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ICC Note:

As Hindu radicals continue to exert more control over areas of India, even the mere act of reading the Bible is looked down upon. In a village in Uttar Pradesh, a group of 70 Hindus gathers every Sunday for the last 4 years to read the Bible together. These Hindus claim the wisdom from the Bible has helped them solve many of their daily problems and they find it to be a good exercise. Recently, members of various Hindu radical groups have been pressuring these Hindus to stop this practice. 

12/29/2014 India (Times of India) – Amazing as it may seem, a group of 70 Hindus in Shahjahanpur, around 80 km from Bareilly, have been gathering at a former headman’s house every Sunday for the last four years now for a Bible-reading session. They say it has helped some of them tackle their personal problems.

VHP and Bajrang Dal members targeted these people last week, asking them not to convert to Christianity, thinking that they were on the verge of being proselytized, but former headman of Nayagaon Guladiya village Matadeen Verma, who is the leader of the group, turned them away. Verma told the Hindu activists that the whole group, each member and their families, was Hindu and that they had no intention of becoming Christians. He argued they were just Hindus who read the Bible on Sundays for a reason.

On Thursday, the day of Christmas, this peculiar group was once again asked to choose ‘Hanuman paath’ over the Bible. VHP and Bajrang Dal members held a meeting and encouraged villagers to read Hindu texts and boycott the Bible sessions. And once again they were turned away.

“We are doing nothing wrong,” said Verma. “There is no question of giving up the Bible. I will continue to organise the gathering at my house for Bible-reading sessions. None of us attended their (the VHP-Bajrang Dal) meeting because we do not believe in their ideology. We read holy books of both Hinduism and Christianity and follow the best things from both. Reading Bible doesn’t change our religion. We are Hindus and will remain Hindus.”

Every Sunday, the Hindu group — from Nayagaon Guladiya, Collectorganj, Koorabanda and adjoining villages — gathers at Verma’s place to read the Bible for around two hours. “We offer prayers to God, who helps us remove obstacles from our lives. Reading the holy book motivates us to move ahead in life,” said Verma.

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