Arunachal’s remote village organizes interreligious peace rally

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Arunachal Pradesh, September 21, 2016: A remote village in India’s northeastern corner organized an inter-religious peace rally amid growing terror attacks and killings in the name of religion.

“Of late, the world has witnessed an unprecedented violence and mindless killings by religious fundamentalists,” said Father Felix Anthony, principal of the local Catholic school, said while launching the candle-lit peace rally in Neotan village attended by around hundreds of people. “The world is in need of peace now more than ever. We see pain and flood shed all around in the name of religion,” he added.

The village is Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh.

On July 26, the world woke up to a gruesome killing of a senior French Priest Father Jacques Hamel. His throat was slit while celebrating Mass by Islamist extremists.

This painful incident added salt to the wounds created by the killing of four Mother Teresa Sisters in Yamen by the same extremist group in the beginning of this year. Pained by the growing number of killings of Christians, Pope Francis invited all the Christians all over the world for A Day of Prayer for Peace on  September 20 when the Pope would preside over an Interreligious meeting in Assisi, Italy.

Responding the Pope’s invitation, Bishop George Pallipparambil of Miao called on all parishes, schools and institutions to observe the day of prayer with inter-religious meetings, peace rally and special prayer for peace.

The people in Neotan responded to the prelate’s invitation.

Head Monk at Buddhist Monastery in Miao, Venerable Narinda Bhikkhu Mahathero, attending the event highlighted the need of peace in the world at the moment. “Amidst growing religious intolerance in India and all around, this inter-religious peace rally is a great step to promote mutual respect and peace among the people of all faith backgrounds”, said the Monk.

Thiksal Morang, former Deputy Director of School Education (DDSE) Changlang District, representing the Tangsa Baptist Church Association in Arunachal Pradesh, invited all to be messengers of peace. “A peaceful society is a responsibility of all. All of us must strive to establish a harmonious society”, said the former DDSE.

There were prayer services and other peace initiatives conducted in other parts of East Arunachal Pradesh to participate in Pope’s invitation to pray for peace. The school children in Deomali in Tirap District also made a special prayer service to pray for peace in the world.

“Our peace initiative does not end with this rally. It only begins now. We should work to promote peace in our society in our own little ways to make the world a peaceful place to live in”, said Fr. Felix at the conclusion of the rally.

The people also remembered and prayed for the Army Jawans who lost their life in the terrorist attack at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir, during the peace rally.

There is so much wound to be healed. Peace is the balm that the world needs, Mrs. Dangnai Mossang, a local public leader from Miao, said while closing the peace rally.

Will religious fundamentalists, fanatics and extremists realize that all of us are children of the same God and it pains Him as Father to see his children killing each other in His name?

– matters india

Christian family seeks EWS school seat, challenges Delhi govt. order

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, September 25, 2016: The issue of exemptions granted to minority education institutions is about to be raked up again, and this time a Christian boy and his father are behind it.

Residents of Suraj Park slums in Badli, Dinesh Kumar and his son Aashish, have challenged a Delhi government notification that exempts minority schools on public land from EWS reservation where it’s a condition in the allotment agreement.

Failing to secure a seat for Aashish through an online EWS nursery admission system introduced this year, Dinesh visited Christian minority schools close to home. “But there wasn’t a provision under which they could apply because the Delhi government misread a judgment and in April this year exempted minority institutions from their land deed obligation on EWS admissions,” said the duo’s lawyer Khagesh Jha.

Kumar is an unskilled factory worker earning Rs 6,000 a month. The government isn’t the only respondent; Delhi Development Authority — the land leasing agency — and several Christian schools have been made parties too.

In case of schools on land leased by government agencies, the agreements typically feature a clause requiring schools to reserve a certain percentage of seats for EWS candidates. In 2012, the extent of reservation was standardised and fixed at 20%.

In its April 28, 2016 order, Delhi government notified a 2014 high court order and said, “Minority schools running on the government land were exempted from the… obligation.” This was a “misreading” of the 2014 order, Jha said. The plea is that minority institutions be allowed to pick members of their own communities but belonging to EWS backgrounds for admission.

“All of this has been argued before the Supreme Court earlier. The composition of the class will be left to the minority institution,” said Romy Chako, a senior lawyer who’s represented several institutions in their battles against government regulation and reservation.

