SECULAR CHARACTER OF INDIA UNDER THREAT!
The National Council of Churches in India expresses its deep concern over growing religious intolerance in our country, and targeted violence against the Christian community. The sustained hate campaigns have resulted in vicious attacks on our people, places of worship and our institutions. Such incidents of violence are taking place right across the country—Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. In the recent past, they are even happening in the national capital.
In addition to such attacks, there are other strategic ways in which efforts are being made to destabilize Christian faith and witness:
NCCI Condemns Attacks on and Abduction of Christians in the Middle-East!
The National Council of Churches in India expresses profound sorrow and strongly condemns the continuing abduction of Christians by the IS jihadists in North-East Syria, Iraq, Egypt and other Middle East countries generating a terrorizing situation of violence and death, thereby forcing people to relocate with a feeling of abandonment and hopelessness.
We strongly denounce the continued attacks on minorities, especially the recent attacks on churches in villages, the indiscriminate bloody annihilation of innocent lives, and the rampant abduction that is taking place in Syria, Iraq and other countries.
We resolutely condemn such hideous actions and stoutly challenge the ideologies of terror and violence guided by the fundamentalist communal misinterpretation of religious beliefs.
While we express our solidarity with our abducted fellow believers and their grieving families and churches, we demand the release of all the hostages.
We sincerely commit ourselves to work with all peace-loving agencies for the rescue of the victims and for bringing peace in Middle-East Nations.
A seminar entitled “Smart Church: Youth initiatives for an efficient, vibrant, communicating Church” was held on February 17, 2015 at Azariah House at National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) campus in Nagpur. It was jointly organized by NCCI’s Commission on Communications & Relations and the Commission on Youth. The purpose of this seminar was to provide space for young people from our Churches to come together bringing their own experiences and ideas towards enhancing the ministries of the Church, especially in their organizational aspects, and particularly in terms of consolidating the communication systems, tools and processes. The program was attended by 28 participants from several protestant denominations as well as Roman Catholic orders.
Please see here the press note from Church of South India (CSI) condemning the attacks on Churches in India and demanding action.
TO CONDEMN THE ATTACKS AND VANDALISM ON CHURCHES IN NEW DELHI BY THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA
The recent vandalism and attacks on five Churches in different directions of the city of New Delhi has evoked a strong sense of insecurity and anguish among the Christian community in India. This is an alarming atmosphere apparently linked to the Ghar Wapsy Programme organized by some religious fanatics. There is a strong feeling that the Central Government is not doing enough to reassure the minority communities in the country in spite of the continued orchestrated and systematic attack and vandalism on Churches which included miscreants, breaking open the Churches and desecrating hol y objects and also setting a church on fire.
The Church at large in India demands that the Government should initiate a judicial enquiry and also take steps to ensure repair and restoration of the damaged churches. The Prime Minister is still silent on the issue. With the backdrop of these attacks, he should have come forward and issued a statement installing confidence and security amongst the peace loving Christian community in the country.
The church is a minority community in the country but the contribution and impact it made on the country’s development has been immense and unparalleled particularly in the fields of education and health. The Church in South India urges the Central government to create a sense of security, safety and a new hope for the minority communities not just the Christian minority community but all the minority communities at large.
Please see here the press note from Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi (KJPSS), a constituent of the Presbyterian Church of India, urging the governments to uphold and safeguard the religious freedom and fundamental rights of all Indian citizens.
Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi
The Executive Committee of the Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi, one of the constituents of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of India with its headquarter in Shillong, Meghalaya, having a membership of more than 340000, which met in Shillong, Meghalaya on Thursday, 05th February, 2015 is seized of the recent developments concerning forced conversion, re-conversion and proposed ban on conversion. In the light of such developments and after a thorough discussion, it was decided to issue a Press Statement as follows:
That the Khasi Jaintia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi expresses its appreciation to the HRD Ministry for withdrawing its advisory to States and directives to the Navo Vidyalayas on opening schools on 25th December, 2014 to observe “Good Governance Day” as per guidelines given.
