1,000 senior citizens to embark on free pilgrimage

January 9, 2013 by  
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The Chhattisgarh government has come out with the district-wise number of senior citizens chosen to take up the pilgrimage.

1,000 senior citizens to embark on free pilgrimageRaipur, January 06, 2013: Around 1,000 senior citizens in Chhattisgarh will take up the once-in-a-lifetime free pilgrimage across the country, including the Velankanni church, from Jan. 15.

The state government has come out with the district-wise number of senior citizens chosen to take up the pilgrimage.

The annual pilgrimage is being organised under the ‘Chief Minister Pilgrimage Scheme’ as per the government decision, according to an official statement issued in Raipur.

The Social Welfare Department had already issued a directive to the district collectors for implementation of the scheme with the pilgrim groups and boarding stations earmarked for the group travel.

As per the itinerary, a group had been created for the districts of Raipur and Balodabazar which comprise 653 and 347 travelers respectively.

The pilgrims will depart from Raipur on January 15 for a four-day tour circuit of Shirdi-Shanishignapur-Triyambhakeshwar.

Similarly, the group comprising travellers from Mahasamund (414), Gariyaband (246) and Dhamtari (340) will board the train from Raipur on Jan. 20 for the four-day circuit.

The pilgrim group for the seven-day tour circuit-Tirupati-Madurai-Rameshwaram comprising 89 travelers from Narayanpur, Kondagaon (379), Kanker (532) will board from Jagdalpur Station on Jan. 25.

On the other hand for a seven-day trip to Dwarka-Somnath-Nageshwar, the pilgrims from Durg (571), Bemtara (188) and Balod (241) will board from Durg Station on Feb. 2.

Pilgrims of all districts would travel together for tour circuit Amritsar Golden Temple, Ajmer Sharif, Fatehpur (Tomb of Saint Chisti), Velankanni Church, Nagapattanam (Tamilnadu).

The Amritsar Golden temple trip would commence on March 17 comprising pilgrims from all 27 districts.

Similarly, a six-day circuit of Ajmer Sharif and Fatehpur on March 24 and seven-day tour of Velankanni Church on March 30.

– the pioneer

Chhattisgarh: Pastor arrested

October 2, 2012 by  
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Map of ChhattisgarhChhattisgarh, October 1, 2012: Police arrested a pastor after Hindu extremists accused him of forceful conversion, making derogatory remarks against the Hindu deities and of disturbing social peace in Gobara, Jangir Champa, Chhattisagarh.

Our correspondent Rev. Akhilesh Edgar reported that police summoned Pastor Anand Nirala to Dabhara Police Station for investigation on the basis of the complaint lodged against him by the Hindu extremists of forceful conversion, insulting Hindu gods and causing disturbance in society.

On Sept 4, Pastor Nirala, accompanied by about 150 believers, went to the police station. However, the police sent back the believers saying that the pastor will be released soon after a simple inquiry.

However, a case was filed against Pastor Nirala and he was sent to Jangir jail. Area Christian leaders intervened and he was released on bail on 5 September.

The pastor however came to know that another case had been registered against him on the basis of the same complaint. Application for anticipatory bail submitted in the Sessions Court, Sakti, was rejected.

– efi

Chhattisgarh: Hindutvas attack mourners *Pastor and believers attacked

April 30, 2012 by  
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Chhattisgarh, April 27, 2012: Hindu extremists trying to stop the burial of a convert to Christianity last week in Chhattisgarh state beat a pastor and other Christians, including children and two 60-year-old women who fell unconscious, sources told Compass.

Jaikant Pawar, 31, of Balgal village, Kanker district, died on April 20 en route to a hospital; an asthma sufferer, he had complained of chest pains. When more than 40 Christians at the family’s house were taking his body out for burial, Hindu villagers who had surrounded the house stopped them.
“About 300 extremists led by the village head, Satnatram Pawar, suddenly surrounded the house shouting anti-Christian slogans, mocked and verbally abused us,” one Christian leader told Compass. “They slapped, kicked and beat us with their fists and slippers. The extremists threatened to kill us and challenged us to bring life back to the dead body of Pawar.”

At least 10 Christians sustained injuries and received medical treatment, sources said, adding that the attack went on for more than six hours. The assailants accused the Christians of having poisoned Pawar.

“The extremists were mocking us and said that Jesus, who calmed the storm, sent rain and who also raised up the dead, must also raise up Jaikant Pawar, and they forced us to pray,” the Christian leader said. “They threatened to pull off my skin if Jesus did not make Pawar alive again.”

