The Christian Council again focuses the attention of the nation and civil society on the continuing conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar to polarize the tribal belt from Rajasthan in the West to Jharkhand in the east, including Gujarat and Orissa, where its actions in the past have brought such infamy for our nation.
Justice for Gujarat victims must be top of national agenda to strengthen democracy: War clouds must not be allowed to hide communal conspiracy
Statement by All India Christian Council Secretary General Dr. John Dayal on behalf of the All India Christian Council at the end of the two day session of the Orissa chapter of the Council which concluded in Cuttak today. More than 300 members, including Catholic Bishop Lukos Kerketta, leaders of various denominations, pastors, women leaders and expert attended the chapter meeting on 28th and 29th May 2002, which was addressed, among others, by Council public affairs secretary Sam Paul, Andhra leader Dr. Vijay Kumar and Orissa chapter head Dr. Joab Mahallik. Orissa State chief election officer Mr. L Kindo and Dalit leader Udit Raj delivered the keynote and inaugural addresses. Rev P. Parichha co-ordinated the meeting which discussed he current situation in the country and the state with special reference to OFRA and the developments following the carnage in Gujarat.)
Three months after the Sangh Parivar let loose a frenzy of well planned and executed violence against the Muslim community in Gujarat, the killers and their abettors remain scot-free. The Godhra incident in which 58 innocent persons were burnt to death has been rightly, and strongly, condemned by every group in India, and more so by the minorities. But Chief minister Narendra Modi, held widely to be the mastermind of the pogrom, has been endorsed by the Central government, justifying the brutalisation of the minority community. Modi must be sacked. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee must send out a strong message to communal forces that the nation will not tolerate their conspiracy to divide India and shatter its secular polity. Such action, in fact, will also prove to the world that India is capable of correcting such social aberrations, in keeping with its international commitments on human rights and religious freedom.
The jingoism of war has for the moment shifted focus away from Gujarat. India's territorial integrity is sacrosanct, as its souvereign right to self defence. Tensions between India and Pakistan have been exacerbated by cross border terrorism. The international community needs to realize that such cross border terrorism not only brings these two large, but very poor, neighbours to the brink of a calamitous nuclear confrontation, but they specially and severely injure human rights and the security of minorities. The Sangh Parivar fattens on such war frenzy and paranoia to carry on its hate campaign, and its violence against Muslims and Christians in particular. The Christian Council at its session yesterday issued a statement calling for urgent steps to end cross border terrorism and urged the leaderships in India and Pakistan to defuse the confrontation the two peoples can ill afford.
The Christian Council again focuses the attention of the nation and civil society on the continuing conspiracy by the Sangh Parivar to polarize the tribal belt from Rajasthan in the West to Jharkhand in the east, including Gujarat and Orissa, where its actions in the past have brought such infamy for our nation. There has been mass distribution of hate literature in all these areas. In Jharkhand, as in the other states, pamphlets have been distributed which call for the elimination of the Christian and Muslim communities from the region. In many areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, arms including swords and trishul-shaped hand weapons have been distributed in lakhs of numbers. Many training camps have been held. This is bodes ill, and has serious repercussions for the nation. Enquiry committees probing the Gujarat violence have shown how innocent tribals were misled into participating in the violence, leading to large-scale killings of minorities.
In the east, such hate campaigns have specially targetted the Sarana religion and the Sarana speaking communities, generating strong apprehension and unease. The Council had protested during the decennial Census operations at efforts to falsify populations of small and marginalised groups and religious minorities. The All India Christian Council calls upon the governments of these states, including Orissa, to take urgent steps to crack down on these hated mongers of the Sangh Parivar.
In its focus on Orissa, the Council has noted that while on the one hand, continuous hate campaigns and sporadic violence continues against the Christian community, there are also cases of official harassment of church personnel. The infamous OFRA, Orissa freedom of Religion Bill, is a continuing affront to the dignity of the minorities and the fundamental right to freedom of religion of all Indians. Instead of abrogating such a dinosaurian law from the past, the government has only made it more draconian. The Christian Council demands that the Orissa government repeal OFRA at the earliest. The credibility of the State, and of the nation, is eroded as long as such laws remain in its Statute books.