Discrimination in India: Christians are 6 percent of the prison population

March 25, 2014 by  
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DiscriminationMumbai, March 21, 2014: The high number of prison inmates from socio-religious minorities “is due to the attitude of some states, which target the most vulnerable sections of society,” said Arun Ferreira, an activist for Christian Dalits and tribals, who spoke to AsiaNews following the release of the 2012 Prison Statistics report by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB).

According to the report, Muslims, who are 13.4 per cent of India’s population, represented 28.02 per cent of the prison population in 2012. Christians are in the same situation. Nationally, they are 2.3 per cent of the population but they constitute 6 per cent of the prison population.

For the activist, “We get these percentages because Dalits, Tribals, Muslims and Christians are often the victims of loopholes and sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Ferreira should know. He personally experience what it means to be behind bars. Accused of being a Naxalite (Maoist) guerrilla, he was arrested in May 2007 in Nagpur (Maharashtra) and indicted on 11 charges, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

During his detention, he was tortured and interrogated twice after being treated with a “truth serum,” a psychoactive drug that is now illegal. After four years and eight months in jail, he was released on bail.

“My experience in prison is that every state tends to target minorities, showing some of its specific features,” Ferreira told AsiaNews.

“In states where Hinduism is strong, like Orissa (where the effects of anti-Christian pogroms still linger), many innocent Christians have been arrested and thrown in prison, falsely accused of being Naxalites. However, the same thing happened in Gujarat after the 2002 riots.”

“In Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which are also under strong Hindu influence, the authorities have overtly attacked the Christian community, treating its members as the ‘criminal’ element in the Dalit and Tribal groups.”

All too often, Christians fall into the clutches of the justice system on false evidence because they back causes that embarrass the authorities.

“In Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, some tribal Christians were arrested on false accusations of terrorism,” Ferreira noted, “when in fact the problem was their struggle against large-scale mining projects that required huge tracts of land to be expropriated.”

The same is true for Tamil Nadu, where Christians have been charged with ‘subversion’ for opposing the construction of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

“Sadly, neither the government nor the NCRB recognise political prisoners as a separate category, so there are no statistics about it.”

– asianews

Pune Christians to vote on Maundy Thursday

March 21, 2014 by  
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District Collector Saurabh Rao

District Collector Saurabh Rao

Pune, March 20, 2014: Father Salvador Pinto, parish priest at City church, Nana Peth, said the district election office is yet to contact them.

Pune district will not change its polling date of April 17, Maundy Thursday, but arrangements will be made to ensure church services go undisturbed, District Collector Saurabh Rao said.

Christians fear that some Church-run schools in the premises of the churches selected as polling stations and their activities would affect the solemn services of Maundy Thursday that commemorates the establishment of Eucharist beginning the three-day long Easter services.

Six churches, including Church of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception (City church), St Joseph’s church, Ghorpuri, St Joseph’s church, Khadki, St Francis de sales church, Shaanwadi, St Anthony’s church at Model Colony and St Sebastian church at Daund, will be affected as schools on their premises will be polling centers.

Diago Almeida, president of the Catholic Association of Poona, has threatened to boycott the general elections if the date is not changed, while the Bishop of Poona, Rt Rev Thomas Dabre, has sent letters challenging the date that clashes with Maundy Thursday to the EC and Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

“We have not got any reply yet. We do not think it is fair to hold elections on a day, which is most holy for us. This is the day when Jesus Christ called his disciples, washed their feet, sat with them for supper and gave the command of service. This is the core of the observance of our faith,” said Father Malcolm Sequeira, Vicar General, Diocese of Poona.

Rao said that his team has visited the schools and alternative arrangements will be made, such as putting up special barricades and separate entrance and exits. He said he spoke to the state Election Commissioner and it has been decided to make special arrangements which will not inconvenience the community or the polling process. “We will request the Bishop if they can postpone the mass timings to 6.30 pm or 7 pm,” Rao said.

