Kerala court stays move to tax nuns, priests

March 18, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kerala High CourtKochi, March 11, 2015: The Kerala High Court on Monday stayed the direction of Income Tax Department to treasury officers to deduct tax at source from the salary or pension paid to priests and nuns, who are teachers in the state aided educational institutions.

The Monday order of the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, puts on hold the order of a Single Judge of the same court that earlier upheld the move.

The latest order came while considering a batch of appeal seeking to quash the Single Judge’s order.

The petitioner submitted that a circular issued by the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) in 1944 and another directive in 1977, which allowed income tax exemption for those who handed over their payments to religious institutions.

However, the Income Tax Department issued the order contrary to the circular.

The Bench directed the CBDT to clarify whether the petitioners are eligible for exemption and adjourned the hearing of the case.

The Income Tax Department had stated that the members of religious congregations were receiving the income in return for services rendered by them, they have been getting salary, and the subsequent making over to the congregation was only an instance of application of income.

The Single Judge had observed that the members of religious congregations who were working or retired from the educational institutions, were receiving salaries and pension in their individual capacity and based on educational qualification and skills possessed by them as individuals.

Therefore, they had the right to receive salary or pension which accrued to them as individual and not to the religious congregation, of which they were members.

– new indian express

Indonesian women, children held in Turkey ‘heading to join IS’

March 18, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Indonesians arrestedJakarta, March 13, 2015: Sixteen Indonesians, mostly women and children, have been arrested in Turkey attempting to cross into Syria to join the Islamic State (IS) group, a minister said, the latest case of Indonesians heading to battlegrounds in the Middle East.

The 11 children, four women and one man from the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country were detained in the Turkish border town of Gaziantep. Officials did not say when they were arrested.

“We are still investigating… but it is clear that they wanted to join [IS] to have a better life in accordance with Islamic sharia laws,” Security Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno told reporters late Thursday.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said that a team was being dispatched to Turkey to work with authorities after the arrests.

Officials had previously revealed that a different group of 16 Indonesians went missing last month after joining a tour group to Turkey, and were also believed to be attempting to reach Syria.

Foreign nationals from around the world have been flocking to join the IS jihadists, who control vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, sparking alarm about the potential for radical fighters to return and launch attacks in their homelands.

The case of three British teenage girls crossing into Syria to join IS has caused consternation in Britain, while in Australia foreign minister Julie Bishop has warned young girls looking to become “jihadi brides” that Islamic State is no “romantic adventure”.

Fears are also growing in Indonesia — which has long struggled with Islamic militancy — with the country’s counter-terror chief saying that more than 500 Indonesians are believed to have gone to fight with Islamic State.

Jakarta has already banned support for IS jihadists, although experts have called on authorities to take further steps to stop the flow of fighters.

Indonesia has waged a crackdown on terror groups over the past decade following attacks on Western targets, including the 2002 Bali bombings, that killed 202 people — a campaign that has been credited with weakening key networks.

– afp/ucan

On Pope Francis, Archbishop Romero and the ‘ecumenism of blood’

March 18, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

ecumenism of bloodInternational, March 3, 2015: I first encountered Archbishop Oscar Romero when I lived in England and his image was included in a new set of sculptures for the West front of Westminster Abbey. The set of carvings (completed in time for the millennium year) was intended to immortalized twentieth-century martyrs. The ten martyrs chosen were both international and ecumenical in their scope.

On the recent martyrdom of twenty-one Coptic Christians in Libya, Pope Francis spoke of “the ecumenism of blood”. When lives are being sacrificed for Christ no one stops to ask what denomination a Christian happens to be.

The same sentiment was expressed by the Baptist pastor Richard Wurmbrand in his classic book ‘Tortured for Christ’. The Romanian ex-Jew said in the communist prisons there were no Baptists, Catholics, Orthodox or Pentecostal. There were only brothers in Christ.

