Christian group threatens stir over textbook error

June 22, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Gujarat, June 22, 2017: The Christian community in Gujarat has threatened to launch a state-wide agitation and also to take legal recourse if Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB) fails to withdraw the controversial class IX Hindi (second language) textbook in two days. In one chapter of the textbook, the adjective ‘hevaan’, meaning demon, is used before the name of Jesus Christ. This came into public notice on June 8.

A six-member group from the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR), led by Archbishop Thomas Macwan, met the GSSTB executive president, Nitin Pethani, on Wednesday. The group asked Pethani why, despite three representations by the Christian body, the GSSTB is yet to take action or even tender a public apology for the error.

GUCFHR spokesperson Fr Vinayak Jhadav told TOI: “On June 13, vide a memorandum, we had demanded that GSSTB tender a public apology for the controversial error, which has hurt Christian sentiments. The second demand was to initiate, within 10 days, the process of replacing the textbook that had the error. We also informed the GSSTB that even the context of the sentence in which the word ‘hevaan’ appears is wrong,” Fr Jhadav said.

“The third demand was for taking stringent action against government officials and those responsible for proof-reading the texts,” Fr Jadhav said.

Pethani, on the other hand, claimed that GUCFGHR was shown the report which has resolved to replace the word ‘hevaan’ with ‘bhagwan’ and an errata is to be published in an upcoming edition of ‘Sikshan-Parikshan’ magazine.

“The DTP operator has been fired for now,” Pethani said. “Whether to blacklist experts that were engaged for writing the textbooks is a matter for a special committee of experts.”

Pethani also told TOI that GSSTB had already apologized for the error, in the media.

- times of india

Vandalism against Catholic cathedral in Assam has hurt and raised concerns among Christians

June 22, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Assam, June 22, 2017: The Catholic cathedral in Bongaigaon, in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, was vandalised by persons unknown overnight on 20 June, this according to the Assam Christian Forum.

The attackers broke the tabernacle that contained the sacred hosts. For diocesan authorities, it seems to be a case of theft. The thieves, they said, “stole the intention box, which might have been mistaken for the donation box.”

Mgr Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop Emeritus of Guwahati, told AsiaNews that it appears to be a case of attempted robbery.

“The Christian community is deeply wounded and feels humiliated,” he said. “Now some Christian groups in the region are concerned. Church leaders have appealed for calm and harmony among communities.”

We can’t call it a simple robbery,” he said. “The frequency of anti-Christian hostility is increasing, causing communal tensions”.

Church authorities have filed a First Information Report with police which came yesterday to gather evidence.

Allen Brooks, spokesman for the Assam Christian Forum, said that the local Church has decided to organise a prayer vigil for harmony and peace. “The incident has struck everyone,” he noted. “Christians in the state are under shock and are afraid.”

For this reason, a call has been issued to the chief minister to take appropriate measures to maintain communal harmony.

Along with the intention box, the robbers “stole the pyx, knowing that it was worth something,” said Mgr Menamparampil. “They also took ciborium, but then discarded it.”

According to the diocese, the area where the act of vandalism occurred is inhabited mostly by tribal and without sectarian people.

“The surrounding area is not inhabited by groups that could be called anti-Christian or anti-minority,” the archbishop emeritus explained.

The robbery is a way to offend [Christian] religious feelings. The thieves know very well what is sacred to the Christian community.

Christians are considered a soft target and some vested interests are using their vulnerability to make them feel insecure.”

- asia news

VHP slams commission’s plan to set up helpline for minorities

June 22, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, Jun 20, 2017: Hardline hindutva outfit, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has objected to a proposal by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to start a helpline for minorities in distress.

At its meeting earlier this month, chaired by the newly appointed chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasn Rizvi, the NCM had decided to expedite the process of setting up the helpline, which could be used by minorities to register complaints against atrocities and communal violence.

The RSS-affiliate has however slammed the decision and dubbed it as one that will “foster separatism”.

Surendra Jain, the joint general secretary of the VHP said the NCM’s move will strengthen the feelings of separatism in the Muslim community and demanded the setting up of a “majority commission”.

The VHP leader said the NCM must answer whether only Muslims in the country are victims of communal violence.

The NCM chief could not be reached for his comment.

In June last year, the hardline outfit demanded an inquiry into the alleged exodus of Hindus from Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana, which they claim has been precipitated by strain between communities. It had blamed the Samajwadi Party, then in power, for “appeasing” the minorities and failing to take action on complaints registered by the Hindus in the area.

