TN Minorities Commission seeks exclusive dept to handle issues

October 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Issues, Minorities, National, newsletter-india, Persecution, Tamil Nadu

Comments Off on TN Minorities Commission seeks exclusive dept to handle issues

Tamil Nadu, October 04, 2012: The best thing is to have a separate department to run Minority affairs or related works. In the present system, there is a Secretary and Commissioner (in Tamil Nadu), who function in different departments. If a single agency is set up, they may function better,” Commission Vice-Chairman Dr H T Sangliana told reporters. He said Manipur was the only state to have set up such an exclusive department.

Sangliana said special programmes for minority students could be fully implemented if there is such a department. He said various posts in the state minorities commission, including that of its chairman, are lying vacant since the AIADMK government came to power and should be filled as early as possible.

Sangliana said he had interacted with Additional Director General of Police to hold an exclusive recruitment for minority students in Tamil Nadu as part of a scheme to provide more job opportunities to them. He said he had also met minority community students and had a brief interaction with them yesterday. Sangliana said one of the major issues faced by these students in Tamil Nadu was lack of awareness on various scholarships and government schemes.

To a query on recent incidents of North East students leaving cities in South India to their home towns following rumours of attacks, he termed it as an “unnecessary exodus”.

– pti

Anti-nuke protesters suspend agitation to clean vandalized church

Comments Off on Anti-nuke protesters suspend agitation to clean vandalized church

Protesters in water near Koodankulam nuclear power plant

Protesters in water near Koodankulam nuclear power plant

Tamil Nadu, September 17, 2012: The anti-nuke protesters brought water from the sea and cleaned the church in Idinthakarai village in Tamil Nadu that was desecrated by the police.

The protesters suspended their agitation against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant for a day on Saturday.

They had launched a water protest by jumping into the sea, just 500 metres away from the nuclear facility, and forming a human chain to protest fueling of uranium in one of the reactors of the plant.

The protesters claimed that the police entered the St. Lourdes Church in the village and desecrated the church and the statue of Mother Mary.

After the cleaning was completed, special adoration was conducted in the church,

The protesters refused to accept the body of A. Sahayaraj, who died Friday after sustaining head injury during the ‘jal satyagraha’ (non-violent water protest).

Even as the police filed a case of suspicious death, the protesters alleged that the victim, scared by an Indian Coast Guard aircraft flying at low-level, fell on a granite boulder and died.

They demanded registration of a murder case against the pilot.

“We’ll not accept the body till a murder case is registered against the pilot,” they said.

– thehindu

Cardinal Gracias: The desecration of Our Lady of Lourdes, a vulgar and shameful act

Comments Off on Cardinal Gracias: The desecration of Our Lady of Lourdes, a vulgar and shameful act

Desecration of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Idinthakarai, Tamil Nadu

Desecration of the church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Idinthakarai, Tamil Nadu

Mumbai, September 12, 2012: The president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) condemns the acts of vandalism committed by police in Idinthakarai which exploded after (peaceful) antinuclear protests in Kudankulam. Police agents destroyed two statues of the Madonna and have urinated on them.

The desecration of a church is a “vulgar, thoughtless and shameful” act “even more unacceptable” when carried out by law enforcement officers, says Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI).  The cardinal condemns the acts of vandalism committed by police officers in the church of Our Lady of Lourdes in the village of Idinthakarai (Tamil Nadu), in violence that erupted during the protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

Two days ago, a new peaceful demonstration to stop the construction of the plant turned into a nightmare for the local community. Police opened fire on the crowds to disperse them, killing a fisherman. A 6 year old girl lost her life, crushed by the fleeing crowd. Then, some agents raided Our Lady of Lourdes Church destroying two statues of the Virgin Mary, and urinating on them (see 11/09/2012, ” Police violence against antinuclear protesters: two dead and a church profaned “).

“The police – says Card. Gracias – has the duty to protect churches and places of worship, because all must be respected. Nothing can justify such an atrocious act.  It is a mark on the secular credentials of India, which challenge our national conscience. ”

The local community – mostly Catholic and devoted to fishing – have been opposed to the construction of Kudankulam plant for several years. According to the people, it is not safe, and will have an impact on the environment dangerous for the lives and livelihoods of the inhabitants. For the authorities of Tamil Nadu, however, the system is safe and is the best way to make up for the energy shortage in the area. In addition, according to the government “hidden” foreign and Catholic NGOs are behind the protests, funding anti-nuclear activists. For this reason, last February the state froze the bank accounts of four NGOs, including the two headed by Msgr. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticurin (epicenter of the protest, ed.)

