Mass Syria killings, torture under President Assad’s regime

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

Graphic Photos of Mass Syria KillingsUS, October 17, 2014: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., is featuring a display showing graphic photos of murder and torture that are said to have been committed under the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. A Syrian pastor has warned against using the images to justify expanding the war in the country, however.

The Associated Press reported that the photos are from an archive of 55,000 images smuggled out of Syria by a photographer, who has testified in Congress about witnessing the mass killing of prisoners. The journalist, who was only named by the codename “Caesar,” said that the massacre was committed under the Assad regime.

“They show a side of the Syrian regime that hasn’t really been really seen. You might have heard about it, read about it, but when you’re confronted with these images, they’re impossible to ignore,” said Cameron Hudson, director of the museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

He revealed that some of the images show deprivation and torture, including electrocution, gouged out eyes and removed genitals.

Assad, who has been in office since 2000, has been accused by western powers of human rights abuses, such as using chemical weapons on his own people in August 2013. Assad’s government has been locked in a three-year civil war with various Islamic rebel groups who want to remove him from power.

A Christian pastor from Syria, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Christian Post in an email on Friday that the photos should not be sensationalized and used as a means of inciting war against the Syrian state.

“Let’s be clear and direct. Most or maybe all western governments knew the entire time that torture is going on in third world prisons, so why are they talking about this now?” the pastor told CP.

He also questioned the legitimacy of the photos, revealing that such images and short films of torture are often used as a means of propaganda in the region, but are often discovered to be fake. At the same time, he clarified that he does not “support severe punishments and torture” for prisoners.

The pastor alluded to the American government and its allies launching airstrikes against terror group ISIS in Syria, and suggested that the release of these photos should not be used as a motive to attack Assad’s regime as well, and widen the war in the region.

The photos were shown to the U.N. Security Council in April, with American Ambassador Samantha Power stating that they “indicate that the Assad regime has carried out systematic, widespread and industrial killing.”

Syria has dismissed the images, with its Justice Ministry arguing that they are “lacking objectiveness and professionalism.”

The Holocaust Memorial Museum has said, however, that it used forensic examinations of the photographs to verify the authenticity of the images.

“The current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad says the photos are fake, but forensic and international law experts have authenticated them and found the defector’s story credible. The FBI is currently examining the photos,” the museum has said.

“International law experts say the 55,000 photos could someday support prosecution of the current Syrian regime for crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

The museum added that it will be displaying the images for the foreseeable future. It compared the killings to the holocaust of Jewish people committed by Nazi Germany in World War II.

“We realized that this person, Caesar, the Syrian who escaped, he was a witness,” Hudson said. “We felt an obligation to tell his story as someone who showed real courage in coming forward and escaping and trying to tell the story of what he saw.”

- christian post

Karnataka rejects report on Mangalore church attacks

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Mangalore PersecutionMangalore, October 17, 2014: The Karnataka State Cabinet on Thursday decided to reject the B K Somashekar Judicial Inquiry Commission report into the infamous series of church attacks in Mangalore.

Christian groups and leaders have been demanding rejection of this report with demonstrations and memoranda ever since it was submitted to the former BJP government. The groups demanding the rejection included Karnataka United Christians Forum for Human Rights, led by Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore.

A series of anti-Christian attacks happened in Mangalore and other parts of coastal Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Chikmaglur in 2008, within months after state’s first BJP government led by the B S Yeddyurappa came to power.

The present state cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Congress chief minister Siddaramaiah, took note of the contradictory findings in panel report submitted to the government.

It also directed the State Home Department to take action against the perpetrators of the attacks based on the nine-point recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Karnataka’s Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra, who briefed the reporters after the State Cabinet meeting, said when the report was submitted to the BJP government, he and other Congress leaders then in opposition, had termed the report as “politically motivated” attempt “to exonerate the Sangh Parivar outfits” like Bajrang Dal, Sri Ram Sene and even Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The NHRC had recommended compensation to the victims and also the churches and other places of worship belonging to the Christian minority community and taking steps to prevent recurrence of such violence.

The Hindu group attacked Christians accusing pastors of engaging in “forcible conversion” with support of the police and tacit approval of the adminstration.

NHRC wanted stringent action against the police officers who supported the attackers and even beaten up the arrested Christians in police custody.

To a specific question on the NHRC recommendations appeared to be “totally one-sided,” Jayachandra said: “NHRC is a statutory body. We have merely asked the Home Department to look into them and take appropriate action.”