Reacting to the NCM’s proposal Jain said, the tone of the decision suggests “that atrocities against the Muslim community has reached such proportions that the extreme step of opening a helpline for the Muslims had to be taken up.”

“The events unfolding in the world prove that the rights that the Muslims in Bharat enjoy cannot be matched by even the Muslims of the Islamic states. Despite this, the jihadi elements foment enmity by creating dissatisfaction among the Muslims. The Minority Commission too is only fomenting the same feelings of dissatisfaction by its work thereby strengthening minoritism and separatism,” he said.

The VHP, which was at the forefront of the Ayodhya movement, also wants the government to impose a complete ban on cow slaughter and beef consumption. Its demands come in the backdrop of an increase in the number of cases of so-called cow vigilantes thrashing and lynching people, suspected to have slaughtered cows or ferried beef.

- hindustantimes

Miscreants vandalize cathedral church in Assam

June 21, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india, Persecution

Guwahati, June 21, 2017: Unidentified miscreants have vandalized tabernacle and Sacred Hosts kept inside the Catholic cathedral church in Bongaigaon in Assam, northeastern India.

The attack took place in the night of June 20, according to a press release from the Assam Christian Forum.

The church authorities have filed a first information report.

The police visited the site on June 21 and began a probe into the incident.

Bongaigaon diocesan authorities have appealed the faithful remain calm. The diocese has decided to hold a prayer vigil for peace and harmony, Allen Brooks, spokesperson of the Assam Christian Forum, told Matters India. He termed the incident as shocking.

The incident has shocked and pained Christians in the state. They have appealed to the state chief minister to look into the matter immediately and take appropriate action.

The Christians have also urged the chief minister, who is also the state home minister, to take steps to maintain peace and harmony among all communities.

Bongaigaon is some 190 km northwest of Guwahati, Assam’s commercial capital.

- matters india

VHP for scrapping minorities’ panel

June 21, 2017 by admin  
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New Delhi, June 20, 2017: The VHP on Tuesday accused National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Chair Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi of fanning separatism and demanded its scrapping, a charge Rizvi rejected and said the panel is bridging gaps between different communities.

The VHP’s criticism came after Rizvi, newly appointed to the NCM post, announced resumption of a commission helpline service to enable persons directly contact the statutory panel with their grievances.

“NCM Chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi… is strengthening feelings of separatism in the Muslim community,” Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain said in a statement here.

“While informing about the decision to start a helpline number for Muslims, he (Rizvi) said the Muslims could call on this number in case any atrocity is committed against them. This makes one feel that the atrocities against the Muslims have reached such proportions that the extreme step of opening a helpline for the community had to be taken up,” Jain said.

He said “the very genesis of a Minorities Commission is encouragement to separatism”.

“Isn’t the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) more than enough to safeguard the rights of all the citizens of the nation,” Jain asked.

He demanded that the NHRC should be empowered while the Minorities Commission should be scrapped.

Reacting to VHP’s allegations, Rizvi said that the panel aims to safeguard the constitutional rights of all minorities, not just Muslims, and that it cannot be wished away.

“The NCM was constituted in 1992 by an Act of Parliament to safeguard the constitutional rights of all minorities, not just Muslims. It does not matter what any individual or organisation thinks about it,” Rizvi told IANS.

Rizvi said it must have been formed after a need for it was felt.

“Our job is to bridge the gap (between the majority and minority communities), not create any resentment,” he added.

“As for the helpline, we are just reviving an existing helpline that has been lying defunct for 4-5 years due to technical reason. The idea behind the helpline is that those who cannot approach the commission through written communication, can avail the service of helpline,” Rizvi said.

In August 2014, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court upheld the constitutional validity of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, and held that the Act did not discriminate on the ground of religion.

- ians

Archdiocese holds dharna to highlight Christians’ issues

June 21, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Bhopal, June 20, 2017: Archdiocese of Bhopal staged a demonstration peacefully on Tuesday in the Ambedkar park, Tulsi Nagar, with the demands and problems with the Christian community. In this dharna, the representatives of various churches have expressed their views and suggestions on topics related to Christian issues. The dharna began with a prayer in which grace was sought from almighty God.

In the beginning, Fr. Maria Stephen, the PRO of Archdiocese said that “we have not come here to do evil to any individual, Government or organization, but have come to meditate and be aware of the rights granted to individuals by the constitution.” “Religious freedom – Fundamental Right for everyone and everywhere and Build ‘bridges’ with love and not ‘walls’ with hatred” he said.

