NEW DELHI (Compass Direct News) – Following six acquittals last week in trials for those accused of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in India’s Orissa state and the release on bail of a key suspect, Christians are losing heart to strive for justice, according to a prosecuting attorney.
The acquittal of six suspects last week raises the total to 121, with just 27 convicted in the Orissa violence by Hindu extremists.
“The victims are so discouraged due to the increasing number of acquittals that they neither have hope nor motivation for the criminal revision of their cases in the higher court,” attorney Bibhu Dutta Das of the Orissa High Court told Compass. more >>
Determined to expunge the past and exhibit a more secular image, the government of India's Orissa state, in partnership with the Church of North India, has introduced Christian heritage tourism.
The announcement was made by Tourism Minister Debi Prasad Mishra who told media that it would bridge the communication gap and portray a more tolerant and peaceful state.
Last year's violence against Christians in the Kandhamal District in Orissa had tarnished the state's reputation, making it a communal hot spot. The violence locally and globally conveyed the feeling that the state was intolerant towards Christians. more >>
More than 20,000 letters are to be handed to the Indian High Commission later in the month in a show of solidarity with Christians in India’s Orissa state.
The letters have been gathered by Open Doors and Premier Christian Radio as part of their Faith Without Fear campaign, which is calling on Christians in the United Kingdom to contact Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and urge him to help Christians displaced by violent attacks last year to return to their homes.
The campaign also calls on the Indian government to ensure the swift trial of perpetrators, protection for witnesses and adequate compensation for victims. more >>
MUMBAI, India (Compass Direct News) – Hundreds of tribal Christians and adherents of aboriginal religion from villages in Maharashtra state were reportedly “reconverted” to Hinduism Monday in the Mumbai suburb of Thane at a ceremony led by a Hindu nationalist cleric.
Swami Narendra Maharaj’s goal was to “reconvert” 6,000 Christians in the so-called purification ceremony, reported The Hindustan Times, which put the number of “reconversions” at around 800. Hindu nationalists believe all Indians are born Hindu and therefore regard acceptance of Hinduism by those practicing other religions as “reconversion.”
Maharaj, a Hindu cleric known for opposing proclamation of Christ, has allegedly led anti-Christian attacks in tribal regions. On March 15, 2008, his men reportedly attacked two Catholic nuns, Sister Marceline and Sister Philomena, from the non-profit Jeevan Jyoti Kendra (Light of Life Center) in Sahanughati, near Mumbai. more >>
Action by Churches Together International said it is providing meals for nearly 60,000 people in flood-ravaged southern India but is struggling to generate financial support.
ACT International Asia-Pacific program officer Michelle Yonetani said the agency is concerned that funding commitments have been slow to materialize, given the large number of people affected and the urgency of the relief effort.
Some 2.5 million people were left homeless after the worst floods in a century hit the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the first week of October. Some 300 people were killed and at least 5 million people are crammed in temporary government shelters, according to officials. Many people were unprepared for the disaster considering the states are not prone to flooding. more >>
A group of U.S. lawmakers have written to the Chief Minister of India's eastern state of Orissa, calling for action against those who have carried out attacks against Christians.
"Such attacks on the fundamental freedom of religion threaten not only India's reputation for religious diversity, but also the very stability of India's secular democracy," the 21 lawmakers, led by Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), state in the letter addressed to Naveen Patnaik.
Just over a dozen people have been convicted so far for the anti-Christian violence that erupted last year and many remain at large. more >>