The President of the CBCI points out: “The Catholic Church has always expressed solidarity with our brothers and sisters in need all over India. We reaffirm our commitment to ensure economic and social justice for our fellow citizens.” According to the cardinal, “true development safeguards the dignity of the human being. It is our duty to accept responsibility for each other, and the growth of India as a whole. At the same time, we must create conditions of justice and peace in which individuals and communities can truly flourish”.

– asianews

Archbishop: Kudankulam concern not baseless *Kerala: Marxists bat for minorities

April 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Issues, Kerala, National, newsletter-india, Tamil Nadu

Comments Off on Archbishop: Kudankulam concern not baseless *Kerala: Marxists bat for minorities

Concerns over Kudankulam not baseless, says archbishopTamil Nadu, April 08, 2012: He said that the authorities should address these concerns before going ahead with the project.

Archbishop Susai Pakam of Trivandrum has said that concerns of people regarding the Kudankulam nuclear power plant are not baseless.

He said that the authorities should address these concerns before going ahead with the project.

“Although experts repeatedly claim that the project is safe, incidents such as the Fukushima nuclear disaster only reaffirm the fact that the concerns aired by the local people about Kudankulam are not baseless,” the prelate said after the ‘Way of the Cross’ procession for the Good Friday observance on April 6 in Thiruvananthapuram.

He lamented that instead of addressing the fears of the people of this small fishing hamlet, their agitation is now being suppressed.

Earlier, delivering the opening message ahead of the ceremony, head of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church Baselios Cleemis said that human life was more precious than development and growth.

The procession began from St. Joseph Metropolitan Cathedral, Palayam.

It was led by Archbishop Susai Pakiam, Archbishop Cleemis and Auxiliary Bishop of Trivandrum Samuel Mar Irenios.

Also called the ‘Nagarikanickal’ ritual, the ceremony is a re-enactment of the Christ’s final journey to Mount Calvary along 14 Stations of the Cross.

– the hindu

Marxists bat for minorities


Kerala, April 09, 2012: They criticized delay in implementation of Ranganath Misra Commission report.

Criticizing the federal government’s delay in implementing a report on minorities, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) has said that Christians and Muslims of dalit origin should be included in the Scheduled Caste list.

The party also demanded 10 percent reservation for Muslims and additional reservation for other minorities in education and employment sector.

A resolution adopted at the party’s ongoing congress in Kozhikode, Kerala, protested the “deliberate” delay in the implementation of the Ranganath Misra Commission.

It drew attention to the Commission’s two recommendations — reservation of jobs for Muslims on grounds of social and economic backwardness and including Dalit Christians and Muslims in the Scheduled Caste list.

The party said the job reservation recommendation would require a law to end the present 50 percent limit on total reservation “arbitrarily imposed” by the Supreme Court.

The commission’s report had recommended an amendment to the 1950 Presidential Order which, it said, was discriminatory against schedule castes who had converted to either Islam or Christianity.

The CPI(M) meeting condemned the communal campaign of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (national volunteers corps)-BJP combine against this “legitimate right of the minorities for reservation in jobs and education and against the legitimate claims of Dalit Muslims and Christians.”

– the hindu

Activists arrested *Open letter to Jayalalitha

March 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Issues, National, newsletter-lead, Tamil Nadu

Comments Off on Activists arrested *Open letter to Jayalalitha

People Movement Against Nuclear EnergyTamil Nadu, March 20, 2012: Police have arrested 18 men more at Koodankulam last night but nothing happened here at Idinthakarai at night. Some 5,000 women, men and children slept around St. Lourdes Church. Some 185 men and women and their Parish Priest Fr. Suseelan were arrested at Koottapuli village when they sat down by the side of the road protesting against the police peacefully. They are being held at Tirunelveli armed reserve camp. The other group of 9 people including our Struggle Committee members Adv. Sivasubramanian and Rajalingom, arrested yesterday and now charged with sedition including Sections 121, 121A and 153A, has been taken to Tirunelveli also and we do not know where they are being held. In the meantime, Muhilan, another leading activist of PMANE  was arrested on his way to Idinthakarai  and he is kept at the police headquarters in Tirunelveli.

Police have clamped down Section 144 in our area prohibiting people from congregating in any manner. So no one can walk or move around. Despite this curfew, people keep coming to Idinthakarai by boats and on foot.

There is an unprecedented deployment of police around Koodankulam and it is highly condemnable that the police are harassing the peaceful protesters to this extent. Some 15 of us (8 men and 7 women) including Pushparayan and myself are on indefinite hunger strike here at Idinthakarai demanding:

[1] the immediate release of our comrades,

[2] the withdrawal of the Tamil Nadu cabinet resolution,

[3] a thorough and complete probe of geologists, hydrologists and oceanographers into the safety issues of the Koodankulam nuclear power plant,

[4] release of the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed secretly by the governments of India and Russia on liability in February 2008, and

[5] conduct safety drills and evacuation drills in the 30-km radius of the Koodankulam project.
There could be public health problems and food shortage in a few days here at Idinthakarai.  We appeal to the people of Tamil Nadu to be aware of this assault on the Tamil community. We appeal to the people of India to be mindful of impending nuclear nightmares in our highly and densely populated country such as ours. We appeal to the people of the world to keep a watchful eye on the forceful implementation of a mega-nuclear project on our people without giving us any basic information about the project or conducting any public hearing. They are preparing to load uranium fuel rods into the reactor without conducting any safety or evacuation drills. This kind of Fascist development is taking our country to another round of New East India Companies and Neo-colonialism. God Save India!

Please do everything you possibly can to condemn this police harassment and nuclear madness and to express your solidarity.

Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy

Open letter to Jayalalitha


JayalalithaDear Ms. Chief Minister:

It is with profound sadness and anxiety that we read your press statement and witnessed the large scale mobilisation of police in the areas around the Idinthakarai protest site and the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The decision to give the go-ahead to the power plant is ill-informed and has created a dangerously volatile situation. We, the below-signed, condemn the deployment of thousands of armed policemen in an area where people have been peacefully protesting for six months. Knowing the resolve of the agitating communities, the Government’s hard-line stance and police posturing can only lead to a nuclear Nandigram.

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s claim that the Expert Committees have addressed all concerns raised by the protestors is contrary to fact. Numerous issues such as the lack of back-up water supply, the fate of the desalination plants in the event of seawater recession, the quantum and fate of nuclear wastes and the sub-lethal effects of thermal pollution on marine biodiversity are only a few of the issues that remain wholly unaddressed by the Committees. Information relating to the arrangements made between the Governments of India and Russia relating to liability in the event of a nuclear disaster have been withheld.

Commissioning the plant at this stage without having conducted the statutorily required emergency drills is a clear indication of the lack of safety culture, and the insincerity of the declarations that the plant is safe.

It is unfortunate that the Government is making it seem as if commissioning Koodankulam will bail the state out of its electricity crisis. it is a fact that if at all commissioned, the 1000 MW plant is unlikely to yield more than 250 MW.

By okaying the nuclear power plant, the Tamil Nadu Government has lost an important opportunity to take the state on a path of environmental sustainability and social justice.

We are very concerned for the safety and well-being of our brothers and sisters in Idinthakarai, and expect that the Government of Tamilnadu will not use force and strength to push the project down the throats of unwilling communities.


Anti-Nuke Activists

TN Bishops’ Council on Central Government’s action *Government of India harassing Christians

March 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Issues, National, newsletter-lead, Tamil Nadu

Comments Off on TN Bishops’ Council on Central Government’s action *Government of India harassing Christians

bishop_yvon_ambroseTamil Nadu, March 8, 2012: We, the members of the Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council are shocked to hear that the UPA Government at the Centre headed by Congress Party sent an order on 9.2.2012 blocking the FCRA number given to “Tuticorin Diocesan Association” and froze its Bank Account; it is also making additional enquires on the “Tuticorin Multi-Purpose Social Service society.” Apart from that the Home Minister has told the media that the Home Department has directed the CBI and the Tamilnadu Government to register cases against the Diocese of Tuticorin.