On the West front of Westminster Abbey, Archbishop Romero stands alongside the Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918; Manche Masemola, a South African teenager slain by her parents for converting to Christianity; St Maximilian Kolbe; Lucian Tapiede, a Papuan New Guinea Anglican killed by the Japanese; Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran pastor murdered by the Nazis; Esther John, a Presbyterian evangelist from Pakistan; Martin Luther King Jr; Wang Zhiming. a Chinese pastor killed by the Communists; and Janani Luwum, an Anglican Archbishop murdered by the Idi Amin regime in Uganda.

These martyrs united by blood are perhaps more important as a global witness than ever before. In moving Archbishop Romero’s cause forward, Pope Francis stands with Romero and his brothers and sisters in martyrdom to affirm as strongly as ever that Christ the Lord and his church stand arm in arm with the poor, the oppressed, the persecuted and those who fight against evil.

However, Archbishop Romero, like Pope Francis, has been hijacked by ideologues on the Left — as if they are champions of a political ideology.

Both Francis like Romero and the other modern martyrs commemorated in Westminster Abbey, transcend political allegiances and ideological causes. They are not “right wing” or “left wing”. They are not “communist” or “fascist”. They were disciples of Christ the Lord who stood up against injustice, cruelty, oppression and violence wherever it was found.

Archbishop Romero’s former secretary has spoken out recently about his friend and mentor. In an interview with Catholic News Agency, Msgr Jesus Delgado has said that Romero’s murder “was in opposition to what he preached, which is what the Church asks of all: conversion to Jesus, a personal encounter with Jesus….he called for a personal encounter with Christ Jesus, which implied a preferential option for the poor, because Jesus opted for the poor to save us all”.

The biographer of Archbishop Romero lays to rest once and for all the idea that the martyr was a liberation theologian, Msgr Delgado said “Obviously, the liberation theology proponents always visited him and left him their books. I saw them, and they were like brand new, he never even opened them. He never read them, he never looked at them. On the other hand, all the books of the fathers of the Church were worn and were the source of his inspiration.”

The Archbishop’s friend and secretary continued, “Archbishop Romero knew nothing about Liberation Theology, he did not want to know about it. He adhered faithfully to the Catholic Church and to above all to the teachings of the Popes.”

Attempts have also been made to hijack Pope Francis for progressive causes. The efforts, however, will never succeed because like the martyrs commemorated in Westminster Abbey, and like Archbishop Romero, Pope Francis’ faith is deeper than any political or economic ideology. This is because his Catholic faith transcends all political or historical movements.

Just as Catholicism absorbs and accepts all that is beautiful, good and true in other religions, so the Catholic faith endorses those aspects of political and economic theory which are beautiful, good and true. The church will also criticize those aspects of a political movement or ideology that are false, distorted and destructive.

This ability to both affirm what is good and discern what is false is an important part of the teaching authority of the whole Church of Christ. In their own ways, within their own traditions and cultures the teachers of the truth explain the way of Christ in the world while the martyrs give their lives for it. Pope Francis affirms that teaching tradition in his office of supreme pontiff and the martyrs stand with him to give a witness even with their lives to the truth that transcends politics and emerges victorious from the battle with the powers of death and hell.

– aleteia

A box, Abandoned babies & the boy who got saved

March 18, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

The Drop BoxCalifornia, March 12, 2015: Brian Ivie, a 24-year-old filmmaker from Orange County, California, set out three years ago to South Korea to make the film to end all films. Fortunately for him, that didn’t work out. Instead, he encountered the man he now calls his spiritual father — and became a curator of this man’s powerful and profound story of sacrifice and love.

Ivie, eager and working from a script set in his mind of how things would certainly go, set out on Dec. 15, 2011, for Seoul, South Korea, with a crew of 11 (mostly friends and his younger brother, Kevin) after a simple email exchange with Pastor Lee Jong-rak.

The story that catapulted Ivie on his path was a 2011 feature about a South Korean pastor’s drop box for abandoned babies published in the Los Angeles Times:

One is deaf, blind and paralyzed; another has a tiny misshapen head. There’s a baby with Down syndrome, another with cerebral palsy, still another who is quadriplegic, with permanent brain damage.

But to Pastor Lee Jong-rak, they are all perfect. And they have found a home here at the ad hoc orphanage he runs with his wife and small staff. It is the only private center for disabled children in South Korea.

