Hindu Fundamentalists disturb a prayer meeting in MP

February 20, 2013 by  
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Madhya PradeshMadhya Pradesh, February 19, 2013: Pastor Iliyas Buck, 40, belongs to India Campus Crusade for Christ and is involved with its Church Planting Ministry. On 18-02-2013, Monday morning, he was conducting a Prayer Meeting and Bible Study in the residence of a believer named Hiralal in a village called Roshni, about 40 kilometres from the Khandwa Railway Station in Madhya Pradesh.

As the prayer meeting was in progress, at about 12:00 a.m. 9 RSS and Bajrang Dal activists barged into the meeting place and began to disturb the meeting at about 12.00 noon. They straight went to the pastor and began arguing with him for about half an hour falsely alleging him that he is trying to forcibly convert Hindus to Christianity. Then they sent for the police from the Roshni Police Station, who immediately came and began arguing and objecting to Pastor’s prayer meeting and forcible conversion of Hindus.

The pastor told the police that it was a prayer meeting and bible study programme of the believers and that they were not trying to forcibly convert anybody to Christianity as alleged.However, the police who were not convinced with pastor’s explanations took Pastor Iliyas, and 3 believers, Hiralal, Vishram and Sunder to the police station and kept them in the police lock up. After a prolonged inquiry into the incident and a video recording of the whole thing, they were released at about 10:30 in the night. When they were let out, they were also ordered that they must come to the police station whenever they are sent for. Please pray for them.

– persecution.in

Orthodox Bishop of Chelyabinsk: The meteor shower, a sign from God of our fragility

February 20, 2013 by  
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Metropolitan Feofan comments on the meteor shower, which narrowly avoided becoming a tragedy: “We thank God who has saved us from much more disastrous consequences.” Almost 1500 people wounded, but no casualties.

The meteor showerMoscow, February 19, 2013: The meterorite shower on Russia’s Urals, which left nearly 1,500 people wounded on 15 February, is a sign that the human race must remember the fragility of the world. This warning comes from the Metropolitan Feofan of Zlatoust and Chelyabinsk, the city most affected by this rare phenomenon and where thousands of buildings were damaged as a result of the tremor caused by the impact of the meteorite on the ground.

“The Holy Bible says that God sends us signs and warnings through natural calamities. The meteor shower seen last night was a reminder for residents of the Urals and the rest of the world that we all live in a fragile and unpredictable world. ” ” We must be happy that God has saved us from a more severe aftermath and we must thank Him for this favor,” he added, referring to the fact that if the fireballs that fell from the sky had not crashed into a frozen lake but instead into a town, the losses in terms of human lives would have been much more severe.

The Metropolitan also urged “all not to lose the strength of will.” ” A natural phenomenon – he said – must not incite panic or despondency . No natural disaster, sickness or even death can separate us from God. The only real evil in the world is sin”.  He stated that escaping devastation by a hairs breath should prompt people to ” to look into our hearts, to re-assess our lives, to think how often we pray, when we last went to church and how our lives look through the prism of the Bible”.

Meanwhile, the Russian Academy of Sciences announced the discovery of 53 fragments left by the meteorite, the largest of which measures just an inch. All were found near lake Chebarkul, whose waters – according to scientists – contain the core of the celestial body, which they estimate to be at least 50 cm. After initial searches, analysts had lost hope of finding pieces to study, given the power of impact with the water which experts estimate at 30 times greater than the energy generated by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. (N.A.)

– asianews

Armenia tries to help as Christian Armenians flee Syria

February 19, 2013 by  
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An estimated 7,000 of Syria’s Christian-Armenian community have arrived in Armenia since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Armenia tries to help as Christian Armenians flee SyriaArmenia, February 14, 2013: Sarkiss Rshdouni escaped the fighting in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo months ago but cannot shake memories of what he witnessed.

“I was with a friend when I heard gunshots,” said Rshdouni, who is among hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the war in his country. “It was fast — second by second, the sound was getting closer. I saw mass shooting, people running.”

