Center to Invoke Article 355, Warns Karnataka and Orissa

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EFI News

September 19, 2008: The Center has given a stern warning to the States of Orissa and Karnataka under the Article 355 of the Constitution of India. The Center has asked the States to check the violence and the attacks on Churches or action will be taken.

The Article 355 states: "It shall be the duty of the Union to protect every State against external aggression and internal disturbance and to ensure that the government of every State is carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution."

Article 355 is a rarely used constitutional provision that typically holds out the State Government and imposition of President’s Rule if the warning of the Centre goes unheeded.

Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh): A Hindu Extremist group named Dharm Raksha Sena alleged to have set fire to the Cathedral Church of the Catholic Diocese of Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh on the evening of September 18, 2008, around 8.15 pm.

According to the reports, the miscreants unlawfully barged into the church premises and vandalised the church by breaking the window panes and they further desecrated the alter, Holy Cross and the Holy Statue of St. Peter and Paul. The perpetrators thereafter, burnt the Bible’s that were in the Church.

St. Aloysius College Principal Fr. Dr. Davis George stated that the members of the Dharm Raksha Sena lead by Yogesh Agarwal have threatened the Parish Priest Fr. Rocky that he will burn the Church, he said to have challenged the parish priest to stop him.

Hearing the news thousands of angry people gathered in the Church demanding immediate arrest of the culprits. They blocked all roads leading to City. Following this in Jabalpur state Government have posted police at Churches and Convents all over the State.

It is to be noted that the incident have taken place on the eve of the visit of the Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chauhan to the Jabalpur City as part of his Janashirvad Yatra, the election propaganda. The Christian community is planning to meet the Chief Minister asking for strict action on Mr. Yogesh Agarwal and security all over the state. On 31st August 2008 the same extremists group came to this same Church to burn the effigy of the Holy Father. At that time their plans were foiled by the police.

Condemned the incident Archbishop Dr. Leo Cornelio held an emergency meeting in Bhopal and asked for the immediate arrest of the culprits.

Following the incident Jabalpur diocese decided to close down all institutions run by the Christians in Jbalpur district and a rally was organised by the Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasang in protest against the systematic attacks on Christian community.

Delhi: A frenzied mob of around more than a thousand Hindutva radicals having affiliation to the Bajrang Dal and RSS vandalized the Rehma Faith Church pastored by Issac Mallick on September 17, 2008 in Peeragarhi, New Delhi.

While speaking to Evangelical Fellowship of India, Pastor Mallick informed us that the miscreants forcibly barged into the church and destroyed the wall of the church; they further brought down the roof of the church and threatened the pastor for not conducting the worship service again.

Thereafter again on September 18th the ravaged mob of around 400 radicals arrived again at the Church at around 12 pm with saffron flags and trishul (trident) and accused the pastor of forcible conversions and completely brought down the church. In front of the media and the police the mob pelted stones on the Christians who were present at the church. In this onslaught 3 church members along with a child received injuries.

Speaking to EFI, SHO Mr. Sanjeev Tomar of Paschim vihar, Delhi informed us that a complain has been registered and police protection has been provided infront of the Church.

EFI requests prayers for the safety and wellbeing of Christians in Jabalpur and Delhi. We request you to voice your concerns at these addresses:

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
Room No. 152,
South Block,
New Delhi, 110001
(O) Tel : +91-11-23012312, 23013149
(O) Fax: +91-11-23016857, 23014255, 23019334
Email: [email protected] & [email protected]

Smt. Pratibha Patil
Hon'ble President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi, 110001
(O) Tel: +91-11-23017290
(O) Fax: +91-11-23017824
Email: [email protected]

Shri. Shivraj Singh Chauhan
Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh
(O) Tel: +91-(0755)-2440241, 2440242
(O) Fax: +91-(0755)-2441781

Shri. Makrand Deouskar
Superintendent of Police, Jabalpur
(O) Tel: +91-(0761)–2676111
Email : [email protected]

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