Indira Iyengar, Fr. Godwin, Fr. Florence, Pastor Vijay Nathaniel, Pastor CP Singh, Fr Jonedius and many other representatives talked about to build positive attitude towards the missionaries in the society.

Arch Bishop Leo Cornelio said, “In all missionary institutions, people of all castes, religions are employed, in which large number is of other religions. Missionary organisations work on secular thinking, and respect all religions. But some fundamentalists always try to defame these institutions and attempts to give communal colors to any event occurring in these institutions. Missionaries are working in the rural and urban, regardless of their facilities, and they are working as a voice of the voiceless. Just recently, on June 13, the same situation was witnessed in Satna Railway station when a Nun and four women were forced to made alight at the station on the complaint of a fundamentalist organization.

The representatives of the church said in their demands – Minorities do not get the benefit of various schemes, its paperwork is so long that the minority community cannot take full advantage. Therefore, it demands from the authorities that these schemes be simplified so that the minority can be able to get the benefit of the schemes and move forward. All Christians, have full faith in the laws of India and the Constitution, request the administration not to come in false misrepresentation of the fundamentalists, regardless of their religion, they should not be disturbed or threatened with terror.

Fr Shaji proposed his vote of thanks with gratitude to all the people in this dharna for their valuable thoughts and suggestions.It is worth mentioning that the Missionaries have been working in rural areas of the state for the last many years and it has also drawn the attention of some organisations.This has also created a sense of fear among christians

- daily pioneer.

Islam, Christianity alien to India, RSS-trained Kovind had said 7 years ago

June 20, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

India, June 20, 2017: “Islam and Christianity are alien” to India, NDAs Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind said seven years ago when he was just appointed a BJP spokesperson.

Kovind, then a little known BJP leader, addressed a press conference at the BJP headquarters here on March 26, 2010, sought that the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission, which had recommended inclusion of Muslim and Christian converts among the Scheduled Castes, be “scrapped” and called the move “unconstitutional”.

Asked then by an IANS correspondent as to how Sikh Dalits could enjoy the quota privilege in the same category, he responded, “Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation.”

A Supreme Court ruling on March 25 that year had upheld the Andhra Pradesh government’s decision to allow four per cent job quota for backward Muslims.

The proposed reservation for backward Muslims was a burning issue then as the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by Justice Misra, former Chief Justice of India, had in a report recommended that backward Muslim and Christian converts should be accorded Scheduled Castes status and given a quota.

Kovind, an RSS loyalist who worked for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, said the Misra Committee recommendations were not possible to implement.

“Including Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Castes category will be unconstitutional,” the lawyer-turned-politician said.

Dalit quota privilege in the country is presently only for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. And the then Congress-led government had flirted with the idea of extending the reservation to Dalit Christians and Muslims under the Scheduled Castes category. But this triggered a vociferous opposition from the BJP.

Kovind also did not agree that convert Dalit Christians and Muslims were educationally backward and said it was a “very well-known” fact that they get a better education in convent schools.

“The educational level of Scheduled Castes children remains much lower than that of convert Muslims. The children of converts will grab a major share of reservation in government jobs. They would become eligible to contest elections on seats reserved for Scheduled Castes. This would encourage conversion and fatally destroy the fabric of the Indian society,” he said.

“Their special interest is not in getting reservations in government jobs, they want Scheduled Castes category reservation to contest elections from village panchayats to the Lok Sabha. As they know, they cannot be eligible to contest elections on reserved seats under backward class reservation,” he said.

The BJP government has already made its mind obvious about the Misra panel report with Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot saying if its recommendations were implemented, it would “weaken the Hindu religion”.

“Granting Scheduled Castes status to those belonging to minority communities will encourage conversion and weaken the Hindu religion. There is also no such provision in the Constitution,” Gehlot said.

Kovind, a two-term member of the Rajya Sabha, was on Monday named by BJP President Amit Shah as the NDA candidate to become the 14th President of India. He served as the chief of the BJP’s Scheduled Castes Morcha from 1998 to 2002.

- ians

Declare India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’: Hindu convention resolution

June 20, 2017 by admin  
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Goa, June 17, 2017: The All India Hindu Convention on Saturday passed a resolution demanding that India and Nepal be declared ‘Hindu Rashtra’. “Various pro-Hindu and patriotic organisations all over India and abroad are striving to establish Hindu Rashtra. Declaring India and Nepal Hindu Rashtra was one of the many resolutions passed at the convention,” Hindu Janajagruti Samiti leader Charudatt Pingale told reporters here.