- daijiworld

Hindu hardliners influencing officials’ treatment of Christians

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Madhya Pradesh ChristiansNew Delhi, October 15, 2014: Police and local officials in central Madhya Pradesh state have been harassing Christians at the behest of hardline Hindu groups, according to Christian leaders.

In one case, a Christian group was denied permission by the local administration in Alirajpur district to host an annual gathering October 6-9. As justification, the authorities said the event would have created social tensions in the area.

Kapil Sharma, president of the Moksha Foundation and an organizer of the event, told ucanews.com that the local administration is “playing at the hands of right-wing Hindu groups to target minority Christians”.

Sharma said he also was asked to provide details about the event’s funding sources and questioned about whether he was involved in any criminal or illegal activities.

The administration wants to “terrorize Christians,” said Sharma, who converted to Christianity from the Hindu religion in 2006.

He said the recent series of incidents represented a basic denial of Christians’ constitutional right to freedom of religion.

It was also in Alirajpur district that police declared invalid the marriage of 22-year old Christian Joseph Pawar and his 19-year old Hindu wife Ayushi Wani after the couple eloped.

Wani’s family and radical Hindu groups objected to the marriage, alleging it was a ploy to convert a Hindu woman to Christianity. Police invalidated the marriage on October 3, claiming it violated Madhya Pradesh’s anti-conversion laws.

Nirmal Singh, Pawar’s relative, told ucanews.com that the couple had sent a digital copy of their marriage registration certificate to the Alirajpur district superintendent of police.

“But the officer seemed to have deleted the copy, joined [in support of] the Hindu group and declared their marriage void in violation of the law,” Singh said.

Pawar and his mother have gone into hiding at an undisclosed location for reasons of safety, while the bride was sent to a “rehabilitation” facility, according to Singh. Such facilities are often used to hold women who have been caught engaging in prostitution, drug use or other such socially stigmatized activities.

Deepak Vijayvargiya, state spokesman for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said the annulment was a legal issue and that the ceremony did not follow the state’s anti-conversion laws.

“It is a pure legal issue between the families of the boy and the girl and the administration,” he told ucanews.com.

Richard James, Bhopal district president of the National Christian Forum, told ucanews.com that Hindu groups have been “more active and targeting minorities” since the BJP won recent national elections.

Christian leader and rights activist AC Michael of New Delhi said events in Madhya Pradesh reflect what is happening throughout India since the party assumed power.

“BJP cadres and their allied groups seem to believe that the victory in the election is a mandate for them to act upon their ideology of making India a Hindu nation. But they are sadly mistaken,” Michael said.

Michael told ucanews.com that human rights groups have recorded more than 600 attacks on religious minorities in the country since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office.

“[Modi] has not said anything against the anti-Christian activities of these groups,” Michael said.

- ucanews

Evangelization through the media & its challenges today

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Sister Joeyanna D’SouzaMumbai, October 11, 2014: As part of their centenary celebrations, the Daughters of Saint Paul hosted a symposium on the title theme on Saturday 11 October 2014 at their facility on Waterfield Road, Bandra West with cheerful and efficient Ladislaus D’Souza, Copy-editor of St Paul’s/Better Yourself Books as moderator.

The veteran and respected journalist, Ms Carol Andrade, currently Dean, Post Graduation Journalism, S.P.I.C.E., speaking on Women in the Media, said that it was unfortunate that women are blocked from attaining senior and powerful positions as journalists and editors who can make a difference in reporting social and economic issues. Women journalists have achieved prominence in fields that appeal to women such as beauty, clothing,  jewelry and décor. But in terms of prominence, the only woman in media that they have heard of is Barkha Dutt!

Carol felt that one of the factors blocking women’s progress is gender discrimination. Women who have made significant contribution despite the odds have faced snide remarks and disgruntled juniors, another being that many women have to give up working in order to raise a family.  It is never the man giving up his career but always the woman. When she tries to get back to journalism after a break, she has to start afresh, her experience discounted.

Regrettably, women are partly to blame for the fact that not sufficient importance is given to issues that concern their own gender, Carol pointed out, deploring the fact that social issues such as rape are reported in a sensational manner that have eyeballs rolling. And, why? Because people love yellow journalism even as the underlying reasons for these occurrences and how they can be addressed so as to make society change for the better are not dwelt upon.

