As the third anniversary of a mass violence in Orissa state approaches next week, memories of 100 Christians hacked to death and 5,000 houses burned are fresh in the minds of locals, and added to that are now apprehensions of fresh trouble, a Christian activist warned.
The violence in eastern Orissa state’s Kandhamal district erupted after rightwing Hindus blamed local Christians for the assassination of their leader on August 23, 2008. The same group that is believed to be behind the anti-Christian attacks has declared August 23 as the day of “Protection of Religion,” John Dayal, member of the Government of India’s National Integration Council, said Monday.
The act of blaming Christians for the killing, which was allegedly carried out by Maoist guerrillas, led to displacement of over 56,000 Christians, destruction of almost 300 churches, burning of more than 5,600 houses, rape of a Catholic nun and two other women, and molestation of many, Dayal said in a letter to the National Commission for Minorities, a quasi-judicial body tasked to safeguard interests of the minorities. more >>
NEW DELHI – Four months after a recent convert to Christianity from Islam in eastern India’s West Bengal state was stripped and beaten, about 50 Muslim extremists yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting held in her home, threatening to burn it down if she did not return to Islam, area Christians said.
The extremists warned Selina Bibi of Motijil village in Murshidabad district that if she did not return to Islam, then she must either leave the area or see her house burned down. At her baptism at Believers Church four kilometers from her home on March 29, a large crowd of Muslim extremists disrupted the service, said a pastor identified only as Bashir.
“I pleaded with them to let me at least finish the worship service before they attack us,” he told Compass. more >>
A British nun who had been asked to leave India despite her remarkable service to leprosy patients was assured visa “without limit of time” in a rare gesture by the Indian government Tuesday.
India’s federal interior minister P. Chidambaram assured Jacqueline Jean McEwan could stay “as long as she likes,” saying the foreign department’s earlier notice asking her to leave the country by Monday was a technical mistake, Press Trust of India (PTI) reported Tuesday.
“It feels great to be with my well-wishers, my own kith and kin, mostly those inflicted with leprosy,” Sr. Jean, as the 63-year-old nun is popularly known in this southern city of Bangalore, told The Times of India. “I will strive for their welfare. There is no meaning in going back to the U.K. when my people are here.” more >>
A 63-year-old British nun caring for leprosy patients for three decades in India’s IT hub Bangalore was preparing to leave the country Monday after the Indian government refused to extend her resident permit without giving any reason.
“I’m leaving with a heavy heart. I feel it’s not my loss alone but a loss to thousands of patients inflicted by leprosy,” Jacqueline Jean McEwan, whom Leprosy patients call their “Mother Teresa,” told The Times of India Sunday.
From the Montfort Missionaries, a Catholic order, in Britain, Sr. Jean, as she was popularly known, wasn’t given any reason by the Ministry of Home Affairs but just asked to leave by Monday, the newspaper added. more >>
Several Christian, Muslim and secular groups came together Thursday in the Indian state of Karnataka to protest a recent move by the state government to teach Hindu scripture in state-run schools.
In the second such protest in three days in the capital city of Bangalore, protesters gathered at the Gandhi Statue asking the government to cancel the circular – a written policy statement – that made it mandatory for the state-run schools to teach Bhagavad Gita to all its students.
The state is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and officials have admitted that policy promoted by the state’s education department was prompted by Hindu priests who have been campaigning to teach the Hindu scripture among school children since 2006. more >>
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Health Minister of India, has today rebuked suggestions that he said homosexuality was a disease. Azad claims he was misquoted by media after reports emerged suggesting that he had said being gay was a disease.
Among Azad’s minced words were statements in Hindu about “men who have sex with men” and the word “unnatural”.
Azad has tried to clear up his blunders by claiming he was referring to HIV as a disease, not homosexuality. The topic of HIV in Azad’s speech came about as he addressed the issue of free trade negotiations that could prevent India from producing affordable generic drugs. more >>