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Call to uphold and safeguard the religious freedom and fundamental rights of all Indian citizens: Press note from KJPSS

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.

PRESS STATEMENT

By The

Khasi Jaiñtia Presbyterian Synod Sepngi

Shillong, Meghalaya.

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.

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Chhattisgarh Unity Convention presents People’s Manifesto on rebuilding Chhattisgarh

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.

BELOW IS THE DOCUMENT IN ENGLISH. FOR HINDI CLICK HERE.

Unity Convention of Secular-Democratic-Progressive Forces

“Threats from Fascist & Imperialist Forces in India, Challenges & Strategies” 

January 22 & 23, 2015 (Thursday & Friday): Gondwana Bhawan, Raipur: Chhattisgarh 

People’s Manifesto On Rebuilding Chhattisgarh

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, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a
SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC 
and to secure to all its citizens
 JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the [unity and integrity of the Nation]”

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!

  • Reversal of Labour Reforms earned by historical labour movements;
  • Land Acquisition Ordinance, Coal Ordinance, Insurance Ordinance and Ordinance Raj
  • The fresh data and debate on “poverty line”;
  • The unilateral decision increasing the height of Narmada Dam;
  • Targeting of select NGOs/Social Movements in the IB Report, branding them as anti-development, meaning, anti-national;
  • The red-carpet treatment of the newly formed Government by the globalized/imperialist countries, Adani’s Australian coal mine contract ( with State Bank of India providing Rs. 60,000 crores of ; nuclear liability negotiations with Obama;
  • Home Ministry’s aggressive militaristic attitude to conflict in Central India.

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.

  • The reincarnation of Salwa-Judum in its new avatar like the recent resolutions by about 50 Gram Sabhas to ban the non-Hindus from preaching and practicing their  religion in the villages in Bastar, are like the same old wine of fascism in a new bottle.
  • The systematic violent attack on Christians and other minorities, and the campaigns like “Ghar vapasi” are deliberately on the increase to create a rift between the adivasis, dalits, landless and marginal farmers so as to carry on with the Corporate Agenda without any hindrance from people’s united action.
  • The linkage between the Corporate agenda in Bastar (and in all of Chhattisgarh), and Salwa-Judum (and now the banning of non-Hindus) was well exposed not only by the human rights and people’s organizations, but declared as un-constitutional and anti-democratic by the apex court of the country.

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.

PLEDGE

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)

__________________________
Contact Address:

Shashi Krishi Farm, Village & Post, Tumgaon, Dist. Mahasamund :Pin-code: 493445: Chhattisgarh: India. E-mail: <rajendrasail@gmail.com>

CLICK HERE FOR THE HINDI VERSION OF THIS DOCUMENT

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Solidarity group opposes Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) ordinance

Please find here below the press release from BHOOMI – a Forum for Protection of Land in India (FPLI) opposing Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) ordinance.

Bhoomi – a Forum for Protection of Land in India (FPLI)

PRESS NOTE

New Delhi, India | 27 January 2015

The solidarity group resolved on 22nd January 2015 at Visakhapatnam meet to call upon people of our country to oppose and resist the undemocratic Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) ordinance to take away the democratic rights of the farmers, tribals given in the Act 2013. The soul of the new Act was that the acquisition could not be done without consent of 80% land owners and Social Impact Assessment on which the public hearing was a must. But without consulting the public, people and organizations, and political parties and Parliament members the Union Government’s ordinance to end the democratic action of land acquisition process is nothing but to establish despotic corporate rule in our country at the cost of life and livelihood of millions of farmers, agriculture workers, Fishers, Adivasis and Dalits.
This arbitrary anti-people decision is the gateway of corporate governance which will also mill the Forest Rights Act 2006 and the autonomy of Gram Sabha, PESA CRZ regulations, environment protection on laws by which the Fishers, Adivasis, Dalits all the marginalized people depending on natural resources like sea, forest, land of any category, rivers in name of so-called development. As main opposition party BJP had extended support to the LARR in two houses of parliament to be smoothly passed but its newly elected government did not hesitate to murder a democratic people’s law made after more than hundred people sacrificed their lives resisting forceful land acquisition under 1894 law. As a result of this ordinance, corporates will continue to take over the common people’s resources for their own growth in the name of nation development that will further aggravate the trend.