“The 6th All India Hindu Convention, which was organised to unite and channelise the efforts of these organisations, concluded successfully,” he told a press conference. Over 342 delegates representing 132 right-wing organisations from across India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka attended the four-day convention at Ramnathi in Ponda.

Pingale said the convention adopted resolutions to launch a “legal campaign” against “rampant malpractices” in administrative, commercial, educational and political domain. “Only when these sectors are able to provide clean, corruption free and pro-people services to the society will it be possible to establish Hindu Rashtra….This is something all pro-Hindu organisations have agreed upon,” he added.

According to Pingale, all these organisations have pledged to unitedly work to protect the nation and dharma (religion). BJP MLA from Talangana T Raja Singh said, “BJP should decide on a national agenda for curbing cow slaughter.”

- the indian express

Pope Francis: Telegram on the death of Cardinal Ivan Dias

June 20, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Vatican, June 20, 2017: Cardinal Ivan Cornelius Dias, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Archbishop Emeritus of Bombay in India, died in Rome on Monday at the age of 81.

On Tuesday, Pope Francis sent a telegram expressing his condolences to Francis Dias, the brother of the late Cardinal:

To Mr Francis Dias

Deeply saddened to learn of the death of your dear brother, I offer heartfelt condolences to you and the Dias family. I recall with gratitude the late Cardinal’s years of faithful service to the Apostolic See, especially his contribution to the spiritual and physical reconstruction of the suffering Church in Albania and the missionary zeal demonstrated in his work as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I likewise unite my prayers to those of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Bombay, where the pastoral concern and broad apostolic vision that marked his service as Archbishop are fondly remembered. In union of prayer with all who mourn his passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection, I commend the soul of this wise and gentle pastor to the merciful love of God our heavenly Father and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord.

FRANCISCUS PP.

Cardinal Dias was born on 14 April 1936 in Mumbai, India. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Bombay on 8 December 1958 and held a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University.

He entered the Holy See’s diplomatic service in 1964 and was posted to the Nordic countries, Indonesia, Madagascar, La Réunion, the Comorros, Mauritius and the Secretariat of State.

Cardinal Dias served as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Urbanian University from 2006 until 2011.

With his death, the College of Cardinals numbers 220, of whom 116 are Cardinal-electors.

- vatican radio

After being held for ‘conversion’, nun booked for ‘kidnapping’

June 16, 2017 by admin  
Filed under India, newsletter-india, Persecution

Bhopal, June 16, 2017: A Catholic nun was booked for allegedly kidnapping a minor girl by Government Railway Police, Satna, on Thursday. Two days ago, the nun was detained for alleged forcible conversion of four persons, a charge that turned out to be false.

Sister Bina, three women and the minor were made to get off the Indore-bound Shipra Express on Tuesday by the GRP following a tip from a Hindutva group that tribal women from Jharkhand were being taken to Bhopal for conversion to Christianity.

Members of Matrushakti, a female wing of the VHP, and Bajrang Dal were present when the GRP made the women get off the train when it reached Satna station. After detaining them for nearly 12 hours, the police said no case of conversion could be proved against them because the women were already following Christianity.

The minor was handed over to Childline while the nun and the three women were ordered to be released by sub-divisional magistrate Balbeer Raman. Not satisfied with the administration’s action, Bajrang Dal activists protested over the last two days demanding action against the nun.

While Sister Bina insisted that the minor’s date of birth on her Aadhaar card was wrong and that she was more than 18 years old, Satna GRP In-charge S S Bagri told The Indian Express late Thursday that the nun was booked under Section 363 (kidnapping) of the IPC after the minor’s father arrived from Jharkhand. The father told the police that he was under the impression that his daughter was being taken to Chennai, not Bhopal. He said the case diary would be sent to Jharkhand because the alleged offence took place there.

A day earlier, a delegation of the Christian community led by Fr Maria Stephen met Additional DG (Rail) G P Singh and submitted a memorandum on alleged harassment of missionaries during train travel.

“Like any other community, Christians have the right to travel for the sake of study, job and other religious purposes but whenever they travel in a group with their leaders they are accused of religious conversion,’’ the memorandum said.

It cited a recent incident when 60 children and their caretakers were detained at Ratlam railway station while they were on way to Nagpur to attend a seminar. The caretakers were booked under the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act and Section 363 of the IPC, even though some of them were relatives of the children.

The Indian Express had spoken to many of the parents, who said they were already following Christianity and that the children were travelling with their consent.

- indian express

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