The villagers beat Ganga Bhai and Suki Bhai, both 60 years old, he said.

“The Christians fled and scattered and some hid in their homes,” he said. “However, the extremists chased them and forcefully dragged them out from their houses. Two Christian children who were about 10 years old were pushed and thrown like a volleyball. They fell unconscious after some time.”

The leader, who suffered internal injuries in the attack, said he was beaten nearly unconscious, with the extremists pouring water on him to revive him when he was about to pass out. He and others eventually lost consciousness but were revived when a girl poured water on them; but one Christian, Pyaru Bihari, remained unconscious for 24 hours, he said.

At about 2 a.m. that night, the Hindu extremists told the Christians to remove the body from the village or be killed, sources said. The Christians carried the body to the Bande police station about 10 kilometers (six miles) away, but police were unwilling to register a First Information Report, they said.

After pressure from area Christian leaders and the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the district collector and police investigated, source said.

The officials summoned the attackers, who then falsely accused the Christians of beating them. Police warned the villagers not to disturb the Christians again and worked out an agreement in which the body was allowed to be buried in Balgal.

On Wednesday (April 25), however, area Christians began to receive threats, according to Christian support organization Open Doors.

“Withdraw your complaint or face dire consequences, to the point of losing your lives,” they were warned, according to an Open Doors press statement.

Pawar and his wife converted to Christianity three years ago, remaining firm in their faith in spite of being ostracized by their family and community, a Christian leader told Compass.

“Pawar firmly believed in Christ, and he once said, ‘Jesus gives me peace, so I cannot leave Him,’ when his relatives and the villagers warned him to leave Christ,” said another church leader.

Since they were the only Christians in their village, the couple gathered with Christians in nearby Bande and Pakhanjur, according to Open Doors. Pawar had suffered from a sickle-cell disease as well as asthma, the organization stated, forcing him to be hospitalized earlier this month.

– cdn

Chhattisgarh: Pastor and believers attacked


Chhattisgarh, April 25, 2012: Pastor Dhaniram Nag and his church believers has been attacked by some people during a prayer meeting.

On 20th night, pastor was conducting a prayer meeting in a place called, Bande, 15 km from his place Pakhanjur, Chhatisgarh state. They were worshipping and praying in a believer’s house when the village head (‘Sarpanch’) along with 250-300 other villagers came and locked the door from outside. They then started to bring out people one by one and started beating all of them (there were about 50 believers including Pastor & his wife), very badly until they become unconscious. The brutal act didn’t stop there as they poured water on Pastor & his wife and beat them up again and again. They did not even spare little children & ladies.

Meanwhile, there was a believer who was sick and was taken to a doctor in Pakhanjur. Though he was given some medication but he died upon reaching his village. Now, the Sarpanch and others started to accuse the Pastor & the church that he died because of them. They are not allowing the dead body to be buried. Then, Pastor & believers, took the dead body to the police station to seek the help from police. The Police In-charge has called the accused Sarpanch and others, but they have not reached & responded yet. Hence, all of them are waiting and nothing has been done yet.

– persecution.in

Prayer service disrupted & School attacked in Chhattisgarh * CG mining scams bigger than Karnataka exposure: Karma

February 20, 2012 by  
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Chhattisgarh-MapChhattisgarh, February 18, 2012: A group of Hindutva extremists disrupted a prayer service organized by Bershebha church on February 15th in Pandhi village, Seepat road, Near Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh. Pastor Daultram told Evangelical Fellowship of India, that a three day worship service was organized by the church and about 200 people were participating in the prayer service with prior police permission. The first day of the meeting went on smoothly. On the second day a group of about 6 miscreants from the area came and told pastor Daultram to stop the meeting.

On the third day, at about 12.30 in the afternoon, a mob of about 50 well armed activists came and destroyed the tent, mike and speakers. The mob then dragged the Christians present at the prayer service and started brutally assaulting them. The ensuing rampage resulted in severe injuries to the Christian and Pastor Sunam Besra suffered head injuries resulting in receiving stitches. The Inspector in-charge, Mr. Rajan Singh , arrived on the spot and took charge . A case has been registered against the radicals under section 147, 296 and 323 of the Indian Penal Code. No arrest has been made yet.