“Minority schools may choose to admit EWS students voluntarily — a large number of schools do — depending on the need of the child,” he added. Missionary schools also avoid government-imposed reservation because it is frequently misused, Chako said.

Jha’s issue mirrors this one. He said most minority institutions actually admit full-fee-paying non-minority students. In support of the argument, he produced the seat-distribution pattern for nursery admission made public by a Christian minority school for 2016-17. Not one of the total 240 seats is earmarked for EWS, he pointed out.

“You have to consider that the government is not allowing schools to raise fees and unlike schools that are reimbursed for EWS admissions, minority schools are not.

Where will they get the money from?” Chako said. But he also points out that the “appropriate thing to do” is to “question the minority status of the institution.”

– times of india

Kashmir unrest reaches Jammu’s Kishtwar, curfew imposed

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kashmir, September 26, 2016: As the latest unrest and subsequent curfews enter the third month in Kashmir, the situation seems to be turning out of hand, with violence spreading to Kishtwar district of Chenab valley.

The erstwhile district erupted in protest in the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday, when J&K Police had gone to arrest some religious figures who were named in an FIR pertaining to pro freedom and anti India slogans raised on the eve of Eid Al Adha earlier this month.

In the intervening night of 24th and 25th September, forces raided residences of two prominent religious figures of the district, Qari Manzoor Hussain Ganai and Maulvi Abdul Qayoom Matoo, besides the houses of two other persons. They were able to arrest Abdul Qayoom Matoo, whereas Manzoor Hussain Ganai wasn’t present in his house at the time of raid.

“The word about the Imam’s arrest spread like a fire in the town as the announcement was announced on loudspeakers, which prompted people to come on the road to protest against the move. The policemen chased protesters with sticks and use of non lethal weapons,” Waqqas Ahmed from Kishtwar informed

In the view of deteriorating law and order situation in the town, the authorities decided to impose curfew in the morning.

“Before Fajar prayer, the louder speakers on police vehicles announced the imposition of curfew and asked the residents not to venture out of their home,” Ahmed added.

According to the TCN sources, the district administration Kishtwar was initially apprehensive on arresting the persons named under the FIR citing vitiating of the atmosphere in the district. Later a new Station House Officer was posted in the town, who decided to arrest accused persons in nocturnal raids during nights, a pattern which is followed by the security forces during the prevailing unrest in the valley.

As per the latest reports, the curfew is still in place with no breaks.

“We are confined to our homes since today morning. There is huge presence of forces in the town,” said Adil Khan, a resident of Kishtwar town.

Importantly, the arrests were carried in connection with an FIR registered under sections 124 A (Sedition), 120 B (Criminal Conspiracy), and 153 A (Promoting Religious Enmity) at Police Station Kishtwar against 18 persons who were named for raising anti India slogans besides provoking youths on the eve of Eid Al Adha.

Districts in Chenab valley comprises of Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar districts which have a mixed Hindu-Muslim population. Kishtwar has been observing frequent shutdowns since last two months against the excessive use of force on people in Kashmir as well as for resolution of the problem.

Last month in Doda district, police had arrested a prominent advocate, social activist and human rights defender, Babar-ul-Islam Nehru from Saah Mohallah and alter booked him under the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA).

– tcn

Christian boy may be executed in Pakistan for posting ‘blasphemous’ picture on facebook

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Pakistan, September 23, 2016: A Pakistani Christian boy who was arrested earlier this week could face the death penalty after he was accused of posting a picture on Facebook that Muslims consider to be blasphemous toward Islam.

According to the London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association, 16-year-old Nabeel Masih, who lives in the town of Kasur in the Punjab province, was accused of posting a blasphemous picture on Facebook that reportedly showed the Kaaba (the building at the center of Islam’s most sacred mosque in Mecca) with a pig’s head on top.

Masih’s alleged post was reported to local police by a Muslim friend who found it offensive. Masih was arrested and is being held at the local police station in Kasur until his trial.

Police official Shahbaz Ahmed told AFP that the Muslim’s complaint against Masih claimed that the Facebook post was “hurting religious sentiments of Muslims and desecrating the religious place.”

The Pakistani news site The Nation reports that the child has been “charged under sections 295/295A under the Pakistan Penal Code.”

