The program would provide training to those interested in social work.
The 41st Development Dynamic Courses, which began on Jan. 7, would provide training to 43 participants from India and other south Asian countries, including Combodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The 26-day program is one of the flagship training programs organized by Caritas India, the social wing of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, every year.
The training program, which has been going on for the last 26 years, has trained more than 3,000 social workers.
The event was inaugurated by Archbishop Thomas D’souza of Calcutta.
In his inaugural speech, the prelate stressed on teaching, preaching and healing of Jesus’ ministry.
“Being as a social worker it is our duty to resemble Christ in our activities,” he said.
Other dignitaries who attended the program included Fr. Fredrick D’souza, executive director of Caritas India, Fr. Frankline, director of Seva Kendra Calcutta and Vicar general Msgr. Dominic Gomes.
- press release
WB: A Christian family attacked & threatened with murder by Muslim radicals *AP: Church burnt in Vizag
West Bengal, May 31, 2012: Aimazan Bibi lives with her husband Gaffar Shaike and their children in a village named Nutangram in Murshidabad District of West Bengal. She and her entire family accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour a few years ago. She has been also conducting House Church Fellowship of Christians at her residence on Mondays during the last few years. A sizable number of other Christians, both men and women along with their children attend the prayer fellowship meetings.
On 30th March 2012, she invited some Christian families for lunch at her house. The lunch was preceded by a short prayer meeting. Hardly had the the prayer meeting begun at about 2 pm when a large group of radical Muslims forcibly entered Aimazan Bibi’s house and attacked them. One Aanu Shaike son of Nizamuddin Shaike kicked Aimazan Bibi in the stomach, beat her on her head and tried to break her arm. In the meantime a mob of about 100 Muslims also gathered in front of her house and began shouting anti-Christian slogans threatening to murder them all if they continued conduct their prayer meetings. When the other Christians tried to leave the place, the radical Muslims blocked their way and did not allow them to go. Ahammed Shaike, son of Late Kalimuddin Shaike, who was leading the group of the extremists also beat up a number of Christians present and threatened to kill them all “for the sake of Allah”. Mohammed Kuran Shaike, son of Ahammed Shaike beat Aimazan Bibi’s mother Moyazan Bewa who is a 65-year-old widow. Ahamed’s Shaike’s wife, Salema Bibi beat Selina Bibi an invitee for the lunch. Most of the Christians, both men and women received minor injuries. Some small children present were screaming with fear.
Others actively involved in the attack were Mohammed Aanu Shaike who chased the Christians with a sickle and threatened to murder them while Ahammed Shaike was encouraging him and other extremists to attack them just because they are Christians. It is also learnt that Ahammed Shaike and his family members along with other extremists constantly keep on threatening Aimazan Bibi and her family members that they would succeed in their design one day or the other to murder them all as they are Christians.
Aimazan’s husband, Gaffar Shaike, submitted a written complaint to the local Police Station in Murshidabad on 31st March 2012 with copies to the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police in Murshidabad District. But the police or the District Administration does not seem to have taken any action till today, 31-5-2012, when the lady has approached the GCIC out of sheer desperation as Ahammed Shaike, his family members and their extremist groups keep on coming to her house and threaten them publicly that they would murder them all and that one day they would certainly succeed in executing their plan.
AP: Church burnt in Vizag
The “Seyonu Prarthana Mandhiram” church in Shelanagar was burnt while nobody was present in the church and the loss of property is estimated to be around Rupees 2.5 lakh. The church was built 25 years ago by local Christians according to information available, under Survey No. 122/1, on the basis of Home States Conformant of Ownership Act 1986. According to accounts of the church members, some local leaders had been provoking and pressuring the church believers to vacate the church property claiming that the land belongs to them.
This group of perpetrators was led by Mr. Narendra Babu, who after threatening the church started fencing the land around the church to forcibly stake claim over the land. The pastor then filed a complaint to the local police, and 2 weeks after this incident the church was set on fire by unknown miscreants, damaging about 2.5 lakh worth of property as well as cutting the power supply of the adjacent Orphanage.