School attacked in Chhattisgarh

Chhattisgarh, February 18, 2012: Nirmala Convent School was surrounded by a group of Hindutva fundamentalists on January 31st in Korba, Chhattisgarh. As reported to EFI, a newly constructed school building was being inaugurated when suddenly at around 10.30 am a group of radicals belonging to the RSS entered the school raising slogans and disrupted the inauguration ceremony. The radicals accused the school of conversions. The outburst of the above incident was on the pretext of a school student carrying a bag in the premises. When noticed and questioned the student stated that he is carrying an idol of “Saraswati” ( a Hindu goddess of knowledge) and is going to perform “pooja” in the class. During all this the Hindu activists were standing outside the premises.

The police came at the school and the Sub Divisional Officer, ordered that the pooja be conducted and told Sister Mary, the Principal of the Nirmala Convent, to conduct the pooja. When she refused, a Hindu Teacher was told to conduct the pooja in her place. Thereafter, a local cable T V Channel “Abhi Tak” kept repeatedly telecasting false news that the idol of the Hindu Goddess has been desecrated by the Christians in the Convent school. An attempt to lodge the complain against the Channel was ignored by the police even when they kept telecasting the fabricated news for the next 48 hours. Despite the repeated attempts by the school authorities, no case has been registered against the radicals..

– efi

CG mining scams bigger than Karnataka exposure: Karma


Mahendra KarmaKarnataka, October 12, 2011: Former leader of opposition at Vidhan Sabha and senior Congress leader Mahendra Karma on Wednesday alleged that the mining scams in Chhattisgarh were much bigger than those exposed in Karnataka, which resulted in entrapment of Bellary brothers (Reddy brothers). “The rapid exploitation of the state’s mineral resources clearly indicates that the Raman Singh-led BJP government simply intends to destroy Chhattisgarh,” Karma said.

The veteran politician said the mining scams in the state were only tip of the iceberg and many more corruption cases could be unleashed on investigation. Terming former BJP president LK Advani’s symbolic Jan Chenta Yatra (anti-corruption yatra) as being taken out at right time, Karma said the yatra would be widely hailed if Advani would unbiasedly admit that corruption prevailed in Chhattisgarh too and appeal to the people for system change when his yatra would enter the state.

“The objective of the yatra is apparent but Advani should not put a political hue in it. If he would do then the yatra would merely be dubbed as another mode to get cheap popularity,” Karma said. Demanding from the Centre to issue white paper against the state government, he said the common man had been severely offended by the rising corruption in the system. “A senior BJP minister’s name has been flashed in road construction scam and reports against had published in Canada that he had taken bribe in dollars. Advani should take cognisance of the wrongdoings of state BJP ministers and must condemn the corrupt government publicly when his yatra would enter Chhattisgarh,” Karma said.

– maharajayogi

Nun may be arrested for “desecrating” Hindu objects

February 8, 2012 by  
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IndiaChhattisgarh, February 03, 2012: Sr. Ajaya Mary, dean of the Nirmala Covent School institute, did not allow a student to perform a ritual dedicated to the goddess Saraswati. Hindu activists accuse the nun of “having wounded the religious sentiments of the community.” The nun speaks of a “false and malicious campaign” against a school that “for 42 years has served society.”

This morning Hindu activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABV) organized a sit-in in front of the Nirmala Covent School in Korba (Chattisgarh) to request the arrest of Sr. Mary Ajaya, dean of the institute. The protesters – mostly young men – accuse the religious of having “desecrated” Hindu sacred objects, belonging to a student. For Sr. Ajaya, of the Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception, it is “a gross violation of the rights of our Christian minority institution and of the dignity of a woman and intimidation and harassment of a woman religious and a threat to the very secular and democratic fabric of Indian society, creating communal disharmony and a law and order situation.”

The ABV is a student organization affiliated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu ultra-nationalist party that has lead the country since 2008. The BJP supports groups belonging to the extremist Hindu movement of the Sangh Parivar, like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the Bajrang Dal, often responsible for violence against Dalits and Christians.

The protest arose out of an incident which occurred on 28 January. “During recess”, Sr. Ajaya told AsiaNews, “a male student organized a ‘Saraswati Pooja’ [a Hindu ritual dedicated to Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, ed], in class, without any prior permission. He collected money from the students and arranged a framed image of Sarawati, along with plates containing flowers, fruit, incense, and prayer beads.” After summoning the boy’s father and telling him what had happened, the dean sent the boy home, giving him and his father all the ritual objects, which as customary, would be immersed in a nearby stream.

A few hours later, a crowd gathered outside the school, accusing the nun of having “desecrated” religious artifacts, injuring the sentiments of the Hindu community. With them, many local TV stations rushed to the spot, reporting the news that the principal had “offended” Hinduism “throwing objects in the trash.”

