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“Chalo New Delhi”, “Mourning in Mangalore” or “Black Christmas in Orissa”

April 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Issues, National

Dear Friend in Christ,

This is Sent & Dedicated to Those Who are One with Us in The Cause for a Secular India

The email below seemed to be frighteningly prophetic as we received news of a number of churches being attacked in Kodaikanal, TN and statues vandalised including those of Our Lady of Fatima (90 yrs), St. Lourdes (50 yrs), OL of Velankanni (15 yrs), Crucifix (10 yr) of Poondi Mata Church and many others in Dindigul district. Today, we also sadly received news of Little Flower Catholic Church in Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh being vandalised and torched, which was discovered by the Sisters of Sacred Heart nuns, working there. Elections are due there in November and it seems, the Hindutva forces have opened war on yet another front, that we need to face.

We welcome the Supreme Court’s direction to the Orissa government to to assess the damage to Christian property and assist in re-building them by providing compensation. The CSF is also happy since the apex Court said that proceedings in cases arising out of the violence will have to be conducted by setting up fast track courts. Another statement of the SC Bench, headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, was that the central para-military forces provided to the state government for maintaining law and order in riot-hit areas will remain there till December-end in view of the upcoming festival of Christmas. All thanks to Archbishop Raphael Cheenath filing a PIL for the same.

The CSF is however disappointed that the SC has declined to hand over to CBI, the investigation into the alleged rape of a nun during the on-going communal violence in Orissa. The apex court could have been a little more sensitive and besides, the Christians have no faith in the police, who stood as mere spectators, while the nun was raped and paraded naked on 25, August and in many cases even participated in the attacks on the community. Any enquiry by the state government, after all the community is going through, will not instill confidence among Christians & such probes will only prove to be shams, as has happened in Gujarat.

Finally, a suggestion that we organize a massive “Chalo New Delhi”, “Mourning in Mangalore” or “Black Christmas in Orissa”, with lakhs (not thousands) of Christians participating from all over the country. No Speeches – Just lay seize to the PM’s / CM’s residence and not move, unless the issue is resolved to our satisfaction. It seems the only way, if we are serious about getting results.

It is said, if you can discuss a problem ad nauseum, you will not be able to solve it.

Thanking you, with warm personal regards – In HIM – Joseph Dias

Goa, Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra & Tamil Nadu – Next ? Church & Community Needs to Act Urgently

You will be happy to know that Cardinal Oswald Gracias is back yesterday in Mumbai, is recuperating fine & expressed his heartfelt gratitude for those who kept him in their prayers. I am just back from Goa – the latest state on the Saffron Brigade’s communal radar. VHP warlord, Praveen Togadia was there, addressing a meeting, where I was present & it was no different from those he did in Orissa… Manohar Parrikar, Goa’s ex-CM from the BJP, says that at least 7 churches/chapels have been vandalized so far. Hindu fundamentalists are now after a 130 year-old church in Mayem in North Goa & also claiming church property. In Mangalore something similar is happening, where the Hindutvawadis have planted saffron flags over property used by the Church, since decades. The reasons / excuses to target the Christian clergy or laity & their property may vary, but the effect is the same – decimation of the community.

The situation has not improved a bit, anywhere else. Christians in Orissa & in other parts of the India, who do not reconvert to Hinduism, run the risk of being killed, raped or having their property reduced to ashes. Those Christians who reconvert, spare their their heads being tonsured, escape being fed cow-dung & urine, besides having to do unspeakable of desecration to the Bible, Crucifix or statues. I am on my way to Madhya Pradesh, where the announcement of assembly elections in the state has placed Christians at grave risk there, according to Fr. Anand Muttungal of Bhopal and other Christian activists. Tamil Nadu & even Delhi has also been added to the list of targeted states.

Let us admit it. We have failed to make a dent with the powers-that-be in the State as well as the Centre, with no action forthcoming. Lip-service. Words, Words… And More Words. The reaction of the church has been the traditional pray & pay. Christians are largely church-centric & so after the first round of rallies, prayers, meetings, signature drives… we are passing the hat around for relief – the most popular kind being old clothes. The CSF believes that all this was a good beginning & we were not to be left behind. But next what ? Much more is expected from the Church & Community. Instead of collecting resources to compensate the victims, shouldn’t we pressurize the government into giving compensation ? Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Orissa has moved the court for damages worth Rs. 3 crores and The CSF has asked the PM to act by providing funds from central coffers. Can we / should we collect that much & much more every time anti-Chrisitian violence takes place ?