Father Salvador Pinto, parish priest at City church, Nana Peth, said the district election office is yet to contact them. “There has been an extension in the timings of polling from 5 pm to 6 pm. How can we conduct the mass when there will be no time to prepare the seating arrangements?” he said, adding that they will take up the matter with the state EC again.

– indian express

Maharashtra Budget: Rs 131 Crore for Muslims, Rs 2378 Crore for Kumbh Mela in Nashik

March 4, 2014 by  
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budgetMumbai, February 28, 2014: Deputy Chief Minister and Maharashtra Finance Minister Ajit Pawar recently presented an interim budget, a total outlay of Rs.5417.2 crore for the next four months aimed at satisfying voters across the state, ahead of general and state assembly elections to be held this year.

The Congress-NCP government, which had been promised skies to minorities, has again shown a thumb to them. The Maharashtra interim budget presented is the latest proof. In the Rs 5417.2 crore budget, only Rs.131 Crore has been allocated to Muslims. This fund will be allocated for basic development of madarsas, development of minority institutions and post metric scholarships. Whereas the budget allocates Rs. 2378 Crore for the upcoming Kumbh Mela in Nashik district. This fund will be utilized for the preparation of Kumbh Mela and for the development of the areas near Kumbh Mela.

Muslim organizations and ulema are feeling cheated by this allocation of mere Rs. 131 Crore in the budget. They say that the state government has many times agreed with the Sachar report but has failed to implement it.

Minority organizations’ dissatisfaction with the budget is also because the state government have on the one hand announced many schemes for the development of scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and OBC and have allocated thousands of fund for them but on the other hand have allocated only RS.131 Crore for the minorities. This allocation to minorities is not even half of the amount allocated to them in the last budget.

Abu Asim Azmi, Samajwadi Party MLA of Maharashtra has also expressed his discontent with the budget and said that the budget is not balanced and has not done justice with all the sections of the community and has appealed for increase in the fund for the minorities in the state.

State Minority Minister Muhammad Arif Naseem was dissatisfied with the allocation of less fund to minorities and in protest had not attended a meeting which was held by the state ministers before the announcement of budget. He has said that mere Rs.131 Crores are not sufficient for the development of minorities in the state and that he would request Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to raise fund for the minorities.

The general secretary of Legal Aid Committee of Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra (Arshad Madni) said, “Even though minorities of the state are with Congress and NCP, the government has turned a blind eye on them. Non congress governments in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have done better than Congress where they allocated Rs. 20140 Crores and Rs.800 Crores respectively”.

– tcn

Cardinal Gracias launches Gender Equality Day – 27 Jan

January 14, 2013 by  
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The Archbishop of Mumbai has declared January 27th a Day of Solidarity for justice, awareness and gender equality. The Catholic Church’s role in education, especially among non-Christians, fundamental to changing the mentality and attitude towards women. Discrimination against women has negative effects on boys and men.

Gender EqualityMaharashtra, January 10, 2013: Mumbai On January 27,  the Archdiocese of Mumbai will hold a Day of Solidarity for justice, awareness and gender equality, commissioned by the Archbishop, Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops’ Conference of India. The decision was taken after the rape case in New Delhi, that has rekindled the debate on violence against women. It is “the exclusion of God from human life” that leads people to “every kind of cruelty”, in particular against women. For 24 hours, the Catholic community in the Archdiocese will participate in meetings, seminars and various initiatives. In addition, every parish, convent and seminary will hold an hour of prayer, from 6pm to 7pm in the evening. Card. Gracias hopes that the day will “announce a social transformation”, because “contempt” against women has many faces – selective abortion, female feticide, discrimination, domestic violence and exclusion – and “causes great injury to men and society”. Below, we publish a reflection by Card.Gracias to present the Day.

The “marginalisation of God” in human life leads to all kinds of  evil, women are objectified and treated as second class, and the contempt for women” expressed in various forms: selective abortions, female foeticide, discriminations, domestic violence and exclusion.

