Deliberate attacks on churches in Syria condemned as war crimes

January 29, 2013 by  
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Numerous churches in Syria have been destroyedSyria, January 28, 2013: Human Rights Watch has condemned opposition groups in Syria for “unjustified attacks against minority places of worship”, saying that these amount to war crimes.

The leading human rights organisation released on 23 January the findings of investigations it carried out in Latakia and Idlib governorates in November and December 2012.

It found evidence that opposition fighters had “deliberately destroyed religious sites” and that the attacks had been carried out after the areas had fallen to opposition control and government forces had left.

Churches were raided by armed gunmen after they seized control of the Christian villages of Jdeideh and Ghasaniyeh in Latakia.

They took control of the former on 11 December and, once the government troops had fled, broke into the village church; they stole items and fired numerous shots inside, causing structural damage. The rebels also used the minister’s quarters next to the church to fire at a neighbouring village, where government troops were present.

One resident told Human Rights Watch that opposition fighters stole medicine from a church-run clinic, looted homes and kidnapped civilians.

Events in Ghasaniyeh followed a similar pattern. Rebels entered the village in late November, broke into the local church and stole petrol and diesel fuel. They looted homes and kidnapped one resident.

The violence and dire humanitarian conditions in Jdeideh and Ghasaniyeh drove Christians to flee the villages in large numbers.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said:

The destruction of religious sites is furthering sectarian fears and compounding the tragedies of the country… Syria will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship.

The opposition in Syria should back up its claims that it will uphold minority rights by protecting places of worship, and more generally ensuring that gunmen acting in its name respect civilians and civilian properties.

The group said that, under international humanitarian law, parties in an armed conflict have a responsibility not intentionally to attack religious buildings that are not being used for military purposes, adding, “Deliberate attacks on religious sites that are not military objectives are war crimes.”

Barnabas Fund has been reporting deliberate attacks on churches and other Christian targets, as well as the kidnap and murder of Christians, by opposition forces in Syria for many months. We have compiled a categorised timeline of anti-Christian incidents that dates back to almost the very beginning of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

– barnabas team

Modi aims to sow dissent in Dangs, say priests

January 29, 2013 by  
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Modi visits Hindu celebrations in Christian district

Modi visits Hindu celebrations in Christian districtGujarat, January 28, 2013: Church leaders have accused Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of deliberately aiming to create dissent between Hindus and Christians.

This follows his appearance at an Indian Republic Day celebration on January 26 at Ahwa, the capital of the Dangs district of Gujarat, which is mostly populated by tribal Christians.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is “feeling politically threatened in the tribal areas with substantial Christian populations and they are trying to Hinduize the whole area,” said Father Cedric Prakash who directs a human rights center in the state’s business capital, Ahmedabad.

He told ucanews.com on Sunday that though Modi did not make any controversial speech at the event, it was a subtle strategy to widen the base of his pro-Hindu party.

Modi attended several other functions over the weekend, including a meeting of the Swami Vivekananda Yuva Parishad youth group. The state government launched the group to promote the ideals of Swami Vivekananda, a 19th century Hindu revivalist.

“It was a calculated move by Modi to go to the Dangs. He will try to pit Christians and tribal people against each other,” said Fr Xavier Manjooran, who provides legal help to tribal people against their exploitation by private and government agencies.

During the December 2012 state elections, BJP candidates were defeated in the Dangs and neighboring Dharampur, mainly because of the tribal Christian vote.

The Dangs district witnessed anti-Christian attacks in 1998 and again in February 2006, when local politician Swami Aseemanand organized a program for the re-conversion of tribal Christians.

Aseemanand has since been jailed, but Fr Manjooran believes that Modi wants to revive the program under the guise of a plan to develop religious tourism.

Indian states normally hold Republic Day and Independence Day programs in their capital cities. But Modi has introduced a system in which they are held in different districts on a rotation basis.

– ucanews

Govt. lifts restrictions on foreign tourists visiting north east

January 29, 2013 by  
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Tourists will have to register themselves with the foreigners registration officers of the districts concerned within 24 hours of arrival.

North East IndiaNew Delhi, January 28, 2013: The federal government has withdrawn restrictions imposed on foreign tourists traveling to the northeast region of India.

The home ministry allowed free movement of foreign tourists to the three northeastern states of Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland by suspending a decades-old rule under which foreign nationals had to take mandatory permission from authorities for visits.

However, citizens of Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and Myanmar will not enjoy the benefit of the latest order, which would initially be applicable for a year, an official said.

Travel to these states will now be easier, but tourists will still have to register themselves with the foreigners registration officers of the districts concerned within 24 hours of arrival.

The move liberalize travel rules is expected to boost tourism in the northeast which is rich in natural diversity and has high adventure tourism potential.

The union government and states are eyeing a substantial market with about 58,000 foreign tourists visiting the northeast last year – up by 18% from 2011.

Officials expect a 25 per cent increase of tourist arrivals within a year after relaxation of rules.

Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order 1958, all areas in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim and parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand are declared “protected areas” and foreign nationals need permission to visit these areas.

– hindustantimes

The week of prayer for Christian unity concludes at Seva Sadan church

January 29, 2013 by  
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week of prayer for Christian unity concludes at Seva Sadan churchJanuary 18 to 25 is celebrated as the week of prayer for Christian unity all over the world. In Bhopal the week ofprayer was organized in five Protestant and three Catholic Churches. The prayer began with great devotion and fervorin the Halleluiah Church, at Berasia Road on January 18th and ended at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Seva Sadan, Tulsinagar, Bhopal on January 25th. In between prayers were conducted in St. John’s Church,  Govindpura, Christ School, Bairagarh, A.G. Church, Anandnagar, St. Thomas Malankara Catholic Church, Arera Hills, Good News Church, Hoshangabad Road, and Queen of the Universe Church, at Kolar Road. In the eight daysprayer conducted in different Churches, about 1500 people drawn from different Christian denominations, including Bishops, Priests, Pastors and Sisters participated.

Prominent among those who took part in the Prayer Services  were,  Rt. Rev. Dr. Leo Cornelio SVD, Dr. David Pagare, Pastor C.P. Singh, Pastor Sam Francis, Fr. S Solomon the PRO and Fr. Johny P.J, the Spokesperson of Bhopal Archdiocese, Fr. Joseph Thannippally, Fr. Lancy Fernandes, Fr. Shellmon Antony, Fr. Alexander, Fr. Ronald Cardoza, Fr. Abraham V.P,  Pastor Anil Kumar, Pastor Edwin Nathanael, Pastor Prabhakar, Pastor Anil Martin, Pastor Stephen  and Pastor Biju Varghese.

On the concluding day of the prayer, Dr. Leo Cornelio, the Archbishop of Bhopal said that it is love leading to service that would bring about unity among Christians. Earlier on 23rd January, during the prayer at Malankara Church, Arera Hills, Dr. Cornelio said that love and unity would show that Christ is present among Christians while division among them  would show that Christ is absent in their midst. Pastor Anil Kumar said that unity is a must among Christians. If they continue to be divided, the Church will have no life and she cannot grow. Pastor Mathew Yohannan said that Jesus did not establish Churches but he established the Church. In the context of the Church being split into hundreds of denominations, Fr. Jose Prakash said that the Church, which is the Body of Christ and which is broken into thousands of denominations, is practically dead and therefore she is on the decline.

week of prayer for Christian unity concludes at Seva Sadan churchPastor Edwin Nathanael said that it is necessary for Priests and Pastors of different denominations to come together and pray so that unity may be fostered and the Gospel may be effectively proclaimed.  Pastor Prabhakar said that it is the Holy Spirit who can unite all the Christians. The disciples of Jesus, he added,  were often divided, but on the day of Pentecost they were united. Dr. David Pagare, in his sharing said, that we have to become humble and Christ like in order to be one. Pastor Biju Varghese, the principal speaker on 25th January, elaborating on John 13: 31-35, said that we must forget about our differences and make a strong decisionto pray and work together.

On the concluding day of the Unity Octave, Fr. Shellmon Antony, the Parish Priest of Seva Sadan Church welcomed the participants and conducted the prayer with much fervor and devotion while the choir led by Fr. Alexander conducted praise and worship with melodious songs, that led to a prayerful atmosphere. Fr. Jose Prakash, the Secretary of Commission for Inter-religious Dialogue and Ecumenism and the main organizer of the Prayer for Unity Octave thanked the gathering and especially the Archbishop, those priests, pastors, sisters and lay people who cooperated whole-heartedly for conducting Prayer Services in different Churches. At the end of the prayer, all participants exchanged peace with one another with much warmth and love. The Christians of Bhopal, who participated in the prayer, certainly had an experience of oneness and unity in diversity during the Octave of Prayer for Unity. Many participants expressed their heart’s desire that such prayers should be held not only from 18 to 25 January, but more frequently  through-out the year.

 

– press release

Do you need a reason to thank God?

January 28, 2013 by  
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Iillness

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than a million people who will not survive this week.

Torture

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world today.

fear of harassment, arrest, torture or even death

If you can attend an ideological meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or even death, you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.

Food

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world’s population.

Money

If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place, you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy.

Reading

If you can read you are more fortunate than over 2 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving in your heart.”
Psalm 100:4

 

– fwd: tamara martin

Daughter of Pak evangelist hides amid death threats

January 28, 2013 by  
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Evangelist Kamran Gill fears he and his daughter will be killed for Christian activities

Evangelist Kamran Gill fears he and his daughter will be killed for Christian activities

Pakistan, January 23, 2013: The young daughter of a Pakistani evangelist remained in hiding Wednesday, January 23, after Muslim extremists allegedly threatened to kill her.

“My 10-year-old daughter Shifa Gill is not going to school,” said Reverend Kamran Gill, who survived an assassination attempt while evangelizing in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

“She is hidden in a secure place right now,” he added.

Gill, who lived in provincial capital Lahore before fleeing to the United States this month, told BosNewsLife that the troubles began in June last year when he attempted to preach among those suffering in some of Punjab’s notorious brick kilns.

Overburdened by loans, some 4.5 million generations of workers spread across 18,000 kilns around the country toil for nothing more than a promise of freedom, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission.

CHRIST’S HOPE

Gill, a 39-year-old widow, said he wanted to spread the hope he found in Jesus Christ among workers, youth and other “marginalized communities” in the region.

Evangelist Gill wanted to spread hope in Pakistan's brick kilns where activists say workers suffer slavery

Evangelist Gill wanted to spread hope in Pakistan's brick kilns where activists say workers suffer slavery

Yet fearful of losing business, “Muslim extremists” oppose his Christian activities, which also include working for several aid and advocacy groups, he said.

“Muslim extremists threatened me and even tried to kill me when I tried to preach in a village,” Gill explained.

Accompanied by a fellow evangelist and his daughter, he was allegedly stopped by an angry crowd. “They insisted to stop us from coming in this village and preach.” He said soon after, one or more Muslim hardliners “opened fire” at him, but missed.

“I was saved by His graceful hands,” he recalled, referring to Jesus Christ. “Soon people from the village came out and they also ran after me.”

CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY

Several months later, a Swedish Christian missionary wasn’t so lucky. Birgitta Almeby, 71, was shot by suspected Muslim extremists in Lahore and eventually died December 3 in a Stockholm hospital.

Like Gill, she was also involved in aid and education projects for impoverished people.

Gill said he was forced to hide his daughter, after she initially remained at his home. “However I am very concerned about her,” he said. “I fear she will be killed.”

Gill’s Christian daughter isn’t the only child suffering for what militants call a “Western ideology”. This month Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who survived an assassination attempt by Taliban militants, was discharged from a hospital in Britain.

Gill, whose wife passed away in September 2011, is concerned about the future of his small family.

CHRISTIAN CONCERN

The tensions have also added to concerns among local Christians. “It is ironic that a person stands to educate the masses, instead they start threatening him,” said Priest John Samuel from the Lahore Diocese.

Heavily Islamic Pakistan has come under international pressure to improve protection for minority Christians and children.

“Unfortunately a few people in Pakistan want to keep the people covered with illiteracy, so that they can use them for their gain, ” noted Samuel in a statement.

“We condemn such a violation of the basic human rights and we condemn the threats given to the evangelist for his work,” he said.

– bosnewslife

Barnabas prayer points for persecution spots

January 28, 2013 by  
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Christmas – Many Christians killed in Christmas attacks

Christmas is a time when persecuted Christians are particularly at risk. Dozens of Nigerian Christians were killed in attacks on churches and raids on homes during the Christmas period of 2012. Most of the attacks took place in Borno state, where Islamist group Boko Haram had previously threatened to kill any Christians who had not left by Christmas.

Six people were killed by gunmen at a church service in Maiduguri, Borno state on Christmas Eve. Then another six worshippers were killed, and two injured, in Siri village, Yobe state, in a shooting at a church service in the early hours of Christmas Day. The pastor was amongst those killed.

At this time Christians were not safe even in their own homes; a number were killed in Musari, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, when suspected Boko Haram militants broke into their homes early in the morning on 28 December.

Violence against Christians over Christmas was also reported in Sudan, where at least eleven people were killed when the Sudanese air forces carried out bombing raids on Christian villages in South Kordofan between 18 and 26 December. On the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, a church leader was seriously wounded when he was shot by two assailants on a motorcycle on Christmas Day. His attackers are thought to be members of the Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation (UAMSHO), an Islamist separatist group.

Lift up to the Lord all those who have lost loved ones in these atrocities, and ask that He will comfort them in their grief. Ask that Boko Haram’s murderous campaign in the Northern and Middle Belt states of Nigeria will be brought to an end, and pray that 2013 will bring greater safety and freedom from persecution to our vulnerable brothers and sisters in all these places.

Mali – Christians under threat from rebels; France intervenes

MaliPray for our Christian brothers and sisters in Mali, who are once again at risk as Islamist rebels push further into government-controlled territory. Last year Christians were driven out of the two-thirds of the country that is now controlled by the militant groups, who executed a violent takeover in the aftermath of a military coup.

Christians were forced to flee south, but the rebels are now progressing there, endangering them once more. Although the international response to the threat posed by the rebels has been slow, France has now taken decisive action by intervening. Many Christians had fled to Bamako, the capital, and are living in refugee camps there. Although French troops are now defending Bamako, the rebels have threatened revenge attacks against the city.

If the militants do advance south, Christians will be left with no safe haven in their own country. Ask that the Lord will be a refuge and a fortress (Psalm 91:2) for Christians in Mali and that the Islamists’ campaign will be brought to a swift end. Pray that Mali, which was once a country tolerant of Christians, will not see a complete Islamist takeover that would greatly endanger them.

UK – Landmark victory for Nadia Eweida in legal battle

UKPraise the Lord that a Christian woman has won a court case concerning her right to wear a cross in the workplace. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on 15 January that Nadia Eweida’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion had been violated by her employer, British Airways (BA).

Nadia was told in October 2006 that her cross necklace violated BA’s uniform code, although the Sikh bangles and Muslim hijabs worn by her colleagues of other religions were permissible. Nadia, who believes that an employer should not be an “arbitrator of faith”, refused to conceal the necklace and, supported by Barnabas Fund, began the gruelling public campaign and legal battle that culminated in the Strasbourg ruling. Give thanks for Nadia’s courage and conviction, and that the right of Christians to manifest their faith in their professional lives has been upheld in this instance.

However, the appeals of three other British Christians who also claimed to have suffered discrimination in the workplace for their faith were rejected by the court. One appeal, which was brought by former nurse Shirley Chaplin, concerned a case similar to Nadia’s. Shirley was asked not to wear her cross necklace at work for reasons of “health and safety”, although once again Muslim hijabs and Sikh bangles were allowed. Ask that the British government will send a clear and strong message that Christians should not have to conceal their faith in Christ in their professional lives.

Egypt – Christians concerned for the future as Islamist domination expands

EgyptThe future for Egypt’s Christians looks troubling as the grip of Islamism tightens on the country. Nadia Henry, a Christian politician elected to the Shura Council, which will hold legislative power until the upcoming elections, quit her role on 27 December. She claimed that liberal and other minority groups were not properly represented.

Ms Henry’s resignation comes after a controversial Islamist-backed constitution was approved in late December. Voter turnout was just 33% for the vote to approve the code, and accusations of fraud have been raised. There are fears that the constitution paves the way for Egypt to become an Islamic state; it gives Islamic clerics an undefined role in ensuring that legislation complies with sharia law. Human rights groups have also criticised its restrictions on gender equality.

The attitude of President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters has been revealed by the Brotherhood’s de facto spiritual leader. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said that Islam cannot be satisfied except “by [completely] controlling society and directing all aspects of life”. Pray that Egypt will not see this oppressive vision become a reality. Ask that the Lord will protect Christians in Egypt, who face becoming second-class citizens if sharia law is implemented. There were major protests in the run-up to the vote on the constitution; pray that the mounting tide of Islamism in Egypt will be turned back and that fair representation for all groups will be achieved in the elections, which will take place in early 2013.

Iraq – Two Christians killed as sectarian violence breaks out

IraqLift up to the Lord Christians in Iraq, who are at risk of being caught in the crossfire as the country’s political deadlock erupts into further sectarian violence. On 8 January a car bomb killed Ayyoub Fauzi Auyyoub Al Sheikh, a Christian medical student, near the university in Mosul. The explosion also injured dozens of people. This incident illustrates the rising tensions in the city.

In another incident, the body of Shdha Elias, a 54-year-old Christian teacher, was found on 7 January in an area of Mosul where attacks on Christians had taken place in the past. Her throat had been cut. Ask that the Lord will comfort those who are grieving for our brother and sister in Christ.

The vulnerable Christian minority in Iraq is largely unprotected amidst the political tensions that are running high in the country. Christians have been targeted by violent extremists since the 2003 US-led invasion; they have been kidnapped and murdered, and their churches have been bombed. Although attacks had become less frequent in recent years, Christians are once again exposed as the gulf widens between Sunni and Shia Muslims, Arabs and Kurds, and local and central government. On 13 December, a radical Muslim cleric issued a fatwa threatening Iraqi Christians with death.

Pray that the Lord will be the strong defender of His people in Iraq (Proverbs 23:11) and protect them from further attacks. Ask that the political deadlock that Iraq has endured since the withdrawal of US troops in December 2011 will be broken and that the country will soon see stability.

Uzbekistan – Police arrest 80 church leaders in raid on ministry training

UzbekistanChristians in Uzbekistan continue to face opposition and harassment from the government. Most recently, 80 church leaders were detained during a raid on a ministry training gathering in the village of Silyk, outside the capital, Tashkent.

During the raid, which took place on 1 December, officers insulted the gathered church leaders and took their fingerprints. Bibles and Christian books were confiscated, and a court later ordered that they be destroyed, despite the fact that the government officially recognises the Bible as a legitimate text.

Four of the leaders were charged with offences under Uzbekistan’s restrictive religion laws and were each given a fine equating to more than a year’s salary in the country. They will now appeal against the ruling. A church leader from Tashkent told Barnabas Fund that the persecution of Christian leaders in Uzbekistan has been on the rise since September 2012, reaching a peak over the Christmas season.

Give thanks for the faith and courage of our brothers and sisters in Uzbekistan, who face such repressive conditions. Pray that they will know the Lord’s strength and peace as they face the prospect of their meetings and ministries being disrupted, and that the government will desist from its campaign against Christian activities. Give thanks that Barnabas has been able to cover the cost of the fines meted out to the four church leaders.

Nepal – Christians written out of records in census “manipulation”

NepalMore than two million Christians in Nepal have seen the official record of their numbers reduced to just 375,699 in what has been described as “manipulation” of the country’s 2011 census. Christian leaders have complained that the growing minority’s numerical strength has been grossly underestimated at a time when the relative influence of different groups is very important. This is the first census since Nepal became a republic in 2008, and the country’s long-awaited constitution is still in a state of deadlock.
Although the preliminary results of the census showed over 2 million Christians, the published results reduced this number dramatically, marking many Christians as Hindus. Dr K.B. Rokaya, general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Nepal, said that he suspects “double manipulation”, whereby census collectors not only failed to visit every house, but also marked any person with a Hindu name as a Hindu.
Pray that this injustice will be rectified, so that an accurate figure for the size of the Christian minority will be publicly available as the country’s first elected representatives make reforms. Christians are still waiting for rights they were promised by the government, such as legal recognition for their churches and the provision of land for their graveyards. Lift up our Christian brothers and sisters in Nepal and ask that the Lord will strengthen them in their faith and sustain them throughout whatever political negotiations are to come. Ask that they will be confident, while the political situation of their country remains changeable, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Vietnam – Christian activists given jail sentences

VietnamCry out to the Lord on behalf of 14 Christian activists in Vietnam, who have been jailed for terms of between three and 13 years on charges of subversion against the state. At their trial, which took place in Nghe An, central Vietnam, the lawyers for the defendants complained that the Christians had been subjected to torture, including sleep deprivation, and forced into making false confessions.

During the trial, thousands of Christians staged a protest against the arbitrary and illegal arrest of innocent people. Give thanks that the activists’ fellow believers are speaking out against this miscarriage of justice, and pray that this pressure will lead to the Christians’ release. Some of them were apparently detained at random during church services, and it has been suggested that the prime minister has set quotas for the number of Christians to be arrested as a means of harassing the community. Pray that the government will cease to use the appalling tactic of arbitrary arrest, and that those Vietnamese Christians who are suffering in prison for the Lord’s sake will know His peace.

EFI: Christians Beaten; Building Dedication Stopped, Cemetry Desecrated & a Sit-in

January 28, 2013 by  
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Christians beaten, Building Dedication Stopped, Cemetry DesecratedChhattisgarh, January 28, 2012: On 10 January in Kirandul Basti, Dantewada, anti-Christian fundamentalists disrupted the dedication ceremony of a newly constructed building and accused the Christians of forceful conversion.

A mob of about 80 anti-Christian extremists barged into the dedication service of Enlightening Prayer Tower and started accusing Pastor Ritesh Barsa and the church members of forceful conversion. The meeting was stopped immediately and the matter was reported to Kirandul police station who however refused to intervene.

The plot for the church building was donated by Nanda, a believer of the church whose house is located next to the Christian new building. Nanda fled in fear from his house to save his life from the attack of the anti Christians and left his wife and children behind.

However on the next day, about 50 anti Christian elements again stormed the house of Nanda searching for him. They severely  thrashed his family, when they could not find him. The matter was reported to the police but no action was taken.

Graveyard Desecrated & Vandalized

On 8 January in Jagdalpur, government officials demolished one side of the boundary wall of Karkapal Christian Graveyard after Hindu extremists filed a complaint against the Christians of constructing a boundary wall in an encroached area and staged a protest.

Thereafter, a group of about 100 extremists soon arrived and further demolished the broken boundary wall. They then desecrated the old graves, shouted anti Christian slogans and hurled verbal abused against the pastors and church leaders present on the spot.

Later, about a thousand Christians from the area gathered at Bodhghat police station to file a complaint against the extremists. However, the police refused to file any complaint against the them. Traffic on the national highway was also interrupted and police force was deployed in large number to control the situation.

After the intervention of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, an FIR was filed against three extremists – Kailash Rathi, Yogendra Kaushik and Mansingh Parmar – under IPC Sections 297 and 34. Two of them were arrested on the next day and one was found missing. They were later released on bail at the police station itself.

Jagdalpur Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Ramesh Jaisawal informed that 1.86 Acre land had been allotted to the Christian community for graveyard, but boundary wall of the graveyard was constructed covering 2.19 Acre.

Mr. Munna Paul, President of United Christian Church Graveyard Committee, Jagdalpur clarified that it is in possession of the Christian community for last 108 years and Jagdalpur Municipal Corporation only allocated a small fund to construct the boundary wall of the graveyard.

The Hindu extremists group submitted a memorandum to the Collector & District Magistrate of Jagdalpur, Mr. Anbalgan P. and demanded action against 30 Christians who were present at the time of demolition of the boundary wall of the Karkapal Christian Graveyard. The Christians were falsely accused of hurling verbal abuse and stone pelting.

Sit- in by Christians

The Christians of Jagdalpur called for a United Rally and Sit-in on 10 January, 2013 to protest the incident at which about 10,000 Christians participated. The program was  addressed by community including Mrs. Ingrid McLeoud (Nominated Anglo Indian Member of Parliament from Bilaspur), Mr. Kawasi Lakhma (Congress MLA from Konta), Mr. Mahendra Karma (Ex MLA of Dantewada & Ex Member of Parliament from Bastar), Mr. Maneesh Kunjam (President of Akhil Bhartiya Adivasi Mahasabha & Ex MLA), who all expressed their solidarity with the Christian community and demanded stern action against culprits.

A memorandum was submitted to the Collector & District Magistrate, Mr. Anbalgan P. and Superintendent of Police, Mr. Badri Narayan Meena on the spot of sit-in, demanding restoration of the boundary wall of the graveyard, proper action against the Hindu extremists and Mayor, Chairman, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, quashing of false complaints against the Christians and ban on VHP & Bajrang Dal in Bastar division.

The Sit-in was withdrawn after assurance was given of proper investigation and lawful action within a week.

– efi

They urged all to come together for nation building.

January 28, 2013 by  
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Ecumenical Symposium organized by the Delhi archdiocese’s Commission New Delhi, January 28, 2013 : Church leaders belonging to different denominations have appealed for unity among the churches for better understanding and collaboration in nation building.

“Sitting in one platform today itself shows that we are growing in unity, there is momentum hence we should not break it,” newly installed Archbishop Anil J.T. Couto of Delhi said.

The prelate was addressing an Ecumenical Symposium organized by the Delhi archdiocese’s Commission on Ecumenism and Inter-religious Dialogue in the national capital on Jan. 25.

Some 50 people participated in the meet based on the theme “Ecumenical Symposium in the Unity Octave”.

Father Dominic Emmanuel, spokesperson of the archdiocese, told ucanindia.in that the Symposium is a series of program they have planned to celebrate the Year of Faith.

“As today is the last day of Christian Octave prayer in the world, we decided that it is a right time to have ecumenical meet,” Fr. Emmanuel said.

Archbishop Couto said that it is the mandate from the church and our duty to come together and grow in faith as well as nation building.

Better understanding and collaboration among ourselves will help us to grow and for this not only the religious has to come forward but the laity has equal responsibility to participate to help the church, the archbishop said.

Rev. Monodeep Daniel of the Church of North India and one of the speakers at the seminar said, “We all are baptized in the name of Jesus so we are equal, there should not be any hindrance which can separate us.”

Rev. Daniel agreed that “there were differences among ourselves in the past but if we want to grow and excel we have to leave behind the past.”

“We inherited the differences among us from the past and unless we change our mindset there is no hope of unity” he added.

Rev. P.G. George, who spoke on ‘faith in Christ and belongingness to the Church’, said community prayer, care for the Church and community and witnessing God will gradually help in growing strong faith and build unity among ourselves.

“We have a mission to unite and proclaim our faith and suffer for the church if we are the true disciple of God,” said Rev. George of the Mar Thoma Church.

He said, “we have to sensitize our priests and religious to help the migrant people” who have been living in the metro cities.

Prayer and faith sharing will bring them closer to the church and unity among the churches will flourish, he added.

– ucan

Who is lying: New BJP Chief or photo circulating on FB?

January 28, 2013 by  
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Sadhwi Pragya Thakur with Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leaders

Sadhwi Pragya Thakur with Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leaders

New Delhi: In an interview to the Outlook weekly magazine, when the new BJP Chief Rajnath Singh was asked about his alleged visit in jail to meet Colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, he out rightly denied it. He said, “I never met them, either in jail or outside. Many Congress leaders, including the home minister, are playing the communal card for votebank politics. This is very unfortunate, irresponsible and condemnable behaviour.”

Both Colonel Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Thakur are alleged to have been involved in ‘Hindutva terror’ and have been linked to several blasts including Samjhauta Express blast, Mecca Masjid blast and Malegaon blast.

However, an ‘old’ photograph on social media sites is circulating that clearly show Rajnath Singh and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan sitting with Sadhvi Pragya Thakur.
Now this photo might have been morphed to malign them, or is the new BJP Chief hiding something?

– tcn

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