Carol opined that when priests and nuns send their grievances to the Press, these are not published, and where they are, the write-up in question is shortened and relegated to an obscure column. She felt that the only way to surmount this problem was by pestering the publication concerned with phone calls and emails. She pointed out that perhaps, given the reluctance of the press to publish religious issues, articles on social issues could be sent.

Sister Joeyanna D’Souza, fsp, Manager IP Team, Daughters of Saint Paul, Bandra, speaking on Media and Religious Life, highlighted the importance of communication in order to spread the Word. The statistics she gave showed the volume of use the social media is put to in service of the Gospel and how much needs to be done on the part of the religious to maximize its use. Appropriately, she emphasized the need for imparting communication skills to religious.

Father Nigel Barrett, Director, Bombay Archdiocesan Catholic Communications Centre, speaking on the Media in relation to the Word and the World, touched on the excellence of Jesus as a communicator who could talk on the same wavelength with the educated and the uneducated alike! He said that as Christians we are called to be communicators as well, optimally using the media in order to spread the message of Jesus. Father Nigel’s PPT presentation demonstrated the use of modern methods of communication in being ‘e-messengers’ who use the electronic media in order to proclaim the good news through the written word and ‘e-curators’ who could copy-paste relevant articles and messages and send them on to others. For instance, we could circulate messages of Pope Francis via email or facebook and twitter accounts.

Point out the usefulness of e-media when communicating with our youth, he informed the gathering of the formation of a group of “What’s Ap” users whom he intimates as regards any important events taking place and who in turn send the message across to their respective circles.

Father Nigel also urged caution and discreetness as regards sending messages to the Press so as not to create issues for the Church. For instance, he says he is careful to toe the line in his official capacity but does feel free to express his personal views which may be different.

As a result of the general discussions and exchange of ideas that followed, a priest-participant suggested that we look at the possibility of conducting Catechism classes through Skype, suggesting that the matter to be studied could be emailed to the youth concerned. Father Nigel responded by saying that while the electronic media could be used to some extent, it cannot replace face-to-face communication in terms of catechesis.

The Symposium, which commenced with a dance essay of the Canticle in Praise of the Media by Sister Silvia, fsp, at 4.30 pm concluded at 6.30 pm with a tie-up of the main points of the deliberations by Mrs Virginia Saldanha, the Vote of Thanks by Sister Rosily, and refreshments.

- fwd: ladislaus d’souza

Pakistan court upholds death penalty of Christian woman in blasphemy case

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Asia BibiLahore, October 17, 2014: A Pakistani court on Thursday upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy four years ago, as her lawyers vowed to appeal.

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death row since November 2010 after she was found guilty of making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed during an argument with a Muslim woman.

“A two-judge bench of the Lahore High Court dismissed the appeal of Asia Bibi but we will file an appeal in the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” said her lawyer Shakir Chaudhry.

Amnesty International described the decision as a “grave injustice”, and called for her immediate release.

“Asia Bibi should never have been convicted in the first place—still less sentenced to death—and the fact that she could pay with her life for an argument is sickening,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director, in a statement sent to AFP.

“There were serious concerns about the fairness of Asia Bibi’s trial, and her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row”.

Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 97 percent of the population is Muslim and unproven claims regularly lead to mob violence.

Two high-profile politicians — then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti — were murdered in 2011 after calling for reforms to the blasphemy law and describing Bibi’s trial as flawed.

The blasphemy allegations against Bibi date back to June 2009.

She was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Muslim women laborers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.

A few days later the women went to a local cleric and put forward the blasphemy allegations.

Over a dozen religious clerics — including Qari Saleem who brought forward the initial complaint against Bibi — were present at the court Thursday.

“We will soon distribute sweets among our Muslim brothers for today’s verdict, it’s a victory of Islam,” Saleem told AFP outside the courtroom as the clerics congratulated each other and chanted religious slogans.

Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws have attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently misused to settle personal scores.

Lawyers who defend people accused of blasphemy—and judges seen as lenient—also risk being accused of the crime themselves and regularly face intimidation.

Last month a prison guard at the notorious Adiala jail in Rawalpindi shot and wounded a 70-year-old Scottish man with a history of mental illness who is on death row for blasphemy.

The jail also houses Mumtaz Qadri, the former bodyguard of governor Taseer who gunned him down in an Islamabad market place. He was given a death sentence but heralded by some as a hero for killing Taseer.

