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    » 07/27/2012, 00.00


    Andhra Pradesh: religious freedom can be violated in the Tirumala temple area

    Nirmala Carvalho

    A 2007 ordinance bans propagating other religions in the area. Three Christians are arrested for possessing propaganda material after temple authority find Christian posters and material in their homes. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, the action is unconstitutional.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - On the hill town of Tirumala (Andhra Pradesh), it is legal "to violate one of the fundamental rights of the Indian constitution, namely religious freedom," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), after  the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD),a trust that runs local Hindu temples, arrested three Christians on charges of religious propaganda. Under a ban issued in 2007, non-Hindus are not allowed to propagate their religion in Tirumala temple area.

    The three men arrested are Eswaraiiah, Krishnamma and Yasodamma. They work for the TTD, but apparently no one knew that they were Christian. Last Monday, TTD agents searched their homes and found posters, religious literature and other Christian material.

    The three were suspended from their job, arrested for involvement in missionary activities, and interrogated. Under the Worship or Prayer Prohibition Ordinance 2007, they could get up to three years in jail and a 5,000 rupee fine.

    For Christians, the ordinance is unconstitutional. Not only does it prohibit disseminating non-Hindu religious beliefs, but it also violates freedom of movement. The local government has not however heeded such arguments and repealed the ordinance.

    Built on seven hills, the city of Tirumala is a major pilgrimage site. It is home to the famous Hindu temple of Venkateswara, the most visited place of its kind in the world with 50,000 to 100,000 pilgrims a day.

    The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams is an independent trust set up in 1932 to administer all (economic or not) activities associated with the temple area.


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    See also

    13/06/2007 INDIA
    Christians challenge ban on their faith in Tirumala
    Legal actions are expected against the state ban on non-Hindu religions in a Tirumala and other areas in Andhra Pradesh. The measure violates constitutionally-guaranteed rights and will affect Christians’ freedom of movement and livelihoods. Father Thumma laments that since a Christian has become chief minister, Christians face more problems.

    04/03/2008 INDIA
    Orissa survivors, UN ‘political refugees’
    The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians makes a proposal to that effect, blames government for doing “nothing to ensure the safety” of victims. Hyderabad archbishop complains that anti-Christian violence is getting worse by the day.

    11/06/2007 INDIA
    Only one religion allowed in Tirumala: Hinduism
    The government of Andhra Pradesh issued a ban last Friday against religions other than Hinduism in Tirumala. Violators risk three years in jail, fines of up to 5,000 rupees, or both.

    18/06/2014 INDIA
    As anti-Christian violence continues, fear and insecurity increase among minorities
    Hindu fundamentalists carry out attacks in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. "These radical groups claim to be defenders of Hinduism just because they practice the majority religion," Global Council of Indian Christians tells AsiaNews.

    07/04/2014 INDIA
    Christian leader wants to see a "new" democratic India that is against corruption and for the elderly
    Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), lays out an "agenda" for the new Indian government. He talks to AsiaNews about the discrimination experienced by Christian and Muslim Dalits, the gap between rich and poor, and the need to empower women. He focuses on people with disabilities, who are still the victims of "of a medieval and retrograde mind-set that keeps them on the margins of the community."

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