The local pastor along with some of the church believers have filed a police complaint and are still waiting for action on the matter.
WB: Radical Islamists physically abuse Christians *UP: Police stop a Christian convention *AP: Land encroachment leads to the demolition of a church *Karnataka: 10 sentenced for forcible conversion
West Bengal, April 04, 2012: On 30th March, 2012, radical Islamist forcibly entered a Christian home in Nutangram, West Bengal where a group of Christians were gathered and physically assaulted them and disgraced them in public.
Mr. Gaffar Shaike and his wife had invited their Christian friends over to their place for lunch and prayer on the 30th March, 2012, in Nuntangram village, Murshidabad district, in West Bengal. Shortly after lunch while they were they were having a time of fellowship and prayer a group of radical Islamists stormed in the house of Mr. Shaike and inflicted grave injuries on 3 of those gathered. The victims are Mr. Aimazan Bibi, Ms. Moyazan Bibi and Ms. Selina Bibi.
The Christian victims were then chased out of Mr. Shaike’s house and on to the streets where they became a sight of public amusement for a large crowd of about 500 Muslims, who simply watched on as the victims were chased around and verbally and even physically abused by the radicals who were armed with knives.
The radical group are believed to be led by Mr. Mohammed Aanu Shaike, who is notorious for publicly decrying against Christians even to the extent of publicly torturing them for their faith.
A case was filed later in the evening by some Christians at the Murshidabad Police station, in Nutangram village, but so far no arrests have been made.
UP: Police stop a Christian convention
Uttar Pradesh, March 29, 2012: On 24th March, 2012 The Yeshu Mahatsava convention that was organised in Chadidiha, was disrupted by the Rampur police after complaints lodged by the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Despite procuring the necessary permissions from the Associate District Magistrate to conduct the Yeshu Mahatsava Convention, the local police shut down the convention over allegations by the VHP that forced conversions was taking place. Fearing a possible backlash from the community, Sub-inspector RP Saroj arrived at the venue early in the morning and with drew the permission he himself had granted for the convention and asked for the stalls present to be removed.
VHP’s district chairman Mr. Omprakash Singh had made accusations that Christian Missionaries were converting people in the country by enticing them with money, and that they were sheltered by the government.
AP: Land encroachment leads to the demolition of a church
Andhra Pradesh, March 29, 2012: On 2nd March, 2012 a Church in Urmila Nagar, Vijayawada was partially demolished as real estate developers try to illegally encroach on property for their development projects.
Bethel Prarthana Mandiram, a church in Urmila Nagar, Kabela, which had been running for over 13 years ago, was visited by labourers hired by town planning officers to demolish the church on 2nd of March. The labourers began this illegal demolition activity at around 3 pm, right after a Friday prayer service had been conducted. Pastor Immanuel of the church in Urmila approached the town planning office with the church’s property documents. According to the documents, the church property was allocated to Mr. Madala Yacob, the great grandfather of pastor Immanuel under a military quota during the British rule in 1930.
But according to new municipality zone survey the church property falls on land belonging to corporation 80 Field Map Book (FMB), which was used as an alibi to encroach the land.
Pastor Immanuel believes that there is a conspiracy between the real estate developers and municipal town planners. And although the municipal commissioner had clarified the matter regarding the church property based on the original documents, the church building was still demolished.
Karnataka: 10 sentenced for forcible conversion
Karnataka, April 02, 2012: A local court today sentenced 11 persons on charges of trying to forcibly convert people to another religion in Kyatamballi village in the district in 2007.
The JMFC court ordered two of the 11 to undergo a jail term of 20 months,including two months of rigorous imprisonment and pay a fine of Rs 5000 each. The other nine were sentenced to one year simple imprisonment and pay a fine of Rs 2000 each.
Additional Senior Civil Judge and JMFC, H Gopalakrishna, passed the orders saying that the accused were propagating against a particular community and urging them to convert from one religion to other.
“The accused committed grave offence of creating enimity between the two communities. They committed offence prejudicial to maintainence of harmony between the two communities”, the Judge stated in the order.