Then there was the “desperate, albeit well-meaning Kickstarter campaign” to crowdfund financing for the film project Ivie was sure would earn him an invitation to the Sundance Film Festival and position him as a film phenom.

Ivie’s Kickstarter campaign remains online, having collected $20,640 from 184 backers by Oct. 30, 2011, just two months before he boarded his first flight to South Korea.

“I remember when I read the article about him, I was instantly inspired: ‘South Korean pastor’s unwanted flock.’ And then I thought, well this is on the front page of the L.A. Times today, but tomorrow nobody’s gonna care. It was a calling. It was a command. In that moment, I knew I had to go to Korea to shoot a documentary film so the story, so the story wouldn’t die,” Ivie says in his video pitch for funding.

In the same video, even before meeting Pastor Lee, Ivie says, “This man changed my life from 6,000 miles away.”

It would turn out that Ivie was telling the truth — although he changed in ways he had not been expecting.

Convinced in the beginning that he was a Christian, because well, he grew up in America, “didn’t smoke cigarettes … went to Mass … and watched Fox News,” in the end Ivie found himself writing three letters to his father and two father figures who taught him the true meaning of the word. There was a Mark Driscoll sermon, too.

Those three letters appear at the end of the book that Ivie wrote with the help of Ted Kluck, The Drop Box: How 500 Abandoned Babies, an Act of Compassion, and a Movie Changed My Life Forever.

In the book, Ivie, once a self-described Pharisee of film who worshipped the art form as his idol, delves into the journey that changed his life. In a behind-the-scenes look at the filmmaking process, Ivie tells how witnessing the love of Lee and his wife, Chun-ja, for children born with challenging disabilities prompted him to abandon any pretensions of fame, and compelled him to simply tell an important story.

Here is an excerpt from the letter Ivie addressed to Pastor Lee:

Pastor Lee, thank you for showing me your life before God, so I could finally understand where all the love came from. Where all the courage came from. Thank you for never taking the glory, even when you stay up all night and destroy your own body to save the cold, little ones that might be left outside.

And thank you for continuing to get up every time the bell rings.

In his letter to God, Ivie writes:

Making ‘The Drop Box’ was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I felt inadequate most of the time, like a complete failure other times, and at night wished it could stop.

God, making this thing felt like being dragged behind a chariot. It felt like scales were being ripped off of me … Making this movie went against all the childish things in me. … It force me to grow up. … Yet, I’ve also somehow become a child again. People think that means being naive and dumb, but I think it has a lot more to do with feeling helpless. It has a lot more to do with realizing just how weak and helpless I can be and how I need You even more than those children need pastor Lee.

“The Drop Box” book was released March 1, and adds a few extra layers to the documentary, which focuses fully on the Lees and the volunteers that have helped them care for the hundreds of babies left at their home. Government employees, social workers, law enforcement officials, and members of Pastor Lee’s Jusarang (or “God’s Love”) Community Church also appear on camera. They all try to explain why married couples, unwed teen girls, and others would abandon their babies, usually born with some sort of disability, on other people’s doorsteps, in an alleyway, or in Pastor Lee’s drop box. The answers are complex, honest and sad. There are laws and social services in place that should protect children and provide assistance to parents, but the stigma leveled at unwed mothers and children with disabilities sometimes proves a challenge to doing the more difficult thing — keeping their baby.

Pastor Lee, 60, doesn’t want a reward, he explains in the film.

What God has taught him through caring for his own 20-something son, Eun-man, dubbed the “boy on his back” because a severe disability has kept him bed-ridden for much of his life, has been reward enough. The L.A. Times reports that “when Eun-man was 6, Lee entered theology school to become a Christian minister.”

It was the experience of learning to love and accept a son who needs full-time care as a blessing from God that partly inspired Lee in 2009 to build a baby box, install it on the side of his three-story home, and personally embrace nearly two dozen abandoned children as his own.

“This Book Is a Song for the Suburbs”

“The Drop Box” feature-length documentary earned Ivie and his team a $101,000 cash prize at the 2013 San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival.