The Catholic Church in India was plunged into deep anguish and sorrow at the death of the gang rape victim, the savagery inflicted upon this young Indian woman was  horrific and barbaric and I am hopeful, that this Day of Solidarity will serve to usher in a social transformation and a  radical change in the attitudes towards women and call for an urgent Gender Sensitisation  and Gender Justice and Gender Equality in  the nation.

Gender equality is a burning issue of all times. It affects not only the fifty percent of women but all of humankind. Gender inequality has done immense harm to women and  also men and society.

The culture of domination, marginalization and exclusion which embodies ideas, beliefs, values, traditions, rules, norms, perspectives (ideologies) that prefer males/sons has been styled the culture of patriarchy. Through dominating social structures men own, control and manage financial, intellectual and ideological resources as well as the labor, fertility and sexuality of women, and thus perpetuate gender discrimination. Such a culture produces stereotyped notions of how a woman or man should behave (in words and actions), whereby they themselves become transmitters of the above value system. Consequently women also become both victims and victimizers.

Gender Justice and Gender Equality are part of the ethos of the Church, the Bishops of India in 1974 promised that they would stand for the dignity and rights of women by providing education and empowerment.

In 1984, the CBCI initiated Consultation on Women keeping in mind the need to overcome the cultural bias against the girl.

In  2009, the ‘Gender Policy of the Catholic Church of India’ was issued by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) called for the  Church to be gender-sensitive at all times and this policy is Operative in every diocese and parish in India.

The Church has been a Vanguard in the empowerment of women, Pope John Paul II landmark apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem in 1988 specifically  on the Dignity of women reminding us of the important role woman play in the family, society , world and also  church

The socio-cultural situation of women should not be understood in the same way among all social classes and ethnic groups especially among the marginalised and the oppressed. It has its lights and its shadows. Though we have examples of empowered women in leadership positions and role-models like Blessed Mother Theresa and Blessed Alphonsa, nevertheless the reality of women of all sections reveals instances of domestic and societal violence on young girls and women. Depending on the regions, female feticide, infanticide, rape, molestation, kidnapping, abduction, battering, dowry deaths, murdering, trafficking for sex and slavery exist even today.

Women of the marginalized groups such as dalits, tribals, backward castes and minorities suffer much due to poverty, ill-health, lack of access to literacy and appropriate knowledge and lack of hygiene and potable water. In addition, they are being displaced from their lands and livelihoods. They suffer systemic and structural violence that enslave them and dehumanize them economically, socio-politically and religio-culturally.

Gender discrimination has negative effects on boys and men as well. It damages their psyche and increases the incidence of morbidity and crime among them. Relations of distrust, conflict, competition and many forms of subtle abuse emerge instead of those rooted in values of caring, sharing, compassion, mutual respect, collaboration and partnership. Such discrimination thus has negative consequences on human relations.

The process of globalization which is market-centered and profit-driven, leads to further exploitation of women as cheap labour resulting in the increasing pauperization of women.

Fundamentalism and communalism reinforce the subjugation of women to men, suppress women’s movements by dividing women along religious lines and intensify violence against women.

The Church has been spearheading several initiatives to bring about positive changes in the life situation of women and girls. From the time of the early Christian missionaries who placed emphasis on the education of both girls and boys, through its multiple interventions in the fields of welfare, education, health and the empowerment process to organize women, the Catholic Church has played a prominent role to improve the status of women.

The Church in India has been striving to impart this all-round formation in various ways and various fora. In a special way, the Church is doing so through her network of educational institutions. At present, the Church conducts 20,370 educational institutions in India. According to statistics available to us from a recent survey conducted in preparation for the CBCI Meeting, 58.5% of these institutions are in the rural areas and 54.4% of students in our institutions are girls. It is significant that the vast majority of our students are children of other faiths. By imparting a sound character formation and by striving to promote harmony, understanding and a quest for excellence through our educational institutions, the Church renders a service not only to Christians, but also to the nation as a whole.