Aleppo is home to more than 80% of Syria’s Armenian community, and those who are still there remain at the center of the battle for control of the country.

On Thursday, Syrian rebels continued to try and dislodge government forces from the country’s second-largest airport just outside Aleppo. The airport stopped commercial flights weeks ago because of the fighting but it is used by Assad’s military to resupply troops and launch airstrikes against rebel positions.

Rebels on Thursday also captured most of an oil field in the energy-rich northeast in Hasaka province along the border with Iraq, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, which erupted nearly two years ago, has left more than 2 million people internally displaced and pushed 650,000 more to seek refuge abroad in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, has been engulfed in fighting for months between government forces and opposition militias, including al-Qaeda-allied extremists. People there are dealing with shortages of food, medicine and electricity during the coldest winter in the Middle East in two decades.

The Christian-Armenian community in Syria is relatively small — between 60,000 and 100,000 people according to estimates — but its history has added to its unease. Armenians in Syria are descendants of people who fled to Syria after escaping a genocide against Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in World War I.

Many worry the same can happen in Syria, where the Christian Armenians are again at the mercy of Muslim factions at war, and they are desperate to get out.

“Syrian Air has rerouted all flights because of the conflict in Aleppo,” said Gevorg Abrahamyan, press secretary of Zvartonts International Airport in Armenia. “There’s a flight arriving once a week now from Latakia (in Syria) to Yerevan.”

Upon arrival in Yerevan, they still face a struggle. Armenia is a former republic of the Soviet Union landlocked by Turkey, Georgia and Iran. Unemployment is estimated at 20%, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Syrian Armenians are arriving every week,” said Firdus Zakarian, chief of staff at the Armenian Ministry of Diaspora’s commission for Syrian-Armenian issues. “It is hard for Armenia. We do not have the strongest economy, but we are trying to do everything we can so they don’t feel more pain.”

To date, the Ministry of Diaspora estimates that more than 7,000 of Syria’s Christian Armenian community have arrived in Armenia since the start of the conflict.

Syrian Armenians wait at the departure gate at Zvartnots Airport

Armenian authorities are trying to find ways to speed the exit from Syria and make the adjustment to life here easier. The authorities have simplified the visa process out of Syria. Elementary schools have been established that teach classes in the Arabic language that Syrian-Armenian children have grown up with, according to a familiar Syrian curriculum.

One such school is the Cilician School funded by a charitable organization and the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Diaspora in Armenia. There are 300 students and 16 new teachers, all of whom lost their jobs in Syria.

“It was difficult for them at first, but they are now slowly adapting to their new lives,” said Nora Pilibosian, director of the Cilician School in Yerevan. “Of course they miss their homes, their relatives and their toys, but they are adjusting.”

While many new arrivals are finding housing in Yerevan, a small minority of the Armenians fleeing the conflict in Syria have become settlers in the breakaway southern Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Vartan Boghossian, 30, left Syria with his family in September for Nagorno-Karabakh. He lives in communal housing, sharing a kitchen and a bathroom with five families.

Boghossian says it was his dream to come to Armenia but now faces the challenge of rebuilding his life.

“I want to stay here,” said Boghossian, who took his citizenship exam in the summer. “Life is difficult here. There are few jobs and everything is expensive. But I want to find extra work to help me stay and live normally.”

Neighboring Azerbaijan claims Nagorno-Karabakh as its territory and it has issued an official note of protest to Armenia about refugees settling in the disputed region.

Many of the refugees planned to stay in Armenia for a few months, but some now think they may never get back home.

“It is not the same Syria anymore,” says Rshdouni, who is among the few refugees who has found work. “To watch my people killed, the city’s destruction. I can’t even imagine this.”

– usatoday

China shuts down 2 temples for deceiving tourists

February 19, 2013 by  
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China shuts down 2 temples for deceiving touristsChina, February 18, 2013: Authorities have shut two temples on a sacred Buddhist mountain in northern China and arrested six people after fake monks reportedly deceived tourists into donating money, Chinese state media and an official said Sunday.