And it didn’t end there. On 30 January, an official of the district asked Sr. Ajaya to allow Hindu students to practice the ritual. The nun refused, at which point, AVP activists broke into the school, carrying a picture of Saraswati. “Given the pressures of the collector and the protesters”, explained the dean, “I asked some Hindu teachers to celebrate the ritual”.

“The accusations against me”, explains Sr. Alaya, “are completely baseless. When I conducted an inquiry in my office, five teachers were present, along with the students, who held each and every item of the ritual. This fabricated, false and malicious campaign against our Christian Education has caused us deep anguish, because we have given the majority community our dedicated service, and made a significant contribution towards nation building through educational service. Thousands of students of all faiths, castes and classes have enjoyed our service.”

– nirmala carvalho, asianews

Bajrang Dal attacks pastor & destroys film equipment *Christianophobia is well-established

February 2, 2012 by  
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Chhatisgragh PastorChhattisgarh, February 02, 2012: Pastor Rajendra Masih (35) working with GFA Believers’ Church was showing a film on Jesus Christ in Hindi called Daya Sagar on 31-1-2012 evening in Indira Nagar Village of Dongargarh Tehsil coming under District of Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh in front of the residence of one of the members of his congregation named Umesh (38).

The film show which began at about 7.30 pm, ended at 10.30 pm, and just when they were about to have their fellowship, suddenly 9 Bajrang Dal activists barged into the place and began destroying all the equipment like the DVD Player and the speakers etc. Then they caught hold of the Pastor Rajendra Masih and began thrashing him mercilessly causing lacerations all over his face and also wounding his left eye. The attack and cursing, we understand, went on for more than hour and they were using the most vulgar language in front of all the people present including the small children, and then they phoned up to the police at Dongargarh Police Station at about 11.30 in the night complaining that they were forcibly and fraudulently converting Hindus to Christianity.

The Police Inspector visited the place along with a few constables in a jeep and took the pastor to the police station for further investigation. The Inspector then asked the pastor to give his version of the incident in writing which Pastor Rajendra did, and finding that there was nothing wrong in what the pastor had done, he closed the case after a compromise between the two groups. Pastor Rajendra is married to Jyothi Masih (24) and they have 3 children, 2 girls, Sakshi (7), Christina (5) and a son, Wilson ( 2 ½ ).

– gcic

Christianophobia in India is well-established


Christians in IndiaNew Delhi, January 15, 2012: That secular India suffers from entrenched Christianophobia is well-established but not publicly acknowledged by the State and the society at large. Nothing reflects it more than the denial of reservations to the Dalits who converted into “Christianity” under the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 which provides that no person other than those who profess the religion of Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism will be considered as Scheduled Castes. India’s Christianophobia has come to the fore after the UPA government promised 4.5% quota for the backward Muslims, believed to be Dalits who converted into Islam, in the run up to the forthcoming UP Assembly elections while the same government has been ducking reservations to the Dalit Christians before the Supreme Court. Sadly, the Supreme Court itself took six years to frame the substantive issues of the writ petition on the issue in January 2011.

Historically, the British ruled for 190 years from 1757 to 1947 but the British did not impose their religion which was the case for the previous rulers. No major group which had formal religions converted into Christianity. In the North East India which has the largest concentration of Christian populations in the country, those who were practicing formal religions did not convert into Christianity. The tribals like the Chakmas and Mogs who practiced Buddhism from time immemorial did not convert into Christianity. Similarly, Tripuris and Manipuris who practiced Vaishnavaite also did not convert. It was only the ethnic groups who had their local religions, termed as animism, who converted into Christianity.

The Christian populations throughout post independent India remained static. They constituted about 2.35% of Indian population in 1951, 2.44% in 1961, 2.59% in 1971, 2.45% in 1981, 2.32% in 1991 and 2.3% in 2001 census. Yet, India enacted a number of laws to prohibit conversion which were essentially meant for the Christian missionaries.

The first state to enact the Freedom of Religion Act was Orissa in 1967 followed by Madhya Pradesh in 1968 and in Arunachal Pradesh in 1978. The Bharatiya Janata Party followed suit and introduced the Freedom of Religion Act of Gujarat in 2003 and in Chhattisgarh in 2006. While the Congress opposed the Bill of Gurajat, it enacted the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act in 2006. Under the Freedom of Religin Acts, conversion into Hinduism is certainly not an offence. The Hindu groups have been openly converting the tribals into Hinduism under the Ghar Wapasi movement while the Churches were kept under strict vigil and many missionaries had to face prosecution.

