STOP PRESS – PLEASE PRAY & ACT
Islami Shariat Court Indicts Dutch Fr. Jim Borst & Pastor CM Khanna?
Srinagar, Jan 11: Supreme Court of Islami Shariat Wednesday indicted Christian Pastor C M Khanna and Dutch national, Jim Bhorst for their involvement in luring people to convert their religion. The court said it will announce its verdict against the accused soon. The court had summoned Khanna in connection with the case today. His statement was recorded and he was shown a CD – proof of his involvement in the sensitive issue. “During the hearing, Khanna confessed about luring people to change their religion to Christianity. He also made some startling revelations.”
Deputy Mufti-Azam Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti Muhammad Nasir-ul-Islam said, in a statement, that it has been proved beyond doubt that the accused pastor who is putting up in Kashmir for past many years, has been along with other accomplices luring people to change religion. “The Kashmir situation is going through a critical phase and if such elements are not brought to book it will have a serious negative impact on the society. It is shocking and surprising that state government was allowing such activities. Kashmir society will not tolerate such activities at all and we stand united against such elements,” Mufti Nasir said adding that detailed verdict against the accused would be made public soon.
Anti-Christian Violence & Persecution Peaks
The CSF 2011 India Persecution Report Released
A Major Attack a Day on Christians – 1000 cases in Karnataka
Orissa Leads in Killings and Inordinate Delay or Denial of Justice
Top 10 Persecuting States Indentified. Incidents & issues in others too
Anti Conversion (Blasphemy) & Cow Slaughter Laws Affect Minorities…
Missionaries who Served for Decades also Threatend with Deportation, etc.
Justice Michael Saldanha, the former judge of the Bombay and Karnataka High Courts, stirred a hornets nest, when he said that he had evidence of a thousand cases of religious liberty violations in Karnataka alone, where the State Minorities Commission members, rather than helping the victims, asked them questions like – How many lakhs had they had been given to convert? and You don’t know the teachings of Jesus, because you complain and don’t forgive? Justice Saldanha whose report on the Karnataka anti-Christian violence is the last credible and authoritative word on the subject, was speaking at the release of The CSF 2011 India Persecution Report, which highlighted that there was at least one attack a day on Indian Christians and also described other freedom of faith issues. He therefore called for effective minority forums, which help the community, rather than cover-up the misdeeds of the culprits in cases of persecution of minorities, as is the case in Karnataka and elsewhere too.
Justice Michael Saldanha: Karnataka – Rogue State No.1
He said that The CSF 2011 Persecution Report rightly accords Karnataka the Rogue State No. 1 status, even though it did not have any recorded or direct killing, as happened in Orissa, which is place second in the report. However, with all its grim and harsh reality of persecution, The CSF 2011 India Persecution Report still does not fully capture the full and comprehensive extent and impact of the attacks in Karnataka against the community. To begin with, the Hindutva warcry “Phele Kasai, Phir Isaai” (First Muslims; Then Christians) was less heard, but more practiced in the state. Both minorities were being targetted, but Christians are more severely attacked. He said if according to The CSF 2011 India Persecution Report the national average was one attacks a day, then Karnataka with a minimum of 3 – 5 attacks can correctly claim the dubious distinction of being the worst in the country. He called for the report to be circulated widely not just nationally, but also internationally that the true plight of Indian Christian be known.
Justice Saldanha said that the race for the notorious top spot seems to have won by Karnataka largely because State Terror is what singles out this state. Though no direct murder as yet, but the very large scale on which persecution is conducted almost daily by official agencies, even beats other BJP ruled states, like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, etc. The police, bureaucracy and lower judiciary give the impression of having abdicated their duty and allowing themselves to be slaves and arms of their political masters who rule the state. The communal pogroms unleashed by the fundamentalist forces is unheard of in any other state. Thousands of false cases are registered with the alleged connivance of the authorities, at the instance of the politicians to consolidate the majority vote. Justice Saldanha concluded that The CSF 2011 India Persecution Report is a potent weapon in the fight against communal forces and in a way expose the grave threat Indian Christians are exposed to.
