The CSF calls for central probe into new persecution highlighted by Justice Saldanha

December 11, 2011 by  
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Justice Saldanha

Justice Saldanha

Bangalore, December 11, 2011: Here are serious Karnataka atrocities that the union government needs to take serious note of and which the Church, minorities, secular citizens, civil society and human rights activists need to look at:

At the recent Davanagere Pastor’s Conference, Justice Saldanha re-emphasized the fact that the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts have awarded exemplary compensation in all cases of malicious prosecution and infringement of basic human rights by way of refusal of Bail, custodial torture and wrongful detention.

All these ingredients being present in the 337 false cases filed against members of the Christian community, the State Government is legally and morally bound to compensate everyone of the over 3000 victims. He also pointed out that as Head of the Human Rights Committee in the Karnataka High Court, Justice Saldanha had awarded compensations totaling Rs.6.8 crores to all the poor villagers who had been detained and tortured, raped and even murdered in so-called encounters by the Special Task Force set up under Shankar Bidari, the present Director General of Police. 

The audience was shocked when a number of pastors pointed out that these are apart from another category of cases relating to false prosecutions, which commenced since the attacks began in Karnataka in October 2008 whereby priests, pastors, nuns and religious persons are falsely dragged to police stations.  They are regularly harassed, confined, beaten up, illegally arrested, retained in custody without any justification and made to attend courts indefinitely – persecution an end to which is not in sight.

Not one of these cases which are over three years old have been taken up for hearing and if the Accused is absent, a Non Bailable Warrant is issued. The subordinate Judiciary is totally on the side of the police in matters of refusing Bail and issues Non Bailable Warrants. If at all the Accused is not traceable, it is used as a ground for cancellation of Bail. Even more alarming is the fact, that these false arrests which were undertaken on the special instructions of the then Home Minister, Dr. V. S. Acharya and number over 3416 cases.

Further, on an average at least 30 to 40 new prosecutions are instituted every month. The situation is so bad that even when there are attacks on Christians and Prayer Groups and when they go to the police to complain, it is they who are the victims that are locked up on false charges.  There is no provision of Law under which a Licence/Permission has to be obtained for conducting prayers in a residence or a Chapel or a Church but the Police Authorities have locked up as many as 37 Prayer Halls – some of them for as long as 3 years on this ground and neither the local administration, nor the Courts have granted any relief in this regard.

– joseph dias

Karnataka Government Sops for Christians. Crumbs says The CSF – Christians must not lower their guard

December 11, 2011 by  
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Mangalore RiotsMumbai, December 11, 2011: The Catholic-Christian Secular Forum (CSF) takes strong exception to ” what we see as purchasing the Christian community’s goodwill by throwing crumbs in the form of a paltry sum of a few crores. We demand justice and no favours from the government. Not only is the amount peanuts, but also its disbursement by BJP ‘Christians’, in the Christian Development Council, with no representative of even the mainline Christian denominations, makes its effectiveness highly suspect. If the government is serious of the welfare of Christians in Karnataka, it should first compensate those arrested in the 338 cases post the 2008 communal riots. The government must also act on the Justice Michael Saldanha Report, which exposes the role of and also names the then chief minister, home minister, senior police officials and the Hindutva forces, which the official report seeks to cover-up “, said Joseph Dias, The CSF general secretary. According to The CSF, If the government is sincere, the CDC members should be a mix of priests, pastors and Catholic laity, recommended by the Church hierarchy.

Dias was reacting to the recently constituted Christian Development Council (CDC) “reach-out exercise” of Rs.50 crores, which is to include aid to orphanages and old-age homes run by Christians across Karnataka. The CSF general secretary pointed out to the social services, especially in the fields of medicare, education and for the poor and downtrodden that the Church and Christian NGOs/institutions undertake in love and given freely, is priceless and a few crores will not make a difference. ” Rather, if there is true remorse of the government’s action of falsely accusing those in the 338 cases, it should publicly apologize for the harassment and compensate to rebuild their lost lives and human dignity. The CSF urges the community to support, honour and felicitate all those accused and thank them for standing in the gap, when most needed ” Joseph Dias added.

