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Posts Tagged ‘Karnataka’

More Indian police sent to Orissa

Posted by jytmkh on September 27, 2008

 India has deployed several hundred more federal police to the eastern state of Orissa after another person was killed and several injured in continuing Christian-Hindu clashes.

A recent outbreak of violence over religious conversions has spread beyond Orissa and  claimed the lives of up to 27 people across three Indian states.

More than 700 federal police were being sent on Friday to bolster the 3,000 security forces already in Orissa.

Pradeep Kapur, the state’s inspector general of police in charge of law and order, said: “We have moved seven more companies of paramilitary forces to the troubled areas.”

In one of two incidents of violence in rural Kandhamal district on Thursday, police said about 50 Christians armed with knives, sticks and stones hacked a Hindu man to death in the town of Raikia.

Around 500 Hindus also attacked and burned about 50 Christian homes and two prayer halls in Beherasahi village, Kishore Pradhan, a police officer, said.

Christians account for about 2.5 per cent of India’s 1.1 billion population, while Hindus make up 80 per cent.

Clashes first erupted in Orissa after Swami Laxsmananda Saraswati, a prominent Hindu leader, was killed. Though Chritistians deny any role, Hindu religious parties say Christian fanatics were behind the murder.

Saraswati, who actively opposed conversions to Christianity, had survived at least eight previous assassination attempts.

‘Forced’ conversion

Orissa has a history of religious violence, usually sparked by Hindu suspicions over missionary work.

Hindu activists claim that Christian missionary groups are forcing or bribing people to convert. Church organisations deny anyone has been pressured or paid to change their religion.

 
 

Pope Benedict has condemned the attacks on Christians in India and Roman Catholic bishops have urged the EU to treat the situation as a humanitarian emergency.

Despite this, violence has continued, especially in Kandhamal, where thousands of Christians now live in government camps because their homes are destroyed or they are too fearful to return.

Hindus at some places have also been at the receiving end of the violence and been attacked.

Religious clashes have also been reported in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka states.

India does not have a long history of attacks on minority Christians, but intolerance has risen in the past two decades with a revival of Hindu nationalism.

Hindu nationalists lead or share power in the three states where Christians have come under attack.

(Al-Jazeera)

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Church attacks miff Centre; states warned

Posted by jytmkh on September 19, 2008

Centre has decided to invoke the Constitution to issue warnings to the Karnataka and Orissa governments after a series of attacks on churches and Christians.

This comes amid reports that members of the Sangh parivar like the VHP and Bajrang Dal are carrying out these attacks with the tacit approval of the state governments.

The Home Ministry will soon be issuing a warning to these states to put a stop to these attacks or face the consequences.

Sources say the warnings will be issued either under Article 355 or Article 365 of the Constitution– a last warning before the imposition of President’s Rule.

Article 355, which is an emergency provision, says it’s the duty of the Union government to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbances.

Article 365 says that the President can hold that the state is not acting in accordance with the Constitution. This is basically a ground to act against the state. (NDTV.com)

Posted in Karnataka, Orissa | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Is this Karnataka?

Posted by jytmkh on September 17, 2008

The Indian Express

There are times when the ability and willingness to call a spade a spade matter more than anything else. It is imperative for an elected Government to distinguish fact from speculation and act accordingly. Above all, it is mandated to protect the citizens it is responsible for. The attacks on churches across Karnataka would have been mitigated and even stopped had the B.S. Yeddyurappa government treated the issue first and foremost as a law and order problem. Of course, the CM has promised action and the maintenance of peace and harmony. Vacuous as those terms are, we all have a rough idea as to what they signify and why they are so vital to the continuance of civilised life. But the “iron hand” that the CM has promised hasn’t quite been manifest as policemen deployed couldn’t prevent the Bajrang Dal and VHP activists from running amok, targeting churches. It is an axiom that police personnel act when there is the political will.