Dr. Prof Ram Puniyani: Hindutva – communalising politics
He is the mentor of Plural India and an authority on Hindutva, having studied the saffron right wing brigade for decades said that the Hindutva affiliates had now clearly turned their attention to Christians, as they found the community to be soft targets, with little fear of retaliation. He said on going through the reports coming in from all over the country, the incidents were widespread and scattered (urban and rural), but more in the latter – Tribal, Adivasi, Mofusil and Backward and. Adivasi areas. It is here, where Christians have been rendering yeoman service (as few fear to tread), that the fanatics of RSS affiliates like VHP, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bajrang Dal etc have intensified their activities. And the Christians are helpless.
Dr. Prof Ram said that while Muslims have been on the firing line of RSS-Hindutva politics ever since even pre-partition days, the marked vicious attacks against Christians community initially came as a surprise to many. However, the ground for this was being prepared by the RSS affiliates, Swamis and godmen – Swami Aseemanand (in jail as bomb blast accused) in Dangs, Gujarat; followers of Asaram Bapu in Madhya Pradesh and Swami Laxmananand in Orissa and many of their ilk in almost every state of the country.He said that a State where the minorites are not safe, cannot be a thriving secular democracy, with tendencies to become a theocratic State or Hindu Rashtra, as is being sought to convert India into.
He pointed out that the activities of VHP-Bajrang Dal and Hindutva upstarts were intensified to frighten those Christians doing yeoman service in the field of health, education, etc. The attacks have been preceeded by a constant propaganda that these Christian missionaries are converting by force, fraud and allurement and so are a threat to Hinduism and the nation. But, the declining percentage of Christians in India as per the census figures – 2.60 in 1972, 2.44 in 1981, 2.44 in 1991 and 2.30 in 2001 – exposes this lie. He said that The CSF Report provided the much needed well documented evidence that not only is the saffron right wing brigade live and active, but also that it is thriving with great gusto. This is a threat to India as a nation and hence the need to wake-up, before it is too late.
Dr. Prof. Ram also referred to Wadhva Commission, appointed by NDA, where its report drew attention to the fact that there was no increase in the population of Christians in the area where Pastor Graham Stains was working and that neither was he working for conversions. ” Christianity is an age-old Indian religion, when disciples of Jesus, in 52 A.D – St Thomas, established churches on southern coast and St. Bartholomew, also around the same time came to the western coast, making Indian Christians go back over 2000 years, even before it came to the west “, he concluded.
Ms. Saumya Uma: Kids & Women worst affected
An independent consultant on gender and human rights issues, who played an integral part in the Tribunal on Orissa Anti-Christian Violence, described the plight of women and children, which was the same irrespective where the communal attack took place.There is documentation to prove that there is at least one major attack on Christians every day, which makes it a minimum of 365 attacks, involving at least so many children, if not more. According to Saumya – The impact of communal violence on an unformed mind is indeed shattering and adverse in more than one ways. Children are often voiceless, defenseless and silent observers to the perpetration of such crimes, which affects them more psychologically, than physically. But, apart from this, other effects, include – deprivation of basic education, malnutrition even in refugee camps, fear and financial insecurity, parents fear sending children out, trafficking for child labour and abuse, separation and displacement, disease and injuries, post traumatic disorders, become revengeful and social misfits.
Ms. Saumya Uma also pointed out that the most vulnerable section of victims, after children is that of women as noticed in studies on gender violence in the anti-Christian violence. Nuns who are known for their celibacy, and sisters, like wives or daughters of pastors or community leaders, are especially targeted. Several cases have been recorded, where apart from the sexual abuse, such as rape and molestation, the victims face problems with their reproductive organs, suffer miscarriages/abortions, have issues during giving birth to children, freedom of movement restrictions, etc.
Ms. Saumya Uma said that the victims and their families could not resume their livelihood, due to social pressure and ostracism, much time being spent due in pursuing justice, suffering psychological traumas, non availability of women doctors & medical attention, inhuman state of refugee camps… ” The women often do not complain for fear of the allegation that it was not rape, but consensual sex on a regular basis and being susceptible to human trafficking, menial jobs, etc. Often women are targeted not for sexual gratification, but to heap humiliation on the males, who are putting up a fight “, she added.