Ivie told The Christian Post the week “The Drop Box” debuted nationally for a three-day run (March 3-5) in select theaters that he “immediately” gave half of the prize money to Lee.

The 24-year-old born-again Christian used the remaining half to start Kindred Image in 2013. The nonprofit supports Pastor Lee and his wife’s work with abandoned children, as well as various other causes.

As for his testimony in The Drop Box book, Ivie hopes it speaks to other suburban sinners who God wants to turn into saints.

Ivie explains what he means in the below Q&A. It was conducted via phone and has been edited for clarity.

CP: Today is the final day that “The Drop Box” is screening. Have you paid attention at all to how it’s been doing?

Ivie: Yeah, it’s been doing really really well. I don’t know the numbers from last night but I know we’re definitely heading toward 200,000 tickets sold which is pretty darn good for a [intelligible] release.

CP: What do you make of the responses to the film?

Ivie: The response has been overwhelmingly good. I think for people seeing a movie like this that is able to grapple with a lot of pain, present hope founded in Jesus Christ and yet somehow also create some sort of atmosphere where everybody feels like they can come see this movie and be a part of it, I think is really rare. You know, it’s not a movie that in anyway alienates one particular group of people or another. So I’ve been excited with the response. It just seems like people from all different backgrounds and belief systems have come out and supported the film because it shows us that we all matter and that life is not just blind to [intelligible] indifference and that there’s meaning and value to everyone’s story.

CP: Have you heard from Pastor Lee about his thoughts on the documentary? Do you plan to screen “The Drop Box” in South Korea?

Ivie: Pastor Lee is celebrating right alongside with us. We’re not having a release in Korea until later in the spring. Of course for him, this is hopefully gonna bring in a lot of support for the work that he’s doing on the ground on the frontlines, because he’s the one really in the battle.

– christian post

Lahore: 20 year old Christian tortured and killed by police

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Ayesha BibiLahore, March 12, 2015: Pakistani police tortured a young Christian to death after his mother had been previously accused of stealing gold from her employer, a Muslim.

According to investigators the woman was charged with having stolen gold items from the house of Abdul Jabar, where she worked as a maid for less than $ 20 a month.

The 20 year old Zubair Masih was taken away by a group of agents who were investigating the theft report against his mother, Ayesha Bibi. However, the young man, unlike other relatives, was detained and died in the hours following his arrest while still in the custody of law enforcement officers.

The incident occurred in Lahore, Punjab, and according to preliminary reports provided by CLAAS (Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement), the young man was “violently tortured throughout the night” by the police. The next morning his lifeless body, was “dumped in front of his parents’ house”.

The charge of theft lodged against Ayesha (pictured) by Jabbar, has been strongly denied by the woman. One evening the Muslim employer together with a retinue of policemen raided her home, accusing her of stealing gold worth just over $ 350.

The police beat and detained the woman, then dragged her to her brother Arshad Masih, with whom her two sons lived.  According to the Muslim employer, Ayesha handed them over the stolen goods, while she continued to proclaim her innocence.

Jabbar began to beat Ayesha, under the indifferent eyes of the police; then the agents took the whole family, to the nearby police station to continue their interrogation. During the long hours of questioning the agents repeatedly used violence and torture against the Christian family, fracturing the woman’s arm. Later the police released all the family, except Zubair.

The family feared for the fate of the young man, because often the police use violence during interrogations, especially against Christians. And the fears proved well founded when, on the morning of March 6, they found the body of 20 year old in front of their door. Doctors confirmed that the death occurred as a result of torture.

For two days the family protested outside the police station. Later under pressure from activists and civil society, on March 8, investigators opened an investigation against an officer and three agents. Despite promises of justice, most likely the story will end with a paltry monetary compensation to the family while the policemen will remain unpunished.

With a population of more than 180 million people (97 per cent Muslim), Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, the second largest Muslim nation after Indonesia.

About 80 per cent of Muslims are Sunni, whilst Shias are 20 per cent. Hindus are 1.85 per cent, followed by Christians (1.6 per cent) and Sikhs (0.04 per cent).