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NUCF Press Statement

National United Christian Forum
( CBCI, NCCI and EFI )
Yusuf Sadan, 1 Ashok Place, New Delhi – 110001
+91 11 23343457/ 23362058    Fax: +91 11 23746575

Catholic Bishops Conference of India National Council Of Churches in India Evangelical Fellowship of India
His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Bishop Dr. Taranath S. Sagar Rev. Hali Likha
President, CBCI, President NUCF, President NCCI, Co-President NUCF Chairman EFI, Co-President NUCF
Father Joseph Chinnayyan Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Deputy Secretary General CBCI,
Co Secretary NUCF
General Secretary NCCI,
Co Secretary NUCF
General Secretary EFI,
Secretary NUCF

PRESS STATEMENT

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.
The Christian Community being a small minority of just 2.33 percent of the Indian population doing its day to day work in a peaceful manner and setting a good example of how dutiful citizens must abide by law, is highly distressed with the types of announcements and statements made by certain groups belonging to a right wing ideology.
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NUCF Press Statement

National United Christian Forum
( CBCI, NCCI and EFI )
Yusuf Sadan, 1 Ashok Place, New Delhi – 110001
+91 11 23343457/ 23362058    Fax: +91 11 23746575

Catholic Bishops Conference of India National Council Of Churches in India Evangelical Fellowship of India
His Eminence Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Bishop Dr. Taranath S. Sagar Rev. Hali Likha
President, CBCI, President NUCF, President NCCI, Co-President NUCF Chairman EFI, Co-President NUCF
Father Joseph Chinnayyan Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwad Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Deputy Secretary General CBCI,
Co Secretary NUCF
General Secretary NCCI,
Co Secretary NUCF
General Secretary EFI,
Secretary NUCF

PRESS STATEMENT

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.
The Christian Community being a small minority of just 2.33 percent of the Indian population doing its day to day work in a peaceful manner and setting a good example of how dutiful citizens must abide by law, is highly distressed with the types of announcements and statements made by certain groups belonging to a right wing ideology.
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Message from NCCI General Secretary for Christmas and New Year 2015

God with us: Gospel in a Groaning World

Our Groaning World

We live in a world marked by several sufferings: “Many continue to reel from the impact of wars; ethnic and religious animosity, discrimination based on race and caste mar the façade of nations and leave ugly scars. Thousands are dead, displaced, homeless, refugees within their own homeland. Women and children often bear the brunt of conflicts: many women are abused, trafficked, killed; children are separated from their parents, orphaned, recruited as soldiers, abused. Citizens in some countries face violence by occupation, paramilitaries, guerrillas, criminal cartels or government forces. Citizens of many nations suffer governments obsessed with national security and armed might; yet these fail to bring real security, year after year. Thousands of children die each day from inadequate nutrition while those in power continue to make economic and political decisions that favor a relative few.”
(An Ecumenical Call to Justice and Peace, Resource Material for International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in Kingston, Jamaica, in May 2011, under the theme “Glory to God and Peace on Earth”)

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People’s Reporter features NCCI’s Centenary Celebrations Finale

National Council of Churches in India Centenary Celebrations Finale featured in People’s Reporter Volume 27, Issue 22 (November 25 – December 10, 2014).

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NCCI Centenary Rally in Nagpur. 3000 Christians marched for Peace, Justice and Unity and Love

Ncci rally news picThe NCCI Centenary Rally started from the All Saints Cathedral, Sadar, halted at Samvidhan Square (near K. P. Ground, Opp. RBI) for Bishop Dr. Taranath Sagar’s (President of NCCI) public address, and continued back to All Saints Cathedral in a circular route.  More than 3000 people from all denominations joined the Rally.

In the field of Social development, the Church in India has demonstrated the compassion of Christ to the Indian Society.  Specific attention to the development of the poor and downtrodden was given due importance.  In the tribal belt the liberation of the tribals from money-lender and landlords served as the first contribution of the Church. Bishop Dr. Taranath Sagar President of National Council of Churches in India at the Samvidhan Square, addressed the gathering with the basic gospel virtue of Love, of loving your neighbour as yourself.   Read more

ACT Alliance elects new moderator, approves new strategic plan

sushantDelegates at the ACT Alliance general assembly have elected governing board member Dr Sushant Agrawal leader of the highest body of the network.
Dr Agrawal, director of Indian agency Churches’ Auxiliary for Social Action, is the new moderator of the alliance, a global network of 148 humanitarian and development agencies. He replaces Rev Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel.

10000 Gathered in Madurai, Tamilnadu to Celebrate The NCCI Centenary

10000 Gathered in Madurai, Tamilnadu to Celebrate The NCCI Centenary

Public Meeting Participants from over 250 local congregationsThe TAMILNADU CHRISTIAN COUNCIL joining the Churches in Madurai, Tamilnadu in Hosting the Tamilnadu Regional Centenary Celebration on the 20th September 2014. The Church of South India Madurai Ramnad Diocese gave an exemplary leadership to the celebrations in joining hands with the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church, Methodist Church in India, Salvation Army, Indian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Roman Catholic Churches and over 100 Pentecostal and Front Line Churches and over 40 Christian Mission Organizations, Theological Seminaries and Training Institutes and including the YWCA and Bible Society.
Among all the NCCI Regional Centenary Celebrations the Tamilnadu Region has got a real taste and rich experience of Grass-roots Ecumenism.
The Celebration had Three events such as a Day Ecumenical Seminar, a Public Meeting and the observation of the International Prayer Day for Peace.