christians.

“We are accused of converting Hindus and other low caste people to Christianity, this is not true,” Father Kannanpuzha told Matters India on Nov. 15.

“The Hindu radical groups,” he added, “make wild allegations which find place both in print and visual media outlets leading to confusion among people about our work.”

“We want to clear the air of confusion that we do not indulge in religious conversion,” Father Kannanpuzha explained.

Bishop Antony Chirayath of Sagar said, “We are continuously threatened and the community lives in fear.”

“We have been serving the poor and the downtrodden and help them come up in their lives through various social welfare schemes, but now efforts are on to defame the community to stop such works that are very beneficial for those living in the margins,” the prelate told Matters India on Nov 15.

Bishop Chirayath also sought help from the district and state authorities, including the governor and the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and National Minority Commission, to protect Christians and their institutions from the onslaught of Hindu groups inimical to the Christians.

“The district officials, he said had given assurance to look into the matter,” he added.

Meanwhile, on Nov 10, Hindu crowed took out torchlight march in the heart of Sagar town demanding action against Christians who they alleged indulged in religious conversion. The protestors also issued a two-week ultimatum to the district authorities to act against the missionaries failing which face indefinite protest before a Catholic orphanage.

Joining the chorus of the anti-Christian campaign, local ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Pradeep Lariya said Christians were involved in religious conversion and demanded action against them.

Earlier in September, government officials evicted a Catholic priest working at a remote mission area in the diocese and closed the 20-year-old mission following a dispute over the land title under pressure from the Hindu groups opposed to the presence of Christians in the village.

The Christian missionaries have been contributing for the welfare of poor and impoverished villagers at Mohanpur village in district Guna and other areas.

The priests and nuns working in the diocese say with continues onslaught of right wing Hindu activists against Christians, it has become increasingly difficult for them to work in villages, as they have been viewed as offenders.

The head of the Syro-Malabar Church Cardinal George Alencherry has also appealed the believers to pray for the troubled diocese.

– matters india

RSS may remind Muslims of their Hindu ancestry, but will never truly accept them

November 16, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

RSS may remind Muslims of their Hindu ancestry, but will never truly accept themIndia, November 16, 2017: Right-wing leaders including, Savarkar, had said that converted Muslims cannot be accommodated into the Hindutva-fold.

Earlier this month at a Kolkata event, the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat once again tried to locate and define the Muslims of India in a provocative manner. Expressing his opposition to the recommendations of the Sachar Commission Report, Bhagwat said Muslims in India must realise that their forefathers were Hindus, who eventually converted to Islam.

Bhagwat has made such comments earlier as well. The last time the Muslims were reminded of their forefathers was a year ago during the ghar-wapsi debate.

There is no doubt that the majority of South Asian Muslims are converts. This is not a profound statement because by this logic, except Prophet Mohammad, all Muslims of the world are converted as their forefathers embraced Islam at different historical moments.

However, the connection Bhagwat establishes between converted Muslims and Sachar Report is a deliberate attempt to mislead and obfuscate. Does it mean that Muslims are marginalised because they are converted? Or, does it mean that ghar wapsi (the reconversion of the converted Muslims) would be the ultimate way to deal with the economic, cultural and educational backwardness of Muslims? Is reconversion the pre-condition upon which the Indian state would extend special support to the backward Muslims?

The Hindutva leaders never spell out their stand on the converted/backward Muslims, and for that matter, all non-Hindu minorities. As a result, there is no clarity about the placing of converted Muslims in the much celebrated “cultural nationalism” of RSS.

Savarkar’s thesis

Bhagwat’s comment is not entirely new. Savarkar in his 1923 book Hindutva, also talks of converted Muslims and Christians. In his opinion, even a converted Muslims cannot be accommodated into the Hindutva-fold.

He says: “Some of our Mohammedan or Christian countrymen who had originally been forcibly converted to a non-Hindu religion and who consequently have inherited along with Hindus, a common Fatherland and a greater part of the wealth of a common culture — language, law, customs, folklore and history — are not and cannot be recognized as Hindus. For though Hindus than to them is Fatherland as to any other Hindu yet it is not to them a Holyland… Their holyland is far off in Arabia or Palestine.”