Every Catholic educational institution has a special concern for the marginalized, especially the girl-child.

The attitudinal change is required to bring about Gender Equality and Gender Justice and we hope that this Day of Solidarity will make an impact on the city of Mumbai, the State and all over the nation and usher in a change for the good in the empowerment of women, Gender Justice and Gender Equality.”

– cardinal oswald gracias

Pope’s peace message welcomed with hope & courage

January 11, 2013 by  
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Lenin Raguvanshi, director of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr), comments on Benedict XVI’s messgae for the 46th World Day of Peace. Among the threats to a “sustainable peace”, male selfishness in male-female relationships, which leads to violence, such as New Delhi rape or selective abortions. The “fundamental” role of religion, against extreme forms of secularism that hinder peace.

 A "powerful" call to be received "with hope and courage,"Mumbai,  January 09, 2013:  A “powerful” call to be received “with hope and courage,” to “help and guide the nations of the world to create pluralist democracies” and “sustainable peace”. Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of thePeople’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (Pvchr) in Varanasi, thus welcomes the Message of Benedict XVI for the 46th World Day of Peace, on the topic “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Speaking to AsiaNews the Indian activist, a layman, stresses the importance of the Pope’s words, in a difficult social and political time for India, still shaken by the New Delhi rape, which has reignited the debate on violence against women and human dignity, and hit by scandals of corruption of its ruling class.

Raguvanshi points to what Benedict XVI said on the “dominance of a selfish and individualistic mentality” in society. For the activist, in India and in the world the male-female relationship is characterized by “a male selfishness, which seeks to destroy the woman and all those most vulnerable,” such as Dalits and tribal communities, but also the victims of selective abortions.

“In his message – says Raghuvanshi – the Holy Father correlated peace with the gap between rich and poor. Peace without justice is a symptom of a culture of silence and impunity.” This, he explains, “means that we need to support the countries and peoples in need. What is the message of Jesus, why was he born into a poor family? In order to bring dignity to the poorest. Nobody is excluded from the grace and dignity conferred by the glory of God, the gap between rich and poor is not democratic “and” is generating conflicts around the world. ”

Citing a fundamental point of the message, in which the pope said that “peace is the gift of God to man,” the secular activist emphasizes “the crucial role of religion and spirituality in the life of every person.” “Today – he explains – even extreme forms of secularism are an obstacle to peace.Whatever kind of extremist ideology creates problems is dangerous and leads to violence. Extremism in the form of terrorism (the others must conform to my beliefs), made with individual or state actions, is dangerous for sustainable peace. ”

According to Lenin Raghuvanshi “theology is very important to involve humans in the peace process.”

– asianews

Protest Email – Christians must Deny faith or No Water & Firewood

January 9, 2013 by  
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Help Christian Adivasis Stopped from Taking Water & Firewood
– Please Send SOS Petition for Protection & Representation –
Maharashtra Persecution Rises – After Malvan, its Palghar

If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, HE also will deny us – 2 Timothy 2:12

Palghar Attack

MAHARASHTRA STOP PRESS: After the attack on Christians in Malvan, we now have Christians in Manohar targeted. No Sunday worship has taken place since the attack on New Year’s eve. Even worse, today we received information that Christian adivasis (tribals)have been refused water and firewood by the non-Christian villagers. How do they survive?

The authorities seem to have left them to fend for themselves. The police are callous. And we can’t even visit them, as Hindutvas turn on us. We need you to urgently send this SOS email petition calling for action and for the state government to nominate Christian representatives on various commissions, corporations, councils, boards, etc. to help. Please find below, a brief report of what has happened.

By God’s Grace – Your emails in every instance have been successful & provided succor to the suffering. And we are confident, the LORD will bless this one will be no different. This email from you can bring relief to persecuted Christians in Maharashtra….

