September 27, 2008: Bomb blast in Delhi kills and injures while communal forces continue to burn churches and terrorize innocent Christians in Orissa.
EFI Condemns Bomb Blast:
The Evangelical Fellowship of India condemns the bomb blast in New Delhi on September 27, 2008. One child was killed and 23 people wounded when an explosion ripped through a market. EFI requests prayer for the bereaved families.
Church Damaged in Kupaguda:
In the ongoing violence against Christian community an Independent Baptist Church was damaged yesterday in Kupaguda village.
2nd Day of Dharna:
Christians continue their sit-in Dharna for the second day. Devotional songs and reading from the Bible continued throughout the day. Religious leaders from various faiths, social activists and political leaders participated.
Former Prime Minister Shri Deva Gowda Joins Dharna:After sitting on Dharna at the Raj Ghat on 23rd September, to protest against the atrocities against Christians in Karnataka and Orissa, today again Shri Deva Gowda flew in from Bangalore to join the Christian Dharna. He condemned the Orissa government’s inaction in controlling the ongoing violence against Christian community. He also expressed anguish at the advice of the Orissa government against his visit to Orissa, citing insufficient security as the reason.
Political Propaganda:Ms Amarjit Kaur of AITUC stated that the ongoing violence against minority communities is politically motivated. Due to the coming national elections the militant Hindu nationalists have labelled and demonised the Muslim community as terrorists and the Christian community as indulging in forcible conversions.
Mr. Shahid Siddiqui, the general secretary of the Bahujan Samaj Party spoke against the dangerous ideology of hatred propagated by communal forces which is dividing India and promoting persecution of the minorities.
CBCI Statement: Some excerpts: Statement of the Executive Body of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India released in Bangalore on September 26, 2008 demanded:
1. That stronger and stringent action be taken against all kinds of anti-social and anti-religious elements that violate human rights and terrorize innocent people;
2. That culprits should be brought to book and legal action be taken against them;
3. That adequate compensation be immediately given to the affected people and institutions;
4. That CBI inquiry be immediately ordered to investigate the Orissa incidents and their nexus to attacks on Christian communities in other States;
5. That a ban be imposed on fundamentalist groups that train "terrorists" under the banner of Hindutva or any other name;
6. That the leaders who act on a communal agenda, or who inspire organized violence against persons of another community, or who use religion for political purposes be restrained.
7. That in the event of people taking the law into their own hands, the police be instructed to act in accordance with the demands of law and order, with justice and without prejudice.
We perceive that the Hindutva opposition to Christian activities derives from the fear that many of the deprived communities may be so empowered as to assert their own rights and resist exploitation. No matter how great the threat that may confront us, we cannot renounce the heritage of love and justice that Jesus left us. He said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed." (Gospel of Luke 4:18). When Jesus went about healing the sick, associating with outcasts and assisting the poor, those works were not allurements but the concrete realization of God's plan for humankind: to build a society founded on love, justice and social harmony. The Church therefore is walking in the footsteps of her Master when she exerts herself to the utmost for the benefit of humanity, especially those who are poor and marginalized.
Ultimately, Christian response to harassment and persecution may be expressed in one word: forgiveness, and this while we seek to have our rights safeguarded and justice done. If however, some choose to consider the sufferance of the Christian community as a weakness, they are seriously mistaken. We wish to remind everyone that we are citizens of this great country. We too have had a share in shaping this civilization and continue to contribute a great deal to the growth and development of this nation. The Catholic Church in India has always played an active role in promoting inter-religious dialogue and inter-religious harmony. It is with absolute resolve to live in harmony and in happy collaboration with everyone around us, that we seek to serve God and our Nation.
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