Anti-Christian violence, dominate NIC meet in India

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World War II veteran quits Kalinga war

Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Oct.13, Soumyajit Pattnaik reports for Hindustan Times: THIS SOLDIER fought in World War II against Germany and Japan but failed to put up a fight against Hindu fundamentalists. Threatened by Hindus to change his religion, Joginder Singh was forced to leave his house in Kalinga area of Kandhamal district.

Singh, 89, too has shifted to a relief centre located at the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) building in Bhubaneswar Hindustan Times had recently reported about a serving soldier, Motilal Pradhan, who too shifted to a relief camp following threats.

Singh, originally from Amritsar in Punjab, has been living in Kalinga area of Kandhamal district, 40 km from Phulbani, for the last 43 years now. For the last 17 days, Singh has been staying in the relief centre following the threats.

"In 1939, I joined the fighter squadron of the Royal Air Force. England was our base and I went on missions over Germany with the bombers. I was with the fighter squadron, which was flanking the bombers. Bombers are unarmed and have got no defence.

We were protecting the bombers," said Singh.

Singh was baptised in Lahore at the age of 19 and he then moved to Madras where his father was a civil surgeon.

After the war, Singh returned to India in 1945 and started working in the Exploratory Tubewells Organisation as a mechanical drilling engineer. In 1953, he came on deputation to the Orissa government as a drilling engineer.

In 1965, he was posted in Kandhamal and his first assignment was to explore water supply to the D.A.V School in Kalinga. Recalling his stay for 43 years in Kandhamal, Singh said: "When I moved in, the district was called Phulbani and the area was very peaceful. There were no divisions among people on the basis of caste and religion. I blame politics entirely for the sudden turn of events. It's because of politics that innocent persons have lost their lives." There was no attack on Singh's house till he decided to come to Bhubaneswar, but he was threatened to change his religion.

"I don't know what happened to my house after I left Kalinga.

But I thought it fit to come here after getting threats to change religion".

About his future, Singh said, "My Lord has all along with me. My future is in my Lord's hands".

Anti-Christian violence, terror dominate NIC meet

New Delhi, Oct. 13
(PTI): The anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka and terrorism today dominated proceedings of the National Integration Council (NIC) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who said this "mindless violence" would be met with "requisite amount of force" tempered by justice.

"...Violence seems to be permeating society today, across the length and breadth of our country -- whether it be terrorist violence, whether it is violence with an ideological veneer such as that adopted by the Left-wing extremists, or communal violence," Singh said inaugurating the day-long meeting of the Council.

The 146-member Council comprising Union Ministers, all the Chief Ministers, leaders of national and regional political parties and eminent personalities, saw many participants demanding stringent action against outfits like Bajrang Dal and VHP which have been blamed for anti-Christian violence.

However, Chief Ministers and leaders belonging to BJP strongly defended their governments against criticism of the violence against Christians and described Bajrang Dal and VHP as "nationalist force".

In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said perhaps the most disturbing and dangerous aspect today was the "assault" on the country's composite culture.

"Recent tragic events in Orissa, Karnataka and Assam have pained all right-thinking persons. There are clashes between Hindus, Christians, Muslims and tribal groups. An atmosphere of hatred and violence is being artificially generated," he said.

Singh said there were forces deliberately encouraging such tendencies and spawning militant outfits which need to be firmly dealt with.

Against a strong demand from within the UPA for banning Bajrang Dal and VHP, blamed for anti-Christian violence, and imposition of President's rule in Orissa, the Prime Minister appeared to reflect his dilemma on the issue.

"There has been considerable debate in our country on how to handle these issues of sectarian and communal violence. There cannot be two views on the fact that such attempts must be thwarted with the full power of the State that is intent on protecting its democratic foundations.

Singh said those who threatened communal harmony, integrity and peaceful co-existence deserve very deterrent punishment.

"In doing so, we need to be bound by the framework of our Constitution and the political democratic process that enables us to reconcile differences through dialogue. We should not be provoked to suspend or subvert a democratic process in the search for solutions," he said.

Participating in the deliberations, CPI leader A B Bardhan asked why Article 355 has not been invoked in Orissa and the state not told to run in accordance with the Constitution.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury wondered why action has not been taken against Bajrang Dal under the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act and Article 355 not invoked in Orissa.

BJP President Rajnath Singh opposed sending of any advisories to Orissa and Karnataka under Article 355, saying it would be discriminatory to do so because communal violence was taking place in other states also.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik sought to project the violence against Christians in his state as a manifestation of "conflict of interest" between Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, whose state also witnessed violence against Christians, accused certain Christian organisations of creating "disharmony and social tension".

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell, General Secretary of Evangelical Fellowship of India said, “Mr. B S Yeddyurappa's statement reveals the foul play of BJP to divide the church.”

Mother Mary statue damaged in Coimbatore; sparks protests

Coimbatore, (TamilNadu) Oct. 09
(PTI): A statue of Mother Mary was found damaged at a church in the city of Coimbatore, sparking off protests by members of the Christian community.

Some unidentified persons had broken the glass cabin in which the statue was kept in the church in the Ganapathy area in the wee hours today, police said adding that the two fingers of the statue were damaged in the attack.

Over 100 people squatted on the road near the church, demanding immediate arrest of the culprits and protection of the churches.

According to a complaint by the church authorities, the glass cabin was seen intact till around Wednesday midnight. The head of the church and some others around 4.30 am found the cabin broken and the statue damaged, police said.

Senior police officials rushed to the spot and assured the agitators that immediate action would be taken against the culprits.

Neighboring Erode district for the past few days has also seen stray incidents of attacks on churches.

Rev. Dr. Richard Howell
General Secretary
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