Attacks on citizens abiding by the law of the land cannot be obfuscated by ideology and argument. And the government doesn’t have the luxury to waste time and words. There are wild people causing havoc and they must be stopped before they do more damage. But Yeddyurappa had initially chosen to preface his comments by stating that forced conversions are inappropriate. The CM doesn’t, and should not, hold any brief for a particular community. His job is to ensure that ordinary people attending a prayer meeting do not face violence of any kind. The government’s self-congratulatory message on concluding 100 days in office significantly failed to account for the attacks on Christians in Karnataka.

There may or may not be economic reasons behind the attacks. But we do not yet know enough about that. While Orissa’s (another state that has witnessed attacks against Christians recently) development story is usually ignored, Karnataka has been treated by the media as a great success. What is happening in the state now is a serious reversal of image, something that no constituent territory of the Indian Union can afford.

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Is BJP pushing Hindutva in Karnataka?

Posted by jytmkh on September 17, 2008

The attacks on churches in three districts of Karnataka has Christians in the state alarmed and angry. They are convinced that the state government is not doing all it could to protect minorities.

“We suspect that this could be the BJP agenda to target the minorities, particularly the Christians because we are a very soft target, unlike others who may retaliate against them we know. We feel because of this we are being picked upon by these extremist Sangh Parivar elements under the patronage of the BJP as a whole,” said former DGP F T R Colaso.

Karnataka’s history of communal tension does predate this BJP government.(Watch)

Chikmagalur district, where churches were also attacked on Sunday sees heightened tension every December, when saffron outfits insist on taking out a procession to the Datta Peetha – also the site of a sufi shrine. This despite restrictions and a history of communal flare-ups here.

Churches have been attacked in the state before. Back in the year 2000 a series of blasts in churches was eventually laid at the door of the Deendar Anjuman. The Bajrang Dal is also believed to be part of attacks on churches in more recent years.

Coastal Karnataka – a BJP stronghold – has been communally sensitive for years now. And it is clear that the state government is taking at least as critical a view of reported forced conversions as they are of the attacks on churches.

“We oppose this deceitful conversion, especially books, literature, pamphlets decrying Hindu gods and all that has come to light today. One small section that indulges in this illegal conversion believes that by producing such literature they can do something. Action will be taken as under IPC it warrants action. But direct attack on these places was unwanted,” said Karnataka Home Minister V S Acharya.

Now in power, the BJP has a direct interest in maintaining law and order in the state. And if this comes in conflict with the violent actions of other members of the Sangh Pariwar, the party will have to perform a tricky balancing act.(NDTV)

Posted in Karnataka | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

No let-up in Orissa, Karnataka violence

Posted by jytmkh on September 17, 2008

BHUBANESWAR: The faith-fuelled fire that erupted three weeks back continued to burn through tribal tracts of Orissa on Tuesday.

A policeman was fatally shot when a 500-strong mob of tribals stormed a police station in Gochhapada in a Naxal-style operation. The area is about 35 km from Phulbani, the headquarters of Kandhmal district, where scores of churches and prayer halls have been attacked and mobs have targeted Christians to vent their anger over conversions. ( Watch )

The latest hate fire was sparked off by the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati at his Jalespeta ashram three weeks back. The VHP leader had been in the forefront of opposing conversions and leading the campaign to re-convert those who had recently embraced Christianity to Hinduism.

Late Monday-Tuesday night, the tribal mob, which included women, burnt the police station and two vehicles and five motorcycles parked there. The tribals then proceeded to Balandapada, about 20 km from there, and torched the police outpost. At both places, they attacked other police establishments as well.

Anger among non-Christian tribals have been rising as police have arrested several from the community for attacking Christians and torching prayer halls in Kandhmal. DIG R P Koche said 26-year-old sepoy Bibhudendra Biswal was on night duty when the armed villagers launched the attack.

