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Independent Church in Southern India Destroyed by Mob of Radicals

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India – Local sources report an under-construction church was demolished by a mob of radical Hindu nationalists in India’s Telangana state. According to the church’s pastor, the destruction of the church shattered a decades-long dream of his Christian community.

On January 20, a mob of radical Hindu nationalists, led by Bura Venakanna, stormed a construction site where a church was being built. The radicals harassed the volunteers building the church and broke down the pillars and walls. The radicals claimed the church was being built too close to a Hindu temple.

“The damage is the loss of the hard earned money of poor Christians,” Pastor Mohd Afzal told International Christian Concern (ICC). “We are a peace loving community and we don’t interfere in the matters of others. However, we were still targeted.”

Pastor Afzal has led Gethsemane Prardana Mandiram in Mahabubabad town for the last 22 years. The congregation of 100 Christians has met in a temporary structure for decades.

“We have waited for nearly 22 years to have a permanent church structure,” Pastor Afzal told ICC. “Yesterday’s incident has shattered me and my church.”

A delegation of local pastors met with police to report the attack and the destruction of the under-construction church. Police promised to investigate the matter and arrest those responsible.
Sources:persecution

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Indian Pastor Bound and Beaten for Refusal to Contribute to Tribal Rituals

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India – According to Morning Star News, a pastor in India’s Jharkhand state was bound and publicly beaten by fellow villagers after he refused to contribute funds to the ritual worship of tribal deities. Despite this intense persecution, the pastor remained steadfast in his faith.

On January 24, Pastor Lakshman Oraon was called before the elders of Jungur village, located in the Latehar District of Jharkhand. The elders of the village demanded he contribute funds to the ritual worship of the village’s tribal deities. When he refused, his arms were tired behind his back and he was beaten.

“When they tied me and started kicking me, I was not at all angry,” Pastor Oraon told Morning Star News. “The Lord reminded me of the verses in Matthew 5:11-12. I received great strength from these words. There was a smile on my face all through.”

After the beating, village elders threatened to excommunicate Pastor Oraon and the other Christians of the village if they continued to refuse to contribute to the tribal rituals.

Facing expulsion, Pastor Oraon reached out to the Alliance Defending Freedom India (ADF). ADF contacted the local police station. Officers called Pastor Oraon and the village elders to the station to work out the situation.

“At the police station, we were asked to give the money, and we gave it,” Pastor Oraon told Morning Star News. “We are praying for the salvation of village leaders and the devotees of tribal deities. The police assured us that they will be a phone call away if any problem arises, and that we will not face any troubles from the villagers after giving the money.”
Sources:persecution

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Overseas Indians need permission for missionary, tabligh activities

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Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card-holders will need special permission if they want to take up any missionary, Tabligh or journalistic activities, the Home Ministry has said in rules for overseas Indians seeking visas.

Those with OCI cards who want to take up these activities will need special permission from the Foreign Regional Registration Office (FRRO).

Overseas Indians will also need permission to take up any research work, an internship with foreign missions or if they need to visit areas designated as restricted or protected.

The OCI cardholders have to inform the FRRO if there is a change in address.

According to sources in the Home Ministry, all the rules were part of the ‘brochure’ published by it on November 15, 2019, and have now been consolidated and notified.

What has raised questions in the new rules are that activities like Tabligh – a religious sect – and journalism have been mentioned in the same breath.

The Tablighi Jamaat was in sharp scrutiny after multiple coronavirus cases across the country were traced to their religious gathering in Delhi in March last year when the pandemic was spreading across the world.

In December, a Delhi court acquitted 36 foreigners charge-sheeted over the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. The passports of these visitors had been seized.

Amid a huge controversy as allegations of the gathering becoming a Covid super-spreader took on religious tones, petitions asked the Supreme Court to act against the media for “spreading hatred” over the Tablighi meet at Markaz Nizamuddin.
Sources:Inquest News

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