Franklin Monteiro, CDC member and vice-president of Karnataka State BJP Minority Morcha, told reporters recently that the CDC, at its first meeting on December 1 and chaired by chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda, had decided to initiate schemes for economically backward students from the community. “Special sops for sportspersons from the community to take part in state / national-level sports meets too are on the anvil,” he added. The CM had ordered the release of Rs 20 crore of the Rs 50 crore allocated for CDC activities. “The balance will soon be released. The CDC proposes that economically backward Christians will get Rs 1 lakh housing loan carrying low-interest rate of 5%. CDC has also sanctioned Rs 5 crore towards repairs and maintenance of 83 churches in 17 districts, including 11 in Dakshina Kannada. Plans are afoot to sanction Rs 1 crore to the snake bite unit that is functioning at Fr Muller Medical College Hospital. This is the only such facility in the district. The CDC will convene its next meeting after the winter session of the state assembly.

Davangere and Haveri Persecuted Pastors Conference

December 10, 2011 by  
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Mangalore persecuted pastors meet

Mangalore, December 6, 2011: After the Mangalore persecuted pastors meet, the affected from Davangere and Haveri decided to get together. Hundreds gathered under the leadership of Rev. Honnykar, esbyter and area chairman of CSI Church and Father. D’ Mello of the Roman Catholic Church on this platform created by the All India Christian Council (aicc), the idea being, bringing all the churches and denominations to face common problems of persecution unitedly. Justice Michael F Saldanha, a former High Court judge was the guest of honor and was felicitated on the ocassion. His presence with deep experience and knowledge all through the sessions was blessing to the Conference. The gathering was touched by his simplicity as he called upon the community to stand together as one and use the aicc for the purpose.

Justice Michael F Saldanha

The conference was a great celebration of “Joy in the Midst of the Persecution” which was very true to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. It was in the light of this Word, that about 40 different pastors and evangelists were honoured with a shawl, persecuted mainly from Davnagere, Shimoga and other seriously affected parts of Karnataka over last 2 years.

Persecuted Pastors Conference 

The persecuted pastors shared their painful experiences with the RSS, Bajarag Dal and even the police and authorities. The forms of persecution included physical attack and abuse, property damage and loss, even sending them to jail. Following are a few experiences –

* Pastor Rajshekar gave the brief report of Davangere district as to how the persecution was planned and carried by the communal forces on most of the churches. He said that most of the pastors and progressive Dalit leaders had joined in protesting the persecution. He added even today the administration in one or other way is targeting the Christians.

* Pastor Immanuel said that he has recorded about 38 incidents which occurred in Dasvangere district. He thanked the aicc for the extended help during the time of persecution through their visit and legal assistance.

* Pastor Sathish from Tumakur had to seek refuge in the forest, being chased at midnight. He shared how challenging it was to run not knowing where he was going. In the midst of the darkness he said he truly prayed and was guided by the Lord. After about 8 Kms, he was able to reach the road and find a safety in the police station.

* Pastor Gangadhar, is serving the Lord in a place Malebenur of Harihar taluka in Davangere district. He remembered the horrific experience of his house and church being burnt completely with all his family’s belongings. He fought persistently and won the legal battle is now ready to rebuild the church.

* Mr. Prakash, the manager, The Good Shepherd School run by aicc, described how he was tortured by the elements of the Sangh Pariwar, beaten on the streets and the school sought to be shut down, as it is involved in conversion. But he took the matter to the Karnataka High Court and the Lord gave him victory in the case.

* Pastor Titus, who travelled from Coorg district said that the persecution has increased in his district recently, and even last week there was attack on two churches, which aicc helped in resolving by taking up the issue with the police.

* Pastor Luzuras of the Kolar district said the RSS people have placed an idol in the church nearby Kolar and sought assistance to resolve the communal situations there.

Persecuted Pastors Conference

* Mr. K L Ashok, president of Komusauharda Vedek, a secular group which fight against persecution spoke on the politics in Karnataka and called upon Christians to stand in solidarity alongside the progressive and Dalit groups to fight communal forces.

* Mr. Kashim Saab, a Muslim Leader and social worker said that there are number of benefits for Chrsitians as minorities and they failed to make use of them. He urged the community to be aware of the procedures to avail of government benefits.

* Pastor K. Samuel, a Christian leader presenting a talk on the “Theology of persecution”, declared that persecution is a reality and we have to be prepared to face with strength from God.

* Rev. John Satyaveera said even if there is an attack how we should not be silent but make it known by using the Media.