The BPCA reports that it is not known whether Masih placed the image on Facebook himself or if he was tagged into the post by another Facebook user. BPCA also claims that it is unclear as to whether the allegation is entirely made up, since blasphemy allegations in Pakistan are often used by Muslims to settle personal scores with religious minorities.

Local police told BPCA officer Naveed Aziz that they have since deleted the Facebook post, which makes it impossible to know if Masih had actually placed the alleged picture on Facebook.

“This incident again underlines the worthlessness of Christians in Pakistan. A 16-year-old boy who has been accused of a blasphemy has been placed in a prison without any proper investigation,” BPCA President Wilson Chowdhry said in a statement. “Social media can be a force for good or for bad and we are all too aware of trolling in the West. However, few understand the blasphemy entrapment Christians can face in Pakistan and often on flimsiest evidence, for which I can see social media becoming an ever more prolific weapon.”

As blasphemy is an offense punishable by death in Pakistan. Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five, has been held for over six years on death row after being accused of blasphemy, and now Masih is in danger of facing a similar fate.

Additionally, accusations of blasphemy in Pakistan tend to cause enraged Muslims to persecute Christian villagers.

It was reported earlier this year that a blasphemy accusation against a Christian man in the Punjab town of Mandi Bahaudin led a large Muslim mob to descend on his Christian neighborhood to threaten the community. Fortunately, police were able to prevent the mob from hurting any of the villagers.

Following the accusation against Masih, many of his family members and other Christians have fled their village after threats were made against the local Christian community, BPCA reports.

The allegations against Masih come after another Christian man by the name of Nadeem James was accused in July of sending a blasphemous poem to his Muslim friend through the WhatsApp messaging service. As James went into hiding, it was reported that his sister and sister-in-law were beaten and tortured by police in hopes that they would turn over their brother and brother-in-law.

Chowdhry warns that past blasphemy accusations should cause Pakistani Christians to think twice about befriending Muslims on social media.

“Pakistani Christians try to be active parts of society and will have friends from the local Muslim community but it is hard to be part of the local community when you exclude diversity,” Chowdhry asserted. “Perhaps in future, Christians in Pakistan should observe a more standoffish approach when adding Muslims to their social media. Clearly, even long term friends will [call] for your blood if they feel that you have slighted their faith. Perhaps, it would be wise to prevent such hatred by more aloofness in future.”

As Open Doors USA ranks Pakistan as the sixth worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, BPCA has an ongoing online petition calling for the Pakistani government to repeal its blasphemy laws.

– christian post

Iraqi civilians break into ISIS prison to free 40 detainees; Kill 5 terror group guards

September 26, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

Iraq, September 25, 2016: Local residents in Iraq’s Sharqat district in Salah al-Din province stormed a prison run by Islamic State, killed five prison guards and freed at least 40 prisoners, even as Iraqi forces regained the district from the terror group with the help of the U.S.-led international coalition.

The civilians in Sharqat district, north of Baghdad, liberated the prisoners, mostly residents of the same district, from a central prison in the district’s Right Coast run by Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS or ISIL, earlier this week, Iraqi News reported, quoting an anonymous security source in Salah al-Din province.

The residents killed five prison guards and freed more than 40 detainees.

“These residents began hitting ISIS members in their last stronghold in the Right Coast,” the source was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, security forces expelled ISIS from the Sharqat district, where more than 160,000 people had been displaced due to ISIS violence, and announced the liberation of Sharqat.

“Within 72 hours, our armed forces have fought a swift and unique battle resulted in the full liberation of Sharqat and raising the Iraqi flag over its governmental offices,” Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasoul was quoted as saying.

Hundreds of ISIS militants were killed in the fight for Sharqat, an Iraqi army officer told ARA News. “In the coming days, the Iraqi troops will work on dismantling explosives left by Daesh in the District,” he was quoted as saying.

The day before security forces announced the liberation of the district, the Iraqi army managed to cut off a major ISIS supply route between Sharqat and Mosul, the main ISIS bastion in that country.

“This route was a key supply-line for Daesh terrorists in northern Iraq. It linked the Daesh-held major city of Mosul with the Sharqat District and the Baaj District,” an army commander, Salim al-Jabouri, was quoted as saying.

