NEW DELHI – The High Court of Madhya Pradesh, responding to a petition by the state Catholic Bishops Conference, directed the state government Wednesday to ensure the safety of Christians during a massive Hindu nationalist rally scheduled Thursday through Saturday in Mandla.
Organizers of the Maa Narmada Samajik Kumbh (Mother Narmada Social Kumbh, with “kumbh” literally meaning, “pot”) on the banks of the Narmada River hope to draw 2 million pilgrims to the event. Christian leaders said that the Kumbh is the latest in a series of anti-Christian propaganda events that Hindu nationalist organizations have held in recent years.
“We are worried about our safety and security, as our attempt to get adequate protection from the state government received a very cool response,” said Bishop Gerald Almeida of Jabalpur. more >>
NEW DELHI – Christians in India’s southern state of Karnataka are preparing to file a court petition against a panel that blamed a series of anti-Christian attacks in 2008 on conversions from Hinduism.
In Mangalore, which bore the brunt of Hindu extremist attacks on churches in August-September 2008, Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of the Catholic Diocese said he intended to file a writ in the Karnataka High Court against the Justice B.K. Somashekhara Commission. In its Jan. 28 report on the violence, the commission absolved the state government, ruled by a Hindu nationalist party, of any responsibility in the violence.
Defending the state government and recommending the enactment of an “anti-conversion law,” the commission stated that an allegation of misuse of foreign funds for “mass conversions of innocent and helpless members of the society belonging to weaker sections ... is true.” more >>
Indian church activists have expressed deep concern over Hindu nationalists' anti-Christian campaign in the run-up to a major Hindu event next week.
A fact-finding team recently spent three days in the Mandla-Jabalpur region in Madhya Pradesh, central India, where a million people are expected to attend what is called the Narmada Samajik Kumbh, Feb. 10-12.
The team uncovered plans for “ghar wapsi” (homecoming celebration) or conversion of local Christians to Hinduism despite Madhya Pradesh’s Freedom of Religion Act which requires prior notice of such actions. They have solid reasons to fear an outbreak of violence against Christians during or after the event. more >>
Thousands of Indian Christians will peacefully take to the streets of Bangalore on Saturday, protesting the publication of a “false and unfair” report last week on anti-Christian violence.
Retired judge B. K. Somashekara of the Justice Somashekara Commission, who wrote the document, concluded that the 2008 attacks against Christians in the state of Karnataka that left 110 dead were initiated by individuals and not by organized movements, thus absolving Hindu fundamentalist organizations of any responsibility.
He also cleared the alleged involvement of the Government of Karnataka, led by the Hindu nationalist Baratiya Janata Party, in the attacks. more >>
NEW DELHI – Relatives of a pastor who was found dead in a secluded area in eastern Orissa state’s Kandhamal district last week have accused local police of a cover-up.
The body of Saul Pradhan, a 45-year-old independent pastor whose house was burned by Hindu extremists two years ago, was found near a pond in Pakala village in Kandhamal’s Raikia Block on Jan. 11 and bore marks of assault, Catholic activist Ajay Singh told Compass.
“I spoke to the widow of the pastor, and she told me that the hands and legs of the deceased looked twisted, and there was blood in his mouth. His pants were also torn,” Singh said by phone from Orissa’s capital, Bhubaneswar. “Why should it not arouse suspicion when Pastor Pradhan was last seen with two Hindu men, Marda Pradhan and Baiju Mallick, who were among the rioters who burned houses of Christians in 2008?” more >>
The Supreme Court of India upheld the life sentence of a Hindu man on Friday, convicted of burning to death an Australian missionary and his two sons 11 years ago.
Dara Singh, who was linked to extreme right-wing Hindu group Bajrang Dal was initially handed the death sentence in a previous trial, but an appeal had the verdict reduced.
A high court judge stated that though the crime was highly condemned, it did not fall in the category of “the rarest of the rare” to warrant the death sentence. more >>