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Saraswati Puja should be held in schools: Christian organization against Daman government’s circular



An Indian human rights group that monitors atrocities against Christians has expressed opposition to a directive by Daman’s administration requiring the mandatory veneration of the Hindu goddess of knowledge.

The New Delhi-based United Christian Forum (UFC) has also urged the administration and the Directorate of Education of Daman to immediately withdraw the circular.

The circular issued on Feb. 11 directed all government, government-aided and private schools to conduct prayers and veneration of goddess Saraswati and to submit compliance reports and photographs by Feb. 17.

The circular stated: “We know that the Vasant Panchami is celebrated as the birthday of goddess Saraswati, who symbolizes knowledge, wisdom, purity and truth.”

All principals and educational heads of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu are requested to celebrate the festival of Vasant Panchami on Feb. 16. and organize programs at school level.

“The directive gravely impinges on the right to freedom of religion and freedom to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice as guaranteed and protected in the constitution of India for all minorities,” A.C. Michael, convener of the UCF, said in a press note on Feb. 15.

“It is pertinent to note that the secular ethos of this country places a constitutional embargo on the government from giving preferential treatment to any one religion.

“Even in 2019, the same administration of Daman and Diu, as well as Dadra and Nagar Haveli, attempted to cancel Good Friday as a gazetted holiday. However, the Christian community approached Bombay High Court and succeeded in reversing the order. The community sees this present order as yet another way of restricting the practice of their faith as well as the right to administer their institutions.

“In the case of SR Bommai versus the Union of India, the Supreme Court held that religious tolerance and equal treatment of all religious groups and protection of their life and property and places of worship are an essential part of secularism enshrined in our constitution.”

The press note said that while the patriotic contributions of the Indian Christian community during the freedom struggle are well documented, post-independence Christians have played a major role in nation-building with their contributions to the armed forces, health care and education.

The UFC is an inter-denominational Christian organization that fights for the human rights of members of the Christian minority, mainly through protests.

Meanwhile, the UCF’s 2020 half-yearly report highlighted the trend of violence against Christians has been steadily rising. The number of incidents recorded in 2014 was below 150 but rose to nearly 200 in 2015, over 200 in 2016, more than 250 in 2017, 300 in 2018 and 328 in 2019.

States that witnessed atrocities against Christians include Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Hindu festival of Vasant Panchami is observed mostly in northern India under various names such as Basant Panchami, Saraswati Puja, Shree Panchami and Sufi Basant. On that day, which marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, people visit temples and pray to the goddess Saraswati.

The combined population of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, former Portuguese territories in western India, is around 600,000, but Christians number just 9,000, mostly Catholics.


Three Indian Christians Hospitalized After Attack on Birthday Party



India – Three Christians, including two pastors, were hospitalized following a brutal attack by Bajrang Dal activists in southern India. The extremists attacked after the Christians gathered to celebrate the birthday of a pastor’s son.

On March 1, a mob of 25 member of the Bajrang Dal attacked a gathering of Christians in Bilkondi village, located in India’s Karnataka state. The religious hardliners broke into the home of a Christian where the birthday celebration of Pastor Sadashiv Raju’s son was taking place.

According to the victims, the Bajrang Dal activists locked the door of the house from the inside to make sure no one could escape. The extremists then physically attacked the Christians.

“I tried to defend myself as six people constantly threw punches all over my body,” Pastor Raju told International Christian Concern (ICC). “They beat my wife as she tried to rescue me from the hands of the thugs. She was badly injured and was traumatized. She has shifted to her parents’ house to keep away from what has been going on after the incident.”

Pastor Raju has been leading an Indian Pentecostal Church in Bilkondi village for the past 12 years. He reports that the Bajrang Dal activists falsely accused him of engaging in illegal religious conversions as a justification for the March 1 attack.

“I have never forced anybody to convert or change their religion,” Pastor Raju told ICC. “If people come to me with needs, I pray for them. Sometimes they are healed and they want to attend church.”

