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Indian Government Seizes Land Used By Catholic Ministry To Lepers

Sumanahalli Society unable to renew lease on 45 acres currently housing 400 residents.

The state government of Karnataka, near Banaglore, India, will not allow a Catholic organization to remain on 45 acres of land where it has worked for 30 years.

The Sumanahalli Society will be left with only five acres for its ministry, which currently utilizes 50 buildings and works with 400 people who are otherwise outcasts from Indian society: lepers, HIV patients, disabled, orphans and street kids, and juvenile delinquents.

Archbishop of Bangalore Bernard Moras has opposed the government's decision, calling it "an infringement of the rights of the Christian minority community." Demonstrators protested the decision, but the state government did not change its original intent to seize the land.

Sumanahalli Society director George Kannanthanam said he did not think the decision was religiously motivated by Hindu nationalists.

"The Sumanahalli Society has never been openly Catholic," Kannanthanam said. "[We] keep the place non-denominational. We have served the sick and marginalised of society without distinction of race or creed."

CT has previously reported on the defeat of Hindu extremists in Orissa, India, as well as on religious tension within India's caste system.

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