Christian hospital faces shutdown after over false allegations of conversion
A Christian hospital in Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Uttar Pradesh’s Fatehpur district faces an imminent shutdown as the hospital administration reported that the staff, doctors, and nurses are facing constant harassment by Hindu supremacists and the police over false allegations of forced conversion.
The Broadwell Christian Hospital, which is over a century old, has been raided multiple times by police over baseless claims that patients were being forced to convert to Christianity. In January, two powerful and violent Hindu militant groups, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, filed three police complaints against the hospital.
Several staffers have had their homes raided or been arrested. They have also been harassed by Hindu supremacist mobs at their places of worship.
“Many staff from the hospital are not present. They are living like refugees in different places due to fear. They are living almost in hell. If they are in the hospital, they face arrest. They are on the run for months after taking leave,” said Sujith Vargeshe Thomas, managing director of the hospital.
Vinay Kumar, who works in hospital as a dental technician, says that after he was arrested under allegations of forced conversion in late 2022, his life began falling apart.
“I faced a lot of trouble after getting out of jail. I went into depression. My family had to struggle a lot. My children had to leave their education. I fell sick and was admitted to a Kanpur hospital. I’m still being harassed by the police,” he said.
In an open letter published by the media, Thomas called on law enforcement to end the “physical, mental, and emotional abuses” faced by the hospital staff “due to the false allegations of forceful religious conversions.”
“It is unacceptable that a hospital dedicated to social development and healthcare is being targeted in this manner. The authorities must act swiftly to ensure that the hospital and its staff can continue to serve the community without fear of abuse,” he wrote.
Top court rules membership of banned group sufficient for arrest under anti-terror law
In yet another move to restrict civil liberties and crack down on groups that oppose Hindu supremacism, the Supreme Court has ruled that being a member of a banned group in India makes a person criminal and liable to be prosecuted under India’s draconian anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The court reversed a 2011 verdict, which has been used by human rights groups to protest against unlawful arrests, that said mere membership of a banned group will not make a person a criminal.
Solicitor-General and Hindu supremacist leader Tushar Mehta has praised the draconian judgment as “historical,” claiming it will “protect the sovereignty of India.”
Students manhandled for protesting university action against BBC film screening
Twenty-five Delhi University students were arrested for protesting the debarment of their peers, who were involved in screening the banned BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question.”
In a video shared by the students, security forces of the university, Delhi police, and paramilitary forces were seen manhandling the students. At least 25 students were detained.
Students have responded with outrage after the university administration announced that eight students who participated in the screening would be debarred and blocked from taking their exams.
After the BBC’s documentary aired on January 17, the Indian government used its emergency powers to ban the film from being aired in the country. Modi’s government also forced Twitter and YouTube to block the documentary in India using draconian laws.
The Modi government has complained that the documentary is “anti-national” and “propagandist” due to its critical examination of Modi’s role in facilitating the mass slaughter of around 2,000 Muslims while serving as Chief Minister of Gujarat state in 2002.