NCW indicts Police in Sr. Valsa John’s murder *BHIJAN deliberates on Communal harmony

December 2, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Jharkhand, newsletter-india, Persecution

CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias and Sr. Jessy Kurian in Delhi

CSF General Secretary Joseph Dias and Sr. Jessy Kurian in Delhi

New Delhi, December 02, 2011: The Citizens Rights Trust met the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women once agains on the Sr. Valsa John issue as she had instituted a Committee to investigate the case. The Committee left for Jharkhand on 26 November, 2011 and on returning, it submitted its Report to the Commission. The Chairperson informed that processing of the report was on, after which it would be sent to the union ministry and finally to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand for further implementation.
The Chairperson assured the delegation that the full Report would be shown to them shortly but she disclosed two main findings of the Committee, namely – The death of Sr. Valsa John was due to the negligence of the
Police and that she desperately called the police many times but they failed to protect her. The second finding is that right from the the time Sr. Valsa reached that village in 1998, she was working for the development of the poorest of the poor.
– Adv. Sr. Jessy Kurian

BHIJAN deliberates on Communal harmony

BhijanBihar, November 30, 2011: A joint RBC-BDPC-CRI meeting was organised by the regional CRI at Navjyoti Niketan, Patna, from November 21st-24th, 2011. The theme of the annual BIJHAN (Bihar-Jharkhand-Andaman) was “Towards a relevant Church in India”.

Present were Cardinal Toppo of Ranchi, and 12 bishops of the region, and representatives of all 13 local CRI units (including the Andaman Islands), and several provincials and diocesan priests, totaling 80 participants.

Resource person, Dr. Ram Puniyani, a professor of Biotechnology who took voluntary retirement from the IIT, Powai, to work for communal harmony in the country after the 1993 communal violence in Mumbai, addressed the assembled Church leaders.

He spoke straight from his heart, from his vast experience, without PowerPoint or notes, and impressed upon the assembly the urgency and relevance of his message for the Church in India today.

“These are extraordinary times, the darkest in our history”, the professor told the assembly. “The anti-minority violence which we label communalism (the use/abuse of religion for political ends) is just the tip of the iceberg; the other 90%, hidden from view beneath the surface, is communal politics”.

Using communal historiography as a tool, Prof Puniyani highlighted several anti-minority myths such as foreign origin and food habits, population explosion, conversion and missionary activity as subversive of Indian culture; while the aim of the perpetrators of violence to revert to the structure of the ‘manusmriti’ in modern form and undermine the Constitution was unveiled.

Social activist, Prof. Ram Puniyani said, “Christians must learn to read the signs of the times, and be proactive”.

He was ably assisted by Dr. Mohammed Arif a college lecturer from Benares who has also dedicated his life to the cause of peace and communal harmony.

The mindset of common people is being polarized and ‘social common sense’ (a way of thinking which the majority believes is right but which is not necessarily so) is being nurtured, resulting in Christians being labeled as ‘foreigners, who convert through force, fraud and allurement’, while Muslims are said to do the same ‘with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other’.

The Church leaders were urged not to cocoon themselves away from the mainstream, but to face the challenge of communal politics through multi-pronged efforts – increasing the level of political awareness among their people, articulating what the Christian community stands for, using alternate media to showcase their cause, working against the prevalent hatred between communities, bringing back the social aspects of religious festivals like Diwali and Christmas, continuing to uphold human rights, and cultivating the triad of ‘peace workers, peace centres and peace activity’ built on justice … most importantly, to unite at the level of issues.

The participants deliberated intensely on the theme and interacted effectively with the resource persons before formulating relevant proposals for the region.

The three proposals accepted by the group – to expand diocesan ‘Dialogue Commissions’ to cover ‘Peace and Harmony’, to initiate a regional media cell, and to introduce the handbook of religious festivals already compiled by the Patna archdiocese into all schools mark the beginning of a new era of communal political awareness in our region.

As Fr. Joy Karyampuram, SJ, CRI regional president, concluded in his vote of thanks, “Prof Ram and Arif are not going away. Their inspiration will remain with the Church leaders present here, encouraging us to bring our statements to the press and to pressurize the authorities to expose the underlying truth”.

The Assembly also paid tribute to Sr. Valsa John, SCJM, and issued a press statement denouncing her murder.

– cri

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