The contradiction in Savarkar’s argument is that Hindu religion should not be treated as the decisive criterion to determine the Hindutva of any group of people; however, when it comes to converted Muslims and Christians, their belief in holy places of worship is treated as a principle to evaluate their patriotism.

Golwalkar’s opinion

Despite the fact that M. S. Golwalkar was very critical of Savarkar and his conception of Hindutva, he adheres to Savarkar’s framework. In his view, Muslims, Christian and Communists are the three main internal threats that India faces. According to him: “Muslims must realise that we are all one people and it is the same blood that courses in our veins. …they are only Hindu converts…the problem can and must be solved by Indian Muslims owning the country and its ancient culture as theirs.”

The converted Muslims are seen here as Hindus by blood. But, Golwalkar, like Savarkar, does not believe that the ‘pure Hindu blood’ criterion would be able to solve the problem. In his opinion, converted Muslims, like the other “racial” Muslims, must prove their loyalty towards Hindus and India.

This formulation is self-contradictory in two senses. (a) If the converted Muslims are actually the “poor Hindu victim of forcible conversion”, why should they be a subject to any “loyalty test”? (b) Is the natural “purity of Hindu blood” not capable of erasing the impact of ideas such as Islam even now?

Jan Sangh’s stand

Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS), a political party, however, offered a practical way out to this ‘Muslim question’. The party’s official manifesto of 1951 says: “Jana Sangh considers them (Muslims) flesh of our flesh, the blood of our blood. …It looks forward to their disassociating foreign ways from the tenets of their religion. They are welcome to worship the Islamic way. They are expected to live the Bharatiya way.” (The Organizer, 29 October 1951)

This emphasis on the Bhartiya way eventually led to a full-fledged idea of Indianisation. The 1957 manifesto of the BJS, for example, identifies Indianisation as one of the main objectives. It says: “For the preservation of national unity…Jana Sangh will take the following steps: (a) Creating a feeling of equality and oneness of Hindu society by liquidating untouchability and casteism (b) Nationalising all non-Hindus by inculcating in them the ideal of Bhartiya Culture”. (BJS, Party Documents, p. 104)

It is clear that Savarkar, Golwalkar, BJS and even Bhagwat make a clear distinction between Hindus and non-Hindus. A born Hindu, in this framework, would naturally qualify as a patriot; while non-Hindus would have to be Indianised (read Hinduisation!).

This is the reason why all Muslims are asked to demonstrate their loyalty — they have to sing Vande Mataram, change their names, remove verses from the Quran to make it Indian, and celebrate India’s victory over Pakistan in cricket match.

Yet, they won’t become Hindu/Indian/patriot, primarily because the loosely worked out definition of Hindutva by the RSS is apprehensive about the outcome of Indianisation itself.

– the print

Christians call for protection after fiery protest

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Christians call for protection after fiery protestMadhya Pradesh, November 15, 2017: A Catholic bishop has sought protection for the Christian community in the central Indian Madhya Pradesh state after Hindu nationalists marched through the streets waving burning torches and denouncing missionaries.

The marchers on Nov. 10 accused Sagar district authorities of not acting upon complaints they filed against missionaries for violating a law that restricts religious conversions.

They issued an ultimatum that if the administration failed to act within a fortnight they would start an indefinite strike in front of a Catholic Church-run orphanage in the diocese.

The trouble in Sagar started in September after government officials evicted a Catholic priest working in the orphanage and closed the 20-year-old mission following a dispute over the land title.

Church leaders say the government action was instigated by Hindu groups.

The leaders of fundamentalist Dharam Jagaran Samanwaya Samiti (religious awakening co-ordination committee), which organized the march, told media that the church’s social services and work in education and health care are all a facade to convert gullible people to Christianity.

The protesters said they were working with the government for a national law against religious conversions and to check missionary activities. Madhya Pradesh and five other Indian states already have laws that make religious conversion through allurement and force illegal.

“We are under tremendous pressure,” said Bishop Anthony Chirayath of Sagar who submitted a memorandum to district officials and the state chief minister and governor seeking their intervention for the protection of Christians.

He wanted the administration to take immediate steps to end this “false and malicious campaign” in the media that projects Christians as “out to convert Hindus, violating laws.”

