22 National News

posted Apr 20, 2017, 7:58 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 20, 2017, 7:58 AM ]

New Delhi
Holy Week marred by episodes of religious intolerance

Christians in India fear new episodes of intolerance and disturbance during this Easter season. Fides received reports of incidents in six different states of India, episodes of harassment and abuse on the part of Hindu extremists during Palm Sunday liturgies on 9 April.

In the state of Madhya Pradesh three Indian evangelical pastors leading a Palm Sunday service were arrested at the instigation of Hindu fundamentalists on charges of forced conversions and allurement. The three pastors are now in prison pending bail.

In Tamil Nadu, a 24 hour home prayer meeting was suspended by the police for not having a permit, although the law requires no permit for such gatherings. Pastor Gunasekharan, who was leading the prayer meeting, was forced to promise not to hold such gatherings again.


Washing of the feet in the district Jail at Chandrapur

The core team of St. Thomas Church, and Christ Hospital, Chandrapur is involved in the prison ministry since January 2017. Frs. Benny Mulackal and K.D Chacko and Sr. Yajna cmc & Hitha cmc, from Mount Carmel convent school and a few others visit the prison often, especially on Saturdays. They give inspirational messages to the prisoners, give value education, show the movies on positive values and give them counseling. Apart from these, the sisters are providing skill development programs for the benefit of the female prisoners. They have started to give them coaching in tailoring and embroidery.

The Christ Hospital conducts medical camps in the jail once in a month and provides free medicine to the inmates. There are Around 700 inmates in the jail. Under the leadership of Fr. Benny, Administrator, Christ hospital give motivational talks to the prisoners with suitable inspirational video clips.


Church harassed after conversion allegations

Police in India’s Uttar Pradesh state stopped a prayer meeting in a village church following allegations from a Hindu group that Christians there were converting Hindus.

Some 150 people, including seven tourists from the U.S. and two from Ukraine, were present at the church service at St Andrews Church in Dadhauli in Maharajganj district, when police arrived on April 7, police officer Anand Gupta told ucanews.com.

“We checked the passports and visas of the foreigners and found everything in order. We helped the foreigners leave the place safely,” he told ucanews.com.

“We also spoke to the pastor of the church and other participants in the service and found that they were just praying there and found that the allegation of conversion was untrue,” Gupta said.


Dalits stopped from climbing hill for worship

Police on Friday, April 14 stopped a few hundred Dalit Christians from climbing a hill to perform Good Friday services.

Chengalpet Sub-Collector V.P. Jeyaseelan said Friday evening’s incident was the return of a long-standing dispute between the residents of Sogandi and Alagusamudram over accessing a hillock between the two, which is on poramboke land.

Mr. Jeyaseelan said the hill in Thirukazhukundram area has been declared a no-go area. The people of Sogandi had sought permission to worship at a shrine on the foot of the hill — also on poramboke land — and had been allowed to do so, but the situation got out of hand when they attempted to climb the hill.

“The Dalits of Sogandi had installed some statues on the hill, but we demolished them on December 31 after the caste Hindus of Alagusamudram opposed it,” said Mr. Jayaseelan. There had been a flare-up around Christmas last year. “We held two peace committee meetings, which did not yield amicable settlement. As a result, the Thirukazhukundram Tahsildar decided to impose status quo,” he said.


New Delhi
India's landmark law for people living with HIV

The Indian parliament on April 11 passed a law prohibiting discrimination against people living with HIV in what activists consider will help them live a life of dignity.

The law prohibits discrimination in employment, education, housing and health care and ends the practice of requiring people get tested for the disease as a pre-requisite for access to employment and other social spheres.

“The discrimination they face is beyond words,” said Father Roby Kannanchira, who coordinates the treatment and education of children living with HIV in Kerala state.

“Even doctors at government facilities refuse to treat them. Schools refuse to admit them. They eat up this discrimination and become broken human beings,” said the priest who periodically organizes a camp for 200 such children to help them support each other.