It is open secret that the Central Government is taking these actions against the Diocese of Tuticorin and other Christian NGOs, in the wake of the debate and dispute on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. This Power Plant is located in a village where Christians form the majority. The people are agitating not because they are Christians but because this Plant is situated in their village. The Hindus and Muslims who live in that village also are agitating. Recently 217 Hindu women marched to the local Pillaiyar Temple carrying pots of milk (Pal Kudam) to seek divine intervention to stop the project. They are not in any way connected with the Church. Hence, it is false to say that Christians alone are objecting to this project and they are against public interest and national development. At the same time the Church also cannot pressurize its people to give up their agitation, just because they are Christians. The problem has to be resolved by the Government vis-à-vis the citizens.

Having said that, we would like to state, that since the nuclear project has made the people insecure with regard to their life and livelihood, the Church is only extending its solidarity to them in their hour of anxiety! This is our only moral involvement with the people. If the Government is able to convince them and allay their fears the Church in no way will stand against any decision.

We are certainly pained with the action of the Government which is trying to mislead the entire Country giving an impression that the Church is against the national and public interest, playing into the hands of foreign powers by simply stating that the “Tuticorin Diocesan Association” has “diverted” foreign funds without clearly stating who the funds are diverted to.  It is sheer innuendo and slander. We strongly condemn these kinds of accusations and deny the allegations.

We, Christians have always been law abiding citizens and have always worked for the development of the nation and the uplift of the poor, particularly in the field of education, social welfare, health, and so on for decades. All the political leaders, irrespective of party affiliation, have never ceased appreciating our work in these fields. The Church has enormously contributed to nation building and it is an undisputed history. We feel that the UPA Government is out to persecute a Community that has a proven record of service and we are sorry to say that it threatens our very existence as a minority community.

The Tutiocrin Diocese has a track record of 90 years of service to the people. The “Tuticorin Diocesan Association” is not an organization of some individuals but a substantial representative organ of 4,50,000 Catholics of the Diocese of Tuticorin. Apart from its legal nature of a registered NGO, it stands on a different footing by socially representing a particular minority community. By no stretch of imagination, can anyone accuse the said Tuticorin Diocese of working against public interest or indeed against national interest.

We request you to please see that due to an unjust action taken by the Central Government, the services rendered by 230 educational institutions under which 2100 teaching and non-teaching staff and 2,00,000 students benefit; by 3 hospitals and 18 dispensaries under which 300 villages and thousands of people benefit; by 13 Charity Institutions under which 1200 people benefit; the well-being of the children especially the orphans, the disabled, the old-aged, the mentally retarded, the abandoned infants have all received a fatal blow. The government’s unprecedented action has hit their day-today survival and sustenance. Does the government expect these children to die of hunger and starvation? Besides, the developmental, relief and rehabilitation services and the pastoral and religious services are at stake.

In the electoral politics too we Christians have been supporting the secular parties for years but are pained to see the secular Congress party’s attitude towards those who have supported it. The action taken by the Central Government which is headed by the Congress Party is an attack on the minorities especially the Christian minority. Though Congress Party boasts itself of protecting the minorities and working for their development it now harasses the Christian minority and has begun to target its NGOs. When thousands of NGOs belonging to different religions and groups are functioning in the Country why we only have been targeted. Is it not a clear political vendetta and pressure tactics, a victimization that we never dreamt of in our wildest dreams from Congress led secular UPA Government. There is a process of vilification going on by some forces to project the Christian community as if it is anti-national working against public interest. This process has not only tarnished the image of the Christians but has greatly pained the Christian Community.

Therefore we request the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India to stop harassing the Christian minority and withdraw the negative injunctions issued in lieu of the Tuticorin Diocese and grant appropriate relief to the Christian Community.

We request also the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Tamilnadu to intervene in this matter with the Central Government and bring solace to the affected Christian Community as a mother would do to her children.
+ Most Rev. Dr. A.M. Chinnappa D.D., S.D.B.

Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore,

President of Tamilnadu Bishops’ Council

Government of India harassing Christians’: TN Bishop Council


A.M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras Mylapore and President of Tamil Nadu Bishops' CouncilTamil Nadu, March 8, 2012: As the Centre launched crackdown on some NGOs for allegedly fuelling protests over Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Christian leaders Thursday said government should stop harassing the Christian minority and withdraw “negative injunctions”. “We request the Prime Minister to stop harassing the Christian minority and withdraw negative injunctions issued in lieu of Tuticorin Diocese and grant appropriate relief,” A.M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras Mylapore and President of Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council informed.