The Mount Wutai Administration Bureau closed two of the mountain’s dozens of temples and revoked their business licenses on Friday, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It said the six people were arrested over illegal funding and that the temples had reportedly hired fake monks to con tourists into buying expensive incense and paying unreasonable amounts of money for ceremonies.

An official surnamed Ma at the Wutai Scenic Spot Administration confirmed two temples had been closed and six people detained, and said the case was still under investigation. He refused to give his full name.

Last year, the government’s religious affairs office called on local authorities to ban profiteering related to religious activity and told them not to allow religious venues to be run as business ventures.

The Chinese government has strict controls on religion, with temples, churches and mosques run by state-controlled groups. Even so, religion is booming, along with tourism, giving some places a chance to cash in.

Mount Wutai was added to Unesco’s World Heritage List in 2009. It is known for its five flat peaks and a cultural landscape with 41 monasteries, including the highest surviving timber building of the Tang dynasty.

– ap

Karnataka accused of distorting School texts

February 19, 2013 by  
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Panel points out pro-nationalist alterations.

Hindus accused of distorting school textsKarnataka, February 18, 2013: Once upon a time a tiger wanted to eat a cow, but he obliged her last request to nurse her calf and let her go. Surprisingly the cow returned to be eaten. The tiger was so overwhelmed by his victim’s honesty that he committed suicide.

At least, that’s how children used to learn the popular fable.

Now, elementary school textbooks in Karnataka have a new version of the fable, with some additional lines on the evils of eating beef. Activists say the change is part of a ploy by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, which rules the southern state, to spread its beliefs in schools.

“This is indoctrination of children,” said social activist Suresh Bhat Bhakrabail, part of a panel that conducted a study of the textbooks. “It’s dangerous for the nation and for its secular credentials.”

The panel of teachers, researchers and academics found several instances of “the infiltration of the ideology of the right-wing nationalists,” it said in its report.

Social sciences textbooks claim that Aryan and Vedic civilizations have their roots in the Indus Valley and that Buddhism and Jainism are offshoots of Hinduism, although historians have suggested otherwise.

The textbooks also glorify medieval kings as patrons of Hinduism.

“Only their wars against Muslim rulers and European rulers have been emphasized and explained, without mentioning the wars and revolts against neighboring Hindu rulers,” said Francis D’souza, a researcher at Kuvempu University who drafted the report.

Karnataka education minister Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri insisted that history should be shown in a new light.

“We can look at the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great in two ways,” he said.

“What we have taught for years gives children an inferiority complex. King Porus’ heroic resistance at the country’s northwestern border makes children proud,” Kageri said in a meeting of the state legislature last week.

Some claims are less open to interpretation. An earlier version of a social sciences textbook showed a map of India that included parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Southeast Asia, corresponding to ultranationalist claims. Social Science Textbook Committee chairman Vijay Ponachha Tabanda said the map was removed last year.

BJP, a party that opposes religious conversion, minority rights and beef slaughter, was accused of distorting history when it led a national coalition government in the late 1990s.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training, the body responsible for devising the national curriculum, has asked the state education department to explain the alleged distortions.

– ucanews

Orissa: Police Atrocity on Tribals and a Social Justice Workshop for Clergy

February 19, 2013 by  
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Social Teaching for Priests and Nuns

Social Teaching for Priests and Nuns

The workshop on Catholic Social Teaching for a Just Odisha was organized by CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development, New Delhi and Odisha Forum for Social Action (OROSA), Bhubaneswar between 14 and 15 February 2013 at Red Cross Bhawan, Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The objective of this workshop was to educate the priests and nuns on Catholic social teaching to join hands with other civil society groups for promoting justice and peace in Odisha for a better and just Odisha. Around 85 participants both priest and nuns from 5 dioceses took part effectively and involved in the process and discussion till the end. The facilitators of the workshop were namely Fr. Charles Irudayam, Secretary, CBCI-JPDO, New Delhi; Mrs. Lalita Mishal, NAOW, Bhubaneswar; Sr. Justine, SJM, Bhuabaneswar; Mr. Dhirendra Panda, Secretery, CSNR, Bhubaneswar; Mr. Jugal Kishore Ranjit, Human Rights Activist; and Fr. Ajay, the director of OROSA.