“We have deployed one company of CRPF in the area. Police action has been initiated, but there has been no arrest as yet,” the DIG said. This was the first police casualty reported in the state during the current phase of violence. On Saturday, one CRPF jawan had been shot during mob violence at Krutamgada, about 160 km from Phulbani, where three villagers had been killed in the police firing.

Police sources said that ahead of launching the attack on the police station, the tribal protesters had felled trees and blocked all roads leading to the area with huge logs. As they mounted the attack, most of the cops in the station fled. Biswal, who had recently joined the force, was on sentry duty but without a weapon. He, too, tried to flee when a bullet first hit him in the leg and then a second one in the head. Over 250 people have been arrested in Kandhmal district in connection with the communal violence. Night curfew is still on in several towns.

In Bhubaneswar, chief minister Naveen Patnaik reviewed the worsening communal split at a high-level meeting attended among others by the chief secretary, home secretary and the director general of police. The government has decided to retain about 43 companies of CRPF in the state, including 26 companies in Kandhmal district alone, till October-end.

Knives were out in Mangalore as 10 people were stabbed on the city’s outskirts and fires stoked by religious fundamentalists continue to burn the bustling commercial city for the third consecutive day. All schools and colleges were shut, shops remained closed and roads were deserted as Sri Rama Sena forced a shutdown in the city to protest the stabbing of an activist on Monday evening.

Even as the police claimed that all the stabbing incidents were not related to violent attacks on churches, dozens of people were taken into custody by the police. Around 175 people have been arrested in the city so far, over 50 of them for attack on churches and the rest for clashes with Hindu groups and police on Monday.

The trouble started here a couple of days back as Hindu groups began to target churches and prayer halls for the alleged conversion activities of some Christian groups, particularly a sect called the New Life Fellowship. The attacks on minorities in Karnataka seems to be taking a serious turn as violence continues in Orissa and shows no signs of abetting.

On Tuesday, even as Karnataka home minister V S Acharya was in the city to discuss with government officials and community leaders the measures to contain the uninterrupted violence, the city was in the grip of fear and anxiety. (TOI)

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Bharat Mata is stifled by saffron