As a result of the attack, six Christians, including a blind man, were injured. Three of these Christians required hospitalization and were taken to a private hospital in Gokak town. The Bajrang Dal activists also damaged musical instruments, electrical equipment, a refrigerator, and a sofa.

The Christians filed a formal complaint with local police, however, no action has reportedly been initiative by police officers. In fact, the mob that attacked the birthday party went on to attack a second Christian gathering and beat up the pastor of an Assemblies of God Church.

“This was a cruel attack on Christians,” a local Christian told ICC. “There is complete lawlessness and the attackers are emboldened by the pro-Hindu government in the state. There is no protection for Christians and we are frightened to even celebrate a birthday with friends.”

The Karnataka state government is currently led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Recently, BJP leaders announced their intention to enact an anti-conversion law in Karnataka. Local Christians fear the enactment of this controversial law will only further embolden religious fanatics and lead to more attacks on Christians.

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മകൻ ദോഷമുണ്ടാക്കുമെന്ന് ജോത്സ്യൻ; അഞ്ചുവയസ്സുകാരനെ പിതാവ് തീകൊളുത്തി കൊന്നു



ചെന്നൈ:മകൻ കാരണം ദോഷമുണ്ടാകുമെന്ന ജോത്സ്യന്റെ വാക്കുകേട്ട് തഞ്ചാവൂരിൽ പിതാവ് മണ്ണെണ്ണയൊഴിച്ച് തീകൊളുത്തിയ അഞ്ചുവയസ്സുകാരൻ മരിച്ചു. തഞ്ചാവൂർ ജില്ലയിലെ തിരുവാരൂർ നന്നിലം സ്വദേശി രാംകി (29)യുടെ മകൻ സായ് ശരണാണ് മരിച്ചത്. സംഭവത്തിൽ ഓട്ടോ ഡ്രൈവറായ രാംകിയെ പോലീസ് അറസ്റ്റുചെയ്തു.

ആറുവർഷംമുമ്പ് വിവാഹിതനായ ഇയാൾക്ക് രണ്ട് ആൺമക്കളാണ്. ജ്യോതിഷത്തിൽ വിശ്വസിച്ചിരുന്ന രാംകി പതിവായി ജോത്സ്യരെ കണ്ടിരുന്നു. മൂത്തമകനായ സായ് ശരണിനാൽ രാംകിക്ക് ദോഷമുണ്ടായേക്കുമെന്ന് കഴിഞ്ഞയിടെ ഒരു ജോത്സ്യൻ ഗണിച്ചുപറഞ്ഞതായാണ് വിവരം. ഇതേത്തുടർന്ന് പലപ്പോഴായി രാംകി മകനെ ഉപദ്രവിച്ചിരുന്നു. അതേച്ചൊല്ലി ഭാര്യ ഗായത്രിക്കും രാംകിക്കുമിടയിൽ കലഹം പതിവായിരുന്നു. അഞ്ചുദിവസംമുമ്പ് വീണ്ടും വഴക്കുണ്ടായപ്പോൾ രാംകി വീട്ടിലുണ്ടായിരുന്ന മണ്ണെണ്ണയെടുത്ത് മകന്റെ ദേഹത്തൊഴിച്ച് തീകൊളുത്തുകയായിരുന്നു.

ഗുരുതരമായി പൊള്ളലേറ്റ സായ് ശരണിനെ ഗായത്രിയും അയൽക്കാരും ചേർന്ന് തഞ്ചാവൂർ ഗവ. മെഡിക്കൽ കോളേജ് ആശുപത്രിയിൽ പ്രവേശിപ്പിച്ചെങ്കിലും 90 ശതമാനം പൊള്ളലേറ്റ കുട്ടി തീവ്രപരിചരണവിഭാഗത്തിൽ ചികിത്സയിലിരിക്കെ മരിച്ചു. അറസ്റ്റിലായ രാംകിയെ ജുഡീഷ്യൽ കസ്റ്റഡിയിൽ മന്നാർഗുഡി ജയിലിലടച്ചു.

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