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Fr. Stan Swamy was jailed for 100 days

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Jailed human rights activist Stan Swamy wrote to his acquaintances, expressing gratitude for the solidarity shown by people, to mark 100 days of him being in custody. “At times, news of such solidarity has given me immense strength and courage, especially when the only thing certain in prison is uncertainty,” he wrote in a letter. “Life here is on a day-to-day basis.”

Swamy, 83, sent the letter on January 22 to a few of his friends, supporters and the non-government body National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations, according to The Telegraph. The content of the letter was shared on the Twitter handle of Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat.

The activist, who was arrested on October 8, in connection to the Bhima Koregaon case, further wrote that the other accused in the matter were not allowed to meet, despite being lodged in the same prison.

“…We 16 co-accused have not been able to meet each other, despite being in the same jail,” he said. “But we will still sing in chorus. A caged bird can still sing.”

In November too, Swamy had written a letter, describing his life in jail. Back then, he had said that he was allowed to meet other activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, who were also in custody at the Taloja Central Jail near Mumbai.

The National Investigation Agency arrested Swamy last year and alleged that he was a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and was involved in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018. He has been in judicial custody since October 9.

In November, people outraged after it emerged that the NIA had told a court that it would not be able to provide a sipper and straw to Swamy, which he needed to drink water as he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. The NIA later provided him with the sipper and straw and refused that they had denied it.

Last month, the NIA opposed Swamy’s bail plea, submitting to the court that it had sufficient evidence to prove that he was involved in “deep-rooted conspiracy” to fuel the Bhima Koregaon incident. It alleged that Swamy was also directly involved in the Maoists’ movement.

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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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