The Catolic Secular Forum

Tirupati: Evangelist Sudhir arrested

Special teams were rushed to Hyderabad and Nuzvid on Wednesday, while Sudhir was found after midnight at his Nuzvid address, from where he was arrested under Section 3 of the AP Propagation of Other Religions in Places of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Act 2007.

In a swift move, the Tirupati Urban Police arrested Mondithoka Sudhir, founder director of the Hyderabad-based Emmanuel Baptist Ministry of India (IBMI), from his Puterala residence in Vissannapet mandal of Krishna district in the early hours of Thursday. He has been remanded to judicial custody.

For the record, Sudhir’s blasphemous video on Lord Venkateswara, shot during the Samaikyandhra agitation in September 2013, had gone viral. Pretending as gullible devotees, Sudhir and his team members surrendered a copy of The Bible and other missionary material to the security staff at Alipiri check point before proceeding to Tirumala along with a video camera.

Based on a complaint lodged by advocate Samanchi Srinivas, who is also the BJP district general secretary, and following a hue and cry from various quarters, police swung into action and registered a case (Crime No.100/14 at Tirumala Two Town Police Station). A similar case was registered at Alipiri Police Station based on a complaint by the TTD Assistant Vigilance and Security Officer.

Special teams were rushed to Hyderabad and Nuzvid on Wednesday, while Sudhir was found after midnight at his Nuzvid address, from where he was arrested under Section 3 of the AP Propagation of Other Religions in Places of Worship or Prayer (Prohibition) Act 2007. Police also seized his laptop, which was used to upload the video, and his four-wheeler on which he travelled to Tirumala. A manhunt has been launched to nab his younger brother Sukumar and pastors David, Joseph and Yesu Ratnam for complicity in the offence.

Speaking to the media, Sudhir confessed to the offence and termed it as “unfortunate”. A postgraduate from Acharya Nagarjuna University, he said his intention was to spread the message and not merely to raise funds from foreign missionaries. While indicating that it was his first “negative attempt” to portray a faith in bad light, Sudhir also promised that it would be his last.

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Prayer for the Persecuted

COMMITMENT TO EGYPT’S NEW CONSTITUTION QUESTIONED AFTER ‘BLASPHEMY’ CHARGE

Kerolos Shouky Attallah, is accused of violating Article 98F of the Egyptian Penal Code for “liking” a Facebook page of Christian converts known as the Knights of the Cross. On January 14 and 15 of this year, a referendum was passed on a new constitution in Egypt. According to supporters, it ensures the basic rights of free speech and belief for Egyptians, but the existence of a blasphemy law in Egypt, is a violation of Egypt’s new constitution, which was supposed to take effect on January 18. Pray Egypt will commit to its new constitution. Pray all accusations and charges against Attallah are dismissed. Pray our merciful God will continue guiding and protecting our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

ARKANSAS CONGRESSMAN INTRODUCES BILL TO GRANT MERIAM PERMANENT LEGAL STATUS IN THE U.S.

United States, June 10, 2014: In the latest development on Capitol Hill regarding the case of Meriam Ibrahim, Arkansas Congressman Tom Cotton has introduced a bill that would grant Meriam Ibrahim, as well as her two children, permanent resident status in the United States. Meriam was sentenced to death by hanging last month in Khartoum, Sudan, after refusing to give up her Christian faith. She is currently imprisoned with her 20-month-old son Martin and newborn daughter Maya in Khartoum. Cotton stated, “I am disappointed by the Obama administration’s inaction and urge them to grant Meriam permanent legal status.” Pray the Obama Administration will act on behalf of Meriam Ibrahim and her family. Pray for the passage of legislation that would grant Meriam Ibrahim, as well as her two children, permanent resident status in the United States. Pray for Meriam’s speedy and safe release.

BOKO HARAM ABDUCTS AT LEAST 20 WOMEN FROM FULANI VILLAGE NEAR CHIBOK

Nigeria, June 09, 2014: Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped at least 20 young women in Nigeria, near Chibok where more than 200 schoolgirls were taken two months ago, local officials said. The suspected militants came into the village in broad daylight on Saturday, heavily armed and wearing military uniforms. The location of the women is still unknown and the kidnappers have not made contact with their families. Pray all the kidnapped women and girls are safely returned to their families. Pray those who persecute God’s children, seek salvation in Christ Jesus. Pray for the victory of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

BJP VICE CHAIRMAN CALLS ON NEPAL TO IMMEDIATELY AND COMPLETELY BAN RELIGIOUS CONVERSIONS

Nepal, June 09, 2014: According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), BJP vice chairman Bhagat Singh Koshiyari called for a legal ban on conversions during his visit to Nepal. The timing of the call is sensitive as Nepal’s Constituent Assembly is in the process of drafting a new constitution. “Mr Koshiyari’s comments are of concern. They appear to be an attempt to persuade Nepal not to include freedom of religion in the new constitution and laws of Nepal,” said CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas. Pray Nepal will disregard the request of Koshiyari and stand for their people. Pray the new constitution will include freedom of religion and allow our brothers and sisters to worship and share God’s word. Pray Nepal will receive the Word of our God and be saved in Christ’s name.