Islamic State, a Sunni terror group, wants to create a caliphate in the Levant region and beyond, and controls parts of the territories of Iraq, Syria and Libya. Religious minorities are among its main targets.

While the terror group is losing territory in Iraq and Syria, it still has 18,000 to 22,000 fighters there despite some 13,000 airstrikes by the international coalition led by the United States, according to CIA director John Brennan.

– christian post

How to tame your tongue

September 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

I regret the foolish things I’ve said more than the foolish things I’ve done. The longer I have lived and read my Bible, the more I realized how much damage thoughtless and malicious words can do to people. These words belong in the same category for a simple reason- they come from the same place. Thoughtless words may not have the same piercing intention as malicious speech, but they proceed from a heart that is just as sick.

Too often we believe the tongue cannot be tamed, so we give up trying to restrain it at all. This is not an option for Christians, as we face too many biblical admonitions telling us to control the words that come out of our mouths. James warns us that a small spark can start a large fire, and the tongue, though small, can leave behind a similar trail of destruction. Paul wrote to the congregation and reminded them that no unwholesome talk should come from the mouth of a believer, but only words that are conducive for giving edifying grace to the hearer. Jesus said the mouth speaks out of the overflow of the heart, thus making our words a window into our souls and the Proverbs contain countless warnings about the danger of an unbridled tongue.

Since the Bible commands us so often to exercise self-control in our speech, how do we actively work to restrain our words?

Know the Power of Your Words

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

When I say our words have power, I don’t mean they have creative power in the same way that God’s words do. Rather what we see Solomon say in the Proverbs is that our words can tear down and destroy another person or they can build another person up. Notice the imagery Solomon used in 12:18. Words can act like sword thrusts, making sharp cuts into the soul of our friends and neighbors when we speak thoughtlessly. The offense may not have been intended, after all Solomon chooses the word “rash,” but thoughtless words can have the same effects as words spoken with malicious intent. When we speak without thinking, we can bring discouragement, frustration, and pain into the lives of people around us.

Thankfully Solomon offers an alternative to our words bringing death and pain. Our words can bring healing and life to other people. As Paul said in Ephesians 4, proper words spoken at the proper time and with the proper motive encourage, build up, challenge, and bring grace to the person who hears them. The point here is not that we are slapping people on the back and telling them what they want to hear, but rather than we speak in such a way that even our rebukes bring grace because they are fitly spoken for the purpose of helping the other person. Our words can hurt and destroy or help and heal, let us give thought so that they do the latter rather than the former.

Weigh Your Words

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life.” Proverbs 14:3

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13

In these two verses Solomon reminds us to think carefully before we speak. In 18:13, he shows the foolishness of speaking about a subject without hearing a matter out completely. How often in discussions with other people do we think about what we are going to say next rather than listening to what they have to say? I would argue that careful listening is one of the best ways to demonstrate wisdom in our current culture. So often we read something someone says and react without giving careful thought to their argument or respond to something someone says when we only halfway heard and understood what they were saying. Wisdom and genuine understanding call us to listen and then think about what we are going to say before we open our mouths.

Just because we have heard what another person said and thought about what we want to say, this doesn’t mean that we have to actually say the words we have formulated. In the passage in 14:3 Solomon tells us that the one who guards his mouth preserves his life. In the previous verse he said a man eats what is good from the fruit of his mouth. By this he means that the one who speaks wisely eats well because he reaps the rewards of wise speech. Since wise speech pays off but treacherous speech leads to violence, shouldn’t we vigilantly guard the words that come out of our mouths? We must think twice before we speak. The first time we carefully consider what we are going to say and then we ponder whether these words need to be said at all.

Don’t Mix Anger with Your Words

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“A fools lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Proverbs 18:6

A quick temper can lead to a verbal bloodbath. When we get angry and start venting, we speak without any consideration to how what we are saying will affect the people around us. Our anger blinds us to anything but the thing we didn’t get, the situation that didn’t go our way, or the person who disappointed us. In our blowing off steam we do not spend one second thinking about how our words will wound those in our hearing. Instead we make ourselves feel better in a tirade that leaves destruction in its wake. Think about your last angry tirade. You probably don’t remember the things you said in the heat of the moment, but the people around you do.

One aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Through the work of God’s Spirit in our lives we can begin to gain control both of our tempers and the words we say when we get angry. The key to dealing with our anger and the resulting verbal barrages that go along with it is to stop and cool off before we speak or act rashly. This can be done by simply getting away by yourself and taking a few minutes to think and pray. When we’re angry we have to regain the perspective we lose in moments of anger and get our spirits cooled down so that we can interact with people in a helpful way. Words spoken in anger will only stir up tension, but speaking calmly from a position of self-control will diffuse tense and difficult situations.

Our words have the capacity to do great things. With our mouths we can share the Gospel, pray, disciple, read Scripture, and sing songs to the Lord. The same mouth can also be used to tear down another person and to berate someone made in the image of God. James said these things cannot come from the same mouth, so we repent and rest in the forgiveness that is found in Christ when we’ve sinned with our lips. Then, through the grace we are shown in the Gospel and the power of God’s Spirit we seek to gain control of our tongues so they might be used again for God’s glory alone.

– cross walk

Billy Graham slams prosperity gospel: ‘You cannot serve both God & money’

September 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-lead

U.S., September 22, 2016: The Bible doesn’t say that being a faithful Christian will lead to material wealth, says the Rev. Billy Graham who responded to a question about the teachings of prosperity gospel preachers by noting that Jesus and His disciples were never rich.

In a question-and-answer column published on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website on Wednesday, Graham was asked whether God wants people to be wealthy.

“Does God want everyone to be rich? I heard someone on TV claim that this is what the Bible teaches, but I wonder if it’s true,” the reader asked Graham. “We struggle every month just to pay our bills, and yet my husband and I have always tried to put God first.”

Graham responded by saying, “the Bible doesn’t promise that everyone who follows Jesus will become wealthy,” as Jesus Himself was not a rich man.

“After all, Jesus wasn’t rich, nor were His first disciples — not at all. In fact, the only disciple who really cared about money was Judas, whose greed and unbelief caused him to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver,” wrote Graham.

“Repeatedly the Bible warns us against being consumed by money, or placing it first in our lives instead of Christ. Jesus said, ‘No one can serve two masters. … You cannot serve both God and money’ (Matthew 6:24).”

Graham went on to stress that the better wealth was a spiritual nature, noting that “when we know Christ we are rich — not necessarily with this world’s goods, but with spiritual riches!

“Think of it a moment. Can anything this world offers be greater than God’s forgiveness? Can anything be greater than Christ’s presence with us every day?” Graham asked.

“Can anything be greater than the privilege of prayer, or being part of Christ’s family, or being used to bless others?”

The prosperity gospel theology states that God wants believers to be rich and if they have enough faith, they can become materially wealthy.

While widely denounced in most Christian circles, prosperity gospel has been known to be preached among some megachurch pastors and televangelists.

Graham is not the only prominent Christian figure to offer recent comments denouncing the prosperity gospel. Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren also critiqued the notion in a devotional published last month.

Referring to Earth as “a temporary assignment,” Warren wrote back in August that it is “a fatal mistake to assume that God’s goal for your life is material prosperity or popular success as the world defines it.”

“Paul was faithful, yet he ended up in prison. John the Baptist was faithful, but he was beheaded. Millions of faithful people have been martyred, have lost everything, or have come to the end of life with nothing to show for it,” Warren said.

“The abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance. Faithfulness to God does not guarantee success in a career or even in ministry. Never focus on temporary crowns.”

– christian post

Velim church case: Court nixes plea to withdraw it

September 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Goa, September 24, 2016: A court on Friday rejected the prosecution’s plea to withdraw the case against Fr Romanova Gonsalves and others in the Velim church police attack case. Margao judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) Ram Prabhudessai adjourned the case to October 5 to decide whether it should be tried before it or by the sessions court.

The court, rejecting the application, said that the issue remains of attempt to murder (Section 307, IPC) against the accused. As per this section, only a sessions court can try the case, The Times of India reported.

Head constable Krishnanand Rane strongly objected to the government’s decision to withdraw the case, stating that he was victim of the brutal assault by the mob. PI Kapil Naik too, had objected to the withdrawal. In his submission, he had stated: “The state government withdrawing the criminal case against the perpetrators of such heinous and grave crime is an insult to the police fraternity.”