According to charge sheet filed by Robertsonpet police, Kolar, the 11-member group had were openly condemning the deities worshipped by the people of a particular community and urged them to convert.
While two of the accused were sentenced under section 153(3) (promoting enmity between two different groups on grounds of religion), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal code, the others were sentenced under section 248(10) of the CrPC.
What does a Christian do in a situation like this?
Here is another Anglo Indian family in dire straits
After the recent case of the Anglo-Indian raped in West Bengal, The CSF has been approached by a family, who is literally living on the streets, thanks to the authorities turning a Nelson’s eye and deaf ear to their travails. Here are excerpts of the a widow, Mrs. Patsy Rixon, whose life and that of her children and grand-children, are threatened by anti-social elements, with political patronage.
We are taking up the issue with those concerned, but given the long history, which is shocking, The CSF is confident, we need you to pitch in by copying the request below and emailing it to those, who need to investigate and act. And of course pray for Mrs. Rixon and family too.
The CSF Appeal to the Authorities
To : [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Our attention has been drawn by The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF) to the persecution of Mrs. Patsy Rixon, an Anglo-Indian widow senior citizen, her children and grand children by anti-social elements, which is shocking – to say the least. The Rixon family is contactable at No. 2 Waliullah Lane of Ward # 62 (PS – Taltala) of Kolkata – 16. Mobile No. 9331447182 Email: [email protected]
India prides itself for upkeeping basic human rights and rule of law, besides constitutional freedoms. We would therefore urge you to urgently intervene in this case and help the victims on humanitarian grounds, if nothing else. The CSF has contacted your office or is contactable at [email protected]
Thanking you, with regards,
Mrs. Rixon, an Anglo Indian Widow and Her Family’s Request for Help
Please read this letter in full as lives are at stake! My name is Ms. Patsy Rixon, a widow, and I & my children and grandchildren reside at No. 2 Waliullah Lane of Ward # 62 (PS – Taltala) of Kolkata – 16. We are an Anglo-Indian Christian family—full citizens of our beloved India. As a matter of fact, we are the only such family in the area living among lakhs of Muslims. My family has lived here for nearly 100 years with over three generations, always peacefully until now. Since 2003, Zubair Safvi, his son Ibrahim Safvi alias Bablu and others have repeatedly persecuted my family and me. They have used local politics, as well as religion, along with might and manipulative maneuvering to try and evict us unlawfully and forcefully from our home, so they can use the property for themselves illegally.
At one time, back in 1991, the aforementioned son, Ibrahim Safvi alias Bablu, was driven out of the area by the local people because of his nefarious deeds. He travelled abroad to many places including Pakistan and the US. He returned with lots of money and began his campaign to take our property by any means necessary. It was reported that he was deported because of some illegal activities on his part, and he was forced to return to India.
We have faithfully paid rent and are up-to-date and current on the property as we always have been. We have also paid taxes for the property directly to the KMC as a letter requesting all undue taxes be paid was left at our entrance. Yet these people have refused to allow us to fix our roof which has been leaking and now only one room has any roof portion left on it! As for all the other rooms, the roof has completely collapsed and is gone – open to the sky. That one room is in danger of collapsing now too causing possible death and certain harm to my family and the neighbours, if the walls should go as well this monsoons. We are trying to hold the place together with bamboos and plastics. The parapet walls are in peril of collapsing first doing untold harm to the vicinity. Who would be responsible if someone got seriously hurt or something more worse happened?
Through local influence and arm twisting, this group has managed to prevent us from making any repairs to the house thus its present deteriorated condition, in hopes we would leave due to the destitute conditions. On the 3rd of September 2009, they illegally entered into my home by force backed by a multitude of people which they stirred up as a mob, through lies and deceit in order to terrorize my family and me. On that day, they completely destroyed one room of my home. This is not the first time they have stormed our home and stirred up mobs against us with their many lies, trying to scare our family into forcing us to move out of fear. Many times as often as 3-4 times a year they have come trying to evict us from our home in such a manner.
