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HDFC Bank removes video hailing Pastor Praveen as ‘Neighbourhood Hero’ after his arrest for making hate speech against Hindus: Details

A legal rights NGO called the Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF), has filed a complaint with the Union Home Secretary and the FCRA Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs against the Andhra Pradesh based NGO 'Sylom Blind Center' and its President Praveen Chakravarthy for indulging in forced conversions to Christianity.

Praveen Chakravarthy, the notorious Christian pastor who had made abusive remarks against Hindu deities by threatening to kick and deface idols of Hindu Gods and creating ‘Christ Villages’, has been removed from the HDFC Bank’s ‘Neighbourhood Heroes’ campaign after he was arrested for creating enmity between different religious groups and offences in places of worship. 

Andhra Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested the pastor for his 2013 video. “We arrested him on Tuesday night itself at Kakinada. We brought him here (Guntur) and on the next day we produced him in the Court,” said R Vijaya Paul, CID Coastal superintendent of police (SP), adding the video is seven years and from 2013.

“The thing is that if somebody makes a complaint then we are there to verify it. This is not a suo motu case. Somebody has made a complaint, we verified it. We got him (Chakravarthy) and asked him, he said it is his own voice,” said the senior police officer.

The SP said the video is inflammatory in nature and police officials are verifying his bank transactions, including checking if any more such video were made.

According to the reports, HDFC Bank had earlier declared controversial pastor Praveen Chakravarthy as the ‘Neighbourhood Hero’. In August 2020, HDFC Bank had posted a video on its YouTube channel in which it hailed Pastor Praveen as a ‘Neighbourhood Hero’.

According to HDFC Bank, ‘Our Neighbourhood Heroes’ is an initiative that thanks and celebrates heroes from across the country, who have gone above and beyond to help those in need during these difficult times.

However, following the complaint against Pastor Chakravarthy by the legal rights NGO – Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF), the HDFC Bank has taken a swift action to remove the video it had posted hailing the controversial pastor has a ‘hero’.

Deleted video posted by HDFC Bank hailing Pastor Praveen Chakravarthy

According to a report by the Commune Mag, in the video put out by HDFC Bank on August 28, 2020, it had introduced Pastor Praveen as, “A moment of courage is all it takes, to make the normal, heroic and that is exactly what you’ve done!”. The video also said that when underprivileged residents were struggling with ‘Volunteering Service & Time’ and needed help, Pastor Praveen stepped up.

“By providing Volunteering Services & Time to around more than 500 Underprivileged Residents you have truly helped and made a difference”, the video said and claimed that the bank prides itself in calling Pastor Praveen as the ‘Neighbourhood Hero’ of Kakinada.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that HDFC Bank has erred in choosing its ‘Neighbourhood Hero’. Just a few weeks back, it was revealed that HDFC Bank had designated Ashok Singh Garcha as their “Neighbourhood hero” for providing food to underprivileged residents in Ludhiana.

Garcha, later turned out to be a meme on the internet, after he claimed to be the president of Abrahamic and Indo-Abrahamic Association (AIAA), that he preaches “JEWISH/CHRISTIAN/MUSLIM and SIKH UNITY”. 

Christian pastor arrested for hate speech against Hindus

A legal rights NGO called the Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF), has filed a complaint with the Union Home Secretary and the FCRA Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs against the Andhra Pradesh based NGO ‘Sylom Blind Center’ and its President Praveen Chakravarthy for indulging in forced conversions to Christianity.

The complainant has demanded that the organization’s FCRA license be cancelled, bank accounts are frozen and an investigation be carried out regarding its other activities.

Following the complaint, Pastor Praveen Chakravarthy was arrested by the Andhra Pradesh Crime Investigation Department (CID) on Wednesday for promoting enmity between different religious groups and committing offences in places of worship. He has been charged under various 153 A, 153 B (1) (c), 505 (2), 295 A, 124 A, and 115 of the Indian Penal Code and has multiple FIRs registered against him.

The blatant anti-Hindu activities were first brought to light in 2019 by the NGO Legal Rights Protection Forum (LRPF). LRPF had lodged a complaint with the Union Home Ministry in December 2019 against ‘Sylom Blind Center’ and its President Praveen Chakravarthy for indulging in rampant rabid proselytization.

In a video tweeted by LRPF, Pastor Praveen Chakravarthy was seen saying with impunity in Telugu that he hit the ‘stone God’ and trees [sacred trees like Neem, Peepal, etc that are worshipped by village people] with his leg. The video was first made available on a YouTube channel called ‘Bangalore go-sipps’. This video was published on December 11, 2019.

Further, in the video, he can be seen describing how he converts a village to Christianity. He says that first a pastor would come and stay in the village to teach the Bible. He says that the village becomes a “Christ village” after everyone has accepted Christ as their saviour and adds that ‘stone gods’ and ‘trees’ are kicked as a finality.

“So there are many cases which (sic) I have kicked the God’s heads and I was so happy”, he said in that video.

Sylom Blind Center was established in 1989, and its stated goal is to help the orphans, widows, aged, neglected ones in the society by providing them education, shelter, medicine, clothing, care and concern. However, the organisation headed by pastor Praveen Chakraborty has been involved in religious conversion activities.

According to a report by the Organiser, The pastor and his ‘Sylom Pastors League’ group claim to have Baptized 15,000 Indians in the year 2012, 37,000 persons in 2013, 292,000 persons in 2014, 6,00,003 persons in 2015, and so on.

Praveen Chakravarthy conducts his conversion activities through Sylom Pastors League, which is headed by him. LifePoint Church’s Missions Ministry, a US-based Christian missionary organisation, list the Sylom Pastors League as their partner in India. They mention that Praveen is very active in church planting, disciple-making, and he had helped thousands of people in receiving fresh drinking water and also receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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