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NCCI condemns brutal rape of young dalit girl leading to her death as crime against humanity, initiates campaign to address caste based gender violence

National Council of Churches in India condemns the alleged gang rape and assault of 19 year young dalit girl in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh leading to her death. The barbaric torture has led the victim to undergo an enormous amount of mental, emotional and physical suffering along with a dent on her dignity. Atrocities against women have increased now in India and in this case the victim was a Dalit and she was denied the basic dignity even in her funeral. Denial of dignified funeral was the ultimate of the turmoil for the family of the victim. This act exposes the vulnerability of women in India and especially the women belonging to the discriminated sections of the society such as the dalits, adivasi and tribals.

The alarming torture of gang rape on a girl cannot be neglected as it raises a serious concern on the security of women and girls in society and more importantly the rising toxic masculinity as assertion of power. We cannot neglect the alleged cutting off of the tongue which is a sign to silence a person and their community. We cannot remain silent now otherwise a whole generation will be lost due to brutality and lust of toxic masculinity.

This horrific incident is a blot on the affirmation of Human Rights, Right to Dignity of Life, Protection of dalits and Adivasi/ Tribal communities. The NCCI demands effective judicial action to be taken against the perpetrators of this crime and the officials involved in delaying the writing of FIR and doing a hurried non ritualistic funeral of the victim allegedly without consent of the family. The NCCI demands that speedy justice should be delivered to the victim and the bereaved family, and that protection be given to family members of the deceased as the family need moral and judicial help because they are vulnerable due to their economic and social status of being Dalits.

National Council of Churches in India calls upon the National Human Rights Commission to take appropriate measures to safeguard the constitutional rights that affirm life ‘OF’ all and life ‘FOR’ all to ensure justice without bias so that the rights and dignity of the members belonging to victimised and vulnerable communities will be protected. The NCCI will address such heinous caste based gender violence in its campaign leading to the Human Rights day involving the participation of its constituents.

Rev. Jyoti Singh Pillai                                                                                                                    Pradip Bansrior 
Executive Secretary                                                                                                                          Executive Secretary
Women’s Concerns                                                                                                                          Dalit and Tribal/ Adivasi Concerns

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in India

Independence Day Press Release: Rising to the occasion . . .

with a commitment to read and espouse the Constitution of India

Press release

73rd anniversary of Indian Independence, August 15th 2020

Saturday the 15th of August 2020 marks the completion of a journey of 73 years; a journey as a people who left no stone unturned to earn a freedom that we yearned for. The journey is wrought with imaginations and indignation. The journey that was dotted with advancement in different fields, struggles in some, stagnation in some others, but a determined movement toward self-rule, self-determination and self-sufficiency.

We salute the martyrs of the freedom movement and those who subsequently and to this day have laid down their lives in the service of their fellow-citizens – for their determination to secure for us, the people of this nation, a vibrant and living Secular, Socialist, Democratic, Republic.

We salute the astute mind of the architects of the Constitution of this country who have strived diligently to capture and construct the angst and aspirations of the different and varied peoples of this land

We salute the spirit of comradeship and that of secularism which prevails amidst a vast majority of peoples of different faiths and beliefs coexisting in this country

We salute the resoluteness of the citizens of the country, who have strived continually to preserve the values, practices and institutions of democracy so intrinsic to the preservation of its independence

Recollection of these rich traditions is an invaluable strength and inimitable force in facing and dealing with the contemporary challenges to the richness of secularism, to equity that comes with socialism, and to the participation of the people in governance.

Rising levels of absolute and real poverty, alarming trends of communalisation of not only politics but also institutional governance, disrespect and sordid insult to the voice and presence of the ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, and gross violations of Human Rights at all levels everywhere, stare the nation in its eye.

It is time now, more than ever before, to recognise the writing on the wall and heed the call to rise to the occasion – as conscientious citizens and alongside all secular, socialist and democratically minded peoples in all faith tradition, non-communal ideological persuasions and political affiliations.

At the threshold of the 74th year of Indian Independence, and in commemorating the 70th year of the sacred document of the Constitution of India, the National Council of Churches in India, an expression of 30 National Churches present in all districts of the Country and 45 other networked nation-wide Christian and Ecumenical Councils, Organisations, and specialised Agencies, along with related social movements and inter-faith networks, commits to a reading and espousal of the Constitution of the country. This is done with a responsibility to preserve the edifice from any possible corruption, and with the desire and aspiration to build a nation of people that is aware of their constitutional rights and who will hold those in public office and civil service accountable to their statutory obligations.

Let us rise to the occasion, and build courage to envision and define a nation; a nation that perpetually holds itself accountable to securing and assuring Justice to the least in its fold, and thus to All.

Jai Hind!

God bless India . . .

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in India

On the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr . . .

On the occasion of the Id-ul-Fitr, the National Council of Churches in India wishes fellow pilgrims of the Islamic faith good health and cheer, and all prosperity that God promises to bestow upon them and all of humanity.

May the acts of love and charity represented in the zakat, and submission to the teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) as revealed in the Holy Quran, guide the community in its faith and witness, accompanied by the Angels for the glory of the One Holy God.

We are mindful of the communitarian aspect of the faith and the festivities that have to be curtailed on account of the recommended COVID related physical distancing and restrictions on gatherings. Despite the subdued celebration of the conclusion of the fast, we wish the community every joy and happiness on this day.

May God Almighty Most Beneficent and Most Merciful guard and guide the steps and destiny of every Muslim in this country and allover the world. May the spirit of Islam enrich our country and the World, and add meaning to the shared pilgrimage of all life on earth.

National Council of Churches is the National Platform of 30 Nation-wide Churches, 18 Regional Councils of Churches, 18 All India Christian Organisations, 7 Related Specialised Professional Agencies, and 2 Autonomous bodies, that is constituted for ecumenical learning and action.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary, NCCI

Commiting to the legacy and vision of Babasaheb Dr. B. R.. Ambedkar . . .

The 14th of April every year marks the beginning of a new year for many cultural, social, and linguistic groups in India. These festivities in no way cloud the remembrance of the birth anniversary of Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

Babasaheb Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is the Pride of India, and a Global Icon for all working on issues and concerns relating to liberty, equality and fraternity. He has made India proud in enshrining these justice values in the constitution of the Indian Union as it’s foundational pillars.

As Indians we are ever grateful to the contribution of this legal luminary, the first law minister of Free India, for the leadership he offered in constructing the legal framework for a country as varied and complex. His ardent campaign for universal adult franchise irrespective of educational standard or landholding is what holds India in good stead as the world’s renowned and tested democracy.

Babasaheb’s endeavour to nurture a country that is casteless has given rise to innumerable social and socio-political movements in the country that keep the balance tilted against casteist hegemony of a few. Ambedkar’s analysis proved that various forms of caste destroyed the socio-economic and cultural progress in India.

His legacy as a socio- political reformer has had a deep effect on modern India. His socio-political thought has acquired great respect across the political spectrum. It influenced various spheres of life and transformed the way India looks at socio-economic policies, education etc. Ambedkar thought influenced doing Christian theology in India, challenging at once the edification of the Indian Church as well as the relevance of its public witness.

Churches, Ecumenical councils, Christian organisations and specialised professional agencies related to the National Council of Churches in India, as well as it’s autonomous bodies and the standing fora, will do well to remember the contributions of Babasaheb and commit to nurture the constitutional and justice ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, in paving the way for a just, egalitarian and casteless India that we can all be proud of.

We bow to the legacy of this great soul that braved many an injustice and challenged unfair display of brute power. We pledge to work for an India that he dreamt in his times and that we will contextualise in ours.

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary NCCI
14th April 2020

At work with the resurrected Jesus, Protect WORK – Protect Life …

When most establishments including businesses and industrial establishments could resort to possible cost cutting on account of the impact of the lockdown, it is the labourer/ worker/ employee who is most vulnerable and seemingly dispensable.

The Government authorities have taken measures to make sure that this vulnerable section of society is not held ransom for what could play out in the days to come. The Ministry of Labour and Employment GOI has been issuing advisories to this effect from time to time (https://labour.gov.in/whats-new)

We request all our constituents, heads of churches, members of the NCCI General Body and Executive committee, partners of the NCCI-Urban Rural Mission (NCCI-URM), the India Peace Centre (IPC), the Indian Disability Ecumenical Accompaniment (NCCI-IDEA), and the National Ecumenical Forum for Gender and Sexual Diversities (NCCI-NEFGSD) to take cognizance of the matter and advise all their units and institutions to take necessary action to protect the interest of all categories of their employees.

We further request the above mentioned esteemed leaders and partners to advise their members, units and institutions to coordinate with local civil society organisations in ensuring that the work, rights and dignity of migrant workers and daily wage earners in their vicinity is protected. Every life counts. Protect WORK – Protect Life.

The Council is mindful of the noble initiatives of the Churches and the guidance of the leadership of each Church. This commitment to the cause of providing for the needs of the poor in our midst, even amidst the busy season of Lent and the comemoration of God raising Jesus from the dead, is commendable and appreciated.

We will continue to uphold each other and all concerned in prayer as we act decisively on the immediate fallout of the COVID-19 situation. We lift the dedication of the medical workers with thanksgiving and pray for their protection and for their families. We continue to pray for wisdom to all policy and law makers as they guide us through this context.

 

Rev. Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary NCCI
Easter Monday 2020

Living out our Resurrection – in being the in-line Church . . .