We have all the proper documents from the Building Commission to proceed with the necessary work on our home. We have been to all the authorities for many years seeking help in this matter, yet no one has come to explain to us why we cannot fix our roof nor has anyone come to aid us against the aggression of these people. We have the permission to make the repairs, but these individuals refuse to allow us to do so. Our landlord whom we pay rent to has agreed in full along with many family members for us to make the repairs and to continue to live in peace here. By using politics, religion and corrupt power, these people have managed to along with many other sources prevent us from getting any kind of justice whatsoever. We are ignored as we are a family in the minority who is minimalized and marginalized in both religion and politics as they have used both greatly to their favor. We do not have the money to buy our way through the system as they are doing nor do we desire to do any violence or harm to anyone. We just want peace, and we want our basic fundamental human rights of a roof over our heads.
We have gone to the courts, been to the Writer’s Building, Police Headquarters, the Governor’s Mansion, the KMC, and contacted our MLA and MP as well so many times. Hundreds of letters, emails, documents, pictures, videos, and any media we could have used, has been sent to every authority we knew. Yet no one has come to help us nor to explain why we cannot just fix our roof and live peaceably in our home. Only these persons stand in our way. Many phone calls have been made and we have been to see many authorities, but only the reply that we ever got was that someone will look into it. We have had no response to date after so many years of writing, calling, and visiting offices…
All the powers-that-be we have contacted are safe in their offices and sleep nicely in their homes, at night while we struggle to live and battle the monsoon floods, with very little respite to even hope for some rest at times. We are simply forgotten as if we do not exist.
No one enters into a home illegally and tears down the walls, especially in the sight of small children who just moments prior were sleeping in the spot where the attacks took place. It is against the law, yet when we contacted the police many times, there was no response. When these people come with their mobs, their iron bars, etc. by force and hurt us, even causing some members of our family to the hospital – all that the authorities say is that someone would look into the matter. Who can stop such a mob as thousands stormed the streets thinking they were honoring their God and their community.
We have gone out in the streets many times marching with banners even to the Governor’s Mansion. We have gathered hundreds of signatures. We have appealed to the Minorities Commission as well as the Human Rights Commission. Recently, we took our story online over the internet too, as the media has ignored us as well.
Where do we turn to and find justice? Who do we look to? We are inspired by our nation’s rich heritage of non-violent protests against such aggression, yet we can hardly believe that such aggression can still plague the common people of our nation today! And we have learnt we are not alone. This happens all the time. We are just peacefully trying to take a stand, while continuously being ignored by the system meant to protect us. We are trying to set a precedent of change to stop this evil aggression against the common citizens, who are left to fall through the cracks of our justice system.
Please help us in any way you can! We do not know where else to turn, so we turned to you! As you can imagine and see for yourself by just making a visit to our home to see for yourself its present condition. We just desire that we live in peace in the home of our ancestors. We just want a roof over our heads. Is that too much to ask for? We just want peace! Someone please help us! We pray to God for help!
The Patsy Rixon Family
West Bengal, March 15, 2012: A Brethren gospel team was arrested in West Bengal at Burnpur, this afternoon 15th March, while they were preaching. The team consisted of Weleston Kisku (Burnpur, WB), Satyanaran Soren (Adra Sonathali, WB), Dulal Mandal (Bokaro, JH), Nipen Das (Kalyanpur, JH) and Rajesh Das (Kalyanpur, JH)
During the course of preaching, anti-Gospel fundamentalists called the police and the team was taken to police station. However, later they were released by 1:30 pm. The team members returned to their homes. But, at around 3 pm, the police under pressure from the radicals went to their homes and arrested the team. They are currently at the time of going to press, still in police custody at the Hirapur Police Station in Asansol. Please keep them in your prayers.
Forced conversion of Hindus in Pakistan
Pakistan, March 14, 2012: Pakistan’s state-endorsed discrimination and in some cases extermination, of its minorities has finally caught the eye of Washington lawmakers. Coming on the heels of support in Congress for a Baloch homeland in the face of Islamabad’s depredations in the region, a US Congressman has zeroed in on the abduction and forced religious conversion of Hindus in the country highlighted by the case of Rinkel Kumari .
