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.”
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.
Mumbai, 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
Mumbai, 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”.
Lucknow, 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
Joseph Pawar, who is in his 20s, and Ayushi Wani, 19, reportedly eloped and married at an Arya Samaj temple in Bhopal on September 28. They were traced by the police to Pavagadh in Gujarat after the girl’s parents filed a complaint and the Hindu Jagran Manch and other right-wing organisations threatened to launch an agitation. The two hail from Jobat town in tribal-dominated Alirajpur district.
The town observed a bandh on Wednesday as the superintendent of police met the two families separately in his office. Meanwhile, hundreds of right-wing activists gathered outside the premises.
Ayushi reportedly told Alirajpur SP Akhilesh Jha that she was in love with Joseph, a nursing college student, and that she went with him of her own accord. She also refused to return to her parents, following which she was sent to Nari Niketan in Ujjain.
The activists said they wanted Joseph booked for allegedly luring Ayushi into marrying him, but the police said no case could be made against him since she was not a minor. Joseph was escorted to Indore under police protection to ensure his safety.
Police, however, declared the marriage invalid, saying that Joseph is not a Hindu and that in order to marry Ayushi, he would have to convert to Hinduism by following a procedure laid down under the Freedom of Religion Act.
According to the Act, a person who wants to convert as well as those who would preside over the ceremony are supposed to notify the district magistrate a month in advance.
Jha told The Indian Express that he took the decision to declare the marriage invalid because it seemed like the best option at the time, given that 300-400 activists had surrounded his office and the threat of arson and damage to government property loomed large. “There are both plus and minus points when an administrator takes a decision in such matters,” he said.
Joseph, meanwhile, said that the marriage in the Arya Samaj temple was carried out according to Hindu rituals.
Ayushi’s family had filed a complaint on September 26 when she did not return home from college. Right-wing activists threatened to take to the streets when it was revealed that she had eloped with a Christian man, and gave the police till September 30 to bring the couple back to Jobat.
The police discovered that after the marriage on September 28, the couple went to Pavagadh, from where the two were brought to Jobat on October 1.
The SP said the situation had returned to normal on Thursday, but added that it was not safe for Joseph to return. “It’s possible that he could apply to convert his faith,” he said.
- indian express
India, October 13, 2014:Indian Jesuits of the Jesa (Jesuits in Social Action) network has appealed to the central government and the governments of several Indian states to adopt urgent measures to put an end to the orchestrated campaign against religious minorities.
Motivated by hatred and violence, the anti-minorities campaign has a “negative impact on the social harmony in many towns and villages in the country,” said Jesa.
The statement recalled that the media reported more than 600 cases of violence against minorities between May and September, the period the new government led by BJP has been in power.
“The overt support from political leaders to radical groups and extremist Hindus has triggered violence in many places,” said Jesa, and also pointed out that the perpetrators go unpunished.
“Impunity further encourages the extremists who are acting outside the law,” said the Indian Jesuits.
The civil society has long called to the highest political authorities to stop “those who create disharmony and polarize society”. More than 30 organizations that defend human rights have reiterated their request to protect the rights of minorities, especially the right to live with dignity as citizens of India, with equal dignity and equality.
The situation has become so critical that even a well-known jurist – Fali Nariman – had openly expressed his concern a few weeks ago.
“The first 100 days of the new government have seen a crescendo of hate speeches against Muslims and Christians. Their identity is mocked, their citizenship questioned, their faith ridiculed. Coercion, divisions and suspicions multiply. Attacks against religious minorities have assumed alarming proportions in various parts of the country,” said the Jesuits.
Jesu stated that the hatred, violence campaign and threats “have left not only religious minorities speechless, but also civil society, lawyers and academics, while the government remains silent.”
“The Christian community has been the target of mob violence in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.” According to the Jesuits there is a change in the strategy of the extremist organisations: “A few deaths, but daily low-intensity violence that is becoming routine,” has taken the place of earlier concerted pogroms.
The Jesuits asked for immediate action against those who created tension in society and invited the Home Minister to “issue a directive so that the police are not conditioned by extremist groups”.
- agenzia fides
Lucknow, October 13, 2014: In a fresh and dramatic twist to the ‘Love Jihad’ case involving a girl in Meerut, the victim Monday alleged that she was forced by her family to make false accusations that she was first gang raped by Muslim men and then forcibly converted to Islam.
The girl from Khakhrauda made the statement before a magistrate, making it a legally binding document.
Officials said she had approached the Senior Superintendent of Police of Meerut Saturday claiming that her parents were beating her after money stopped coming from certain Hindu leaders. This, she told the district police chief, had been happening over the past one month until she fled the house for fear of being killed. She has also lodged a complaint with the police alleging a threat to her life from her family.
A teacher by profession, she had earlier alleged that she was gang raped by Muslim youth and then forced to convert to Islam. In a U-turn now she has denied this and has in the written statement claimed that certain Hindu groups and leaders had coerced her family into making these allegations.