NORTH KOREA UNLEASHES CRACKDOWN ON CHRISTIANITY

North Korea continues to detain or repatriate its citizens with ties to the church in China. According to Daily NK, “personnel from a number of state organs, including the State Security Department, General Reconnaissance Bureau and diplomatic corps, have received additional orders on the matter.”  One of the victims, South Korean missionary Kim Jung Wook, is currently serving a life sentence for “anti-state crimes.” Pray the enemy of of our Almighty God will not be successful in bringing persecution and injustice to Christians in North Korea. Pray for the release of all imprisoned Christians in North Korea. Pray for the renewing of strength and comfort of our brothers and sisters in North Korea.

KYRGYZSTAN PASTOR KEPT FROM BROTHER’S FUNERAL BY LOCAL IMAM

Kyrgyzstan, June 06, 2014: In the village of Zherge-Tal, Imam Arstan stopped Protestant pastor Kapar Yusup uuly Abdukayimov from participating in the burial procession of his deceased 51-year old brother Japar Abdukayimov. “Imam Arstan insulted me with all kinds of unrepeatable words, calling me a traitor, and told people at the procession this will happen to anyone who leaves Islam and accepts Christianity or other religions,” Pastor Yusup uuly told Forum 18.  Numerous Kyrgyz Christians in recent years were not allowed to be buried in their local villages, and several were buried in other cemeteries used by Russian Orthodox. Pray that in future cases like these, Christians will be able to bury their loved ones in their own villages. Pray for the comfort of our Lord to come upon Pastor Yusup and his family through these dark times. Pray Imam Arstan will receive the true Word of God and be saved.

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Bishops hope new government will uphold secularism

The top body of Catholic bishops in India has congratulated National Democratic Alliance, led by BJP, on its thumping win in the general elections, hoping that the new government will uphold eternal values and secularism in making India a great nation.

“Let the new government led by BJP enable the India of Mahatma Gandhi stand tall among the world nations ensuring protection, security, welfare and sustained development of the people of all sections,” Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), said in a statement.

He hoped that the new government will continue to uphold the eternal values, secularism and principles of democracy to lead the nation on the path of development.

Reaffirming the Catholic Church’s support to the government’s activities in the process of nation building, he said that the new Government has the responsibility to ensure the security of the minorities and to show special consideration towards the weaker sections of the country.

The Catholic body advised Congress party to learn from experience and perform as a creative force in the opposition knowing the pulse of the public.

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SC stays Veerappan aides’ hanging for 6 Weeks

Hanging of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has been further delayed with the Supreme Court on Wednesday extending its interim order staying the execution of death sentence imposed on them for killing 22 police personnel in a landmine blast in Karnataka in 1993.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said it was keeping the matter pending since another bench, which has heard an identical plea, has reserved its judgement.

“In our view, the proper course of action is to adjourn the matter until another bench renders its judgement on similar matters. Therefore, accordingly we adjourn the hearing of this matter for six months to enable another bench to deliver the judgement in another pending matter.

“As a consequence, the interim order staying the execution of petitioners (Veerappan aides) passed on February 18 shall continue” until further orders, the bench also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen said.

The bench noted that the subject matter of the petition was relating to the right of the death row convicts to get their sentence commuted to life imprisonment on account of delay of execution of their death sentence.
“This is the main question involved when this matter was taken by us. It was brought to our notice that other writ petitions involving the same issue were heard by a bench of two judges in which senior advocates Ram Jethmalani and T R Andhyarujina were requested as amicus curiae,” the bench said.

Veerappan’s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were awarded death sentence in 2004 in connection with a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993 in which 22 police personnel were killed.

Their mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 13 and they are presently lodged in a jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.

A TADA court in Mysore had in 2001 sentenced them to life term which was enhanced to death sentence by the apex court.

Gang leader Veerappan was killed in an encounter with the Tamil Nadu Police in October 2004.

The apex court also noted that the judgement in the writ petition heard by another bench on the issue was reserved on April 19, 2012.

The bench said it has been informed by Additional Solicitor General Haren Raval that while considering the two writ petitions, of Devender Pal Singh Bhullar and M N Das, the other bench had the occasion to consider similar matters in which the mercy petitions were pending before the President.