Posted by jytmkh on September 15, 2008

Ponni Arasu

I write this piece sitting in the capital of the only south Indian state which is ruled by the BJP. Within a few months of the BJP coming to power, the repercussions are crystal clear. Saffron shines through every nook and corner of this IT hub, which is already struggling to deal with  a range of inequalities. Churches, Christian schools and Muslim and Christian individuals  and communities are being attacked regularly in the state. The pattern is familiar. The Nazi model is sound and can be replicated anywhere and thus Karnataka is now replicating the realities of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Human rights activists, researchers and lawyers working on arrange of issue are beginning to come together to prepare for a long tussle with Hindu fundamentalist forces.   I wish this dramatic narration was an exaggeration. What is it that brings rights activists across the board together when it comes to Hindu fundamentalism in India? Is it just the magnitude of the issue that has hit us violently in the past? That seems to be too inadequate a reason. The essential reason is that the Hindutva ideology believes in building ONE kind of nation. In this nation there will be Hindus and those who agree to live subservient to the Hindus. These Hindus are also not a generic category. To be Indian is to be Hindu. The ideal Hindu is a ‘healthy’, upper caste, rich, heterosexual man. All other Hindus exist to assist in the life of this “complete man”. This man is to then ‘guard’ ‘mother India’.  It is these self-appointed ‘guardians’ of the nation who attacked cinema halls across the country which screened Deepa Mehta’s lesbian-themed film Fire. One such ‘guardian’ is vehemently contesting the challenge to Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises the existence and the lives of LGBT persons, in the Delhi high Court. This is part of the long strenuous relationship between Hindu fundamentalists and sexuality rights activists in India. This relationship is not just a contestation over simpler questions of sexuality identities or practices. It is a question of culture and nation. Fire, they screamed, showcased things that are against Indian culture, as is Valentine’s day celebrations or even Eid and Christmas as they might soon declare. Poorer Hindu and Muslim men and women, those not part of the  Archies cards version of ‘love’, but who sneak away to local parks to whisper sweet nothings or just converse casually are assaulted by the ‘guardians’. Art exhibitions are ransacked and all those involved physically hurt for allegedly ‘disrespecting’ the ‘gods’ , who apparently cannot be, at any cost, imagined or portrayed by anyone else but the ‘guardians’, in a manner that they decide.  These ‘guardians’ are not just here to guard what they believe is theirs. They are here to decide how we ALL live; who we love, which gods we pray to and how. If you dare to exist any other way, you are to die. And die not as an individual but as a community. The list of people the VHP, Bajrang Dal or RSS attack in India today is eerily similar to those sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany. Communists there — human rights activists here. Binayak Sen is a case in point. Jews there — Muslims, Christians, dalits, tribals and god knows how many other communities here. Both lists have one thing, literally, in common — homosexuals. The similarity between these lists is not a coincidence and does not end there. They have in common the focus on propaganda, the belief in violence and acts of social good (education and other welfare) as a tool to breed hatred of the imagined ‘other’.  This imagined ‘other’ in effect is each and every person who believes in the right to make one’s own choices in terms of god, work, love and life. This ‘other’ is one who believes that all human beings deserve equal opportunities and equal rights to live their lives with respect and dignity. This ‘other’ captures the spirit of the Indian constitution and our long history of social struggles for justice and equality.  It is the ‘guardians of this nation’ who seem to be out of place. What gave them the right to fix our ‘culture’? A culture is one that has space for everyone, equally irrespective of their caste, class, region, religion, gender or sexuality. It is this culture that gave us the sensuous sculptures of Khajuraho, the Kama Sutra, the love story of the Sufi saint Nizamuddin and Amir Khusro. It gave us the paintings of M F Hussain and movies like My brother Nikhil. This culture made space for queer columns in popular newspapers! Culture is an entity that is to give space for all those who choose to be part of it to change, transform and build so as to ensure warmth, love and camaraderie.

 

Whatever may be the violent dreams and  aspirations of these  alleged ‘guardians’, lives and struggles will go on with heads held high and hearts that have the courage to love. “Hate is more lasting than dislike”, said Adolf Hitler but then again “love will keep us alive and kicking!” (Expressbuzz)

 

Ponni Arasu  is a queer, feminist  activist and researcher  and currently works with  the Alternative Law Forum,  Bangalore. She can  be contacted at  ponni@altlawforum.org

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Attacks on Churches and Christians in India – Violence in Mangalore

Posted by jytmkh on September 15, 2008

Kim

Section 144 has just been clamped on Mangalore city.

Police resorted to lathi charge and throwing tear gas grenades at peaceful protesters where a number of nuns and women were injured and had to be taken to hospital.

What the hell is wrong with our country and its people? (I would not normally use such strong language in print, but it doesn’t even begin to demonstrate how strongly I feel)

Today morning between 9am and 10am, Bajrang Dal activists attacked and destroyed 4 churches in Mangalore City.

Why? Because New Life members distributed pamphlets which said “Do not Worship Hindu Gods”
While I admit that this could be an incendiary statement, does this justify attacking people and churches who do not even agree with the methods used by the New Life preachers?
Does this justify attacking members of a church, who have not had anything to do with conversions or preaching and just listen?

Let’s look at the issues here:
1. The Bajrang Dal resorts to violence because of something that is printed that they do not agree with.
2. When the Bajrang Dal says that conversions are illegal, (and all the other things they do with tis as their cause) aren’t they infact enforcing that “you cannot worship any God other than a Hindu God”
3. The New Life Church is a relative newcomer, known to be more hardline than most other churches which distance themselves from them. Shouldn’t the Bajrang Dal have at least distinguished that?
4. Even if they did not agree with what was printed by the New Life church in India, couldn’t they try having a dialog with them first, before resorting to violence.
Looks like the hooligans behind these attacks are only interested in breaking bones and getting their adrenaline pumping rather than really trying to sort out any kinds of problems or misunderstandings.