In a sharply-worded letter to Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari, Congressman Brad Sherman urged him to take action to ensure the return of Rinkel Kumari to her family, pursuant to reports that she had been abducted with the help of a Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker.
In a case that has been widely reported in the liberal Pakistani media, Rinkel, who was abducted on February 24, was forced to marry one Naveed Shah and convert to Islam. She was subsequently produced before a civil judge twice, but she was reportedly coerced into claiming that she had converted on her own will, even as her family was denied access to her in kangaroo court proceedings that revealed in video clips to be led by a frenzied mob of zealots , including armed followers of the Pakistani lawmaker .
According to Pakistani civil liberties activists in Washington, Rinkel was allegedly threatened while in police custody that if she did not change her statement, she and her family would be killed. “Rinkel’s case is just one case of abduction and forced religious conversion in Pakistan,” Sherman said in the letter to Zardari, citing the Asian Human Rights commission figure of 20-25 kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls in Sindh every month.
The Rinkel Kumari case was brought to the attention of US lawmakers not by Hindu activists but by the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC ), a lobby group that , like the Baloch groups , is increasingly asserting the secular and syncretic identity of Pakistan’s Sindhi community in the face of growing Islamization in the country. Sapac activists are telling US lawmakers that state sponsored discrimination against minority groups in Pakistan is rampant and is causing Hindus to migrate out of Pakistan in droves.
In a lecture on Blessed Teresa in Kolkata yesterday, he said a genuine sense of concern for others and “warm heartedness” comes not from prayer but through “analysis and removal of negative feelings allowing no room for lies or cheating.”
Therefore it is essential that all major religions emphasize self-discipline, forgiveness, love, compassion and well-being of others, especially for the poor and downtrodden.
Noting that Blessed Teresa practiced and implemented what Jesus Christ taught, he said everyone has the same potential.
Dalai Lama said he has visited Missionaries of Charity centers and was very impressed by the sisters’ work.
“Although Mother Teresa was not physically there, her spirit was very much alive,” he told the gathering.
Calling himself a “son of the soil”, he said since 1959 he had made India his home which taught him religious harmony.
West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayan, addressing the gathering, said: “Humanity craves for peace and the world is fortunate to have such great apostles like Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther-King, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.
“We are rich to still have the Dalai Lama with us,” Narayan said.
Responding to China’s objection to his visit, the Dalai Lama said: “It is a routine thing. Anywhere in the world I go to deliver a lecture, I receive this kind of special blessing from the Chinese.”
The lecture was organized by Missionaries of Charity co-worker, Sunita Kumar, a renowned artist, and her husband, former tennis player Naresh Kumar.
MC Superior General Sister Prema was the chief guest.
West Bengal, December 01, 2011: This November, the Sachar Committee Report completed five years of ‘shelf life’. While some debate and more politics on its findings about socio-economic and educational condition of Muslims in the country have been on all these years, a new report has come out with more startling facts about the minority community in West Bengal.
The Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC), an autonomous body equally funded by both central and West Bengal government, recently published report of its baseline household survey on the state of Muslims in 12 Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs) of West Bengal. The CSSSC had conducted the household survey in 2008, two years after the Sachar Report made public, with an aim to build on and supplement, wherever necessary, the findings of the Sachar Report to ensure overall growth and development of the MCDs.
The findings of the CSSSC survey could be categorized under the broad headings of: Basic Amenities; Education; Health; Infrastructure; Occupational conditions; Existence and Efficacy of Government Schemes. But before we go into the detail of the findings about each MCD of West Bengal, let’s have a quick look at the summary of the findings.
Summary of CSSSC findings about West Bengal Muslims
1. Most of the Muslims are far behind in literacy, education
2. Dropout rate higher among Muslims than Non-Muslims
3. Electricity, drainage, sanitation facilities less in Muslim areas than non-Muslim areas
4. Muslims are holding most of kuccha houses.
5. Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) provided home to Muslims in negligible number
6. Vocational training of Tailoring is higher among Muslims
7. Muslims need more Technical School.
8. Muslim females engaged in house more than the Non-Muslims
9. Engagement in professional work: Muslims far behind than Non-Muslim
10. Most of the public hospitals are not located in close proximities
11. Child birth at home higher among Muslims
12. Muslims not aware of government projects in village like SGSY, IAY, NREGS, Swajaldhara etc.
Survey in the MCDs
The MCDs in West Bengal are: Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas, Bardhaman, Cooch Behar, Haora and Kolkata.