The CJI said that since another bench has already heard and reserved its judgement on the issue, there is a possibility that the pleas of Veerappan aides can be heard by the same bench also.

The court is hearing two petitions, out of which one was filed by the four convicts and the other by advocate Samik Narain, on their behalf.

Urging the apex court to intervene, the four death convicts pleaded that a decision on their mercy petition has been delayed by nine years and as per its earlier order they are entitled to seek remedy for undue long delay in the execution of the sentence of death.

“Nine years delay in disposal of the petitioners’ mercy petitions has given them a right to approach this Court or the High Court to seek a commutation of the sentence of death,” the petition said.

On the last date of hearing, the court gave Narain the liberty to amend and rectify the petition after objections were raised on its maintainability by Attorney General G E Vahanvati who was asked to assist the court.

Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the four convicts, had said their execution should be stayed as another apex court bench had reserved its order on a plea for commuting death sentence to life imprisonment on the ground of delay in deciding mercy plea.

Gonsalves had referred to the petitions filed by the two condemned prisoners, Bhullar and Das, on whose plea for commutation of capital punishment to life term on the ground of delay, the apex court reserved its verdict in April last year.

The bench earlier had said that hearing this matter may also have a bearing on the petitions filed by the death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case against the rejection of their mercy petition.

The apex court had on May 1 last year had decided to adjudicate itself the pleas of Rajiv Gandhi killers — Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan alias Arivu — against their death penalty due to the delay of over 11 years in deciding their mercy petitions by the President.

The Madras High Court had earlier stayed their hanging and had issued notices to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government.

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Hate speech: Uma Bharti defends Togadia

BJP leader Uma Bharti Friday defended Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia, who has been booked in a hate speech case.

Bharti urged the Maharashtra government to first consider Togadia’s comments and compare these with MIM legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi’s only if the manner in which both spoke was similar. Owaisi has also booked for hate speech in Andhra Pradesh.

A case was registered against Togadia after he allegedly made a hate speech at a public meeting in Nanded district Jan 22. The VHP leader allegedly took potshots at Owaisi.

“I would like to tell the Maharashtra government that just because there was an investigation against Owaisi, an investigation should be conducted on Togadia-ji as well is not right (approach). We should first see as what Togadia-ji said,” Uma Bharti said.

“His comments should be considered. His comment should be compared with Akbaruddin Owaisi only if the two of them have spoken in the same manner.”

“It should not be… that an action has been initiated against Owaisi, so action should be taken against Togadia too,” she said.

She said she was sure the government would take appropriate action since everybody was equal in the eyes of law.

Togadia has been charged under Section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), Section 505 (statements conducing public mischief) and Section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language).

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India: Day of thanks for Benedict XVI and his Pontificate

Cardinal Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai, has launched a special day on 22 February, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, to honour of the pope. In these eight years, the Holy Father has repeatedly identified the challenges facing India and Asia: a dialogue between cultures and religions, secularization, globalization and implementation of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

Mumbai, February 14, 2013: February 22 next, Christians from all over India will spend the day with Benedict XVI and his pontificate. The initiative is being launched by Card. Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), who chose the feast of the Chair of St. Peter to express the deep gratitude of the Church in India to the Holy Father. That day, at 18:30, every Christian institution, convent and monastery will dedicate an hour of adoration to the pope.

In these eight years of his pontificate, Benedict XVI addressed on several occassions and in different ways issues dear to India and Asia. For example in the encyclicals Deus Caritas Est, Spe Salvi and Caritas in Veritate, which identify some of the most significant challenges of the continent. “In addition to the dialogue between cultures, with the poor and with other religions – said the cardinal, who is secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) – Benedict XVI stressed the need to implement the Church’s social doctrine to the realities of today : the economy, globalization, the gap between rich and poor, ecology, fundamentalism. ” Thus, he stressed, “development is at the heart of human actions, and globalization and progress can serve humanity.”

The pope’s attention to the Asian world was manifested not only through his documents. “Asia – noted Card. Gracias – is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, and the repeated attempts of Benedict XVI to communicate with Muslims was a really important challenge. With intellectual clarity and academic brilliance he has created the basis to understand their differences and call for a united front against secularization. ”

The archbishop of Mumbai, says “the last two days of world peace” were fundamental.  In 2011, “Religious freedom, the path of peace,” the pope said that “religious freedom is an authentic weapon for peace that can change the world and make it better.” In his message for 2012, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Benedict XVI said that “peace is not merely the absence of war,” but more importantly, reiterates Indian cardinal, “it is the universal experience of justice and love, which contrasts with the personal and structural evils of greed, inequality and violence. ”

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