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    » 05/04/2015, 00.00

    INDIA

    Madhya Pradesh: Government bans Christian gathering on "law and order" concerns

    Nirmala Carvalho

    According to the district authorities, the turnout for the event organised by the Pentecostal community was excessive. Pentecostals "are free to hold small prayer meetings in the local church,” district official said, “but no permit will be granted for large-scale services will be granted.” For the Global Council of Indian Christians, this is an excuse since radical Hindus attack Christians even “at home”.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Authorities in Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh, banned on “law and order” grounds a Pentecostal meeting scheduled for today. After issuing the appropriate permits to the Church, they cancelled them. For Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), this is another blow to India’s “secular credentials”.

    Rev Bharat Singh Mehda had obtained on 15 April all the permits for the meeting, which included the following conditions: the activities to take place between 8 am and 11 pm; no loudspeakers; and no “objectionable slogans".

    "They told us at the last moment that the permits had been revoked,” the Pentecostal clergyman said.

    “Many participants from other parts of the country are already here. We spent a lot of money to organise everything,” he explained. “Each year, about 1,000 people participate in the event. However, this year we expected more than 5,000”.

    District official K. Sharma said the permits were revoked because the organisers had kept the administration "unaware of the turnout to the event."

    "They [Christians] are free to hold small prayer meetings in the local church,” he explained, “but no permit will be granted for large-scale services."

    For the GCIC president, “the presence of many people is just an excuse to cancel. In fact, the government of Madhya Pradesh is not new at large scale religious events,” the Christian leader said.

    For example, “In February 2011, almost 2 million people attended the Narmada Samajik Kumbh, a gathering organised by Hindu nationalist groups who openly engaged in hate propaganda against Christians.”

    Conversely, “In October 2014, the same state government banned a Christian gathering, citing possible disturbances to the peace,” a decision influenced by Hindu organisations opposed to the marriage of a Christian man to a Hindu woman.

    In fact, “We have evidence that radical elements periodically disrupt prayer services in private homes,” George told AsiaNews.

    The head of the Christian rights group “also knows of Christians beaten for praying in their own homes."

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    See also

    12/05/2005 INDIA
    Woman activist opposed to child marriage assaulted
    For the past month, she was involved in a door-to-door campaign to raise awareness about children forced into marriage. The ancient tradition survives thanks to local governments.

    13/09/2011 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: Pentecostal pastors and 11 Hindus who wanted baptism arrested
    Five activists of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the police tried to convince the faithful to file a false complaint against the pastor, on charges of forced conversions. The 11 rejected. GCIC: " Madhya Pradesh is a rogue state with the Christian community."

    14/05/2013 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: girls for sale to the "best boyfriend," the one who pays the most
    By tradition, tribal communities in Rajgarh district sell their daughter's engagement up to four times to the highest bidder. For human rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi, "Extreme poverty dehumanises the community" with the authorities looking on, silent.

    24/03/2014 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh, two Pentecostal pastors arrested on false charges of forced conversions
    Hindu extremists charge the religious leaders, "guilty" of watching a movie about Jesus with a group of Christians. The police arrest them without checking veracity of the allegations. Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC): "Illegal and worrying detention close to general election".

    03/07/2006 INDIA
    Madhya Pradesh: Hindu extremists burn down Pentecostal church

    This is the second place of worship to be destroyed in the same district. Bibles found inside were also burned. The Catholic Church has expressed solidarity and concern about what happened.





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