Jesus’ commitment to God’s purposes even unto death on the cross could not be held back by the grave. God raised Jesus to life to accompany all who are touched by the resurrection experience.

Touched by the experience of resurrection Mary proclaims that the grave could not contain the life that God gives, Peter and the disciples witness boldly than ever before amidst people of different tongues, and the migrants who already hit the road get back as the message of the Mission.

In having died with Jesus and risen to Christ we partake in this resurrection experience. Jesus accompanies us in our mission of living out the proclamation of this resurrection faith that the gates of hell shall never prevail. While thus proclaiming ‘O grave where is thy victory and death where is thy sting’, we are called to build a world where death will be conquered and life sustained.

The corona virus and the fear of contracting COVID-19 has put many of us in different countries behind closed doors; some had to hit the road to their homes; a few others with nothing to look forward to are seated outside tombs even in which they cannot find the love of their loved ones.

The saviour who comes alive to us in each such lived experience of today unites us as the Easter day passes, to listen to the experiences of resurrection – of those locked in, of those on the road, and the bereaved – to sit with them around the fire of the power of the Holy Spirit to chalk out a new way of living out faith that will conquer life-denying and life-negating contexts.

Traditionally we have gone to Church to experience the presence of Jesus the Christ in our coming together. The COVID-19 context invites us into the empty tombs with the words ‘come and see he is not here’, indicating that Jesus is ahead of us and already in galilee; and henceforth can be met there . . . an invitation to be in-line with Jesus in Galilee

May this ‘Sabbath’ forced on humanity, costly to many as it may be, heal us and bring us to join all of creation in witnessing the rising to life of the people of God together with all of creation, in which death will forever be conquered . . .

Let us greet one another with this kiss of Easter Peace – Jesus conquered death; We too can … and All will …

Rev.  Asir Ebenezer
General Secretary.

We shall overcome . . . COVID 19

Churches – from local congregations/ corps to the Synods/ Councils/ Conferences/ Territories, Christian individuals and institutions, have all responded to the corona crisis. Amidst dealing with their own fears of the situation and also adhering to the advisories of the administration, they have been in the thick of things also caring for the needy and vulnerable in their communities and neighborhood. Most church heads have also advised the faithful on what needs to be done.

Frontline missionary doctors, nurses and allied health care workers, chaplains and counsellors, have all been in the forefront battling the virus. The Christian Medical Association of India (CMAI) circulated an early note to help churches address and cope with the situation. The Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) have also moved in, coordinating community level responses through their community based networks across the country.

Faith communities worldwide and in India have been discovering new ways of gathering and worshiping together, even virtually. Many online platforms have been created, existing platforms activated and intensified, to nurture interaction and support amidst communities who now face situations of a lockdown albeit temporary. Faith leaders, pastors and theological educators are addressing issues relating to articulation of faith in these trying times and it’s implications for interpretation of faith and God.

We do not completely know how the situation will evolve but we do know that we can stop the virus in its course and break it down. We have done it before. Our scientists will help us. India has the opportunity to learn from countries that were in this spot a few weeks ago.

While cooperating with different measures that are put in place to curtail the spread of the virus we are also faced with the challenge of meeting the needs of the people affected by prolonged curfew in different parts of the country. We pray God for wisdom to guide neighborhood ministerial communities -local churches – to cooperate and strengthen initiatives of all well meaning people and institutions in the neighborhood to help vulnerable people tide over the situation

We appeal to Churches in every neighborhood to assist in some way those who are stranded and those that are homeless, those with disabilities and the elderly, those confined to their homes and limited mobility and those that are socially disadvantaged including the gender and sexual minorities. May our spaces where required and everywhere be sanctuaries and safe spaces for those in need. Where possible let us enhance possibilities for small traders to sell their produce. None should starve. May our people be angels to the unknown.

Pray for our medical missionaries and community workers who are exposed to the virus on account of the nature of their work; call and enquire if they need any support. It will be good to recognise and acknowledge the services of sanitary workers and such others in essential services without whose services we will be worse off. They will value our encouragement and tangible support in their work everyday. It will also be wise to use this time to plan for restoration of persons and communities once we come through this crises.

It is a tough ask, a hard task, yet a call to be Jesus in our times. We thank God for virtual spaces and communication facilities that we can use to extend pastoral counseling and care to all of God’s creation.

Let us encourage each other by sharing how we have been involved in helping people/ communities cope with the challenges of the times, as well as how we coped in dealing with our challenges. Write to communcations@ncci1914.com OR message on WhatsApp +91 72181 83675. These will be posted in the ‘NCCI constituents responding to COVID 19’ link on our website.

Finally, one thing we always know and it comes to us through Jesus our lord; ‘for one who believes all things are possible’. Be assured of the prayers and accompaniment of the leadership and secretaries of the NCCI. We shall overcome . .

Rev. Asir Ebenezer 

General Secretary, NCCI