Email Below SOS Towards Zero Tolerance on Persecution in Maharashtra – Model State

Email to: sharadpawar.sp@gmail.com, rrpatilindia@gmail.com, acs.home@maharashtra.gov.in, csfpost@gmail.com, cs-maharashtra@nic.in, acs.minorities@maharashtra.gov.in

Dear Decision-maker,

Request: Act on The CSF Recommendations & Nominate Christians, ASAP

We have been given to understand that The CSF has presented to you police inaction in Malvan and now in Manohar, Palghar, where Christians are being targeted. ICAN has increasing reports of such attacks by fundamentalists, which can be offset by due Christian representation on various commissions, corporations, councils, boards, police, etc.

However, it seems that the term minority is some to mean just one community or groups that take to the streets. We therefore call upon you to assist Christians prevent attacks on the community and fill in the vacancies, recommendations for which have already been made. This is the least we would expect in a state ruled by ‘secular’ parties – Congress, NCP and others.

Looking forward to your earliest corrective action – bro. Joseph Dias, The CSF general secretary will follow-up with you in this regard.

Me & My Loved Ones


New Year Eve Attack

The CSF expresses its shock at the behaviour of the Manohar police station officers, in Kaspada, village Tamsai, Palghar taluka of Thane Rural district in Maharashtra state. I met with some of the victims, who even produced photographic evidence, which is surprising because we are ruled by the Congress-NCP combine. Soon after the Malwan incident, this is an even more severe attack, which happened on 30th December, 2012 by a mob of 400 to 500 Hindutva fundamentalists. Around 25 Christian adivasis had gathered for Sunday worship service, in the house church of one Halya Patil, as they had been doing so for the last almost 2 years. Suddenly the mob surrounded the place and asked the Christian villagers to stop the prayer service. Then about a dozen of the began beating the believers, which included many women and children, who were not spared. The musical instruments were broken and bibles were torn or desecrated. About 25 of the worshipers sustained injuries and had to be treated.

Other Christians Warned

Since early that day morning, believers who came to the house church from near-by places (Amban, Gharatpada, Durvesh, Embur, etc.) where accosted on the road by the Hindutva communalists and asked not to attend the prayer service or were threatened with danger. Many turned back out of fear, or the number of casualties would have been more. When the Christian adivasis went to the Manohar police station, the officers were hostile and refused to entertain them. Instead in front of the police that Hindutva fundamentalists openly threatened to attack the Christians and kill any pastor that came to lead the worship. They also threatened to deny the Christians ration and government benefits, if they continued to pray in the village. The group panchayat (local self-governing agency) of the Pochade and Tamsai villages called for meeting to impose economic sanctions, social boycott and restrictions on practicing of Christianity in the area.

Women & Children Not Spared

Of those hurt, about 10 were women, 5 were children and 14 were male believers. Most injuries were internal and x-rays / CT scans have been advised, but the Christians are too poor to afford any such medicare. No action was taken against the 14 main culprits, rather the Christians were given a warning notice by the police not to give any cause for trouble or action would be taken against them. The Christian advasis being given no protection or even hope of assistance from the police are mortally afraid of them and had this Sunday’s worship in Vikramgad, Voice of Holy Spirit House Church, which is about 20 kilometers away from their homes. Some of the victims visited The CSF office in Mumbai to record their complaints. The Hindutva fundamentalists are reported to have said that they have orders from their seniors to prevent any practice of Christianity in the region.

Police Inaction Emboldens Hindutvas

The area has been simmering since the last over 2 years, with Christians being targeted and the police looking the other way. Instead the police have been saying it would cost the Christians, Rs.2,000 per constable, if they needed protection. The Christians are fearful of the police with The CSF receiving complaints from believers of the neighbouring villages of Nandgaon, Talauli, Savarkhand… For Christian adivasis from the Palghar and Vikramgad talukas of the Thane district, the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion, certainly has no meaning. In these talukas, there is no cremation ground too, with Christian believers, being forced to cremate bodies, denying their faith or burying dead bodies in their own land. The affected Christians however, are putting up a heroic fight and refuse to stop praying or converting back, though there are a few reports of believers secretly worshiping and not publicly.