Scores of violent incidents have occurred in recent years, against entire communities (Gojra in 2009, and Joseph Colony, Lahore, in March 2013), places of worship (Peshawar, September last year) and individuals ( Sawan Masih, Asia Bibi, Rimsha Masih and Robert Fanish Masih, who died in prison), often perpetrated under the pretext of the country’s blasphemy laws.

– asianews

Is our silence abandonment for persecuted Church?

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

silent churchMarch 12, 2015: A former congressman has created a new religious freedom organization, motivated by the persecution of the Church around the world.

Frank Wolf, co-founder of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, says the church and government have been relatively silent on the issue.

On a recent fact-finding mission to Iraq, he says the Christian church is facing extinction. The agency released a report warning that if the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq is not stopped, Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minority groups face a looming genocide. What was once home to 1.5 million Christians is down to approximately 300,000.

The Wilberforce delegation traveled close to the Islamic State frontline and later visited the Nineveh Protection Unit, a Christian defensive guard being trained to defend historic Christian villages and towns if and when they become liberated from the Islamic State.

According to a press release, Wolf said they interviewed about 75 people while on their fact-finding mission in Iraq. The delegation found that six months after fleeing the Islamic State’s murderous march through their lands, Iraq’s displaced religious minorities feel abandoned, and they implore the international community to help.

Wolf said they were asked, “Does anybody in the church in the West care about us?”

The question has resonance, says Global Advance founder and chairman, Dr. David Shibley. “We used to read about those who were beheaded for the testimony of Jesus. It seemed like some sort of vague eschatology. Well today, it’s this morning’s news. We are in a very critical time in history. It’s a time to lift high the name of Jesus, to make clear and broadcast the Gospel.”

Sadly, says Shibley, too many Christians in the West remain unaware. “It is an issue that we cannot intelligently ignore. Our brothers and sisters are facing some terrible situations around the world. The Bible is very clear: ‘If one member suffers, we all suffer.’”

Due to the rise in Hindu nationalism, Buddhist extremism, and the explosion of the Islamic State terror group, it’s something that they’re faced with in every Frontline Shepherd’s conference. In fact, on Monday “I received a communique from a pastor friend of mine in Asia. He asked for prayer because over the last three weeks, he and his family have been threatened with death three times–the latest being a 4:00AM phone call, threatening to kill him and all of his family.” The church this friend serves runs a school, too. The school offers a non-discriminatory education, which is embraced by much of the community. The reason he’s being targeted? He preaches the Gospel, says Shibley.

Why resist what’s good for a community? Some community leaders don’t want the power structure to change. When people turn to Christ, it means they’re leaving something else and taking with them community influence. “In some cases, because there is an attempt to lift people out of ignorance, those who chose to stay ignorant of God and His ways know of no other recourse but violence.”

During Holy month, the Global Advance team is traveling to encourage these beleaguered pastors, Shibley adds. “In April, we’re going to be in nine training events around the world. Interestingly, seven of those nine training events are in nations where the Church is experiencing rather acute persecution.” It’s a particularly dangerous time to gather a large body of Christians together. However, Global Advance teams are trying to let the Persecuted Church know they haven’t been forgotten.

Here’s how they help: “We’re going to teach them about how to more effectively evangelize and disciple their nations; how to effectively plant churches; how to become a missionary-sending church, themselves.”

Even if they didn’t do all of this, Shibley says it’s important not to underestimate the power of encouragement. It brings hope and eases the weight that comes with persecution. “In the middle of all of that, [it’s helpful] simply to be on site and say, ‘We care. We’re undergirding you. You’re not forgotten by the rest of the body of Christ.’ At this time in history, it’s a very important ministry.”

The question Congressman Wolf was asked by Iraqi Christians, “Does anybody in the church in the West care about us?” is a call to action. Shibley says it’s time to respond. “We act, first of all, by not minimizing the power of prayer: understanding that prayer is a potent force, that there is (as someone said long ago) ‘no distance in prayer,’ but we need to pray intelligently. We need to pray over the events of our day.”

