Former PM takes up the issue

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EFI News

Dharna by Former PM and Janata Dal (S) President H.D.Deve Gowda
Archbishop Bernard Moras snubs CM ; Incidents in Uttarakhand, Haryana and UP

September 23, 2008: Former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) President Shri H D Deve Gowda along with other senior party leaders and representatives of different religious groups staged a sit-in (Dharna) at the Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi, Rajghat, on the afternoon of September 23, 2008 from 12.00 noon to 3 p.m.

The sit-in was in protest against the ongoing anti-Christian violence in Karnataka, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Kerela and other parts of the country by Sangh Parivar activists.

Shri Deve Gowda has been demanding an immediate ban on Bajrang Dal, an extremist arm of Sangh Parivar, and imposition of President’s Rule in Karnataka in the wake of the atrocities and attacks on minorities and their institutions.

In a letter to the Prime minister of India, Shri Deve Gowda wrote, “Karnataka has today emerged as the worst terror and communal hub among all the southern states.”

Seeking a ban on Bajrang Dal he wrote: “Violence and attacks on innocent people, irrespective of their religious beliefs, have to be condemned in all its manifestations. Terrrists of all hues and shades are undoubtedly merchants of death and one cannot be excluded just because he chants ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and holds the tricolour even while mercilessly tearing apart Mother India’s secular fabric and cauing irrepariable damage to her unity, as in Orissa and Karnataka, and territorial integrity as in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s time the Government calls a spade a spade ancts decisively against organisations such as the Bajrang Dal and Sri Ram Sena, another Hindutva militia, which has perpetrated senseless violence against minorities in Karnataka recently.

Shri Deve Gowda urges the people of the state not to fall prey to the Goebbelsian propaganda of the Sangh Parivar on alleged fraudulent conversions, cow slaughter etc. “Rumor mongering is their forte and riots their favourite pastime. Let us together work to protect and preserve our cosmopolitan character and Karnataka’s reputation as a land of peace. Let all secular forces stop fighting each other and unitedly confront this biggest enemy,” the statement concluded.

Bangalore, (Karnataka): On the afternoon of September 22, 2008, The Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa along with his cabinet Ministers called on Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore. The Archbishop responded: "Sir, we thank you for coming to the Bishop's House, but the whole church in Karnataka is hurt. I am telling you publicly that we are very hurt. Tell me, will you keep quiet if the garbha gudi (sanctum sanctorum) of a temple is destroyed? For us, the Blessed Sacrament is the living body of Christ and we are ready to shed our blood for it. We can't tell you how much we are hurt because the Blessed Sacrament has been exposed," an emotional Archbishop told Yeddyurappa and his Cabinet ministers when they called on him.

The Archbishop, then handed over a memorandum seeking a change in judicial probe ordered by the state government - it should be headed by a sitting judge of the high court or a retired judge of apex court, but not a retired judge of the high court (as decided by the government) in order to instill confidence among Christians. "Action should be taken immediately and should not be passed off as mere minor incidents of theft and burglary where there is no loss of life or damage is minimal as stated by the Police Commissioner (Shankar M Bidari) of Bangalore, thus trivialising the matter and diverting the attention of people," the memorandum read.

Besides, the Archbishop sought the release of Christians arrested or detained (post the September 14th attack on churches) and scrapping of cases filed against them.

Dehra Dun (Uttarakhand): In a bizarre incident that led to scare amongst Christians in Uttarakhand, a Christian Catholic priest and a women volunteer were found murdered in their ‘ashram’ in Chotta Rampur village near Herbertpur in Vikasnagar tehsil of Dehra Dun district today.

According to Harish Verma, circle officer of the police, Sadhu Astey (56), a Catholic preacher and his disciple, Mercy (32), were found strangulated to death in “Samarpanalaya”, an ashram run by them.

Sadhu Astey, a priest and healer was a respected man in the entire area and was running a prayer hall. The dead bodies have been brought to Dehra Dun for postmortem.

It was the fourth attack on Christian missionaries in Dehra Dun district in the past few months.

Gonda (Uttar Pradesh): Bishop Simon reports: Pastor Sunil Rana is arrested in Gonda District of Uttar Pradesh on false grounds of forceful conversion and is in police custody. He was supposed to be released today morning by 8:00 a.m., but his bail was rejected by the Chief Inspector and the case has been forwarded to the SDM (Sub-District Magistrate) Gonda, Uttar Pradesh.

Ambala (Haryana): Bishop Simon reports: Police have warned of attacks on the offices and staff and workers of Believers’ Church in the state of Haryana. On the morning of September 22, around 20 people were seen moving in suspiciously in three vehicles around the State office of the Church. As a result 20 policemen were deployed around the Church office.

The timing of this incident has come when the party meeting of Bajrang Dal activists comprising of cadres from all over Haryana is taking place in the city of Ambala.

Evangelical Fellowship of India request your prayers for the protection of Christians in the BJP run States. Also we request you to pray for authorities to take substantial action against the oppressors of the Minorities.

EFI also requests prayers that more secular leaders like our former PM, Shri. H D Deve Gowda shall come forward for the civil liberties in India.

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