Malegaon blasts: Govt. objects to RSS chief’s remarks

March 1, 2012 by  
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Malegaon BlastMaharashtra, February 29, 2012: The government Wednesday objected in the Supreme Court to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief’s remarks on the Malegaon blasts when the court was hearing a plea by the case’s key accused against the Bombay High Court order that allowed their custodial interrogation.

Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal drew the attention of the apex court bench of Justice H.L.Dattu and Justice Anil R. Dave to the news item that had appeared in a national daily.

“Today I find some article in a national daily which causes concern to me,” Rawal told the court. Rawal drew the court’s attention to the news report, citing RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat as saying that the then Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terror Squad chief Hemant Karkare told him that he was “under pressure to implicate right-wing outfits” in the Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Ajmer and Mecca Masjid bomb blasts. The court said: “We have not come across it.”

Rawal told the court about the news item in the course of the hearing of a petition by Prasad Srikant Purohit and Sudhakar Dhar Dwivedi, who have challenged the Bombay High Court order allowing the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to interrogate them in connection with 2008 Malegaon blast.

The apex court by its December 16, 2011, interim order had suspended the Bombay High Court order permitting the custodial interrogation of Purohit and Dwivedi. The court extended its interim order till March 14, when the matter would be listed for further hearing.

Purohit is still a Lt. Colonel in the Indian Army and is facing disciplinary proceedings.

Pointing to the contents of the news report, Rawal said it amounted to commenting on the merit of the case before the top court. He said the real test of interference in a sub judice matter was “not in actual interference but the tendency to interfere”.

He cited the case of Milk Control Order during the then West Bengal Chief Minister P.C. Sen’s tenure.

While the Calcutta High Court was seized of a petition challenging the order, Sen defended the government’s decision at a public meeting. He was hauled up by the high court for airing his views on the issue which was sub judice and it was also upheld by the apex court.

As the court was told that the news report was not pertaining to the proceedings of the apex court but the comments of a public figure, the court wondered why such statements are made when they are of no benefit.

The court also observed that the people who are reporting also have a responsibility. Karkare fell to the bullets of Pakistani terrorists during 26/11 Mumbai terror attack in November 2008.

– tcn

Kalyan diocese Pune carol singers attacked brutally

December 27, 2011 by  
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Pune Carol SingersPune, December 17, 2011: An eparchy of Kalyan Syrian rite parish in Pune had its Carol singing group attacked on 17 December, 2011 as they moved from house to house. A complaint was registered with the Hadapsar police station in the area. The carol singing group was attacked and inhumanly beaten up by a small group of youngsters. The attackers used hockey sticks and cricket bats. They pushed them on ground and kicked them brutally on chest, stomach and other parts of the body. They broke the hands of two of parishners, who had to be operated in the hospital. There was a possibility of even murder, if the other members of the group had not blocked the attackers. In spite of continued pleas from the women and children in the group, the attackers did not heed, but only threatened them. The Christians now pray that the attackers are treated strictly according to the provisions of the law, so that such instances are not repeated in the future. We forgive the attackers but condemn such actions, which causes untold misery for the victims and also vitiates the atmosphere and social fabric, which needs to be dealt with effectively.

– fr. francis eluvathingal

Hundreds of Christians protest Police-Builder-MNS Corporator nexus. Apostolic Church Razed. Bibles, Christmas literature, sound equipment reduced to rubble.

December 19, 2011 by  
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Ghatkopar Against DemolitioMumbai, December 19, 2011: Hundreds of Christians led by Indian Christian United Brigade, with the All India Christian Council (aicc) of the Thane region participated in protest, with local Christian activists, like Sachin Jadhav, Sanjay Londhe and David Dhule, strongly criticising the incident at a demonstration on the highway. The CSF takes strong exception to the demolition and desecration of a church in Ghatkopar East, Mumbai and a cover-up exercise undertaken by the police. Pastors Prabhakaran Koilraj, Alankara and Simon Krishnaswamy told The CSF general secretary that they were also beaten up by a mob and the church bulldozed, besides Bibles, spiritual Christmas literature, sound equipment material and furniture being reduced to rubble on 14th December, 2011. The pastors of the Apostolic Christian Assembly Church in Kamraj Nagar have been holding service in the area since 1992 and protested against the father-son duo builders, Champaklal and Kunal Vardhan, who have not included the church in a slum redevelopment scheme. The damage estimated by The CSF would well go to over rupees one crore, at the minimum.