The workshop was inaugurated by his grace, Archbishop John Barwar of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar  Odisha. In his inaugural address he asked the participants to interiorize Catholic social teaching and live it out through their social activism. He insisted that the knowledge of Catholic social teaching is essential today for the catholic social activists to respond to social issues in their effort to bring justice and peace. He also pointed out that “the Social Teaching of the Church has a formative value as it aims to uphold and restore human dignity”. Fr. Charles Irudayam highlighted the historical development and the principles of Catholic social teaching that urges Catholics to respond to the signs and the challenges of the time and to enter into social activism. With concrete examples and data, the other facilitators stressed the importance of human rights mechanism, gender sensitivity, human trafficking, minority rights, budget allocation, etc. In their action plan the diocesan directors of social works decided to strengthen the regional network and to plan for similar workshops in the diocesan level inviting the priests, religious and lay faithful of their dioceses. They also resolved to network with other regional, national and international groups to work for a just Odisha.

The Catholic Social Teaching workshop in Bhubaneswar is the second of a series of two-day workshops on Catholic Social Teaching that the JPD Office has planned to organize in different parts of India, in order to commemorate the fiftieth year of the Vatican Council II. Such workshops would help generate a new breed of Christian leaders who vivify civil society and its structures with the leaven of the Gospel, the JPD Office hopes.

– fr. charles irudayam

Odisha Police Atrocity on Tribals – Three including a child admitted

odisha tribalsOrissa, February 15, 2013: As per reports, On 15th February 2013 night, police from Badagad (District Ganjam) police station, came to village Thatanchara and forced their way into houses of 3 tribal and 2 non-tribal poor families. They picked up Jatho Mandal, Junas Mandal, Daud Gomango, Simanto Dalabehera, and Kornail Raita.

After torture and questioning, Jatho Mandal, Junas Mandal and Daud Gomango were released early the next morning. They returned to their village and informed others of the incident and that two other persons are still being tortured. Information of atrocities of police spread through the villages and soon a large number of people – about 400 gathered on road at village Sarangipalli and engaged in ‘rasta roko”. By afternoon, police initiated a “peace committee meeting” after which the police released the remaining two persons also from their custody.

By that then the conditions of both tribals had become bad and they had to be rushed for treatment to the Medical College at Berhampur. Kornail Raita is aged about 50 years and is father of 3 daughters and a son all aged between 9 and 18 years. Simanto Dalabehera is aged about 42 years and is father of a daughter aged 12 yrs and a son aged 4 years. While breaking open into house of Dalabehera his child’s hand was stamped upon by policemen, causing grievous hurt. His child’s hand was fractured and is also being treated at Medical college.

– Bro k j markose

 

West at its duplicitous worst in wooing Narendra Modi

February 19, 2013 by  
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Narendra modiFebruary 18, 2013: The ardent overtures to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi by Europe, the UK and the US tell us more about these states betraying their own constitutional values than about Modi’s appeal abroad. Even the BJP has prudently desisted from crowing about the party’s “growing international appeal” as some admirers of Modi are prone to doing in private.

The impression gained from conversations with some retired and a few serving officials in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) is that Europe and the UK have not earned any diplomatic brownie points for making a beeline to Modi, under whose watch Gujarat witnessed the massacre of nearly 1,500 Muslims in 2002. Not long before the carnage, these very western governments were fuming over churches being torched and attacked and Christians being targeted in Modi’s Gujarat. The US, in contrast, has played its cards more shrewdly.

