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Orissa--Meanwhile, in the Indian state of Orissa, some Christians fled for their lives in February as Hindu fundamentalists stripped, molested, and shaved the heads of nine Christians, including seven women.

Orissa -- Meanwhile, in the Indian state of Orissa, some Christians fled for their lives in February as Hindu fundamentalists stripped, molested, and shaved the heads of nine Christians, including seven women. They were persecuted for refusing to give up their faith. The trauma did not end there, according to John Dayal, a leading Christian-rights campaigner. The Christians were packed into a van and taken to a distant village, where they were forcibly "reconverted" to Hinduism.

Under the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act--amended in 1999 in response to (false) complaints by Hindus of coercive conversions by Christians--anyone intending to change his religion must submit a declaration to a local magistrate that he is doing so of "his own will." The magistrate is then required to forward the declaration to the police to find any objection to the proposed conversion.

But when more than 100 Catholics were forcibly reconverted to Hinduism in the Sundargarh district in 2002, complaints by Christian groups failed to provoke legal action from the state. "This seems to be a law only meant to be used against Christians," said Archbishop Cheenath. "Otherwise, how can [Hindu fundamentalists] so freely terrorize Christians to give up their faith?" (Catholic Register, March 21, 2004).
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Politics and Religion I
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:202
Previous Article:New Delhi--In a document dated March 2, 2004, the Catholic bishops' conference appealed to India's voters to elect candidates who respect life and...
Next Article:Guwahati--In Guwahati state, the president of India's episcopate vows the Church will not back down in the face of intimidation by Hindu extremists.
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