Desecration of a church in Ghatkopar According to the reports of the pastors to The CSF, the almost 1500 sq ft church held regular Tamil and Hindi services. On that day, during the prayers services, the pastors were called to the office of Raj Thackeray’s MNS corporator, Parmeshwar Kadam, who is also the chief promoter of the scheme. The pastors pointed out to him that the church which existed since the nineties was not shown in the municipal plan, while there were two temples shown. As they were discussing the builder by means of a bulldozer, within minutes succeeded in razing the church to the ground. Sachin Jadhav of the local aicc chapter said that it is for such reasons that the Communal Violence Bill needed to be taken up and passed by the parliament or the minorities will be left at the mercy of such goons, with no scruples.

The CSF sees a sinister design in the actions of the Pant Nagar police, who seem to be in league with the politicians and builders, leading to innocuos charges being filed against some of the accused, who were bailed out within a matter of hours on nominal bail of Rs.5,000 only. The police also delayed for days to register the complaint, as the Christians were running from pillar to post. The issue rather than a non-bailable offence of attacking and demolishing a place of worship and desecration of religious articles was made to be one of assault. The police have also given the builders enough time to apply for anticipatory bail. The CSF calls upon the police to immediately arrest the builder father-son duo under these serious charges and in a supplementary FIR add these charges to the remaining accused arrested.

150 year old Pune church suspiciously gutted. Bishop calls for probe.

December 1, 2011 by  
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Bishop Thomas Dabre of PoonaMaharashtra, November 30, 2011: Bishop Thomas Dabre of Poona in the western Indian state of Maharashtra has demanded a thorough probe into the fire that gutted a 150-year-old Protestant Church on Monday.

“I personally visited the heritage church which has been charred and completely gutted. The altar, copies of the Bibles, hymn books, pulpit, and pews have been destroyed,” the Catholic bishop told Wednesday.

Bishop Dabre said that “as the management of the St Andrew’s Hindustani Covenant Church suspects foul play, we have demanded a thorough forensic examination of the premises to establish the exact cause of the blaze.”

Reverend Thomas Irvin, secretary of the church, said that the fire broke out at around 8 am on Monday and within minutes engulfed the entire structure.

It took five fire tenders and three water tankers to douse the fire, he said.

Police had claimed short circuit as cause of the fire.

Pastor Sachin Masih said “the treasured early Urdu-edition Bibles of 1940s brought from the Covenant Church of East Turkistan and British era Roman Bibles and hymn books in Hindi were gutted in the fire.

He said the prayer service was conducted in Hindi and Urdu languages.

Agreeing to demands of Church leaders, Police Inspector Bajirao Mohite said that a detailed investigation and a forensic examination of the church premises would be carried out to find the exact cause of the fire.

The church was built by the Scottish Mission in 1860 and handed over to the Swedish missionaries.

– ucan

Church Burnt in PuneMaharashtra, November 29, 2011: Treasured early-edition copies of the Urdu Bible were destroyed in a freak conflagaration on Monday morning, at the city’s British-era Hindustani Covenant Church. These copies of the Bible dated back to as early as 1940, when they had been brought to India by missionaries of the Covenant Church from East-Turkistan. They had hence been specially preserved for the last seven decades.

A number of religious and hymn books as well as Roman Bibles of the British era were also destroyed in the mysterious fire, which engulfed the church around 8 am. Devotees who arrived there for prayer services that day were shocked to see their church burnt. Many burst into tears and were consoled by the pastors.

The area was cordoned off as police and forensic experts began an investigation into the incident after vociferous demands by Bishop of Poona Thomas Dabre and the church management, who said the incident was a conspiracy against them.

The wooden interiors of the church were reduced to ashes and smoke continued to billow out of its side doors. All that was left of the ceiling fans, tube lights, pulpit, wooden benches and altar were smouldering ashes. The only thing intact was the Cross mounted on the roof of the church entrance.

Station Fire Officer Sunil Gilbile said it took an hour for the fire brigade to douse the flames. “We had deployed five fire engines and three water tankers to fight the fire. The inferno destroyed a number of artefacts and books kept inside the church, which is a 150-year-old building,” he said.

Bishop Thomas Dabre told Pune Mirror that he and the church management was shocked at the police conclusion that said the fire took place due to a short circuit. “We demand that a detailed forensic probe be carried out to ascertain the cause. We feel there is a conspiracy behind it. It is a heritage structure and it is the government’s responsibility to find the truth. We are disappointed at the manner in which the police issued a statement,” he said.

Pastor Sachin Masih and Pastor Steven David of the church said that they still in shock. “There is more to it than meets the eye — a detailed probe should be carried out by the police,” they said. Samson Bhite, a church management member said, “The church was closed and doors locked. The maid who cleaned the church early in the morning had left by 7 am. We fail to understand how the entire church was burnt in a span of 40 minutes,” he said.