Home Ministry officials had frozen the bank account of ‘Tuticorin Diocesan Association’ on February 9, after they raided its premises between January 11 and 13. Denying Centre’s allegations, he said they were pained with the action of the government which is “trying to mislead the country giving an impression that the Church is against the national and public interest, playing into the hands of foreign powers.” “It is sheer innuendo and slander,” he said.

Defending the Church’s association with protestors against Kudankulam Plant, he said it was “the moral involvement with the people and if the government is able to convince the people and allay the fears, the Church in no way will stand against any decision.”

Talking to reporters, Bishop of Tuticorin Diocese Yvon Ambrose said, “… When my people suffer, as a Bishop I am with them. Because I am in sympathy with them, you cannot say I am inciting….” “We are unable to understand why government is implicating me personally and the Diocese, as if we are the principal instigators. ..All religions are involved in it. Why only Christian community should be targetted we don’t understand..,” he said. Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said in Delhi recently cases had been filed against four NGOs after it was found prima facie that they were involved in diversion of foreign funds from the purpose for which they were received.


Diocesan account closed amid anti-nuclear stir

February 29, 2012 by  
Filed under Issues, National, newsletter-india, Tamil Nadu

Comments Off on Diocesan account closed amid anti-nuclear stir

Nuclear PlantTamil Nadu, February 29, 2012: Bishop Yvon Ambroise of Tuticorin has termed as unjust the freezing of one of the diocesan bank accounts for allegedly diverting funds to support a movement against a nuclear plant.

Last week, the federal government announced that it had clamped down on the accounts of three Non Governmental Organizations associated with the protest against the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state.

However, the government refused to divulge the NGO’s identities, but media reports hinted one of the accounts belonged to Tuticorin diocese.

Sources in Tuticorin diocese said the transaction in the account of the Tuticorin Diocesan Association was stopped on February 12. Federal agencies had scrutinized the diocesan accounts last month.

V. Narayanasamy, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, said these NGOs were receiving funds from foreign countries for social service causes such as helping the physically handicapped, eradication of leprosy or for religious purposes, but were using the money for anti-nuclear protests.

The development came amid the protest against the US$3 billion nuclear power plant built with Russian Technology. Three districts in Tamil Nadu began protesting the nuclear plant since September 2011, saying it was hazardous and would threaten their lives.

The plant, which is expected to produce 2000 MW of electricity, was scheduled to start operation in last December.

Pro-nuclear plant groups and a section of the media have accused the Church officials of allowing the protests to use church premises for their stir.

Earlier Bishop Ambroise had denied any direct Church involvement in the protest. He said some Church leaders supported the protest “as it is a people’s movement,” but they did not instigate them as reported in the media.

The prelate said the freezing of the account is the latest development. “We have to work how to resolve the matter and diocese will consult experts before taking any legal measures.”

However, he said, the work of the diocese will go on unhindered.

– ucan

Cases against anti-nuke church officials

Comments Off on Cases against anti-nuke church officials

Cases against anti-nuke church officialsTamil Nadu, November 16, 2011: Police have charged a bishop and four parish priests with aiding and supporting a protest against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

Bishop Yvon Ambroise of Tuticorin diocese said yesterday that he and the priests along with some social activists have also been charged with illegal assembly and preventing government officials from carrying out official work at the construction site in Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district of the state.

The plant is scheduled to commence operation next month.

“We are aware of the charge sheets and will face the charges legally,” Bishop Ambroise said yesterday.

He said that the case is a tactic to create fear among protestors.

“We are undeterred by the charges filed by the local police and the struggle will go on,” he added.

For the last two months, protestors, mainly Catholic fishermen, have been agitating against the newly built US$3 billion nuclear power plant, built with Russian technology in Koodankulam.

Xavier Fernando, a lay leader, said that since the protest began on September 11, more than 8,000 people have been charged by police for protesting against the nuclear plant.

Bishop Ambroise said, “We were objecting to the plant from the beginning but after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, people have also understood the problems with nuclear energy and are protesting against the plant.”

He clarified that the anti-nuclear agitation was a people’s movement and not a church-led movement.

The prelate said he also suspected that police action was taken because of Hindu right-wing groups who are against the protest.

– ucan