Joseph Dias: Highlights of the persecution
The general secretary of The CSF, who compiled the report thanked the hundreds of activists and NGOs, who sent in reports from different parts of the country through out the year. Joseph Dias publicly acknowledged the great community service undertaken by organisations like the CBCI, NCCI, AICC, GCIC, EFI, Prashanti, MP Issai Mahasangh and office-bearers/activists of these, whom The CSF is eternally grateful. He also commended the media, including community / social networking websites, which played a major role in providing inputs for report. A detailed listing of these would be available in the complete report, expected later. Here below are some highlights
The Worst Ever Harsh Reality – 2011: A communal riot-free India will continue to remain a distant pipe dream with stiff opposition to the proposed Communal Violence bill, likely to ensure that it is not passed. Until and when that happens though, the vociferous Hindutva militants and right wing parties continue to have a field day preying on the minorities. The study of the attacks on the minorities in 2011 clearly shows the year to be one where persecution has peaked. This, despite the fact, that there has been no major pogrom, (like Orissa or Karnataka) causing massive threat to life, limb or property. The reason 2011 is the worst-ever year for Indian Christians, as the sheer number of attacks indicate, is because the persecution has become more widespread, covering almost all states of the country. A minimum of a 1000 Christian families have been affected by these attacks.
As per the reports coming in during 2011 from almost all Indian states, there is a perceptible increase in the Hindutva attacks; even in places where the Hindutva brigade (RSS, VHP, BJP, Sangh Parivar, Ram Sene and their spawns) was not traditionally strong. Of serious concern is the fact that a clear pattern is emerging, which shows that Christians are next on the Hindutva radar of terror. The pan India attacks well documented, expose a pre-meditated sinister campaign to make soft targets of this micro-minority across the country in the year to come. If one goes by the number of reports coming in, in 2012, the numbers of persecuted Christians and discriminated institutions/NGOs are bound to go up, as more incidents get recorded.
This preliminary annual persecution report 2011 wishes to highlight about 250 of the most heinous crimes of targeted violence against Christians in India. It raises relevant issues of freedom of faith and religious liberty, besides abuse of basic human and constitutional rights. The CSF would like to reiterate that these are only the serious ones, that have been brought to light and the attacks that are unreported by the media or not recorded by the authorities, could well be over three times this number. If one were to add, all major and minor persecution incidents against Indian Christians, the number could well swell to over 1000 cases mark in 2011 alone. The most recent form of persecution is Christians branded as naxalites, Maoists (in central India), like Arun Ferreira or anti-national as in the north east region – profiling or stereotyping of Christians, as all Muslims get painted as terrorists.
Forms, Extent & Nature of the Attacks
The nature of these crimes have been categorized alphabetically to reflect the nature and intensity of persecution as – (A) death and murder; (B) grievous injuries and merciless beating; (C) rape, molestation and trauma against children; (D) destruction and desecration of churches, religious articles, seminaries, cemeteries, statues, bibles, etc; (E) Christian institutions, believers’ houses, property, transportation, source of livelihood destroyed; (F)religious service or Sunday / Festival worship disrupted; (G) Christians jailed, arrested or detained by police or acted against by the authorities; (H) Clergy, Church workers or Christian laity abused, insulted, threatened or sentiments hurt; (I) Foreign missionaries deported or acted against by government and (J) other forms of persecution/attacks not mentioned above. All the above human rights violation is exclusively directed due to the opponents’ objections to the victims’ professing and practicing the Christian belief, which is a universal fundamental right.
Top 10 Persecution States
Karnataka heads the list of top 10 persecution states, being guilty of all the above heinous crimes, except no recorded murder. The dubious distinction for most Christian killings, making it second on the black list goes to Orissa, with half a dozen martyrs, who died for the faith and include pastors, a catechist, a presbyter and community leaders. The other 8 states who recorded crimes against Indian Christians, in order of intensity are – Andhra Pradesh, coming a close third, with Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, following it. Among the others in the notorious list of persecuting states are the national capital Delhi, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
Hundreds of Christians are being persecuted under anti-conversion laws and other sections falsely foisted upon them like 295A, which indicts them for creating enmity on trumped-up charges. In as many as seven states there is legislation that curbs freedom of religion, such as Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Rajasthan.
Brutal & Inhuman Nature
Joseph Dias said that “What makes such acts of persecution and anti-Christian violence even more shocking is the fact that they are perpetrated on a micro-minority (2.3%), who commanded by their faith to turn the other cheek. The believers of no other religion would tolerate such abuse and insult. Further, the communalists are sure of no retaliation from the Indian Christians, as they are indoctrinated by the Church to suffer, forgive and love in return their persecutors. How else would one explain the silence of the lamb victims, many of whom are senior citizens, women and children, even handicapped and many times with the implicit or tacit involvement of the police, politician and administration.