This church was instituted by the Scottish Mission in 1860. It was then handed over to Swedish missionaries and in 1939, they came to Pune for the first time. The church currently has 315 families and over 1,000 members on its roll. Pastor Masih said, “Our entire church service takes place in Hindi and Urdu and hence these Bibles were of crucial importance to us for our prayer services and preaching activities.”

“There is a conspiracy behind this fire. We are disappointed at the manner in which the police issued a statement” – Thomas Dabre, Bishop of Poona.

– punemirror

Priya Dutt, MP calls for CM to intevene *Maharashtra becoming like Chattisgarh – a police state: The CSF

November 4, 2011 by  
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Arun FerreiraMaharashtra, November 02, 2011: The Member of Parliament from Bandra in Mumbai, Priya Dutt, where Arun Ferreira hails from, has urged the chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan to intervene in the case after a representation from The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), the activist community NGO, which is to come up for hearing today. In a letter to the chief minister, she writes that Arun Ferreira despite being exonerated by the courts is being held captive in Nagpur Jail and she would appreciate Prithviraj Chavan doing the best he could to remedy the situation.

Joseph Dias, The CSF general secretary in a memorandum to the CM says “the serious and blatant violation of human rights by the Maharashtra Police and is reminiscent of the notorious Binayak Sen and Soni Sori cases.  Almost every human rights activist and NGO, besides almost 5000 of the aam admi have signed an online petition to free him. Surely, he is not the kind that would flee the country. We believe; if he is found guilty, let the law take its course, as the case will be fought legally”. The CSF is awaiting today’s hearing outcome and will decide on its course of action.

“Maharashtra runs the risk of being turned into another Chattisgarh going by the reason why Arun Ferreira was arrested – being a maoist / naxalite ‘sympathizer’ and has been in jail for almost over 4 years, despite no conviction and acquittals in as many as 8 cases. Even his advocates and family, which includes his over 70 years old parents, were not spared and manhandled, when the police rearrested him again on trumped up charges. Ours is fast becoming a police state, where even in the murder of Keenan Santos & Reuben Fernandes cases, the culpability of the police is suspect”, Joseph Dias, The CSF general secretary added.

Christians attacked in Maharashtra

October 25, 2011 by  
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Map of MaharashtraMaharashtra, October 24, 2011: Maharashtra police registered a case against three people after they have repeatedly launched an attack against the Christians in Virla , Sirja, Dhule district , Maharashtra.

According to information reaching EFI, alleged Hindu extremist Gupsingh Raya Paurane, Dev Das and Sai Singh have launched a series of attacks against the Christians. The first incident took place on July where the extremists verbally abused the Christians for their faith in Christ, accusing them of having more money than them after they have decided to follow Christ.

Again on Sept 2, the same extremist group barged into the Christian prayer meeting, verbally abused the Christians for their faith in Christ and hit one Christian, Raju Narayan, causing severe injury to his head. A compromise was reached between the two parties after the intervention of the village head with the Christians, subsequently, not filing any complaint against the assailants.

However, on Sept 7, the village head summoned the Christians for a meeting where the Christians were forced to kneel down before the idols and worship them. They were also told in clear terms that they cannot continue to follow Christ.

“The extremists continued to attack us whenever they found opportunities”, reported area Christian, Ram Balli. Again on Oct 8, at about 9:30, while the Christians were getting ready to sleep, the extremists stormed on them and started throwing stones at their houses, where one Christian woman, Meena Raju received severe injury on her head. She was admitted in a local hospital the next day.

Later that night, all the Christians in fear left the area and walked all the way to Shirpur police station which is 35 kms away from the village and filed a police complaint against the attackers.

On Oct 10, the enraged extremists, after learning that the Christians filed a police complaint against them went to houses of Balli and other Christians and started verbally abusing them. Gupsingh Paurane threatened the Christians that he will kill all of them and cut them off from the society if they continue to believe in Christ.

Balli ran to the police station for his life and other Christians family members also ran to hide themselves in the field. In the meantime, the extremists destroyed the houses of the Christians.

The EFI submitted a letter of complaint to the the National Commission for Minorities, (NCM) Government of India requesting them to look into the matter. The Vice President of the NCM, Dr. H.T Sangliana requested the Special Inspector General of Police, Maharastra State Police HQs to conduct an enquiry on the complaint immediately.

Subsequently, On Oct 19, Shirpur police-in-charge P.R. Gulate and his team went to the spot and investigated the matter. A case has been registered against Dev Das, Gupsingh Paurane and Sai Singh under Sections 323, 504,506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The First Information Report (FIR) no. is 389/11.