News from Chhattisgarh: Please find here below the People’s Manifesto on rebuilding Chhattisgarh prepared and presented by the Chhattisgarh Unity Convention of Secular – Democratic – Progressive forces.
We, the participants at the Chhattisgarh Unity Convention of Secular-Democratic- Progressive Forces held on 22nd & 23rd of January, 2015 at the Gondwana Bhawan, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) representing people’s organisations, political parties, social movements, trade unions, social and cultural action groups, NGOs and progressive intellectuals, who believe in the Vision of a Socialist-Secular-Democratic India and, in turn, work for the realization of such a Vision, reaffirm our faith in and commitment to the Constitution of India, which avowedly declares in its Preamble:
We express our deep concern that, for the first time in the electoral history of India, the religious fundamentalist forces (with a declared historical agenda for “Hindu Rashtra”) trying to gain political control over the State, thus, posing grave threats to the very core and content of the Constitution of India.
We had no doubt in our minds that the Narendra Modi-led NDA government with Bhartiya Janata Pary (BJP) in absolute majority would pursue and realize the vision of a Hindu Rashtra, as projected in the ideological documents of the Rashtriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS), written by their founders. Historical reality has established beyond doubt that the BJP is fully under the control of the Rashtriya Swamsewak Sangh (RSS), (and its many allies and front organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, etc.).
In this regard, the violent history of communal forces in India since Independence, more so the genocide in Gujarat under Sri Narendra Modi as its Chief Minsiter, has been revived under the autocratic control of State machinery by the BJP, as demonstrated in the subsequent events during the last 200 days of NDA Rule in India.
Presently almost all parliamentary democracy institutions and processes are being weakened through autocratic legal action, such as leading to the resignation by the Chairperson and members of the Censor Board, many journalists and media persons being sacked or shifted only because they are suspected of having left-orientation, and communalisation of education, leading to changing the vice-chancellors and heads of institutions, imposing strictures and violent attack on screening of films, etc.
We are also well aware of the hidden agenda behind the slogan of development of a New India, and “good times ahead” under the leadership of Sri Narendra Modi. It is crystal clear that the BJP-led NDA Government is pursuing the goals of globalization serving the interests of the Corporate World (domestic and multinational), by putting the vast natural and human resources of our country into their hands for profit-making. Policies of privatization and liberalization are being pursued at the cost of the vast majority of marginalized masses are who are systematically and ruthlessly pushed to the periphery. The autocratic leadership has scant regard for the human rights and democratic values enshrined in the Indian Constitution!
These are only a few indicators pointing towards the contours of the ‘Corporate- Communal-Security-State’ taking shape under the present autocratic regime. No doubt, the State Machinery is nakedly and un-ashamedly at the service of the rich and powerful, and ruthlessly and openly against the poor and marginalized.
While the national scenario is clearly moving towards the road-map of ‘Corporate- Communal-Security-State’, in Chhattisgarh, the plunder and loot by the Corporate World, and the sidelining of democratic processes have been already underway during the past tenure of the present regime. Now with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, the State Government is acting more bold and bloody in adopting authoritarian-rule-of-law to suppress all dissenting voices and democratic movements resisting globalization, combating communalism and defending democracy.
Therefore, the designs of the Corporate World in achieving their goals can be clearly seen on the one hand, diluting the pro-people provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and Forest Rights Act, and on the other hand, in diverting the basic purpose of the Gram Sabhas in protecting their natural and cultural resources from plunder and loot for profit, greed and endless pursuit of affluence at the cost of basic human rights of life and livelihood of the vast majority of the people, in this case the adivasis and dalits.