Blasphemy carries the death penalty, though Pakistan has had a de facto moratorium on civilian hangings since 2008. Only one person has been executed since then, a soldier convicted by a court martial and hanged in November 2012.

- afp/ucan

Muslims who believe ‘Allah’ exclusive to Islam are ‘confused’, says scholar

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-world

Praying to AllahMalaysia, October 17, 2014: Indonesian scholar Ulil Abshar Abdalla has waded into Malaysia’s controversial “Allah” edict, saying Muslims who believe the word is exclusive to Islam were “confused” and noted that the Arabic term predates Islam.

Ulil, who was denied entry into Malaysia earlier this month for allegedly opposing its Islamic stand, said Muslims did not have a monopoly of the word “Allah” as it was a general term to refer to God.

Malaysia has declared “Allah” is exclusively for use only by Muslims, who make up the majority of the country’s 30 million population.

“The term ‘Allah’ comes from two words which are ‘Al’ ‘and ‘Ilah’ which means God. If we mention the word ‘Allah’, it is translated as God. The people of Mecca also used the word ‘Allah’ before Islam came,” he said in a recent telephone interview with The Malaysian Insider.

Ulil said it was wrong for people to claim that Muslims alone could use the word “Allah” as it had been in use among the Arabs during the pre-Islamic era.

“If Muslims now feel that the word ‘Allah’ belongs to them alone, I think that is incorrect. The Arabs before Islam also used the word ‘Allah’. (Those who hold the) view that Allah belongs to Muslims are confused.”

Ulil’s view of the “Allah” controversy echoes that of Muslim scholars and clerics, both locally and worldwide, who have criticized the ban of the use of the word among non-Muslims here.

Even the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, had said many Muslims said the court ruling undermined the credibility of Islam, in a reference to the Federal Court decision that the word “Allah” cannot be used in the Catholic publication, the Herald, on grounds it was not an integral part of Christianity.

Earlier this month, evangelical denomination Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) obtained leave from the Court of Appeal to seek a declaration that the word “Allah” could be used in Christian publications.

A three-man Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Datuk Rohana Yusof, said the Federal Court held that the September 14 finding that “Allah was not an integral part of Christianity” was a mere passing remark.

Among the groups which have defended “Allah” as exclusive to Muslims is Malay rights group Perkasa, which, along with Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), were described by Ulil as being similar to Indonesia’s hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

But, he said, unlike Isma and Perkasa, FPI was open to criticism.

“Fortunately in Indonesia, we have a more open system that has encouraged people to criticize,” he said. “Indonesia opens its doors for all parties to discuss among one another.”

Earlier Thursday, Ulil addressed an audience of 100 at the 3rd International Conference on Human Rights and Peace and Conflict in Southeast Asia via Skype.

He spoke on the dangers of labeling Muslims from different schools of thought as “kafir” (infidels) or “murtad” (apostates).

According to minister in charge of religion Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Ulil was denied entry into Malaysia because his teachings contradicted the Shafie school of thought, to which Malaysia subscribes.

The government’s decision to deny Ulil entry was met with criticism from Malaysian Muslim groups such as the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) chief Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, who said it was an insult to their intelligence.

Former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim called the government “fundamentalist” and said the episode was just the latest event that showed how extremist Malaysia had become.

While Ulil has been blacklisted, no action has been taken against Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who had called for bibles to be burned last year for containing the word “Allah”.

Politicians from both sides of the divide have called for Ibrahim’s conviction under the Sedition Act 1948.

- the malaysian insider

Best way to resolve all conflicts

October 22, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-miscellaneous

In this African tribe, when someone does something harmful, they take the person to the center of the village where the whole tribe comes and surrounds them.

person to the center of the village

For two days, they will say to the man all the good things that he has done.

The tribe believes that each human being comes into the world as a good. Each one of us only desiring safety, love, peace and happiness.

african tribes

But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

The community sees those mistakes as a cry for help.

I am good

They unite then to lift him, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth of which he had been temporarily disconnected: “I am good.”

- fwd: alfred

Pastor Rick Warren: Is the focus on growth over quality?

October 18, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-lead

ChurchUS, October 12, 2014: In order to last in ministry, church planters need to adhere by certain guidelines that change the mold of how they build their church structure, said Pastor Rick Warren during the Exponential West conference this past week.