* Rev. David Raj Kumar had prayed for all those who were responsible for making the conference happen and also presented the Bibles to all those who attended.

The conference, which was the 11th district covered, thanked pastors Pream Kumar and Ravi Kumar and the work of the Davangere Pastors Fellowship.

– rev. anand kumar v. jogul

Enculturation vital for liturgical renewal

November 19, 2011 by  
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Indian Liturgical AssociationKarnataka, November 18, 2011: The 15th general body meeting of the Indian Liturgical Association (ILA) concluded that enculturation is a basic element in the renewal of the liturgy.

The November 15-17 meeting took place in Bangalore on the theme “Liturgical enculturation in India – Review and Prospects”.

The participants agreed that enculturation is one of the directive principles to be kept in mind in revitalization of liturgical life.

“The three-day sharing, deliberations and discussions were extensive, fruitful and pastorally very enriching,” said Fr. Donald D’souza, President of the ILA.

The Church in India should take stock of the present situation and make present the Christophany in our country by giving due emphasis to the spiritual conversion to Lord Jesus Christ and empower the masses with spiritual enlightenment for which the globalized nation is searching from deep within, the priest said.

He said that the Church in India has to rise to the occasion to give Christ to people who truly are seeking truth, light and immortality.

The meeting stated that it is necessary that the liturgy should come into every phase of daily life with its cultural expressions.

Only in this way Liturgy will become the “source and summit” of Christian Life in the true spirit of the Second Vatican Council, it added.

Salesian Fr. Paul Puthangady, a participant, said that the call today to liturgists is to give emphasis on liturgical catechesis in parishes, religious communities, seminaries, dioceses and among the youth and children.

The participants stressed on the need of understanding the Indian cultures and sub cultures so as to appreciate them sufficiently and learn how to share the faith in Christ with these cultures.

– sister maria menezes

The New Jerusalem in Bangalore is dedicated for Christian Worship, Praise and Meditation

November 16, 2011 by  
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The New Jerusalem in Bangalore is dedicated for Christian Worship, Praise and MeditationKarnataka, November 11, 2011: Reji and Esther Chandy have dedicated their vast Glorious Promised Land, the magnificent Retreat Centre, about 90 minutes from Bangalore, near Nandi Hills on the auspicious date of 11.11.11 with a huge galaxy of Christian leaders present on the campus. The Dedication ceremony was presided over by Archbishop Emeritus His Grace Most Rev. Dr. Ignatius Paul Pinto. Also in the dedication team were distinguished Church leaders of the Orthodox, Mar Thoma, CSI and Catholic churches headed by Bishop  Rt. Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Barnabas, Bishop Rev. Dr. George Isaac, Bishop Sampath Kumar, Rev. Dr. K.C. Abraham, Pastor Johnson Verghese, Rev. Dr. John Joseph and Pastor Sathyaraj respectively.
 
Among the other dignitaries present were Dr. Pramanik of Bible Society, Dr. Abraham Ebenezer, Dr. George Chandy (retired  Director CMC Vellore), Dr. Giji Chandy,  Dr. Sunil Chandy (Head of Cardiology CMC Vellore) and Dr. Rachel Chandy. The entire Matteethera clan came from all over the country to participate. Among them were Ms. Aleyamma George, Mrs. Molly Chandy and Mrs. Annie Thomas. Thus history was made on 11.11.11 in a very divinely ordained manner. Reji Chandy’s GLORIOUS CHOIR is in the forefront of Christian music events in India and have been presenting extravaganzas for two decades.
 
A visit to Glorious Promised Land is highly recommended to gauge the potential and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and ambience.
 
– bg koshy

ICYM organizes program for orphans

November 15, 2011 by  
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ICYM logoKarnataka, November 14, 2011: The volunteers of the Indian Catholic Youth movement (ICYM) in Bangalore organized a program for 700 orphans around the city on the eve of the Children’s Day.

Some 130 students of the Sampurna Montfort college too joined the volunteers in their efforts to make the day special for these children from nine orphanages.

The event included 20 game stalls, snack bars, cultural activities, and a magic show.

“The day was super. We had so many games and I won a lot of prizes. Apart from games, I really liked the cultural activity since we all got to dance,” said Ravi Kumar.

Ashok, another boy, liked the magic show. “It was funny to see the expression of the children when the magician made individual rings into a long chain and then made it disappear,” he said.