The facts disproved the propaganda, he said. Sagar has some 300,000 people. But since its beginning in 1986, the diocese has only 1,000 Catholics. “Our number has not grown in years, still we are accused of converting people,” he said.

The district has only some 5,000 Christians among its 2.3 million people, 92 percent of whom are Hindus. In the predominantly-Hindu state, Christians form less than 1 percent of the 72 million population.

Christian leaders say the state, run by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been tacitly supporting violence against Christians orchestrated by Hindu nationalists pushing to establish a Hindu-only nation in India.

The state has recorded at least 300 incidents of violence in the first six months of this year, according to Shibu Thomas, founder of Persecution Relief that records persecutions against Christians.

Missionaries in the diocese say the campaign by hardline Hindu activists has made their work increasingly difficult as villagers view them as offenders and law breakers.

– ucan

HC directs Maha govt to identify plot for Christian cemetery

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

HC directs Maha govt to identify plot for Christian cemeteryMumbai, November 13, 2017: Observing that the Maharashtra government had discriminated against the Christian community by cancelling the allotment of a plot of land meant for a cemetery, the Bombay High Court today directed the state to identify an alternate plot for the same by Friday.

A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M S Sonak reminded the state government that it was bound to implement the constitutional principle of secularism and that it could not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of his faith or religious beliefs.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by a Christian charitable institution.

The petitioners had alleged that while a 7,500-sq.mtr plot of land was supposed to be allotted for a Christian cemetery in suburban Goregaon, the authorities had cancelled the allotment without putting forward a valid reason.

As per the plea, the plot was part of a composite land parcel in Goregaon that was to be used as a cemetery (for Christians), burial ground (for Muslims) and crematorium (for Hindus).

The petitioners had contended that while the Hindus and Muslims were given their shares of the plot, the Christians were being discriminated against.

They had also stated that the Christians living on the eastern side of the Western Railway line between Dahisar and Khar did not have any public cemetery in the area.

The petitioners had said the state Urban Development Department (UDD) told them that the said land was reserved for the use of the Dairy Development Board and hence, an alternate plot would be given to them in suburban Andheri.

This Andheri plot, measuring 2,500 sq.mtr, was yet to be handed over to them, the petitioners had said. They had also contended that the plot was not big enough for a public cemetery.

The officers of the Dairy Development Board and UDD, who were present in the court today, agreed to identify and allot an alternate plot for the Christian cemetery.

While the bench agreed that the actual handing over of the new plot might take some time, it directed the authorities to identify it and inform the court of the same by Friday.

It also asked the state government to explain as to why the allotment of the Goregaon plot for the Christian cemetery was cancelled and why did it subsequently reduce the size of the plot from 7,500 sq.mtr to 2,500 sq.mtr.

The bench was also irked at the fact that while the allotment for the Christian community was cancelled in Goregaon, adjacent plots were allotted to the Hindus and Muslims.

“Why was the allotment of a plot for a Christian cemetery cancelled just like that, for no apparent reason? This (the petitioners’ demand) is a genuine demand. We don’t think any authority should be adverse to this,” the bench observed.

“We want the administration to show to the public that it believes in and will implement the principle of secularism.

One community cannot be given the upper hand over any other religious community. We believe in the principle of unity in diversity,” Chief Justice Chellur said.

“There cannot be a greater equalising factor than death.

Do not discriminate even in death,” the bench said.

– pti

A man who raped an elderly nun in India has been sentenced to life behind bars

November 15, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

A Man Who Raped an Elderly Nun in India Has Been Sentenced to Life Behind BarsKolkata, November 9, 2017: A Bangladeshi man convicted of raping an elderly nun in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday at the culmination of a sexual assault case that has sent shockwaves through India.

A court in Kolkata found Nazrul Islam guilty of rape and attempted murder, the BBC reports. It also doled out 10-year jail sentences to five other men found guilty of robbing her convent, and a seven-year sentence to a sixth man who helped conceal the attackers.

In March 2015, thousands of Indians marched in Kolkata to protest the assault on the 71-year-old nun while six attackers burgled and vandalized her convent in the West Bengal city of Ranaghat, near the border with Bangladesh.