In view of the above, you are urged to pray and act to protect the Christians from a bloodbath in Kaspada, village Tamsai, Palghar and also the neighbouring Vikramgad talukas.

You may get in touch with the undersigned for confidential information about the incidents, as the Christian adivasis are afraid for their lives and hence no names are mentioned.

– Joseph Dias +91 9769555657

Producer Rahul Rawail ‘beats up’ Bandra evangelist

October 1, 2012 by  
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Producer-director Rahul Rawail 'beats up' Bandra evangelist
Producer-director Rahul Rawail

Mumbai, October 1, 2012: Producer-director Rahul Rawail has been accused of allegedly assaulting a 43-year-old evangelical activist, Janet Balchandran, her son Bharat and husband at the Vaz Bungalow in Bandra (West).

The victim has alleged that the attack was carried out by Rawail as she was opposed to the activities of the group on the building premises. Rawail is a tenant in the building. However, Rawail denied all the allegations.

Balchandran is said to have suffered three stitches on her forehead and has registered an FIR at the Bandra police station against Rawail.

Rawail is known for making films such as Betaab, Anjaam and Arjun Pandit among others. Rawail has recently announced that he was also making Ghayal Returns with Sunny Deol.

“He stays on the ground floor and is a tenant like us. We operated from the second and third floor of the same building and we conduct our prayer meets here. On Saturday, at around 8:30pm, as we were guiding our members to the exit of the bungalow, Rawail along with his wife and son came and shouted at us and pushed me around. His son pushed me and banged my head against the wall and injured myself. Later, we went to the police station and registered an FIR against him and got myself treated at Bhabha Hospital,” alleged Balchandran, who is the chairperson of the Elohim Bible Group.

When contacted, Rawail said, “She had 200 people along with her. How could I assault her? It was she herself who banged her head against the wall and injured herself. She is a sick woman and heads a group which bears adherence to a religious cult, whose leader is based in Korea. The people accompanying her tried to break open the door of the house.”

According to Balchandran, Rawail had complained about the group’s activities especially about the noise. The group has been conducting activities for some time at the same premises.

“Because of his complaints, we kept the doors and windows of the hall closed. There was no chance of any noise pollution. Besides, we ensured that no disturbance is caused to Rawail or his family members,” Balchandran added

– dna

Mob disrupt prayer meeting in Maharashtra

July 16, 2012 by  
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Maharashtra, July 16, 2012: Salve has been holding prayer sessions every Sunday for the past two years.

A mob disrupted a prayer meeting at the house of a tribal Christian in a village in Maharashtra’s Thane district Sunday.

More than 50 Christian tribals had assembled at Madhukar Salve’s house in Thavalpada village and were singing hymns when the mob assaulted them.

Salve has been holding prayer sessions every Sunday for the past two years.

Additional Superintendent of Police, Thane Rural, Sangramsinh Nishandar confirmed the incident but said no arrests have been made yet.

– ucan

CSF Impact: CM intervenes for Good Friday services. Protests called off

April 4, 2012 by  
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Maharashtra, April 03, 2012: The Maharashtra government has agreed to grant permission for Good Friday worship to be held at August Kranti Maidan, which was earlier withheld by Mr. AB Kulkarni, the Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Secretary, the competent authority. The CSF had taken strong exception to this, especially since the service has been attended by thousands for the last over 55 years with no interruption. Further, The CSF had threatened to demonstrate against the decision and sent memorandums to the chief minister and the minority affairs minister. Other community groups, like the Maharashtra Council of Churches, Association of Concerned Catholics and Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum joined in with their support and expressed solidarity with the cause.
The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias, along with community activists took up the issue with various ministers and city parliamentarians. Finally, the parish priests of Saint Stephen’s Church, Fr. Ernest Fernandes, Fr. Avin Franklin and activists, met the chief secretary, Mr. Ratnakar Gaikwad and Cultural Affairs Secretary, Mr. AB Kulkarni to get the necessary official permissions. Earlier, on memorandums presented, the chief minister and the minorities affairs minister, Naseem Khan intervened to resolve the issue.
In view of an amicable solution being evolved, The CSF has called off its protests, which were planned, as the denial of permission had hurt the religious sentiments of the community. The CSF and community groups have also come down heavily on a few Christian politicians, seeking to take credit by jumping on to the publicity bandwagon, once the issue was resolved, through their efforts.

