Raipur: Tribal & Dalit activists meet

March 14, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Tribal and Dalit Activits at RaipurNew Delhi, 13 March 2015: Two days consultation of Tribal and Dalit activists was organised by the Office for Justice, Peace and Development – Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (OJPD-CBCI) at Pastoral Centre, Raipur on 11-12 March 2015. The meeting began on 11th March at 10 AM by invoking the name of God through a Bhajan, which led us to have a God consciousness, creating an atmosphere and getting in touch with our whole movement of the program of the day.

The dignitaries present were Most Rev. Archbishop Victor Henry Thakur (Archbishop of Raipur), Most Rev. Bishop Gerald Almeida (Bishop of Jabalpur and the chairperson of OJPD-CBCI) and Most Rev. Immanuel Kerketta (Bishop of Jashpur and the chairperson of JPD in Chhattisgarh region). Fr. Sebatian Poomattam, VG of Raipur and the secretary of JPD from Chhattisgarh Region welcomed the participants that included Bishops, clergy and the lay partners from the regions of Bihar, Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh who are heading the different organisations working towards a just and peaceful human society. There were about 60 Participants attending the consultation.

The dignitaries gave the key note addresses and their inspiring messages to the participants insisting that no peace without justice and no development without peace; ‘Shalom’ needs to be looked in its totality; The church has a great role to play in working towards justice; Walk the talk; Being in solidarity with the poor and the marginalised; Rights and dignity to our workers (just wage); Link people to resources, etc.

Rev Dr Charles Irudayam, secretary of OJPD-CBCI took the lead to emphasise our role towards a call to social activism from the perspective of Christian spirituality. In his presentation he focussed the vision and mission of JPD and our role towards building a just and peaceful society. The main purpose of organising this consultation meeting was to inspire, to guide and to animate at national level. He explained that the development is a movement from less human conditions to more human conditions.

Mr. Gladson Dung Dung, a human right activist presented the signs of the times, the main issues and major challenges faced by the country and religion. He highlighted the issues of the tribal and dalit such as displacement, allotment of budget and the right to life etc. He further focussed on the changes brought in the land acquisition Act under which comes social impact assessment, mandatory consent of community, food security, liability of land and returning of utilization of the property. Further he continued his analysis on the globalised culture, human trafficking, freedom of expression and issues of naxalism.

Fr. Ajay Singh Kumar, a social activist and the director of the Odisha Regional Forum from the arch diocese of Cuttack Bhubaneswar(OROSA) basically spoke about the empowerment of dalit and their issues in the region. Quoting from the constitution of India he said that the preamble is in slippery mode: socialist, secular, democratic and republic. He further stressed that the tribal population is more in numbers in Christianity than the dalit. Speaking from his own experience he said that every 18 minutes the dalit and the tribal are attacked who are considered vulnerable in our society. So it is a great challenge before us. He also spoke about the hidden agenda of Hindutva and RSS fundamental groups. He concluded by saying that we need to share the common heritage and to be united to work towards the egalitarian and just human society. The participants dispersed for the regional level group discussion with the following questions:

1. What are the three major issues of your region?
2. What are the three major interventions you are involved in?
3. What are the challenges you face during the interventions?

After their discussion the participants presented the report during which the participants were active through their interaction and clarification. Fr. Charles summarised the whole presentation in an nutshell. Then Bp. Gerald Almeida concluded the first day’s program by saying that we need to generate and inspire leadership and he added many other concerns. At 7:15 pm we participated in the Holy Eucharistic celebration celebrated by Bishops. After which the participants went for dinner followed by a documentary film based on the issues of displacement, human rights violations and the protest by the people.

The second day started with graceful Eucharistic meal asking for Gods blessings at 7 am. The session started with the prayer song of “Keep on moving my brothers and sisters. Keep on moving, one day you will succeed.” The minutes of the previous day was presented by Sr. Nisha from Bihar. Fr. Sebastian invited the High court lawyer Mrs. Sudha Bharadhwaj to speak on “woman rights and issues.” She pointed out main issues such as male dominating society, working towards the dignity, equality of woman, displacement of woman and children, lack of woman leadership, make space for woman, special attention on sex discrimination , child labour and trafficking, domestic violence act, Adivasis & Dalit women suppression in Chhattisgarh, etc. This session was very encouraging, informative and enthusiastic. The participants interacted with her with their questions.

The nest session started with an awareness song of “we will not give up our land.” Then Mr. Gladson Dungdung (human rights activists) came up with a challenging and inspiring presentation show on “Evidence Based Advocacy.” He captured our mind and heart and also highlighted on following issues: a successful advocacy initiatives, naxal movement in saranda, anti-naxals operations, evidence-based gathering process, major interventions, achievements and challenges. These burning points are practically focused on encroachment of SARANDA forest and its successes.

Then Fr. Nicholas,SVD came up with the supportive point of BHARAT RURAL LIVELIHOOD FOUNDATION (BRLF). He explained briefly regarding fund raising and getting GOVT. Funded Schemes for our tribal scheduled areas. Followed by there was a heartbreaking reality documented film on brutally raped and sexually harassed small aged children named as – Pranitha, Shaheen,and Anjali. Our heart was deeply moved by the truth tearing powerful talk of Sunita Krishnan.

After the lunch break we had a group discussion and action plan state wise for future initiatives regarding justice peace issues in the direction of Fr. Charles Irudayam. Then each state presented their futuristic action plan and the session came to an end with conviction on our mission and our roles.

A grateful thanksgiving to OJPD and the resource person and participants was given by Fr. TOMY A J from Jharkhand. He expressed his special thanks on behalf of the participants to Fr. Charles Irudayam for enkindling our minds by organising this two days consultation of Justice and Peace workers of Northern States. He thanked also Rev. Fr. Joseph Raj who is Chhattisgarh Forum Director and the local organiser of this consultation.

– dr charles irudayam

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