Warren addressed conference goers to utilize his experience as a leader in ministry of over 40 years. He told church planters that about half of them were not going to make it, according to statistics, unless they started doing something radical.

“You must be very careful how you build. Some build with gold, silver, precious stones even wood, hay and straw but the day will come when fire will reveal the quality of your work and if what you build survives, you will receive a reward,” Warren said on Thursday of the three-day conference.

He added, “The success of your ministry isn’t about size or speed, regardless of those ‘large church lists.’ God isn’t going to judge you based on those things because those are human measurements.”

In speaking about his success and how his ministry has lasted four decades, Warren noted that many church planters are preoccupied with the latest church trends or with what is “currently in or hip.” He advised that instead of worrying about such things, planters need to focus on implementing strategies that will last, not just bring in large crowds.

“I could show you how to get a crowd but a crowd isn’t a church. Most church planters spend an entire year planning the first service and none planning the second,” Warren said.

While he acknowledges that much of his ministerial success is because of God’s help, Warren also said he has lasted in ministry because of the “work smarter not harder” concept.

“I know some pastors who pray more than I do and their churches aren’t growing,” Warren said. “I work hard but I know some churches that work much harder than I do. Dedication doesn’t grow a church, skill does.”

He added, “You can spend a lot of money to attend a top-notch bible school and seminary education but if you don’t continually sharpen your skills, you’re as dull as a guy that didn’t go to college.”

Furthermore, he said that he is not proud enough to say that he has never copied other church models regarding his ministry’s work, which he also credits for keeping him in ministry up until now.

“Humans grow by observation, imitation and repetition and yet none of us wants to be imitators, everyone wants to be an innovator and that’s why we all suck,” Warren said. “I’d rather be an effective imitator than a stupid innovator. I learned a long time ago that I don’t have to invent something for it to work … practically everything that we’re doing at Saddleback was copied from someone else. “

To conclude his message, Warren advised church planters that more than anything, they need to maintain a pure heart and a clear purpose and process.

“If you want a church that lasts, you have to build it on purpose, integrity, humility and generosity, not on people, personalities or style because the only things that will last forever are eternal purposes of God. This may be a shock coming from me but purpose is not enough.”

- christian post

‘Much needed for minority development’: Post-Sachar Committee Report

October 18, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Sachar CommitteeMumbai, October 13, 2014: Diversity Index, social audit, clear policy guidelines, better social and physical infrastructure in Muslim concentrated areas, monitoring and evaluation of programmes at regular intervals, similar policy provisions for the persons engaged in similar occupational activities across the religious groups, and fixed accountabilities on officers implementing the programmes are some of the major recommendations of the Post-Sachar Evaluation Committee (PSEC) or Kundu Committee.

This Committee, which was formed by the UPA Government and continued by the Modi government, to assess the implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations and Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme, submitted its final report on 9th October.

Diversity Index and Reservation

Although Kundu Committee did not recommend politically controversial reservations, it proposed a Diversity Index (DI) based on caste, religion, gender. A person close to the committee working said, “Diversity Index is more than a reservation”. It can be applied not only to the Shrinking Public Sector but also to the private sector. Indirect government incentives like tax rebates and other encouragements must be provided to the companies ranking high on the DI.

The index can be applied to Educational Institutions, Hospitals and to all government department and schemes. The government incentives should be in proportion to the yearly Diversity Index scores that they achieve. Allocation of budget based on DI should be a new mantra of development for all sections of the society. “Unity in diversity is the strength of India and the socio-cultural diversity is the biggest asset of the nation.

The ‘homogeneity’ and ‘de-customised’ approach to development runs its own risk of leaving people out of ambit of developmental programmes and it should be avoided in a diverse society like India.

“Indian diversity and people are like sand in hand. In a tightened fist there is all possibility that many of them will spill out”, said Professor Abdul Shaban, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who was also a member of the Kundu Committee.

The committee has recommended the SC status to Muslims who are practicing the same professions as of their Hindu counterparts. The committee believes that the Constitution has a scope for reservations for Muslims and all the socially and economically deprived communities. The Presidential Order of 1950 allowed SC status only to Hindus, but in 1956 lower castes among Sikhs and latter, in 1990, by VP Singh government, Neo-Buddhists were included in this SC list. Arguing in favour of his decision, VP Singh then had said that this change of religion, from Hinduism to Buddhism, had not altered their social, economic or educational conditions.