The ruffians broke all the religious statues in the Sisters of Poor Clare’s Adoration Monastery. They threw the Holy Eucharist on the ground and desecrated it.

Is this OK, just because it is being done against Catholics/Christians in India who have historically been as non-violent as the Jains and buddhists (other minorities) in India?

Concerned members of the churches gathered in the church grounds during and after evening mass in a peaceful way to seek assurance and guidance from the priests and other religious. Wasn’t this a peaceful gahtering compared to mobs rampaging and torching buses because of some mud smeared on Meenatai’s statue? or The countrywide riots following a desecration of an Ambedkar statue in Kanpur? The second incident was also of smeared mud. Both the desecrations happened on public roads. This does not make it right, but compare this to religious statues being broken on private property, the Holy Eucharist (which Christians believe is the body of Christ once it is blessed) thrown on the ground. Do not Christians have a right to congregate to discuss their fears following such incidents.

Remember the Christians were gathering in peace outside their place of worship (since the insides of the church were full) not going out and torching buses or hurting other innocent people.

To add fuel to the fire, the police arrived. No issues with their arriving where crowds had gathered, but they started lathi charging the gathered people and seriously injured nuns and women among the crowd and threw tear bombs inside the church where Sunday evening mass was being held. A religious ceremony, a peaceful ceremony, held everyday inside these churches.

Was this responsible on the part of the police to use force and violence against unarmed, peaceful members of the public?

People present at the scene said that the police themselves were pelting stones at the crowd and caning them, hurting both people and damaging property in the vicinity.

The news channels started to broadcast about this and then completely hushed up. I turned on my India feed of NDTV which promised for 15 minutes to show an update and news about Mangalore city and suddenly it stopped showing those banners without showing any news about what had happened. Looks like someone high in the political chain, got to them and yanked the news off the air.

Now take 2-3 other incidents into perspective.
On 29th August over 40,000 Christian Educational Institutions across India stayed closed to register a peaceful protest against the continuing violence against Christians in Orissa which has now spread to 13 out of 30 districts.

On the same day, the government of Karnataka announced its decision to take action against Christian schools in the state for closing without prior permission.

This same government has yet to take action against the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishat and RSS workers, who had launched violent protests when the JD (S) failed to hand over the state reins to the BJP last year.

Is it any surprise that both Karnataka and Orissa currently have the BJP in power?

The VHP held violent protests in Madhya Pradesh and other places asking why the Christians had killed Saraswati? (by shutting educational institutions for a day) What about all the occasions when the BJP/VHP/Bajrang Dal/Shiv Sena and other Hindu organisations force schools, colleges and business to shut shutter for their own bundhs which destroy all normalcy in the cities?

Why are these double standards in play? Why are Christians being given the short end of the stick? Religious Christian institutions have a large role to play in education, medicine, caring for the orphans, abandoned, old and dying in India. Christians have been one of the most tolerant minorities in India (imagine what would have happened by now if by chance the Bajrang Dal hooligans had desecrated a mosque this morning) who have contributed immensely to the growth of the country. Why this treatment? Do they deserve it?

Do they deserve a government that is apathetic to their religious sensibilities being trampled upon?

Christians have always believed in being peace loving, patient and tolerant. Will the Christian youth of today continue to be as tolerant when they see the atrocities being committed against their brethren in Orissa and the North East?

Why are these atrocities against Christians being downplayed in the media? (Try googling for the attack against Christians in India and see how many Indian media links pop up) Why aren’t they being given coverage? Is it because the powers-that-be know that they aren’t doing a thing to control, controllable situations and the miscreants in their party? Is it because the powers-that-be know that the Christians haven’t ever retaliated with violence? How long will the Christians community be able to react with tolerance and peace? (2 values that a lot of Indians in the news seem to have completely forgotten about)

Final note of irony: Union minister of labour and employment Oscar Fernandes (a Christian) was in Mangalore today to inaugurate the opening of a (Hindu) temple.