Household survey had not been conducted by the government in West Bengal since long. Throughout the 34 years rule of the Left Front, Muslims demanded such survey, but the state government always rejected. But after the Sachar Report uncovered the truth, the Central Government initiated to conduct the household survey in MCDs of West Bengal. CSSSC was asked to conduct the survey.
The CSSSC team was headed by renowned economist Prof Sugata Marjit while other members were Prof. Partha Chatterjee, Dr. Pranab Kumar Das, Dr. Sohel Firdos, Dr. Saibal Kar and Dr. Surajit C. Mukhopadhyay. The team also sought cooperation from several Central & State Government departments like National Sample Survey Organisation (Kolkata), Minority Affairs & Madrasah Education Department of West Bengal, West Bengal Minorities Development & Finance Corporation besides District Magistrate of each MCD.
The CSSSC survey covered 30-50 villages in each MCD as a pilot project: 30 villages of 10 blocks in Cooch Behar; 30 villages of 17 blocks in Murshidabad; 29 villages of 11 blocks in Malda; 30 villages of 7 blocks in Dakshin Dinajpur; 28 villages of 8 blocks in Uttar Dinajpur; 29 villages of 21 blocks in South 24 Parganas; 30 villages of 18 blocks in North 24 Parganas; 30 villages of 20 blocks in Bardhaman and 30 villages of16 blocks in Birbhum district.
Demography of MCDs
Murshidabad is classified as ‘A’ category district of this project for which both the sets of religion specific socio-economic and basic amenities indicators are below the respective national averages with the values being 35.4 and 17.8. Muslims share 63.72% population (as per Census 2001).
Uttar Dinajpur as Muslim minority district belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 47.36% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 29.7 and average basic indicator value 9.2. The SC and ST population of the district are 27.71% and 5.11% respectively.
Dakshin Dinajpur as Muslim minority district belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 24.02% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 44.9 and average basic indicator value 11.6.
Malda is marked as Muslim minority district and belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 49.72% Muslim population and religion specific average indicator value 38.2% and average basic indicator value 16.2%. The minority population is roughly about 51% while the Hindus constitute 49% of the total population.
South 24 Parganas as Muslim minority district belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 33.24% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 36.6 and average basic indicator value 21.2.
North 24 Parganas as Muslim minority district belongs to category ‘B’ (sub-category B1) of the MCD districts with 24.22% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 40.9 and average basic indicator value 47.2.
Birbhum as Muslim minority district and belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 35.08% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 38.7% and average basic indicator value 16.9%.
Nadia as Muslim minority district belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 25.4% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator
value 35.3 and average basic indicator value 24.
Haorah as Muslim minority district and belongs to category ‘B’ (subcategory B1) of the MCD districts with 24.4% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 41.6 and average basic indicator value 47.4.
Cooch Behar as Muslim minority district belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 23.34% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 40.2 and average basic indicator value 10.49.
Bardhaman is a Muslim minority district for this project and belongs to category ‘A’ of the MCD districts with 20.36% Muslim population and religion specific average socio-economic indicator value 43.2% and average basic indicator value 35.52%.
Basic Amenities in MCDs
As for basic amenities, the CSSSC found Muslim households far below than those of non-Muslims. Whether you talk about in-house toilet, pucca houses or electrification, more Muslim houses have no such facilities compared to the majority community. Not only this, government schemes also bypass Muslims, like Indira Awas Yojna. More non-Muslims have got benefited from the IAY than Muslims, found the survey.