Why pray for boldness? “We need to pray for what the Early Church prayed for when they experienced their first bout of persecution. They came together, they prayed; they said, ‘Lord, behold their threatenings, and grant your servants boldness that we might preach your Word.’ That’s the same thing that we need to pray for today.”

– mnn

Imagine what Church will become in the year 2050!

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

PASTOR: Praise the Lord.

CONGREGATION: Hallelujah!

PASTOR: Can we please turn our iPads and

Kindle bibles to exodus 20:1

ipad in church

When you’re done, kindly switch on your Bluetooth
to receive the sermon…Please have your debit
cards ready as we shall now collect tithes and offering.

You can connect to the church Wi-fi using
password Lord 99087 and as for the
renovation donations, you’re welcome to
contribute via EFT or cellphone banking.

The holy atmosphere is truly electric as the iPads beep and flicker.

watsapp

Meanwhile…

Announcements!
CHURCH SECRETARY: This week’s meetings will
be held on the various WhatsApp groups so please
don’t miss out!

tweeter

Wednesday Bible teachings will be held live on
Skype @1900hrs GMT.
By the way, you may follow the Pastor on

Twitter for counselling and don’t forget
our weekly prayers on YouTube.

God Bless You All.

CONGREGATION: Amen!

– fwd: vathan shettigar / divine gen

Mumbai Catholics to celebrate ’24 hours for the Lord’ with Pope Francis

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

24hoursMumbai, March 10, 2015: Mumbai’s Catholic community has responded to Pope Francis’ call for this Lent by organising ’24 hours for the Lord’ starting on Friday at the Cathedral of the Holy Name, seat of the Archbishop of Bombay, Cardinal Oswald Gracias.

“I asked the priests of the whole archdiocese,” the prelate told AsiaNews, “to keep the churches open, to ask for God’s tender mercies, to emphasise the need for prayer and contemplation of the Eucharist, and to pray for the mission of the Church in India, Asia and around the world.”

“The day will start at 7.30 pm (local time) with the sacrament of reconciliation. The next day, at lunchtime, the archbishop will celebrate Mass, and then lead the Eucharistic adoration and the sacrament of reconciliation. This will end with the Eucharist at 7.30 pm.

What follows is Cardinal Gracias’ reflection, sent to AsiaNews, about the meaning of the ’24 hours for the Lord’.

This is an opportune time to reflect and pray, asking God for Mercy, for ourselves and to show his mercy to others. It is also a time for us to reconcile ourselves to the Lord, to get peace in our own hearts – All included in His Mercy, God excludes no one, as is the theme: ‘GOD RICH IN MERCY’.

Pope Francis said that God never tires of us asking for forgiveness. We must also encourage people to experience the Graces of the sacrament of reconciliation.

The 24 hours for the Lord is a Time of Grace, a gift of 24 hours for reflection and prayer, to forgive and be forgiven. These are precious moments when we pray in solidarity for the suffering because of their faith; here in India and around the world, we pray for peace in those [suffering] areas.

The 24 Hours for the Lord also means putting in practice Pope Francis’ Lenten message, which speaks out against the ‘globalisation of indifference’.

We pray that, moved by the Grace of conversion, our hearts may respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first, so that we may, with renewed zeal, go more generously to the aid of our needy neighbours: the poor, the lonely, the sick, the elderly, orphans and widows, the disabled and all those who are abandoned, the destitute and those living on the edges of society, suffering marginalisation and discrimination.

We pray that these 24 hours for the Lord will give us the Grace to overcome the ‘globalisation of indifference’ and become visible instruments of his love.

During these 24 hours for the Lord, we intercede with the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of Mercy, to be renewed by his love, and show his mercy to others.

– asianews

HC quashes lookout notice against Greenpeace activist

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Priya PillaiNew Delhi, March 12, 2015: Granting relief to Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai, who was stopped from flying to London in January, the Delhi High Court on Thursday quashed the “lookout” circular issued against her and questioned the government’s move to stop her from travelling.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher also directed the Bureau of Immigration to expunge the endorsements “off-load” made on Pillai’s passport when she was off-loaded from a flight to London by immigration officials at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on January 11.