And so we debate endlessly in the media about terrorism coming in from across the border while we burn our own own citizens in their homes and places of worship.
(desicritics.org)

Posted in Karnataka | Tagged: , , , , | 17 Comments »

Conversion fire engulfs Karnataka, seven churches vandalized

Posted by jytmkh on September 15, 2008

MANGALORE/UDUPI/CHIKMAGALUR: After Kandhmal, it is the turn of Christians in Karnataka to face the ire of right-wing Hindu mobs.

Suspected Bajrang Dal activists vandalized seven churches and a house in Mangalore, Udupi and Chikmagalur districts on Sunday, protesting alleged conversions of Hindus to Christianity.

Some preachers and parishioners were assaulted and church property damaged in the attacks. The police in the three districts are yet to arrest anyone.

In Dakshina Kannada district, the activists targeted the Adoration Monastery just off the Milagres Church on Falnir Road. The 10-member group barged into the prayer hall and damaged the tabernacle, where the holy Eucharist is kept. They damaged windowpanes, furniture as well the crucifix. Police said the same group attempted to vandalise another prayer hall in Kankanady, but were driven back.

Later, Christians gathered in large numbers in front of the Milagres Hall to protest against the series of attacks. The day-long stand off between the protesters and the police resulted in violence. Protesters hurled stones at the police who lathicharged them in return. Several vehicles were damaged, including the jeep of the city DSP D Dharmaiah.

Police burst teargas shells to disperse the angry youth. Some of the protesters took shelter in the Milagres Church Hall premises to escape the mob fury. Prohibitory orders have been imposed in the area up to 8 am on Wednesday.

SP N Sathish Kumar said the police stood guard at some churches that they suspected would be targets of attacks. However, the miscreants had changed their plans in the last moment and attacked churches that did not have police security.

In Udupi district, three places of worship belonging to the New Life group in the district were attacked while the Sunday prayers were in progress. No arrests have been made so far.

A prayer hall near the KSRTC bus station was attacked around 10.20 am during a prayer. Over 15 activists entered the hall and attacked the people and ransacked the entire place. A music system and projector were damaged. According to sources, the miscreants came in vehicles.

In Shiroor, near Baindur, the prayer hall of the same group was attacked. A vehicle was burnt and some members of the congregation, including the pastor, were attacked. A similar incident was reported from Mudur near Kollur where some materials were damaged. However, the police prevented another such attack in prayer halls of the New Life group in Kaup and Karkala. Udupi SP Pravin Pawar said he suspected Bajrang Dal activists were behind the attack.

He told TOI that the police registered cases and investigations had started. In Chikmagalur district, the activists attacked three churches and the house of a neo convert. In one incident, 15 activists came in a vehicle and barged into Harvest India church at Makkikoppa near Jayapura in Koppa taluk in the morning and assaulted a parishioner and the protestant pastor. They broke the window panes and the plastic chairs.

Concerned over the prospects of an anti-Christian campaign spreading to Karnataka soon after attacks on minorities in Orissa, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh drew the attention of chief minister B S Yedyurappa to reports of such incidents earlier in the day.

He also talked to governor Rameshwar Thakur. The stage for the PM’s telephonic talks had been set by a Congress demand for central interventions to end attacks on churches and Christian institutions allegedly by Sangh Parivar activists. In a statement, party leader Veerappa Moily said that several outfits of the Sangh Parivar had attacked churches and Christian buildings in a number of districts in southern Karnataka.

He said that such incidents had been going on for the past few weeks. Claiming that the culprits were allowed to go free, Moily claimed that the BJP government in the state had looked the other way instead of arresting the hoodlums. “Congress demands that the state government initiate immediate action; otherwise we may have no option but to approach the government of India for appropriate intervention,” he said in a statement. (TOI)

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