The Chhattisgarh situation is even more sensitive due to conflict between the Maoists and the State in a large area of the State. This has led the State to inject more stringent and draconian repressive laws (like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005) and machinery (heavy deployment of para-military forces in large areas inhabited with adivasis and dalits, affecting their lives, livelihood and culture, etc.) which, in turn, violates the human rights of citizens, especially in the conflict zone. This conflict-context would call for fresh reflection-action-reflection process to be initiated by the progressive parties and individuals in Chhattisgarh.
We are also conscious of the fact that other coalitions like the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) are committed to and also have been pursuing ruthlessly the goals of a Global-Corporate India, even if without the blatant aggression of the fascist forces.
We also express our concern that the primary thrust of the present regime is an aggressive onslaught on left-democratic forces, silencing the voices of dissent and constricting freedom of expression. This enables implementation of the corporate agenda with the rule of an iron hand, sidelining established institutions and discarding procedures laid down in the Constitution of India.
The political backdrop in India, more so in Chhattisgarh, has made it mandatory for the people’s organizations, social movements, progressive intellectuals, trade unions, social action groups and left parties to join forces to re-formulate strategies and agenda for future action for the realization of the VISION OF A SOCIALIST-SECULAR-DEMCORATIC INDIA.
This Convention declares on the basis of conclusions drawn through discussions that:
1. The principles of sovereignty, socialism, democracy, secularism as enshrined in the Constitution of India be widely proclaimed and strengthened;
2. Freedom of Expression to the followers of all religions, and to let them live freely without fear according to their religious beliefs;
3. Land Acquisition Ordinance 2014 be repealed, and the Land Acquisition Act 2013 be restored, with additional provisions in favour of the farmers;
4. Coal Ordinance be repealed, and following the directives given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, auction of coal mines be held as per the real need and not for the benefit of the Corporate Sector; along with it the consent of the gram sabhas be made mandatory; impact on environment and forest be taken into consideration as per the provisions of the law before the allotment of mines;
5. Exploitation of natural resources and mineral wealth in favour of the industrialists be stopped forthwith;
6. Anti-labour amendments/provisions introduced in the Labour Laws benefitting the industrialists and employers be withdrawn forthwith, regularization of workers be made mandatory in public and private sector, and contract system be totally abolished;
7. Privatization of water, forest and land, privatisation of public sector, and disinvestment be stopped forthwith;
8. “Made In India” policy be introduced instead of “Make In India”, so as to increase employment opportunities, urban and rural unemployed be provided jobs on priority basis so as to increase their purchasing power;
9. Free quality education be provided from KG to Post Graduate; Health Services Rights Act be legislated, with provisions for free medical treatment for all;
10. Farmers be paid profitable price for their produce. Employment should be guaranteed throughout the year under MNREGA, with provision for, at least, 200 days in a year. Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme be also enacted on similar lines. Workers under MNREGA be paid on a regular basis;
11. MNREGA should not only be linked with agricultural/rural labourers, but also reviewed against the backdrop of agriculture and farming;
12. Those forest dwellers who are denied rights over the occupied land under the Forest Rights Act be provided with legal documents (pattas) forthwith;
13. Implementing the Food Rights Act, the public distribution system be made effective and inclusive;
14. Rising prices be controlled, and corruption be brought to an end;
15. “Religious conversion” and “ghar wapasi” should be brought under the provisions and principles enshrined in the Constitution; laws related to these be reviewed and repealed accordingly, so that religious freedom for all citizens is restored;
16. Legal action be taken against drugs, liquor and decadent culture, and social reforms movements be strengthened against such social ills;
17. Violence and atrocities against women, especially trafficking related crimes be strictly dealt with by the law enforcing machinery, and social struggles should continue against these;
18. The Governor should take appropriate legal action under the provisions of “PESA” and 5th & 6th Schedule, so that exploitation and repression in scheduled areas is stopped;
19. Repression and anti-constitutional laws must be repealed forthwith, such as AFPSA, Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2008, and colonial legal provisions like Sedition, etc. ;
20. In the name of combating Maoists, the deployment of para-military forces, and advocacy of direct military action by the NDA government should be opposed, and in order to establish peace in Chhattisgarh, issues such as social justice, people’s rights must be taken into consideration, so as to preserve and promote citizens constitutional rights to life and livelihood.