- zaidul haque, tcn
Jharkhand, November 21, 2011: Police in Jharkhand claim to have solved the murder case of Sister Valsa John, the nun of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary murdered on the night of November 15, by arresting seven people close to the Maoists who operates in the area. But Catholic leaders doubt this sudden turn of the investigation, arguing that behind the arrest is an attempt to hide the interests of the powerful coal lobby, with which the nun had clashed several times in the past.
According to Inspector General Arun Oraon, the murder took place to prevent Sister Valsa from accompanying a young person to lodge a complaint of an attempted rape, committed by Edwin Murmu. Those arrested killed Sister Valsa because otherwise “she would use her influence to have Murmu arrested.” Among those arrested, Marandi Ranjan, known for his links with the Maoists.
Fr. Tom Kavalatt SJ, director of the Action Social Center and longtime friend of Sister Valsa, told AsiaNews: “There are many speculations about the murder of Sister Valsa. Although these seven defendants claim to have the groups behind nassaliti (Maoists, ed) area, we are still investigating. It is possible that others have used their ingenuity to cover the interests of those who wanted to take out Sister Valsa “.
Secular and Christians demand justice
It is a matter of “national shame” that the “profound link between the powerful coal companies and the state machine has cost the precious life of a woman who was working to ensure the basic rights of the marginalized.” Secular and Christian associations condemn the murder of Sister Valsa John, 53, the nun of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary shot dead by a group of 40 men on the night of November 15. A native of Kerala, the nun for 20 years had dedicated her life to the Santal tribal region Dhumka (State of Jharkhand), fighting for their rights and against the expropriation of their land by powerful coal lobby.
“The lobby of the coal mines – said Fr Cedric Prakash, Jesuit director of the Center for Justice and Peace Prashant, Ahmedabad – have become increasingly powerful. Their relationship with police and politicians is shameless. No one has the courage to touch them. The Martyrdom of Sister Valsa is a wake-up call for the entire country and a challenge for the Church in India. Christianity, here, clearly must be lived alongside the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and exploited. The Church must support them in a practical way in their struggle for a more equitable, just and humane society. Demonstrating resolute courage, even at the cost of losing privileges, Jesus did just that.” The Jesuit then cites the encyclical of Benedict XVI Caritas in Veritate: “Love – caritas is an extraordinary force which drives people to commit themselves with courage and generosity in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. ”
Sajan K George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), said: “The GCIC believes the State Government, led by Hindu radicals, is responsible for the brutal murder, and demand a CBI investigation into the murder of Sister Valsa John. The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (Nffpfw) signed a joint communique in which they demand an investigation of the likely connections between the murder of Sister Valsa and death threats that she had received from the coal mafia.
“Sister Valsa – reads the statement – Sr. Valsa had been under constant threat from Panem Coal Ltd. and had voiced the same to friends and family. The Superintendent of Police has confirmed that she had filed an FIR three years ago where she reported that she was facing death threats. To defend their rights to the land and its resources, the Santal community has created the Pajad Rajmahal Bachao Andolan with the help of Sister Valsa. Despite the agreement signed in 2006, tensions in the area recently increased, culminating with the murder of the nun. Sister Valsa received constant intimidation from Panem Coal Ltd. The Superintendent of Police confirmed that three years ago, the religious filed a complaint against death threats. But the state never intervened, and has even tried to discredit her figure with the media.”
- nirmala carvalho
West Bengal, November 21, 2011: People of all faiths along with their religious leaders gathered for an inter-faith prayer to condemn the brutal murder of Sr Valsa John and pay homage to her self-sacrifice on Monday, 21st November. The gathering called under the CBCI-CRI Inter-Faith forum was held at Allen Park on Mother Teresa Sarani (Park Street) and Camac Street crossing, near Blessed Mother Teresa’s bust from 5.00 PM to 6.30 PM.
While SIGNIS Bengal facilitated media coverage for the event, Fr. Sunil Rozario handled the religion representatives, Catholic Association of Bengal members volunteered at the venue, and Fr I.C. Jacob SDB’s 20 member choir sang hymns in English, Bengali and Hindi. After a brief presentation of the life and martyrdom of Sr Valsa John by director of Udayani Social Action Forum Jesuit Fr Jothi, representatives of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, as well as Christian community lit a lamp in front of a large picture of Sister Valsa. Hundreds of people who participated at the prayer meet lit their candles from it as mark of solidarity and homage.