Reacting to the developments, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which had raked up the Love Jihad issue during the state assembly by-polls, said the whole issue was now turning murkier and demanded a CBI probe.
“A CBI probe will clear the matter,” Laxmikant Bajpayi, state BJP president, told IANS.
Other political parties, including the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP), however slammed the BJP for raking up a non-issue and alleged the party’s complicity in the whole matter. “The BJP owes an explanation to the people on why it raked up the matter which was unsubstantiated,” said Rajendra Chowdhary, state cabinet minister and party spokesman.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Pramod Tiwari has sought a detailed probe into the whole episode and said the role of everyone should be scrutinised.
Ranchi, October 13, 2014: A senior Maoist leader arrested last month in Dumka district has told the police that his party killed Catholic nun Valsa John because her presence was an obstacle to the growth of the CPI-Maoist in the Santhal Pargana.
Sukhlal Murmu (39), known as Prabir, was the Zonal Commander of Santhal Pargana for the CPI-Maoist when sister Valsa (53), who hailed from Kerala, was murdered in November 2011.
He was elevated to being a member of the Purvi Bihar Purvothar Jharkhand Special Area Committee created earlier this year on his request.
The BBC had quoted a Maoist spokesperson after sister Valsa’s murder claiming responsibility for the killing.
The spokesperson alleged that the nun was working on behalf of mining interests. Prabir has repeated the charge, telling his interrogators that sister Valsa used to do “dalali” work for the PANEM Coal Mines Ltd., which was trying to operate in Pakur district.
However, Prabir has also said that Valsa’s death was premeditated, with the CPI-Maoist deciding about a year-and-a-half ahead to kill her.
“There was a meeting of the Jharkhand Regional Committee held at Pirtand [of Giridih district] about a year and a half before the murder. Senior leaders Kishan [Politburo member] and Prayaag were at that meeting. Kishan was apparently not for murdering a woman who was religious, too,” said Dumka SP Anoop Mathew. However in the end, the JRC resolved to kill sister Valsa.
Prabir has told police officers that Valsa was averse to an alliance with his party even though their interests aligned when it came to mining. Known for her paranoia, the nun even had her people follow Prabir once when he tried to get in touch with people in the PANEM area, trying to influence them. The Maoists, who were trying to use the popular anger against PANEM as a foothold to enter the region, were being pegged back by Valsa’s influence.
However, Prabir has said the Maoists saw a way in when Valsa dropped her blanket objection to the PANEM project, allowing the company to construct a road in the area. She later agreed to allow the project to go forward if adequate compensation was paid. The Maoists told people that Valsa was becoming a broker for the company.
The Maoists are understood to have used Valsa’s support to a rape survivor and the distribution of PANEM-related contracts as the reasons the murder on the night of November 15, 2011, though Prabir has said the date was merely the culmination of about a year and a half of planning.
Prabir has told his interrogators that his party sent two cadres to be part of the lynch mob: Dawood, who has since been arrested and Karamchand, who passed away since. Prabir has claimed Karamchand was tasked with organizing the attack team and masking it.
- indian express
Bharatiya Dalit Church (BDC) is committed to preach good news to the Dalits who are socially outcastes and economically poor.
Our Vision: Our vision is to preach to Gospel to the Dalits who are the so-called untouchables who are Constantly rejected, persecuted, shamed and driven to the fringes of the society and to restore their identity as the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
We try to present to the Dalits the historical Jesus as one who shared this brokenness or the Dalitness. Jesus is a true Dalit because he suffered rejection, mockery, contempt, torture and death. He not only shared the brokenness of Dalits 2000 years ago but he does so here and now in the day to day lives of the Dalits. His promise of being with us until the end of time is an assurance of his continued sharing in our Dalitness.
Jesus in his ministry totally identified himself with the Dalits of his time by serving the Samaritan Dalits whole heartedly. The dominant religious leaders of his day accused him of eating and drinking with dalits, publicans, tax collectors and sinners (MK. 2:15-16). Jesus’s attitude towards the people, the society was considered as outcastes activities (The Samaritans and women of his society could fit into this category), his mixing with them freely, his table fellowship with them demonstrated powerfully that he loved and cared for them – the Dalits. Thus he totally identifies with the Dalits of his time and continues to identify in our times.
Our Hope: The Resurrection is the tremendous sign of hope for the Dalits that they could in fact realize their dream of equality and justice. The risen Jesus is still with them encouraging them and strengthening them to continue their fight against injustice and oppression. By rising from the dead, Jesus proved that death is not the last word; evil and injustice cannot and will not have the final victory. This gives hope to the Dalits that their struggle against injustice and oppression is not a lost battle. They will see the light of day. They will be able to rise with Jesus to a more human existence.
Our Dream: Our dream is to create a casteless society envisaged by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar where all are equal which is the kingdom of God preached by Jesus. Here women and men of good will irrespective of their caste and colour as one human family will work together to realise this dream.
Means-Restoration: Our mean is by restoring and regaining the lost identity, rich history and culture of the Dalits in an exclusive Indian Dalit way based on core Christian ethics and values.
- s. arockiyadoss