“Bureau of Immigration shall expunge the endorsement ‘off-load’ made on Pillai’s passport. Furthermore, the government shall also remove Pillai’s name from the ‘database’ maintained by them pertaining to those individuals who are not allowed to leave the country,” said the court in its order.

Pillai was invited to London to brief British parliamentarians on her campaign with local communities in Mahan in Madhya Pradesh, where a proposed coal mining project is allegedly threatening to uproot the lives and livelihood of a community but prevented from leaving the country by the central government.

In its reaction, Greenpeace India welcomed the relief granted to Pillai, terming “the court’s decision as a vindication of the group’s legitimacy and the validity of its campaigns for the rights of people to their land and forests for clean energy, a healthy environment and to hold corporations and the government accountable”.

Pillai, in a statement, said: “We are relieved that the court has cracked down on this undemocratic abuse of power by the government. The bar on my travel was a clear violation of civil rights.”

“If this government is genuine about its promise of inclusive development that benefits all, it needs to work with civil society rather than seek to suppress it. We hope that this signals the end of the harassment that Greenpeace India and other genuine activists are facing,” she said.

The high court, upholding Pillai’s right to travel and freedom of speech and expression, also questioned the government’s move to interfere with an individual’s freedom.

“Why must the state interfere with the freedom of an individual, as long as the individual concerned operates within the ambit of laws framed by the legislature?” Justice Shakdher said.

“Pillai’s right to travel abroad and interact with relevant stake holders (i.e., the British parliamentarians) to persuade them to have entities incorporated in their country to fall in line with the developmental ethos, which is close to her ideology and belief, cannot be impeded only because it is not in sync with policy perspective of the executive,” the court held.

The central government earlier told the court that Pillai was “involved in anti-national activities” and that was why she was offloaded at the airport. It had also said that government prevented Pillai from leaving India on the ground that she would project a negative image of the country at the international level.

However, the court said that travelling abroad and espousing views, without any criminal intent, cannot put Pillai in the category of an anti-national element.

“A person falling in the category of an anti-national element… can only be that person who projects a present and imminent danger to the national interest. Travelling abroad and espousing views, without any criminal intent of the kind adverted to above, cannot, in my opinion, put Pillai in the category of an anti-national element,” it said.

– ians

Raipur: Tribal & Dalit activists meet

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Tribal and Dalit Activits at RaipurNew Delhi, 13 March 2015: Two days consultation of Tribal and Dalit activists was organised by the Office for Justice, Peace and Development – Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (OJPD-CBCI) at Pastoral Centre, Raipur on 11-12 March 2015. The meeting began on 11th March at 10 AM by invoking the name of God through a Bhajan, which led us to have a God consciousness, creating an atmosphere and getting in touch with our whole movement of the program of the day.

The dignitaries present were Most Rev. Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur (Archbishop of Raipur), Most Rev. Bishop Gerald Almeida (Bishop of Jabalpur and the chairperson of OJPD-CBCI) and Most Rev. Immanuel Kerketta (Bishop of Jashpur and the chairperson of JPD in Chhattisgarh region). Fr. Sebatian Poomattam, VG of Raipur and the secretary of JPD from Chhattisgarh Region welcomed the participants that included Bishops, clergy and the lay partners from the regions of Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh who are heading the different organisations working towards a just and peaceful human society. There were about 60 Participants attending the consultation.

The dignitaries gave the key note addresses and their inspiring messages to the participants insisting that no peace without justice and no development without peace; ‘Shalom’ needs to be looked in its totality; The church has a great role to play in working towards justice; Walk the talk; Being in solidarity with the poor and the marginalised; Rights and dignity to our workers (just wage); Link people to resources, etc.

Rev Dr Charles Irudayam, secretary of OJPD-CBCI took the lead to emphasise our role towards a call to social activism from the perspective of Christian spirituality. In his presentation he focussed the vision and mission of JPD and our role towards building a just and peaceful society. The main purpose of organising this consultation meeting was to inspire, to guide and to animate at national level. He explained that the development is a movement from less human conditions to more human conditions.

Mr. Gladson Dung Dung, a human right activist presented the signs of the times, the main issues and major challenges faced by the country and religion. He highlighted the issues of the tribal and dalit such as displacement, allotment of budget and the right to life etc. He further focussed on the changes brought in the land acquisition Act under which comes social impact assessment, mandatory consent of community, food security, liability of land and returning of utilization of the property. Further he continued his analysis on the globalised culture, human trafficking, freedom of expression and issues of naxalism.

Fr. Ajay Singh Kumar, a social activist and the director of the Odisha Regional Forum from the arch diocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar(OROSA) basically spoke about the empowerment of dalit and their issues in the region. Quoting from the constitution of India he said that the preamble is in slippery mode: socialist, secular, democratic and republic. He further stressed that the tribal population is more in numbers in Christianity than the dalit. Speaking from his own experience he said that every 18 minutes the dalit and the tribal are attacked who are considered vulnerable in our society. So it is a great challenge before us. He also spoke about the hidden agenda of Hindutva and RSS fundamental groups. He concluded by saying that we need to share the common heritage and to be united to work towards the egalitarian and just human society. The participants dispersed for the regional level group discussion with the following questions:

1. What are the three major issues of your region?
2. What are the three major interventions you are involved in?
3. What are the challenges you face during the interventions?

After their discussion the participants presented the report during which the participants were active through their interaction and clarification. Fr. Charles summarised the whole presentation in an nutshell. Then Bp. Gerald Almeida concluded the first day’s program by saying that we need to generate and inspire leadership and he added many other concerns. At 7:15 pm we participated in the Holy Eucharistic celebration celebrated by Bishops. After which the participants went for dinner followed by a documentary film based on the issues of displacement, human rights violations and the protest by the people.

The second day started with graceful Eucharistic meal asking for Gods blessings at 7 am. The session started with the prayer song of “Keep on moving my brothers and sisters. Keep on moving, one day you will succeed.” The minutes of the previous day was presented by Sr. Nisha from Bihar. Fr. Sebastian invited the High court lawyer Mrs. Sudha Bharadhwaj to speak on “woman rights and issues.” She pointed out main issues such as male dominating society, working towards the dignity, equality of woman, displacement of woman and children, lack of woman leadership, make space for woman, special attention on sex discrimination , child labour and trafficking, domestic violence act, Adivasis & Dalit women suppression in Chhattisgarh, etc. This session was very encouraging, informative and enthusiastic. The participants interacted with her with their questions.

The nest session started with an awareness song of “we will not give up our land.” Then Mr. Gladson Dungdung (human rights activists) came up with a challenging and inspiring presentation show on “Evidence Based Advocacy.” He captured our mind and heart and also highlighted on following issues: a successful advocacy initiatives, naxal movement in saranda, anti-naxals operations, evidence-based gathering process, major interventions, achievements and challenges. These burning points are practically focused on encroachment of SARANDA forest and its successes.

Then Fr. Nicholas,SVD came up with the supportive point of BHARAT RURAL LIVELIHOOD FOUNDATION (BRLF). He explained briefly regarding fund raising and getting GOVT. Funded Schemes for our tribal scheduled areas. Followed by there was a heartbreaking reality documented film on brutally raped and sexually harassed small aged children named as – Pranitha, Shaheen,and Anjali. Our heart was deeply moved by the truth tearing powerful talk of Sunita Krishnan.

After the lunch break we had a group discussion and action plan state wise for future initiatives regarding justice peace issues in the direction of Fr. Charles Irudayam. Then each state presented their futuristic action plan and the session came to an end with conviction on our mission and our roles.

A grateful thanksgiving to OJPD and the resource person and participants was given by Fr. TOMY A J from Jharkhand. He expressed his special thanks on behalf of the participants to Fr. Charles Irudayam for enkindling our minds by organising this two days consultation of Justice and Peace workers of Northern States. He thanked also Rev. Fr. Joseph Raj who is Chhattisgarh Forum Director and the local organiser of this consultation.

– dr charles irudayam

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