Long before the much-publicised British high commissioner’s visit, in October 2012, re-opened the communication channel to Modi, the Danish ambassador was already talking to him. As one diplomatic observer pointed out, “Denmark probably did it out of pique or spite – because the Government of India had consigned the Danish embassy to the diplomatic doghouse”. The Danish government – because the ambassador was unlikely to act on his own in this matter – wanted to show the UPA government its displeasure at being isolated.

The reasons for Denmark being isolated include its executive’s refusal to appeal a judicial order against the extradition of Kim Davey, who is wanted in the Purulia arms drop case. The cartoons of the Prophet (which Indians and New Delhi found objectionable) and Danish state broadcasters telecasting films shot in violation of visa conditions were just two of the many issues that had soured relations.

Worse than the transgressions was the Danish government’s defence of these offending acts. So, it came as a surprise when the Danish government — which cited India’s atrocious human rights record and abominable prison system to justify its refusal to extradite the terrorist Kim Davey — went out of the way to court Modi. That Modi was chief minister during the massacre of 1,500 Muslims, and for this reason barred from getting a visa or travelling to Europe, the UK and the US, seemed to hardly matter as an issue of diplomatic concern.

It is possible that the Danes were used to test the waters before biggies, such as the UK and Germany, took the plunge. Not long after the UK foreign office asked its high commissioner in India to build bridges to Modi, envoys from EU countries queued up to meet the man who is projected by influential sections as a potential prime minister.

The West, which never misses an opportunity to berate or slam India for human rights violations and is forever preaching about democracy, religious freedom, rule of law and respect for judiciary, seems to have admitted that these are at best nonsense; and, at worst, instrumental in negotiating better terms of trade.

The EU ambassadors rationalised their cosying up to Modi by arguing that he had not been “judicially arraigned yet” for the massacres in Gujarat; and that making up with Modi was proof of their respect to India’s democratic institutions, electoral system and judiciary. The countries which barred his entry are now falling over each other to invite him to Europe; and, he is to be feted by not only European business but also the European Parliament.As for the US, its ingenuity will be severely tested when it comes to inviting Modi for a visit because its law bars foreign government officials who have “committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom”. However, this would be a minor hurdle when Washington chooses to roll out the red carpet for Modi.

What emerges from these developments is that the West, for all its protestations about human rights and democracy, couldn’t care less about either M – Modi or the Minorities. The only M that spurs the West is Money. It is the cynical pursuit of financial profit – investment opportunities and defence contracts — that guides western governments when it comes to the “lesser people” and “lesser nations”.

One of the most jarring developments in the aftermath of the 2002 riots was that, contrary to general expectation, a delegation led by the US Commerce Secretary did not put off its visit to Gujarat. It was business as usual for Washington.

Whether Modi becomes prime minister or not, there is no doubt that the West has earned his contempt, rightfully.

– dna / Shastri Ramachandaran

Odisha Police Atrocity on Tribals – Three including a child admitted

February 19, 2013 by  
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odisha tribalsOrissa, February 15, 2013: As per reports, On 15th February 2013 night, police from Badagad (District Ganjam) police station, came to village Thatanchara and forced their way into houses of 3 tribal and 2 non-tribal poor families. They picked up Jatho Mandal, Junas Mandal, Daud Gomango, Simanto Dalabehera, and Kornail Raita.

After torture and questioning, Jatho Mandal, Junas Mandal and Daud Gomango were released early the next morning. They returned to their village and informed others of the incident and that two other persons are still being tortured. Information of atrocities of police spread through the villages and soon a large number of people – about 400 gathered on road at village Sarangipalli and engaged in ‘rasta roko”. By afternoon, police initiated a “peace committee meeting” after which the police released the remaining two persons also from their custody.

By that then the conditions of both tribals had become bad and they had to be rushed for treatment to the Medical College at Berhampur. Kornail Raita is aged about 50 years and is father of 3 daughters and a son all aged between 9 and 18 years. Simanto Dalabehera is aged about 42 years and is father of a daughter aged 12 yrs and a son aged 4 years. While breaking open into house of Dalabehera his child’s hand was stamped upon by policemen, causing grievous hurt. His child’s hand was fractured and is also being treated at Medical college.