We are committed to internalize and implement this Manifesto and programmes into and through our organisations, and pledge ourselves to stand united and in solidarity through dialogue and struggles.
We the participants at the Chhattisgarh Unity Convention adopt it on 23.1.2015:
1. Communist Party of India; 2. Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha; 3. Akhil Bhartiy Adivasi Mahasabha; 4. Kheti-Bachao, Jeewan-Bachao Andolan; 5. People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Chhattisgarh; 6. Baiga Mahapanchayat – Chhattisgarh; 7. Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagriti Sangathan; 8. Pardhi Mahapanchayat – Chhattisgarh; 9. Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan; 10. Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha ( Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti); 11. Chhattisgarh Mines Shramik Sangh; 12. Chhattisgarh Labour Institute; 13. Nadi Ghaati Morcha; 14. Chhattisgarh Christian Fellowship; 15. Akhil Bhartiy Krantikaari Kisaan Sabha; 16. Ekta Parishad- Kanker; 17.Chhattsigarh Christian Forum; 18. Bhartiy Muslim Mahila Andolan – Chhattisgarh; 19. Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan; 20. Sabla Dal (Domestic Workers’ Union); 21. Communist Party of India (Liberation); 22. Muslim Baitulmaal Foundation; 23. All India Secular Forum – Chhattisgarh; 24. Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF); 25. Dalit Mukti Morcha; 26.All India Progressive Forum – Chhattigarh; 27. All India Peace & Solidarity Organisation –Chhattisgarh; 28. National Alliance of Women (NAWO); 29. Jan Sanskritik Manch; 30. All India Law Forum.
Presidium: 1. Chittaranjan Bakshi (94252-02641); 2. Janak Lal Thakur (94241-07557); 3. C L Patel (98266-41016); 4. Nand Kumar Kashyap (94062-13116); 5. Sudha Bhardwaj (99266-03877); 6. Lakhan Singh (77730-60946); 7. Anand Mishra ((98933-54482)):
Treasurers: Ganesh Ram Chaudhry (99932-33527); A P Josy (94255-43304)
Steering Committee: Rajendra K Sail (98268-04519); Sudha Bhardwaj (99266-03877); Alok Shukla (94076-04811;Gautam Bandopadhyay (98261-71304); Sheikh Ansar (99932-33537); Tej Ram Vidrohi (89596-66036)
Shashi Krishi Farm, Village & Post, Tumgaon, Dist. Mahasamund :Pin-code: 493445: Chhattisgarh: India. E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
National United Christian Forum
National United Christian Forum Raises serious concerns
New Delhi: 20/12/2014We, the members of the National United Christian Forum (NUCF) comprising the three leading Churches of India, i.e. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) and the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), together express our serious concern about the current situation of the minorities, particularly the Christians in India.
The recent happenings in Bastar forcing the school to put the statue of Sarsawati Maa in a Catholic school and forbidding the children to address the principle with the honorific ‘Father’; the burning of a church in Delhi; the declaration of ‘Good Governance Day’ on 25th December to undermine the importance of Christmas; the provocative call by some fundamentalists to convert 4000 Christians to Hinduism in Agra on Christmas Day and the regular targeting of the Christian community, calling them even anti-national is a cause of great concern for us.
Times of India on 10th October 2014 reported that the Government is opposed to Dalit status for converts.
It reported Union social justice minister Hon. Thavar Chand Gehlot’s statement about SC status to Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims, which reveals that the Government is not inclusive in its development policy.
The demand for the inclusion of the Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims has been going on for the past 64 years because of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste Order) 1950 paragraph 3 which reads as “no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste”. Later it was amended to include Sikhs and Buddhists in 1956 and 1990 respectively.