The writing has been on the wall since the last attack on Christmas eve in Orissa; and if Christians had seen through it then & prepared themselves, we could have saved many precious lives from being snuffed out. We could have prevented blood being spilt, nuns being raped, clergy being attacked, hundreds of churches desecrated, crores of rupees worth property destroyed…It is still not too late, since the attacks will not stop. We fear it will only get worse, until the ultimate Saffron aim to ethnically cleanse & eliminate Christians (physically, politically, religiously & economically) is achieved. In Maharashtra we have information of one Narendra Maharaj, who has much in common with the late Swami Lakshmanand Saraswati of Orissa, who claims to have reconverted almost 50,000 Christians in western India states. Expect more persecution from Thane, Raigad, Ulhasnagar, Sindhudurg….

What needs to be done ?

We need to put in place a mechanism to face such SOS situations. We need to concentrate less on empowering others and more on equipping ourselves. The anti-Christian violence has exposed weak links in the existing church and laity structures. Therefore –

1. The church & the community need to go back to the basics in the Bible. India is fast becoming like the West, in terms of most of us being Christian only in name. Of little importance, in the rush of modern living, are things like – the Great Commission, love & concern for our own, tithing or giving to God’s work, supporting the poor, sick, orphans, widows… Unless we put Christ back among Christians, our faith will be no less shallow than that of those in the “developed” countries – facing an economic meltdown for being selfish & ignoring God ?

2. The church & the community needs to introspect & support notable activist initiatives, for the tasks at hand are huge, needing much financial & professional resources. Most of the initiatives are dependent on private & personal funds, which will dry out in time. Soon, yet another anti-Christian attack will not create a big stir, like anti-Muslim riots don’t today. Rather, many more activists would rise to the cause, if they are supported financially, since or else they would have to do so, at the cost of their jobs or small businesses. We need to organize ourselves into a network – to take on a major community development exercises.

3. The church & the community needs to demand reservations for Christians in education / employment & Scheduled status for Dalit Christians. If we had done so at the time of Independence or during the Mandal Commission agitation, Christians would have been in a better position today. In case of such communal violence or discrimination, we would have had at least a handful of community members in the police, government, judiciary, administration, civil & defence forces, etc. to help us out. The Govt of India NSSO survey clearly states that Christians are in some cases, the poorest. What does the Church or urban Christians plan do about it.

Examples to learn from.

The Parsi, Sikh & Jain minorities, who are just a tiny fraction of our numbers, have shown the way economically & politically. The Muslims too can teach us something in this regard. The Islamic Research Foundation (IRF) has put out an appeal for the better blessed Muslims to each contribute a little Zakat (tithe) annually and is working towards a 25 Million U$ Dollar / Rs.100 Crore community development fund. Details onhttp://www.unitedislamicaid.org/ Christian clergy, intellectuals, professionals, ex-servicemen, financially better-off laity … need to think on these lines.

If we don’t watch out & take urgent steps, our churches will be reduced to muesuems and vocations will stop happening. We are thoroughly ill-equipped to face the onslaught & dangers to come. If we have been spared to some extent is because, we have internationalized the issue. But this too has its limitations.

The CSF is making a humble beginning by setting-up a major DATABANK, which will be of great service in meeting the challenges we are presently confronting. Nothing of this kind exists in India & the expenses for the same are expected to be at a minimum Rs. 2,50,000 or US$ 5555 approx. This will be for staff, office, systems, stationery, communication, etc. We are looking for partners, who are prompted or blessed by the LORD to help us out. If you feel called to assist in any way, please send your contact details to thecsf.ceo@gmail.com

The CSF also has Dr. Peter Rodriques specifically looking into the issue of reservation – a subject very close to his heart. We invite others to contact The CSF and contribute (ideas, contacts, influence, volunteer…) your mite – assistance in kind is more valuable, than cash!

The CSF would also like to promote a national-level Federation of Christian NGOs & activists, to meet under one roof to see how best to organize the community effectively & come out with an action programme. We need to use the internet to tell the world and compel the Government of India to act. We have therefore put up a petition to the UNITED NATIONS & HEADS OF STATES and will follow it through internationally. We are closing this petition by October ’08 end & if you haven’t as yet signed in, please do so athttp://www.PetitionOnline.com/thecsf17/petition.html. Please also forward this email, with the above link, (or copy+paste it) for your other contacts to sign in.

Thank you for the support that you have given us. Please be assured of our prayers for you & your loved ones. Requesting your prayers for us, our families & associates too – without which, it would not have been possible for us to do so much.

Your Servant in the Lord’s Service
Ln. Joseph Dias, MA (Eco), Ex-Special Executive Magistrate / SEO, Govt of Maharashtra
General Secretary, The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF)
09769 55 56 57

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