Social Audit of Welfare Schemes

Casual approach in framing policy and programme guidelines for development of minorities, inefficiency in administration, lack of convergence and coordination among different departments and ministries, and paucity of funds for the schemes are the major problems noted by the Kundu Committee.

Prof. Shaban said, “Ad hoc approach in framing the policies created confusions among the administrative staff that led to failure in effective implementation of Welfare Schemes. For example, PMs 15 points Programme states that ‘certain portion’ of budget under the scheme to be allocated for minorities and ‘preference’ would be given to minorities in the appointment of police and other services. However, neither does it specify the percentages, nor clarifies what is meant by the ‘priorities’ in the recruitment of minorities without any legal provisions for the same.”

Among others, the Kundu Committee has recommended proper financial provisions for hiring consulting agencies for need assessment and preparation of Detailed Project Reports for MsDP, careful selection of members of District and State Level Committees for effective and timely delivery of the programmes, sources said.

One of the major achievements in Post-Sachar years has been that minorities have emerged as developmental subjects of the state rather than just ‘ethnic and religious groups’. Institutional building for development of minorities has been major hallmark of this period through establishment of Ministry of Minority Affairs, Minorities Commissions, National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions Act, establishment of Wakf Development Corporation and launch of specific welfare schemes for minorities, etc.

Professor Shaban says, “In this period, the country has moved towards deepening the multicultural model of development as envisaged in the Constitution which in a sense heralds a new beginning”.

- tcn

Rs 50 lakh to ‘bring back home’ converted Hindus

October 18, 2014 by admin  
Filed under newsletter-india

Re-ConversionLucknow, September 22, 2014: Claiming that on an average 1,000 families are re-converted, mostly in western UP region in a month, the cost incurred on such programmes comes to around Rs 50 lakh per month. The average cost incurred on each family comes to around Rs 5,000, Dharm Jagran’s western UP in charge Rajeshwar Singh told TOI.

The fuel cost incurred is meant for the outfit’s about 100 full-time volunteers, whose job is to identify people, who converted to other religions from Hinduism, make them aware about what good they are missing by not being a Hindu and convince them to re-convert. ‘Ghar wapsi’ is what Rajeshwar Singh called this re-conversion as.

Interestingly, this is not the only expenditure incurred by the Dharm Jagran. Since most of these volunteers are full-timers, they have a task in hand to carry on such awareness campaigns in the region throughout the year. On most of the occasions, once a family gets convinced to re-convert, volunteers have to pay for the affidavit on behalf of the family head, Ajay Sinha, a full-timer (as they are called within the organization) from Shahjahanpur told TOI. Interestingly, the requirement of affidavits is mandatory only in case of certified Christian converts, Rajeshwar told TOI, added that while for the ghar wapsi of those whom he refers to as “crypto-Christians”, there is no need for certificate as such people are not converted on papers but have adopted the tradition and culture associated with Christianity.

Since the number of certified Christians is far less as compared to the ‘crypto’ category, the expenditure on affidavits hardly comes to Rs 2,000 per month, he said. According to a rough estimate, ghar wapsi of around 1,000 families is done on an average every month in the western UP area, Rajeshwar claimed.

Though not every time, the organization also spents money for holding ‘shuddhi yagya’ (purification ritual), a must for those who are reconverting. Since most of the times such yagyas are held with the contribution from either the family re-converting or through voluntary contribution by like-minded people, the average expenditure on such yagyas comes to Rs 20,000 per month per district, Rajeshwar said.

But holding shuddhi yagyas or submitting affidavits is not end the job for the Hindu outfit. The fact that the re-conversion holds no meaning if the members of the caste they belong to don’t accept them back into their fold, he said and added that it is to ensure that the re-converted families aren’t discouraged. The cost on an average the outfit has to bear on community feasting comes to around Rs 40,000 to 50,000 per month.

A full-time volunteer from Meerut praant requesting anonymity said on an average RSS provides Rs 12 to 15 lakh as annual budget to each of Dharm Jagran’s praants and rest is through contributions from the respective districts. This funding by the RSS is reviewed annually, he said.

Such expenditure is nothing in view of the impact of such efforts, said Ajay from Shahjahanpur. Rajeshwar claims members from other communities claim to spend at least Rs 3 crore on one family that converts to their religion from Hinduism. Rajeshwar claimed he was busy with his aim of ‘ghar wapsi’ of around 20,000 families or 1.25 lakh individuals in December.

- times of india

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