On the night of February 25, 2012, police allegedly entered the residence of Velim parish priest Fr Romanova Gonsalves while he was praying.

On seeing the police at the church premises, news spread like wildfire and people gathered at the church. This subsequently turned into a law-and-order situation. Parishioners were further agitated on seeing the central paramilitary force personnel in such large numbers near the church.

This led to a confrontation between the police and the public, with the latter demanding reasons for trespassing onto the church premises late at night.

The mob allegedly turned violent and attempts by the priest to pacify the crowd failed. In the confusion, it is alleged that members of the public as well as some cops suffered injuries.

– matters india

Muslims, Christians, Dalits stage protest demanding ban on cow vigilantism

September 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

New Delhi, September 23, 2016: Several Muslim, Christian and Dalit organisations on Friday staged a protest at the Jantar Mantar here, demanding a ban on “cow vigilantism” and sought passage of the Communal Violence Bill.

The protesters also submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee, urging him to play his role in defending the constitutional rights of the people “who are increasingly being persecuted” allegedly under the NDA government at the Centre.

“We demand the cow vigilantism be banned and people be allowed to eat the food of their choice,” All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat president Navaid Hamid said.

“A commission should be formed to report whether the recent events are part of organised crimes orchestrated by parties to polarise votes for political mileage and to suggest proper mechanism to prevent deterioration of democratic system by overuse of polarisation tactics leading to vast loss of lives and properties and displacement of people from their cozy homes,” Jamat-e-Islami Hind vice-president Nusrat Ali said.

Maulana Abdul Hameed, General Secretary of Jamiatul Ulama Hind, demanded that judicial inquiry be initiated in major cases that occurred in Dadri, Dingerhedi, Paida village of Bijnore and the killing of youth allegedly by cow vigilantes in Ahmedabad.

“The Communal Violence Bill should be made a law as soon as possible so that communal forces should be suitably dealtwith for maintaining peace and law and order in the country,” he said.

The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005, seeks to empower the government to prevent and control communal violence, provide for speedy investigation and trial of offences and rehabilitate victims of such violence.

The protesters also demanded that due compensation should be paid by governments concerned to the victims and their families and a standard method be evolved for equal compensation to people across the communities and proper rules be devised for immediate relief to affected families.

Other organisations which participated in the protest include Lokraj Sanghtan, Dalit Federation AMOD, All India Shia Council and Students Islamic Organisation of India.

– news 18

India’s anti-Christian massacre carefully planned – activist

September 25, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Odisha, September 23, 2016: The untold atrocities that Christians in eastern India’s Odisha state were subjected to in 2008, are the result of careful planning by Hindu nationalist groups of the “Sangh Parivar” network at the highest level, an Indian journalist and rights activist told the media on Thursday, alleging illiterate masses of militants were manipulated by propaganda and incited to kill.  Thanks to the investigation carried out by Anto Akkara, “one can rewrite the history of Kandhamal”, the district in Odisha where the atrocities were concentrated.

Violence rained down on ‎Christians ‎with ‎untold savagery, with Hindu extremists ‎blaming the August 23, ‎‎2008 assassination of ‎Hindu leader ‎Swami Saraswati Laxmanananda on Christians, ‎despite Maoist rebels ‎claiming the murder. ‎ Seven innocent Christian men were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 over the murder. Presenting his latest investigative book entitled: “Who killed Swami Laxmanananda ?” at a press conference in Odisha capital, Bhubaneshwar on Sept. 22, Akkara said, “it is a disgrace for the nation and the judiciary that seven innocent Christians are in prison for a crime they did not commit”.

Akkara denounced the sentence “without any proof” as an authentic “travesty of justice”. The Supreme Court has yet to set a date for the appeal, “but the alleged Christian conspiracy against Hindus is totally unfounded”, noted the journalist.

Akkara explained how the anti-Christian violence was orchestrated to pave the way for the victory of Hindu nationalist groups and the BJP in the 2009 elections, which was ultimately won by the Congress Party.  Akkara also lamented that the National Commission for Human Rights has not even issued a statement on Kandhamal in eight years.  He said that the “seven innocent Christians in prison are a stain on the judicial system of the country”, and “Kandhamal remains a blot on the face of Odisha and Indian secularism”.

– radio vaticana

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