Sean Paul, a volunteer from ICYM, said, “We should all do this. Isn’t it the responsibility of people like us to give back to society?”

ICYM has been celebrating Children’s Day for four years now. Two years ago, Montfort College joined them.

“We wanted to expose youngsters to how different society can be from what they have experienced. When we did it on a trial basis the first time, the response was wonderful. We have been doing it ever since,” said Fr. Divya Paul, director of ICYM and head of psychology department at Montfort College.

He hopes that youngsters will find inspiration from such occasions.

“It is a powerful learning experience for them when they realise that something so small can bring so much joy. Imagine the joy when we do something bigger? That could actually change someone’s life,” he said.

– dna

Archbishop Bernard Moras’ memo to CM

November 7, 2011 by  
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Daya Bhop Karnataka, November 6, 2011: On hearing of the attack on the church at Kankanady, Archbishop Dr Bernard Moras of Bangalore sent a memorandum to chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda expressing shock that within days of his delegation meeting him in person and seeking protection to churches in the state, this attack had taken place. He has demanded that a thorough inquiry be held into the matter.

The memo further says that there was no such fear or attacks prior to September, 2008. “This kind of attacks on churches and on Christians is continuing unabated since then. The life of the Christians has become vulnerable and people are living in constant fear of being attacked and reviled. There is a systematic campaign to malign our institutions and our good work,” it said. 

Mangalore: Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza Condemns St Alphonsa Church Attacks

Mangalore, Nov 5: The Catholic Church dedicated to St Alphonsa in Kankanady was attacked by a miscreant on Thursday November 3 night. The holy monstrance was desecrated and statues of Jesus were damaged.

“It was a deplorable act,” said Bishop Aloysius Paul D’Souza of Mangalore, “When Christians live in harmony with people of other faiths, such attacks on churches and Christian Institutions disturb harmony.”

The Bishop called upon people to maintain peace and harmony in such difficult times. “It is very sad and painful to note that for the past three years a series of attacks have taken place on churches, convents, places of worship and Church properties but no arrests were made and no action was taken against the miscreants.”

He also said that those responsible for the attacks must be brought to justice and compensation be paid.

Mangalore: Bishop of Beltangady Condemns Vandalism at St Alphonsa Church

Mangalore, Nov 4: Bishop Lawrence Mukkuzhy of Beltangady on Friday November 4 said that in the 23-year history of St Alphonsa Catholic Church, no incident of vandalism had ever taken place, and the rampage on Thursday November 3 night was a dastardly act which had hurt the feelings of all.

“Such incidents should not occur in any religious center. At present police have extended good support, however, the real motive behind the incident is still a mystery,” he said.
 
Addressing reporters a day after the rampage at the Church, the Bishop of Beltangady diocese said that the incident has been condemned by all. “In fact, it is a sad occurrence and has hurt our faith,” he said.

Fr Sebastian Chelakkappally, parish priest of the Church said that he was not in town for the last two days and returned only on Friday morning. As per information given to him by assistant parish priest Fr Shibi Puthiyara, the latter along with some of the hostel students were in the dining hall when a stranger entered the room. “Fr Shibi asked him why he had come, but instead of answering he ran towards the church hall and started damaging the crucifix and the statue of Mother Mary. Thereafter he entered the sanctuary. At this, Fr Shibi tried to call other members and when they arrived, the stranger came out through the sacristy wearing only a piece of white cloth which was on the side table of the altar. He tried to run away.

“Meanwhile all the residents came out and a few of them went towards the gate and stopped him from running away. Thereafter, the assistant parish priest and other members noticed that the cupboard which was placed in the sacristy was open and holy vestments were scattered around, and a statue of Jesus Christ was put down and damaged, while monstrance was thrown on the floor. People gathered there also saw the clothes and chappals worn by him thrown in the sacristy,” Fr Sebastian explained.
 
He said that nobody is sure whether the stranger had entered the Church hall prior to coming to the dining hall as one of the doors of the church was open.
 
“Fr Shibi then informed some of the committee members of the parish who in turn informed the police. Immediately, police arrived and arrested him,” he said.
 
Fr Sebastian requested the government authorities to take necessary legal action against the accused.
 
To a query, he said that there are no sisters or ladies at the church, except for a cook who is aged 50-plus.
 
Elizabeth, a parishioner and Denis D’Silva were present.

– daijiworld, mangalorean

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