Over 5000 Christians from all denominations gathered at Orissa Bhawan in New Delhi as a show of solidarity with the victims of India's worst ever communal riots against the Christians. Initially the crowd was prevented from proceeding to Orissa Bhawan by the police; however the crowd was subsequently allowed to approach the Orissa Bhawan. The gathering was a result of an appeal made by Christian Churches. Christian educational institutions remained closed throughout India.
Condemning the attacks against Christians, Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, Archbishop of the Bhubaneshwar Diocese of the Catholic Church said, "Over 50,000 people have been displaced and over 2000 homes destroyed." He further added that "the police were mere bystanders as the rioters' rampaged village after village." The known death toll has now mounted to 20. Many more are feared dead according to unconfirmed reports.
Teesta Setalvand, a prominent social activist also expressed her solidarity with the Christian Community, especially thanking them for their service to the nation through the numerous schools, colleges and medical instuitions and the service to the poor and the oppressed in the most backward regions of the country. Shabnam Hashmi, social activist also addressed the gathering reminding them that the targeting of Christians affected not only the Christains but every citizen of India.
Among others who addressed the assembly were Archbishop Vincent M. Concessao, Bishop Samson Das, Justice Kolse Patil, Rev. Walter David, Bishop Simon John, Mr Udit Raj, Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, Dr. John Dayal, Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, Dr V. K. Williams, Mr. P. C. Thomas, Member of Parliament and various prominent leaders.
A small delegation of Christian leaders led by Archbishop Raphael Cheenath presented a memorandum calling for urgent action to be taken.
Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
Evangelical Fellowship of India
New Delhi, India
Evangelical Fellowship of India (established 1951) is a charter member of World Evangelical Alliance, an accredited NGO with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations