SC stays Veerappan aides’ hanging for 6 Weeks

February 21, 2013 by  
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SC stays Veerappan aidesNew Delhi, February 20, 2013: Hanging of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has been further delayed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday extending its interim order staying the execution of death sentence imposed on them for killing 22 police personnel in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.

“In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six months to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.

“As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue” until further orders, the bench also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.

The bench noted that the subject matter of the petition was relating to the right of the death row convicts to get their sentence commuted to life imprisonment on account of delay of execution of their death sentence.
“This is the main question involved when this matter was taken by us. It was brought to our notice that other writ petitions involving the same issue were heard by a bench of two judges in which senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and T R Andhyarujina were requested as amicus curiae,” the bench said.

Veerappan’s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were awarded death sentence in 2004 in connection with a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993 in which 22 police personnel were killed.

Their mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 13 and they are presently lodged in a jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.

A TADA court in Mysore had in 2001 sentenced them to life term which was enhanced to death sentence by the apex court.

Gang leader Veerappan was killed in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Police in October 2004.

The apex court also noted that the judgement in the writ petition heard by another bench on the issue was reserved on April 19, 2012.

The bench said it has been informed by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval that while considering the two writ petitions, of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and M N Das, the other bench had the occasion to consider similar matters in which the mercy petitions were pending before the President.

The CJI said that since another bench has already heard and reserved its judgement on the issue, there is a possibility that the pleas of Veerappan aides can be heard by the same bench also.

The court is hearing two petitions, out of which one was filed by the four convicts and the other by advocate Samik Narain, on their behalf.

Urging the apex court to intervene, the four death convicts pleaded that a decision on their mercy petition has been delayed by nine years and as per its earlier order they are entitled to seek remedy for undue long delay in the execution of the sentence of death.

“Nine years delay in disposal of the petitioners’ mercy petitions has given them a right to approach this Court or the High Court to seek a commutation of the sentence of death,” the petition said.

On the last date of hearing, the court gave Narain the liberty to amend and rectify the petition after objections were raised on its maintainability by Attorney General G E Vahanvati who was asked to assist the court.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the four convicts, had said their execution should be stayed as another apex court bench had reserved its order on a plea for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

Gonsalves had referred to the petitions filed by the two condemned prisoners, Bhullar and Das, on whose plea for commutation of capital punishment to life term on the ground of delay, the apex court reserved its verdict in April last year.

The bench earlier had said that hearing this matter may also have a bearing on the petitions filed by the death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case against the rejection of their mercy petition.

The apex court had on May 1 last year had decided to adjudicate itself the pleas of Rajiv Gandhi killers — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan alias Arivu — against their death penalty due to the delay of over 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions by the President.

The Madras High Court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.

– pti

FBI urged to track hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus

February 21, 2013 by  
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USA SikhsWashington, February 20, 2013: Several community organisations, including a South Asian coalition, have launched a signature drive to press lawmakers to ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to track hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu, and Arab Americans.

While the FBI has various categories to track hate crimes, crimes directed at these three communities are not currently tracked, according to the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

“It is crucial that they are added to the tracking form in order to address this problem and keep all communities safe,” it said urging community members to ask lawmakers representing their area to sign-on a letter circulating in Congress.

Long before Sep 11, 2001, South Asians have endured bias, discrimination, and hate violence against our community, SAALT said

“Unfortunately, following the Sep 11 attacks, these crimes escalated particularly against Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans in many facets of life,” it said noting SAALT identified 645 incidents of bias in these communities within just one week of 9/11.

“Sadly, these attacks continue to be an ongoing problem in our community and effectively addressing them has become increasingly difficult,” SAALT said recalling the Aug 5, 2012 shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Citing FBI statistics, SAALT said over 6,600 hate crimes were reported in 2010 alone, the majority of which were motivated by race (47 percent), followed by religion (20 percent), sexual orientation (19 percent), and ethnicity or national origin (13 percent).

While hate crimes in the Muslim community are tracked by the FBI with a notable rise by 1,600 percent from 2000 to 2001, hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus, and Arabs are not similarly tracked.

“Part of the difficulty in addressing these alleged hate crimes is due to the fact that they are only partially tracked,” SAALT said stressing that without fully accounting for the problem, we cannot begin to fully understand or address it.

– ians

Khudai Khidmatgar at Kumbh Mela to spread peace

February 21, 2013 by  
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Khudai Khidmatgar delegation at Kumbh Mela to spread message of peaceUttar Pradesh, February 20, 2013: A delegation of Khudai Kidmatgar reached Allahabad for Maha Kumbh Mela for inter-faith dialogue and to spread the message of peace and humanity. The team of Khudai Khidmatgar is led by Faisal Khan with Inamul Hasan, Mahipal Saraswath, Abdul Jabbar, Maulana Shamim Ahmad, Bagwan Lal Banshiwal, Krishna Naik and Vivek Pandey, who visited the Kumbh Mela on 16th February. This was at the invitation of Shri Shri Maa Poorn Pragya Ji to Khudai Khidmatgar.

The Khudai Khidmatgar delegation stayed at Kumbh Mela venue near the bank of Ganga for 4 days and in the meanwhile distributed literature regarding Humanity, Peace, Brotherhood and necessity of Communal Harmony written by Prof. V. K. Tripathy and Bharat Dogra.

The Kumbh Mela is held every three years where Hindus gather to take a dip in the holy river. It is held by rotation in Haridawar, Allahabad, Nasik and Ujjain.

Faisal Khan said, “the aim of Khudai Khidmatgar is to unite the hearts of all humans, irrespective of Caste, Community and Religion. We came to Kumbh to realize that we are in support with all forms of peace and activities with unity. If we avoid moments like the Kumbh by not reaching to there, it will make communal forces use that opportunity. The Khudai Khidmatgar believes in all form of grass-root activism and not in seminars and symposium like most NGOs and in these four days the message of Khudai Khidmatgar had reached lakhs of people through Kumbh, he concluded.

Inamul Hasan said, “DIL JODO NAFRAT CHORHO ( Unite Hearts, Set Aside Hatred) ” is the prime objective of every Khudai Khidmatgar and we will not divert from this ideology. The delegation distributed 40,000 printed material on communal harmony. Kavi Abdul Jabbar, a poet from Rajasthan narrated  his poetry on every concluding session of Maa Poorn Pragya’s speech. The delegation also visited the cottages of all Hindu saints to meet them.

– tcn

Is Social Action Becoming A Neglected Mission?

February 21, 2013 by  
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Fr. M.K. GeorgeKarnataka, February 20, 2013: Fr. M.K. George SJ, currently the Director of Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, on his maiden visit to the CRI House, New Delhi, for a meeting of CARITAS India, conversed with Sr. Claudette Miranda DSP on his Institute as well as matters related to Social Action. Here are the excerpts.

Fr. George, Tell me something of Indian Social Institute, Bangalore, where you are currently working?

Indian Social Institute, Bangalore (ISI-B), I am glad to say, is celebrating her golden jubilee this year. Started initially as the Training centre for the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, in 1993 ISI-B became autonomous and functions as a resource centre. With the vision of building a ‘Just, Humane, Democratic and Secular Society’ ISI-B has chosen her mission as a Rights-Based Resource Organization in partnership with other likeminded people and groups to accompany the marginalized to claim their Entitlements for a dignified life towards an equitable society.

Her thrust areas of involvement are Human Rights, Gender Equity, Livelihood issues, secularism and ecological issues. The priority groups that get the service from the Institute are Dalits, Tribals, Fishworkers, women, minorities and students.

What kind of programmes do you offer in ISI-B?

Towards the mission of ‘accompanying the marginalized’ ISI-B has taken training programmes for social activists as her priority. The Social Analysis programme of ISI-B, has created a tradition which is much respected. In the seventies and eighties, a lot of priests, sisters and lay men partook in the three month Social Analysis programme, which incidentally created a large number of leaders for social movements across the country, particularly the South of India. It is indeed very gratifying to come across many social activists who are proud of their training in IS-B, either before their initiation into social action or during their work.

The training programmes have now taken a wider range, but focus mainly on Human Rights, Capacity Building, Gender sensitization and so on. One satisfying element of ISI-B’s work is the freedom that people of all walks, all races and castes, even the most marginalized as beggars and sexual minorities find a welcome in the Institute. In fact the infrastructural facilities of the Institute are availed by groups of unimaginable variety. The feedback that all types of people feel at home is indeed a very satisfying one for us because hospitality is indeed a Godly virtue.

Can you tell me about the situation of Social Action by Religious in India?

It is interesting to look at our own understanding of Social Action. There are many who think that working in the area of charity is doing social action. The motivation for charity work or social action, of course, is the command of Jesus to love one another and the criterion for final judgment given by Jesus: whether you did it to one of these my ‘little children’.

It is customary to distinguish between charity work, welfare work, empowerment approach and Rights-based approach. While one cannot discount any of these works, all of them are indeed attending to the most marginalized; there is an increasing awareness among social activists that the first two categories of work create dependencies while the latter ones create self dignity and self reliance.

The CRI survey pointed out that almost 40 per cent of the religious in India are involved in social work. But is the social work charity oriented and dependency creating or are they building citizens with dignity and self reliance? I am afraid that most religious are settling down for charity or welfare work and are not ready for the tougher and more demanding social action.

Indian Society is marked by extreme levels of poverty. Every third person in India is a starving or malnourished person. On the other hand India has the fourth largest number of billionaires in the world: 53 of them. Such inequality must make us think critically. Poverty is man made and so is injustice. We cannot bring justice through charity work alone.

Do you mean to say that charity work and welfare work are outdated?

No not at all. The question is where our priority should be. Given the nature of our commitment, which is prophetic and radical we should be doing much more of social action, involved in acts of justice than just welfare work. If poverty and other social problems are largely man made and are issues of injustice, then we should be fighting for justice not just doling our charity.

Do you mean to say that all of us religious should be on the road, doing dharnas and fighting the state?

Again another misunderstanding! Social action does not mean just dharnas and protests. Social Action is any action born of an understanding the rampant social problems in our country and across the globe are results of unjust social structures. Therefore our commitment to Jesus, the prophet should lead us to acts of Justice. The variety of forms social action can take range from organizing people, networking with people who are working for the poor, doing research, advocacy, lobbying, networking, publishing and just creating circles of caring and friendship among the poor and rich across the barriers. It is an amazing variety of options. If only we knew.

Why do you think religious are reluctant to get into Social Action?

Lots of us do not do it because we have no proper analysis of social reality. Unfortunately the level of knowledge of social realities among the religious is pitiably low. While they are experts in their own professional life, spiritual matters, and may be even some general knowledge, on specific social issues and their causes, their ignorance is sometimes pathetic. Awareness leads to action. Think of the case of Mahatma Gandhi. When he was thrown out of the train in Pretoria in South Africa and had to spend the whole night on the platform, he knew the pain of slavery and he committed himself to fight for freedom. Much like this many of us religious need to get to know the social reality, gruesome in so many cases, so that we are challenged to get involved. It is not that we do not have models. Sr. Valsa is the recent martyr who remains a challenge to every one of us.

Do you mean to say that the religious are neglecting social action?

I believe so. I don’t mean to say we are doing it purposely. It is a lack of awareness, a lack of wills on the side of administration and of course our total subservience to institutions that we have created. My only hope is that many younger religious will heed the call of Justice, and the prophetic call of religious life. Consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church. Shouldn’t we be the front runners for the Justice of God?

– CRIB

I told God…

February 20, 2013 by  
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I told God: Let all my friends be

healthy and happy forever!

Healthy & Happy

God said: But for 4 days only!

I said: Yes, let them be

Spring Day, Summer Day,

Autumn Day, and Winter Day.

spring summer autumn winter

God said: 3 days.

I said: Yes,

Yesterday,

Today and Tomorrow.

Yesterday, today, Tomorrow

God said: No! 2 days!

I said: Yes,

a Bright Day (Daytime)

and Dark Day (Night-time).

Day time and night time

GOD said: No, just 1 day!

I said: Yes!

GOD asked: Which day?

I said: Every Day in the living

years of all my friends!

Everyday

God laughed, and said: All your friends

will be healthy and happy Every Day!

Wish this to your friends and bless

them with good health and happiness…


– fwd by cleto pereira

How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches

February 20, 2013 by  
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Report: Govt.-sponsored persecution rose 42 percent in 2012.

How China Plans to Wipe Out House Churches  Christianity TodayChina, February 18, 2013: China’s Christians felt a noticeable rise in persecution in 2012 as the Communist government began the first of a three-phase plan to eradicate unregistered house churches, a new report says.

Incidents of persecution of Christians rose by about 42 percent last year compared with 2011, according to the report by human rights group China Aid. Many of these incidents involved groups of Christians. In total, the number of individual persecuted Christians rose by roughly 14 percent and total individual detentions increased by nearly 12 percent. China Aid said overall total persecution in six categories was about 13 percent worse than in 2011—though China Aid termed its statistics just “the tip of the iceberg.”

At least 132 incidents of persecution affecting 4,919 Christians—442 of whom were clergy—were reported in the country last year, according to China Aid’s annual report. The Texas-based group tracked detention of at least 1,441 Christians, the sentencing of nine of them, and the abuse (verbal, mental and physical, including beatings and torture) of 37 Christians.

Beijing, administered directly under the central government, witnessed the highest number of persecution cases, at 62, affecting 934 Christians; Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China followed with at 11 cases involving 382 Christians. Persecution was also high in central China—comprising Henan and Hubei Hunan provinces—where 1,056 Christians were affected, and in east China, which includes Shandong, Anhui, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Jiangxi provinces, which witnessed harassment of 750 Christians.

The report also notes that persecution last year was 61 percent worse than in 2010; 85 percent worse than in 2009; 120 percent worse than in 2008; 308 percent worse than in 2007; and 372 percent worse than in 2006.

Ending Unregistered House ChurchesThe recent appointment of Xi Jinping as the new leader of China’s Communist Party has made no difference in treatment of Christians, said a member of the Shouwang Church in Beijing, a congregation authorities have harassed for more than two years.

“I recently went to see the founding pastor, Jin Tianming, and his wife [under house arrest since April 2011] in their rented apartment in west Beijing,” the source told Morning Star News. “I was not allowed to enter their home, and the pastor was not allowed to go outside. We chatted for a while at their home’s doorway, as two plainclothes police officers watched.”

Pastor Tianming was granted the right to do his workout outside his apartment every afternoon from November 2011 to early January this year. But since he attended a Shouwang weekly evening prayer meeting in the rented facility of Xinshu (New Tree) Church, a sister congregation of Shouwang, after jogging on the afternoon on Jan. 9, Tianming has not been allowed to leave his home.

The continued rise of persecution is not the only dynamic raising serious concerns; authorities have targeted unregistered house churches in a planned manner, according to the China Aid report. In 2008 and 2009, officials “targeted house church leaders and churches in urban areas,” China Aid notes. In 2010, they “attacked Christian human rights lawyers groups and using abuse, torture and mafia tactics.” The focus in 2011 was on increasing the intensity of attacks against Christians and house churches.

In 2012, a new three-phase approach was adopted to wipe out unregistered house churches, which the government saw as a hostile group of dissenters, and force them to join the official Three-Self Patriotic Movement (TSPM) church system. In the first phase, from January 2012 to June, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) secretly investigated house churches across the country and created files on them, the report says. This was followed by a wave of crackdowns on house churches, which has continued into 2013, as part of the second phase. The second phase will also entail strongly encouraging unregistered churches to become part of the TSPM—at which point they would become known as “house gatherings,” with the government banning the term “house churches.”

– morning star

Attempted Abduction and Rape cases of Christian girls

February 20, 2013 by  
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Attempted Abduction and Rape case of Christian girlPakistan, February 19, 2013:  Even as the rape case of a Christian girl Fouzia Bibi is still under investigation, there was further violence and pressure on the victim family and also on LEAD to avoid proceedings in this case. In yet another attempted rape and abduction case a Christian girl, Saba Bibi at Village Baghiana Kilan at police Station Phool Nagar, District Kasur was highlighted.

On 17 February 2013, when Saba Bibi was working in fields of  her landlord, when one Muhammad Akram(also known as Amar) armed with a pistol confronted her and forced her to to a secret place with intention of rape. She started to weeping loudly, while the culprit tore her clothes and made her naked, said Naziran Bibi her mother. LEAD’s chief advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill was requested by local Union Council Member Mansha Masih to intervene the case too. A complaint has been filed in the police station and legal action will be pursued.

” We are very poor and working in a brick-kiln and also under heavy debt loan which is Rs.200,000/-  We have to do daily work for earning our daily bread or we will not be able to feed our children. It will now also be difficult to follow up with the case in court ” said Anwar Masih, the victim’s father.

The plight of Christian girls and women who have been forced to convert to Islam is kidnapping, abduction, rape and sexual assault in Pakistan. Many cases are not published due to bribes and personal influence, threats of further violence and family pressure on the victims.

On August 14, another Christian girl, 12-year-old Muqadas Kainat was ambushed in a field near her home in Sahawil by five men who gang raped and murdered her.

In every one of these cases, the police either failed to act or sided with the culprits or the victim herself failed to follow-up with the case. A large number Christian children in Pakistan are being forced into silence, with their stories never emerging due to pressure or their financial problems, even if they are provided free legal aid.

– LEAD

30% increase in UP budget for “minority welfare”

February 20, 2013 by  
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UP budget for minority welfareUttar Pradesh, February 19, 2013: Uttar Pradesh government has highlighted the budgetary allocation for the minority welfare in the budget. The official spokesperson has stated that minority welfare has been given ample attention in the budget.

Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in his second budget for 2013-14 which he tabled on Tuesday in state assembly has increased the budget allocation for minority welfare by Rs 612.95 crores. This is 29.5 percent more than the budget allocation of current year 2012-13.

For the scheme “Hamari Beti Uska Kal” a provision of Rs 350 crores has been made. In previous budget it was Rs 300 crores. In this one time financial assistance of Rs 30000 is given to minority girls who have completed their high school. Similarly a budget of Rs 777 crore has been allocated for the fee reimbursement scheme for minorities.
For the construction of boundary walls of qabristans(graveyards), a provision of Rs 300 crores has been made in the budget. Another Rs 27.80 crores has been allocated for the Haj House in Ghaziabad. The State Haj Committee too has been given a grant of Rs 3.72 crores in the budget.

For bridging the critical gaps in minority dominated areas, a provision of Rs 492 crores has been done. For setting up educational hub for minorities where there will be arrangement for education from Class VI to XII has been done. There will be ITI, para-medical institute in this hub and also coaching for engineering and medical entrance examination. A fund of Rs 34 crores has been allotted.

For coaching of minority students for IAS/PCS and other higher competitions, a sum of Rs 1.85 crore has been allocated. Another Rs 200 crores has been allotted for imparting modern education in the madarsas along with religious teachings. The state governemnt aided Arbi Farsi Madarsas have also been given Rs 36.56 crores for the pension and arrear payment of teaching and non teaching staff. For the Arabic schools a provision of Rs 315.50 crores has been done while for the Arbi Farsi Madarsas recognised upto Aliya level have been given Rs70 crores.

For the minority girls studying in class IX a scheme has been launched for giving free cycles. It will cost around Rs 9.39 crores. For setting up mini ITI in madarsas budget of Rs 6.05 crores has been allotted. For the poor parents of minority girls, a provision of Rs 12 crores has been done for the marriage of their daughters.

– tcn

 

A Hindu Converted Christian gunned down for his faith

February 20, 2013 by  
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Lahore, February 19, 2013: On dated 16 February 2013, Christian man Roshan Masih 45 years old was murdered after being shot on trivial arguments on faith with Muslim Sohail Akhtar.

Roshan Masih (Hindu name Lal Ram) migrated from Metro Basti Tehsil Fortabas, Behawal Nagar since the last 20 years and settled in Lahore after accepting Jesus Christ. He was living at Jughian Asam Town, Lahore. He argued on religion with a Muslim man Sohail Akhtar, son of Muhammad Akhtar and there was quarrel between two on this sensitive issue. Sohail could not control himself and fired at Roshan while he was sitting at the shop of  Sadiq Masih. Roshan Masih died on the spot.

On Saturday 16 February 2013, LEAD’s chief advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill was told on phone by Ghulam Masih (Ex. Union Councilor) that Roshan Masih had been shot dead and he was urged to take legal action to get justice of this innocent murdered for his faith. Gill took the initiative and got an FIR registered against murderer, who was arrested and is now under police custody. LEAD’s legal panel will prosecute this case and fight for justice.

” We demand protection of lives and properties of Christians in Pakistan. The authorities must ensure that the fundamentals rights of Christians and other minorities are safeguarded “,  Sardar Mushtaq Gill said

– Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD)

February 20, 2013 by  
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