Besides reading brief portions of the sacred scriptures and singing bhajans, the religious leaders prayed for justice and peace to reign in all situations where the poor are oppressed and the social activists are crushed or silenced. Coadjutor archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta offered prayers for the slain Sister Valsa as well as for all other social activists who fell victim to mindless violence. He said, “the brutal murder of Sr Valsa John who served the poor Santals for over a decade is highly condemnable.” He insisted, “life is sacred and no one has the right to take it.”
Earlier in his homily at the annual Eucharistic procession held on Sunday 20th November, Archbishop D’Souza called on thousands of faithful gathered at St Xavier’s College grounds Kolkata to emulate the life of Mother Teresa and Sr Valsa John who gave their lives for the poorest of the poor.
Seven persons connected with Sr Valsa John’s murder were arrested on 20 November. Sister Valsa John, a Catholic nun of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary was murdered near Pakur in the State of Jharkhand on 15 November and was laid to rest at St. Paul’s Church, Dudhani on Thursday (17 Nov) after a solemn Requiem Mass. Over 50 priests, 200 nuns and thousands of people participated at the funeral services. The family members of the deceased, including her eldest brother Baby Malamel and two of her nephews, from Kochi were among those who attended the funeral.
Hailing from Ernakulam district (Kerala), Sr. Valsa, 52, was reportedly dragged out of her rented house in Pachaura, 60 km from the district headquarters around 10.45 pm and was attacked with weapons by a gang of 45 tribals including Maoists. Founder of an NGO, Rajmahal Pahar Bachao Andolan, Sr. Valsa lived in a rented house in Pachaura village where she began the forest conservation movement. The initiative had not only brought her to public glare, but also had caused discomfort to the stone mine and timber mafia. Pachaura saw four more murders and several hit-and-run cases. One of the victims was the son of the tribal leader of the RPBA led by the nun. This was followed by the murder of another activist of the movement. His wife and son were later found dead hit by a 60 ton dumper truck.
- cm paul
Although Hindu radicals are behind many attacks against Christians in India, “In this case, we’re talking about radical Muslims who were offended that a Muslim woman left Islam to follow Jesus Christ,” explains Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs.
Compass Direct reports that Selina Bibi converted from Islam in eastern India’s West Bengal state, where, Nettleton says many of India’s 172 million Muslims reside. The woman had been stripped and beaten four months ago when 50 Muslim extremists found out she’d become a Christian.
“She was attacked, embarrassed, and beaten up right after she came to Christ,” explains Nettleton. “Now it’s happened again, and they’ve said, ‘Hey, if you keep following Jesus, we’re going to burn your house down. If you keep having Bible studies here, we’re going to burn your house down.’ So this is sort of another chapter in the life of faith for an Indian Christian.”
During the March attack, extremists surrounded Bibi at Believers Church where she was being baptized. Compass Direct says another radical group came to the service upon discovering Bibi’s conversion and verbally abused the Christians there.
Days later, two women and an extremist group brought Bibi to one of their homes and stripped her, apparently looking for marks they believe Christians are branded with when they convert. When they could not find any such mark, they began to beat her.
Bibi has been severely ostracized over the last four months, no longer able to buy goods from the store, sell vegetables, or draw water from the village well. The most-recent attack and threat came after she decided to host a weekly Bible study at her home despite the persecution.
Compass reports that a complaint has been filed, and police will prosecute if any further attacks or disturbances take place.
Many believers face persecution in India, but things have been particularly harsh for Bibi. “This is a lady who’s only been a believer less than a year and already has faced significant persecution twice in her young life of faith,” Nettleton points out.
Pray for Bibi’s safety and for her faith in Christ to remain unshaken. Pray also for believers across India to continue preaching the Good News despite the hardships they’re forced to face daily.
Although this particular attack does not seem to be connected to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in which persecution often increases, pray for believers in Muslim communities around the world who may be up against increased persecution through August.