Conversion into Christianity has not emancipated the Dalits from the repressive caste system. The Church itself practices caste system. Across India, cemeteries for the Dalit Christians are different from the upper castes so is the sitting arrangements. The Dalit Christians are not selected in the hierarchy of the Church. While in mainland India, the Catholics were mainly blamed for the practice of caste system, in the North East India, which has the Baptists, the complaint of domination by the Bishops from South India is often echoed.

Apart from the Freedom of Religion Acts, the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 1976 has been used to monitor the missionaries. The Restricted Area Permit has been used to control the entry of the foreign missionaries in the North East India. The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 specifically prohibits any conversion.

In post independent India, conversion has essentially been a direct consequence of expression of negation and the failure of the State to reduce destitution and discrimination.

The Tripuris who did not convert into Christianity during the British period started converting to Christianity mainly from the 1980s as an expression of negation against the domination by Bengali Hindus. The same Tripuris who are known as Reangs/Brus in neighbouring Mizoram and had converted into Christianity have been re-converting into Hinduism since 1990s as an expression of negation against domination by the Mizo Christians. The conversion into Christianity by the Dalits despite caste discrimination within the Church has also to do with expression of negation against the repressive caste system. Across mainland India Adivasis live in absolute poverty and the Christian missionaries played a critical role to provide food, education, medical assistance etc.

Since India launched its Tribal Sub Plan and Special Component Plan in 1971-72, the contours of conversion have changed. Many of the front organizations of the Hindu religious groups received grants made by the Ministry of Social Justice, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Ministry of Tribal Affairs etc for running schools and hostels etc for the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. These Hindu religious organisations increasingly adopted the same methods as of the missionaries i.e. provide food, medicine, shelter, education etc. In this contest, the role of the Indian state irrespective of whichever party is in power has been partisan.

Religion as a matter of faith is a private issue and must not be regulated by the State. It is a well-known fact that there are a number of Dalits who identify themselves legally as Hindus to obtain the benefits of reservations but practice Christianity. The denial of reservations to the Dalit Christians has indeed kept a large chunk of India’s discriminated population into backwardness.

India must address caste discrimination with re-newed vigour. The Dalits to a large extent have been politically empowered but caste system remains alive and kicking. The government however has stopped public campaign against the caste system as if it does not exist. The matrimonial pages of Indian newspapers are full of advertisements giving caste preferences. Even the Railways still clear human excreta manually though manual scavenging is illegal. Indian state must not interfere in religious matters but it ought to realize certain religious practices like caste discrimination are defined as criminal offences under the national laws and it ought to educate people and enforce the law. However, when the State itself practices manual scavenging and promotes one particular religion by not enforcing the Religious Freedom Acts against the Hindu religious groups who convert Adivasis, it can no longer claim as “secular” and “non-casteist”. The denial of reservation to the Dalit Christians solely based on their religion also makes India Christianophobic

– suhas chakma

Pastor Beaten. No Police Action

July 6, 2011 by  
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Map of chhattisgarhChhattisgarh, 5 July 2011: Sunil Masih, a pastor working in the Corba district was beaten up by a group of people accusing him of forced conversions. Arun Pannalal, the President of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum, reported that Sunil Masih was having prayer service in his residence around 50 km from Corba District Head Quarter. The incident took place on June 2, around 12:30 pm when a group of people came pastor’s house and beat him up. He alleged that Ajay Jaishwal (Chairman of Municipality), Sanjay Sing (BJP District Vice President) and Roshan Sing (municipal corporator) were also part of the group that attacked the pastor. Pannalal said that Sunil is said to have filed a case with police but police has not taken any action on his report.

Worship Meet Disrupted & Believers Threatened

June 23, 2011 by  
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People in Worship Meeting

People in Worship Meeting

Chhattisgarh, Gurur, 20 June, 2011: A group of 40 Baljrang Dal/BJP activists disrupted the Gurur congregation of Sunday Christian worship service in Durg District, Chhattisgarh state. The perpetrators came at noon time as the congregation of thirty was about to finish the worship. They trespassed in to the congregation and took pictures and ordered the worshippers to go out with them. Pastor Mohan C. Thomas along with Pastor Anish C.K. came out to meet the agitated Sangh Parivar activists. . They took photos and address of both the pastors. The Hindu hardliners under the leadership of Narayana Teke threatened of dire consequences if Christians worship/prayer any more and advised pastors and Christians to leave Gurur.Pastor Mohan informed that the congregation is traumatised by the threats of the attackers and requested prayers.