Judge Kumkum Singha told the packed court that the assault was a “blot on West Bengal’s legacy where Mother Teresa worked for the poor.”

According to the BBC, there have been multiple attacks on churches and India’s small christian community in recent years.

The brutal gang rape of a Delhi student in 2012 bought sexual violence in India to the fore, and led to a strengthening of some of the country’s laws. But campaigners there say sexual assault remains common.

– time

Hindu extremists beat Pastor unconscious in southern India following conversions among Banjaras

November 6, 2017 by  
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India, November 5, 2017: Weeks after a pastor led a southern village’s first five families to faith in Christ, masked men on motorbikes intercepted him on his way home from worship and tried to kill him.

Pastor Banothu Sevya, 26, was in a coma for 48 hours after the drunken Hindu extremists beat him in Govindapuram, on the outskirts of Jamandlapalli village in Telangana state, last month. They had threatened him twice before, he said.

“But I didn’t pay attention, knowing that when the Lord’s work is taken up, there will be hurdles, and I never complained the police officials,” Pastor Sevya told Morning Star News.

In their prior threats, the assailants had accused him of fraudulent or forcible conversion, asking how he lured Banjara tribal people and what he told them, he said.

“I told them, ‘I only share the gospel, that we are all sinners, and this world is to come to an end someday. Only Jesus Christ can cleanse us from the sins. He was crucified for our sake, and rose again to present us eternal life. I ask them if there is life in the rocks, trees and water – why worship them?’”

Pastor Sevya said he told them he spoke to every person individually when they came to ask him about Christ.

“Most Banjaras say they get afflicted by evil spirits,” he said. “They want them to be sent away. Some want to be healed, some need the Lord’s help in their pursuits to get educated. I share the gospel and pray for them. We witnessed the Lord doing miracles among them. He does not forsake anyone who comes to Him.”

Pastor Sevya first preached Christ in Jangi Thanda, a village in Govindapuram, at the request of a relative. When five families came to Christ, he had been as astonished as anyone.

“I too belong to the same Banjara tribal community, and it is not possible by human strength to separate them from idolatry – they have a number of gods enshrined in rocks, trees, water and the like,” he said. “The five families left everything behind and have been walking in the Light since they invited Jesus Christ into their hearts. It is a miracle.”

On the evening of Oct. 5, more than 60 villagers had gathered at his relative’s house to study the Bible and worship in a service that lasted until 9 p.m., he said. As he rode home on a motorcycle, he noticed the masked men following him.

“I didn’t see where they came from,” he said. “They pushed me off the bike and started beating me with sticks and kicking me. My nose and ears were bleeding. I lost my consciousness.”

His wife, Banothu Anusha, told Morning Star News she received a phone call at 11 p.m. informing her that her husband was injured and had been admitted to the Government Hospital in Mahabubabad.

“I immediately rushed to the hospital with my father-in-law,” she said. “I was told my husband was found unconscious lying on the road by passengers of a State Road Transport Bus. They saw about 10 men fleeing from the scene, and one man lying unconscious as the bus approached.”

The assailants are from Jangi Thanda, where Pastor Sevya had been evangelizing the past few months, she said.

“They attempted to murder him,” she said. “Doctors in Mahabubabad and Warangal districts told me he would die, and my father and father-in-law arranged for 100,000 rupees [US$1,545] and shifted him to a private hospital in Hyderabad.”

Doctors told her he had blood clots in the cerebral area, brain coordination problems, injury to his eye and a damaged eardrum, she said.

The pastor said he was alive only by the grace of God.

“I forgive the youth who attacked, and I am praying for them,” he said.

His wife filed a written complaint with police in the Mahabubabad Rural Police Station, but they did not register a First Information Report, she told Morning Star News.

Pastor Sevya said police claimed they would continue to investigate, but that they offered little hope as the assailants were masked and he could not remember most of the assault, having slipped into a coma.

He pastors a 60-member church in Sri Raja Thanda, a tribal hamlet in Mahabubabad District where he resides with his family. The pastor requested prayer for completion of a church building there and strengthening of the congregation’s faith, and his wife requested prayer for his recovery.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

India ranked 15th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List of the countries where Christians experience the most persecution.

– christian news

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