Tag Archives: India

Compass Direct News: Anti-conversion law passed in Rajasthan state of India

NEW DELHI — The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan state on Thursday (March 20) passed a new “anti-conversion” bill with more stringent and arbitrary provisions than previous legislation that was stalled by objections from the former governor.

The constitutionally questionable bill states that if a society or trust is found to be “contemplating” the use of money for converting people, its registration can be cancelled. Christian groups fear this provision would provide the pretext for numerous complaints against Christian organizations.

The bill also obliges anyone intending to convert to send notice at least 30 days in advance or face a fine of up to 1,000 rupees (US$25). It adds that the same requirement and penalty will not be applied to a person wishing to revert to her or his “original religion.”

Christians note that the bill, like anti-conversion laws in other states, only vaguely defines “force,” “fraud” and “inducement,” clearing the way for spurious attempts to label Christ’s commands to feed the hungry and make disciples as “fraud” or “inducement.”

-Compass Direct News

India ignores request to repatriate Christians

Fourteen Christians from India are stuck in a Bangladeshi prison weeks after completing a three-month sentence for unwittingly crossing the border while evangelizing.

They remain in the prison because the India’s authorities have not made arrangements for repatriation, adding to international skepticism about India’s committment to religious liberty and human rights.

“Their jail terms was finished on February 28,” Brig. Gen. Zakir Hasan, the Bangladeshi Inspector General of Prisons, told Compass Direct News. “We applied to our home ministry on February 9 about their repatriation to India.

“But so far, we did not get any information about their repatriation. If [India’s] high commission does not take any initiative about their repatriation, they will be in jail sine die [indefinitely].”

Bangladeshi officials are willing to send the prisoners back to India, but cannot do so unless India’s high commission makes arrangements.

“If we release them without their high commission’s initiative, they will be caught again in Bangladeshi territory for not having any valid documents and passports,” Hasan said. “They will be put in jail for another crime.”

The  Compass Direct News report explained the circumstances under which the 14 were jailed.

Roma neighborhood Sub-Inspector Babar Ali said Bangladeshi border patrols arrested the 14 evangelists on November 27 of last year, handed them over to local police the next day, and the Christians appeared in court on November 29.

“Those Christian people were actually preaching Christianity in that mountainous terrain,” said Ali. “They could not understand the demarcation line of the border between India and Bangladesh. In actual fact, there is no demarcation line of border there.”

Ali said the Christians had no illegal purpose for entering the country.

“Rather, they entered mistakenly while preaching their religion in predominantly tribal locality,” he said. “We investigated whether they were engaged in any illegal or criminal activities in Bangladeshi territory, but our investigation has drawn a blank. We did not find them involved in any criminal activities.”

Investigators found only Christian literature on them, Ali added.

India and Bangladesh share a 2,545-mile (4,095-kilometer) border that is largely unfenced. There are 111 Indian enclaves (locally known as Chits) in Bangladesh territory covering 17,258.24 acres, and there are 51 Bangladesh enclaves in Indian territory measuring 7,083.72 acres.

Police becoming co-conspirators with Hindu extremists

NEW DELHI, December 31 – In their campaign against Christians, Hindu extremists in India are increasingly relying on a key weapon: police officers. Local police in Bangalore recently arrested and harassed five workers from the Indian Church of Christ after Hindu extremists attacked the Christians in the capital of Karnataka state. Police from the Indira Nagar police station arrested the five Christians but allowed the attackers to go free. Rights activists have long been calling for reform in the police system. “The police, who are supposed to protect all citizens from criminal assaults, are often found to be conniving with the ruling government to organize religion-related violence or harass the victims hoping to get bribes,” said a representative of the Christian Legal Association.

-Compass Direct News

Hindu extremists attack Christians on Christmas Eve

NEW DELHIAt least four Christians are feared dead, many injured and more than 50 churches and 200 homes are either destroyed or damaged in Orissa state in anti-Christian violence that began Christmas Eve. Violence by Hindu extremists continues in some pockets despite the state imposing a curfew and deploying hundreds of police officers. Extremists have pursued Christian leaders into forests where they fled. The Delhi Catholic Archdiocese fears a repeat of 1998 attacks on Christians in Gujarat, followed the next year by the burning alive of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his sons in Orissa.

-Compass Direct News

India grants adoption rights to non-Hindus; law could help 56 million orphaned & destitute children

NEW DELHI — Ending a long era of absence of adoption rights for non-Hindus, the government has cleared the way for all religious communities in all Indian states to adopt legally. The government of the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance on October 26 gave notice of new rules under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act or JJA of 2006, making room for all communities to adopt. The Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, said his group welcomed “the significant move” by the federal government “to enhance the legal rights of adopted children and the couples who adopt them.” It is estimated that barely 5,000 children a year are adopted in the country, though there are more than 56 million orphaned and destitute children.

-Compass Direct News

India fails to protect religious minorities; violence against Christians unchecked

MUMBAI, India, November 9 — A rash of violence in Maharashtra state last weekend, Christian leaders say, is typical of a growing history of unchecked, Hindu extremists crimes against Christians in Thane district.

 

In a scene repeated for years in the area with impunity, Hindu extremists armed with wooden clubs barged into the worship service of the Mumbai Diocesan Missionary Movement in Kuttal village of Wada on Sunday (November 4) and beat several members brutally enough that they required hospital treatment.

 

When Pastor Suresh Suttar went to the police station to file a complaint against the extremists, officers instead detained him. Unable to find any evidence to file charges against him, they released him on Monday (November 5), said Dr. Abraham Mathai, vice chairperson of the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission.

 

The club-wielding extremists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its affiliated organizations, the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad (VKP or Forest Dwellers Welfare Council) and the Bajrang Dal (youth wing of the VHP) were left free to pursue future victims. The Christians – Vishnu Barad and his wife Aruna Barad, Vandhana Barad, Nirmala Barad, Ramdas Ahad and Neelesh Barad – were left with swollen arms and legs, a bruised and swollen chin, bruises and abrasions to the temple and forehead and a bruised chest.

 

After the Hindu extremists had stormed into the service shouting curses and anti-Christian slogans, they struck the believers with their fists and clubs, snatched Bibles and tore pages from them and flung chairs. Some of the extremists marched up to the dais and slapped Pastor Suttar, raising the oft-repeated but baseless charge of luring poor tribal peoples to convert to the Christianity.

 

“This attack took place despite an assurance on Friday, November 2, from state Home Minister R.R. Patil that the police would take action against attacks on tribals,” said Mathai, who is also general secretary of the All India Christian Council.

 

-Compass Direct News