– efi

Important Announcement – Attend in Large Numbers

July 8, 2011 by  
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Mt. Carmel's Church, Bandra, Mumbai, India

Mt. Carmel's Church, Bandra

Public Meeting on Minority Education Institutions Rights
Sunday, 10th July, 6.45 pm Mt. Carmel’s Church, Bandra (W), Mumbai.
The CSF, Wake – Up Bandra and other community NGOs is organising an important public meeting on Minority Education Institutions Rights this Sunday, 10th July, 6.45 pm, Mt. Carmel’s Church, Bandra (W), Mumbai. Our schools & principals have been facing threats from many sources and there is confusion about government GR, which need to be clarified. We will also make suggestions to the Government and seek action from the Minorities Affairs Minister and so we urge you to attend in large numbers.
– Joseph Dias, General Secretary, The CSF

The CSF Protests Government De-recognising St. Mary’s School

May 28, 2011 by  
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St.MarySchoolMumbai, Maharashtra, 28 May, 2011: The CSF, the activist community NGO has in a memorandum to the chief minister, Prithviraj Chavan and education minister sought their intervention in striking down the order to derecognize the prestigious Jesuit-run St. Mary’s High School in Mazagaon, south Mumbai. It is certainly an attack on a minority institution, in violation of our constitutional right to set-up and manage institutions, without interference – political, communal or otherwise. It seems to be a clear sign of vindictiveness, with malicious intentions, particularly since it seems, the complainant Nanasaheb Patil’s son’s admission was cancelled, resulting in his hitting back. Principals are under great pressure, especially priests and nuns. The order of the deputy director, education department, is in scant disregard for thousands students and parents, who are affected. If the authorities are serious, they should take cognizance of similar glaring and even more grave violations by other schools in the vicinity and elsewhere. The reasons given do not call for such serious action, particularly in case of a 78 year old Jesuit run institution, that has all through its history rendered yeoman service to all, irrespective of any distinction.

Non-Salary Grant

The Government of Maharashtra has also inordinately delayed non-salary grants for aided schools, with many Catholic schools being denied grants for almost a decade! since St. Mary’s School has not received since 2004 any non-salary grants. The entire non-salary expenditure has been borne by the management through its own resources. The aided schools, unlike the elite unaided ones, serve the lower and middle strata of society with similar high quality education at a lower cost. Non-receipt of non-salary grant has compelled aided schools to charge students or utilize their own resources, leading to complaints by parents. The CSF will be forced to call for closure of, at least 125 Catholic schools, as a sign of solidarity, if a solution is not found. The parent-teacher association (PTA) has strongly supported the principal and school, who are filing an appeal against the order.

Govt Interference

There are other instances of government interference and harassment. Fr. Baptist Pinto, a former Principal of St. Xavier’s School, Mumbai (for ten years) was transferred by the Society of Jesus to St Mary’s High School (SSC) in June 2010. The education department refused to accept him as principal and has kept the proposal pending till today. Instead it nominated a teacher as Acting Principal, denying the priest his dues. The CSF learns that priests and nuns will suffer harassment and bureaucratic hassles from now on, as it will not be able to transfer them easily, according to the government rules. Even though they may belong to the same Archdiocese, if the school trusts are different, then they would have to undergo a tedious procedure of resigning from one and getting appointed by another – which was not the case so far.

Malicious Intent

Fr. Baptist Pinto, St. Mary’s School principal told The CSF “The Education Department, without notice to the School, also lodged a complaint with the Economic Offence Wing of the Mumbai Police alleging that the School had illegally collected huge amounts and misappropriated them. The Economic Offence Wing, after detailed investigations, has concluded that the complaint is false and has closed the case. The Dy Director of Education, however, on the very same charge, with some other frivolous and flimsy grounds and without considering a detailed explanation supported by documentary evidence, has by an ex-parte order dated 24th May, 2011 de-recognized the St Mary’s High School (SSC).  The order has been deliberately passed close to re-opening to jeopardize a recognized, private and minority educational institution of repute”, he said.

A viewpoint

The CSF observes that as in case of St. Mary’s and many Christian schools, less than 5 % of the students are Christians and these institutions serve quality education to lakhs of non-Christians, with no discrimination. There are also many Catholic/Christian schools within a small radius in Mumbai. It may be better for the Church to consider sending all Christian students to one school and freeing the other schools to be used for professional/postgraduate institutions (medical, engineering, etc.) or colleges. In this manner, all Christian students, passing from our schools, will get admission in good Christian colleges or institutes of higher learning, rather than clamouring for and being refused admission in the couple of colleges, that the community has.

You may also send your protests to:

Shri. Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra
Tel: 022 22854166 / 22024901 / 22025151 / 22025222
Fax: 022 22817068 / 22029214

 Shri Rajendra Jawaharlal Darda, School Education Minister
Tel: 22025188 / 22024654 / 23630286 / 23630609
Fax: 22883545


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