– Bro k j markose

Thanksgiving

February 19, 2013 by  
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” It is good to give thanks to the LORD, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night.” – Psalm 92:1-2

Thanksgiving

girl wereing a crutch“Today upon a bus, I saw a lovely young girl with golden hair; I envied her—she seemed so happy, and how I wished I were so fair; When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle; she had one foot and wore a crutch, but as she passed, a smile. Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two feet—the world is mine.

 

 

Blind boy“And when I stopped to buy some sweets, the lad who served me had such charm; he seemed to radiate good cheer, his manner was so kind and warm; I said, ‘It’s nice to deal with you, such courtesy I seldom find’; he turned and said, ‘Oh, thank you sir.’ And then I saw that he was blind. Oh, God, forgive me when I whine, I have two eyes, the world is mine.

 

Deaf child“Then, when walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue; he stood and watched the others play, it seemed he knew not what to do; I stopped a moment, then I said, ‘Why don’t you join the others, dear?’ He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear. Oh God, forgive me when I whine, I have two ears, the world is mine.

 

“With feet to take me where I’d go; with eyes to see the sunsets glow, with ears to hear what I would know. I am blessed indeed. The world is mine; oh, God, forgive me when I whine.”

As many readers will realize, today in many more countries celebratingThanksgiving Day…a day when friends and family all across this land will jointogether in a great day of feasting, but I cannot help but wonder how many of us will be truly thankful—I mean truly thankful to God for the abundant blessings he has given to those of us who live in free countries.

Prayer:

“Our Merciful Loving Father in Heaven, please give to me a thankfulheart—a heart to remember your lovingkindness every morning and yourfaithfulness every night—and that your blessings are new every morning and your faithfulness is unto all generations. And above all else beside I thank you with all my heart and soul that your ‘so great salvation’ and gift of eternal life is available to ‘whosoever will may come.’ Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, In Jesus Loving Name I Pray, Amen.

– daily dose devotional

One million post cards for Dalit Christians & Muslims

February 19, 2013 by  
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One million post cards campaign’ for Dalit Christians & Muslims in SCNew Delhi, February 18, 2013: A national one million post card campaign for the inclusion of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the Schedule Caste was launched on today afternoon at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in the national capital.

A civil petition is pending for eight years in the Supreme Court from 2004 challenging the validity of a 1950 order, which in third paragraph says, “No person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Caste.”

The government has sought, at least on eight occasions, time from the Apex Court for replying, but has not submitted any response to the matter, delaying the issue.

To press their demand Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), along with National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and National Council for Dalit Christians (NCDC) today formally launched a nationwide post-card campaign, which has already begun since February 13 at Kanyakumari.

The campaigners plan to post ‘at least 100 post-cards each everyday’ to the UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Advocate Franklin C. Thomas, National Coordinator of the NCDC said, “Since the issue is politicized, besides legal procedures, we will also have to politically move.” Organizers urged the UPA Government to at least file a reply, whether in positive or in negative, and not allow the matter to perpetually delay.

Campaigners accused the government of “selective discrimination” against Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims by seeking caste census, as it was not sought during inclusion of Dalit Sikhs and new-Buddhists under the Scheduled Caste list.

Rev. Neethinathan, Chairperson of CBCI, added that the postcards campaign is to show the government that it’s a mass movement, and not confined to few individuals and that if the government does not wake up to their demands, 2014 general elections will be the test ground for them.

The post-card was jointly launched by Rev. Neethinathan of CBCI, Rev. PP Marandih and Alwan Masih of Church of North India, Rt. Rev. Probal Kanto Dutta, Chairperson of Commission on Policy, Governance and Public, NCCI and Dr Mary John, President of NCDC. First post card was signed by Ms Lourdu Mary.

Advocate Franklin told TCN that they are in touch with several Muslim groups and individuals, championing the causes of the Pasmanda Muslims, and they hope to extend the campaign to include them as well.

– tcn

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