He said that while all the other faith followers are free to pray and celebrate their religious festivals or observations, thousands of Indian Christians across all states cannot do so. Sunday services, prayer meetings, Good Friday, Christmas, Easter, etc. have all been occasions to provoke, threaten and attack. Another trend noticed in 2011 is that Christians are not even allowed to pray for the country on national holidays like Independence and Republic Days. While a strike by the Hindutva brigade prevented Christmas celebrations for the fourth consecutive year in Kandhamal, in Karnataka a vicious attack by religious fanatics, left dozens grievously injured on Christmas day, battling for their lives. The situation in other states were no different with reports coming in of Christians having to go underground, remain in their houses and observe religious days in an atmosphere of fear and threat.
Missionaries Deported: The year 2011 also saw a record number of missionaries and evangelists threatened to be or even deported. It took a huge public outcry for the Supreme Court to expunge its remarks on January 21 2011, seeking to almost justify the murderer Dara Singh’s motive for killing Australian missionary, Graham Staines and his two minor sons. This was followed by repeated threats to expel an 80 year-old Fr. Jim Borst, a Dutch missionary serving in Jammu & Kashmir for almost half a century, educating the locals.
Another 63 year-old nun, Sr. Jacqueline Jean from the UK, who served lepers in Bangalore, was denied permission to stay on and continue her work, even though she came in through the Commonwealth Agreement operating at the time. American evangelist, William Lee, who had been visiting India since 1998, was deported for joining a prayer meeting in Kerala, besides being jailed and fined, for doing so.
Most countries allow freedom of worship with the clergy or believers of other faiths allowed to express their beliefs. It is for this reason that Hindu godmen like Sri Sri Ravishankar, Ramdev Baba and congregations like ISKCON and even the VHP freely operate abroad, especially in the western countries. However, in India, not only are Christian believers from abroad not allowed in many cases, but these foreigners are harassed and are under constant threat. This is a violation of under international practice, but even worse is that in India, Christians too have to take permits in many states to pray & worship.
Lokpal & FCRA:
The draconian FCRA has been used by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, to ban or freeze the funds, without allegedly little justification. Further, in the recent Lokpal Bill, NGOs have been put under the ambit of the Lokpal, which is bound to limit social services by these NGOs, many of whom are Christian ones. According to the government, 60 NGOs were banned from receiving foreign contributions and the accounts of 20 others were frozen. The government also released details of those organisations that received more than Rs 1 crore annually in the past five years.
At present, there are 42,202 NGOs registered as receiving funds from abroad, of which at least 958 got Rs 1 crore or above last financial year. Of the NGOs receiving Rs 1 crore and above from abroad last year — a majority were Christian missionary organisations working in the rural areas of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. World Vision of India, based at Egmore, Chennai, tops the list of 958 for 2010-11, with Rs 233.74 crore, followed by Kolkata-based Missionaries of Charity (Rs 62.29 crore) and Compassion East India (Rs 59.96 crore).
Evil Designs for 2012, as Persecution Increases
Earlier it was believed that only the Muslim minority was being targeted by the Hindutva forces. However, ground zero updates indicate that not only have attacks on Christian become a regular affair, but also that it would proportionately outnumber the attacks on Muslims, especially since there is no fear of retaliation. In 2011, the general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Pravin Togadia called for a new constitution allowing ‘anyone who converts Hindus to be beheaded.’ Such extremist hate speech tolerated is indicative of a growing hostility towards minorities in the country. This does not augur well for India’s international reputation, at a time when it is seeking closer ties with the developed world for its economic progress.
There are instances of over 2141 Christians affected in 2011, which does not include their family, relatives and friends, who were also victimized. The current scenario is not only unprecedented and widespread, but is also marked in terms of its severity and intensity. The recent attacks have clearly exposed the bold and blatant involvement of the State machinery abetting, if not participating in the violence. This too is expected to rise in 2012, with the alleged increasing communalization of a few in the political parties, administration, judiciary, police, etc.
Please await the next part of this report soon.
– joseph dias