Denial to hold Good Friday services *Holy Land: Prayers for The CSF collaborators from Indian Chaplaincy

April 2, 2012 by  
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The CSF takes up denial of permission to hold Good Friday services
Memorandum to Chief Minister and Minorities Affairs Minister
Future Course of Action on Monday
The CSF, the activist community NGO, takes strong exception to denial of permission to hold Good Friday worship at August Kranti Maidan by Mr. AB Kulkarni, the Maharashtra Cultural Affairs Secretary, the competent authority. The Good Friday religious services on the grounds, have been held by Saint Stephen’s Catholic Church on Cumballa Hill Road and is attended by thousands for the last 55 years with no interruption. Similarly, this year also applications for permission was sent out. However, Mr. AB Kulkarni denied the permission, despite repeated attempts by prominent community members.
The state’s Cultural Secretary’s rationale is that it is his prerogative as per 2005 High Court judgement, to decide whom to give permission or not. And he had exercised his authority. The CSF general secretary, Joseph Dias said that ” until last year, The Saint Stephen’s Catholic Church had received permission and had been holding the services. The permission for the last 2 years was reportedly given by Mr. AB Kulkarni himself and hence his behavior is suspicious. If at all there is such a HC restriction, how was permission granted post 2005 and hence, this denial is a clear violation of our fundamental rights and an encroachment on the freedom of religion”.
The CSF has presented memorandums seeking the intervention of Mr. Prithviraj Chavan, the Chief Minister and Mr. Naseem Khan, the Minorities Affairs Minister, who assured The CSF delegation that the issue was being looked into. However, the community is panicky as there are barely a few days left and arrangements for the service have to be made. The CSF has decided that failing a resolution by Monday, the community organisation would be compelled to consider other options. 

Holy Week: Indian Chaplaincy in the Holy Land


Israel, March 31, 2012: There are a number of Indian chaplaincies all over the world, in countries where a number of Christians from India live, but the Holy Land Chaplaincy is something very special and unique. It is the place, the geography, the politics, the faith-communities around, in the Holy Land that make the Indian chaplaincy here quite important. As the place is the very place of foundation and origin of our faith and the Church of Jerusalem is the mother of all churches on the earth. Hence, it is vital to have Christians around our shrines and churches. But unfortunately, the Christian presence is fast diminishing here, with thousands of Christians migrating to Europe, Canada, Australia, Latin America, etc. for better pasture or as some say to escape harassment from other communities.
The migrant communities in the Holy Land, like the Indians add to the missing elements among Christians and through their presence add zeal and vigour the Christian presence in the Holy Land. It is the migrant communities, such as these, who live and practise their faith with much enthusiasm.  Through their simplicity and piety, they carry the message of the Gospel to the families of Jews and local others in the Holy Land. Those of Indian origin, live and witness their Christian faith in a visible and effective way amidst these communities, also the other varieties of Christians here.
Though Holy Land has so many chaplaincies (communities), but the Indian Chaplaincy seems to be the most visible and effective Christian community around. In the Holy Land, it has the largest number of participants for a single liturgical celebration. eg. Way of the Cross the number will be around 1500 and for Easter, it would cross the 2000 mark, which is huge. No churches in the Holy Land have such large numbers gathering for a single liturgical celebration. Besides, in the Indian liturgical meets, there is more life, more piety, faith and more colour and life, attracting more spectators.
Thank you for your service and we assure of our prayer for you all.
– fr. jay ofm

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