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Darjeeling’s ‘miracle’ a big attraction

Posted by jytmkh on November 26, 2010

Darjeeling’s ‘miracle’ a big attraction Published Date: November 26, 2010 Tags: Claritian congregation, crucifix, Darjeeling, miracle Photo of the ‘bleeding’ crucifixes in Sonada Today’s Indian News Bishops face hurdles over priests’ demands Goa Hindus take aim at Portuguese record Church people demand protection for domestic workers Holy Land gift for jubilarian priests Relief for endosulfan victims welcomed A bishop in eastern India says the “first miracle” in his diocese has strengthened his people’s faith and attracted people of other religions. “Our people are overjoyed at the first public miracle,” Bishop Stephen Lepcha of Darjeeling told ucanews.com on Nov. 26. “This has strengthened the faith of the people,” he added. The bishop said the “miracle” occurred Nov. 20 when a priest and two couples preached a retreat for some novices of Claritian congregation at Dirnberger Niketan, Sonada, in West Bengal state. A crucifix began to bleed when a woman preacher, a recent convert from Islam, prayed in her room in the morning. “Soon other crucifixes, rosaries and a big statue of Mary in the house began to bleed,” the prelate narrated. Bishop Lepcha said he visited the place the next day and saw the crucifix and the Marian statue. He also met Mary, the Muslim who became a Catholic on Aug. 7. The prelate quoted the woman from Kerala, southern India, as saying the Blessed Virgin had separate messages for the bishop, priests and people. While the Blessed Virgin wants everyone to become holy, she promised the prelate “mighty things” in his diocese. Her message to priests was that they should become conscious of how they celebrate Mass while she wants the public to repent and pray without ceasing. Bishop Lepcha said when he saw the woman falling into a “trance” he expressed his desire to take the Gospel to Bhutan. The prelate said the woman told him, “I will be there.” On Nov. 22, the woman’s both hands started bleeding and she screamed with pain. The bishop said when he wiped the blood from her hands with cotton he found no hole in the hands. Then the woman told him that his sins were forgiven when he wiped the blood. The bishop says hundreds of people, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhist monks, are flocking to the novitiate. Salesian Father Martin, local parish priest, said the crucifixes and statue bled for four days. According to him, some 20,000 people have visited the place after the “miracle” was reported. Source: ucanews.com

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Assam Blast: Video from You Tube

Posted by jytmkh on October 31, 2008

Serial blasts in Assam

more than 64 died

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13 Serial blasts rocked Assam, 6 in Guwahati city; 47 dead more than 280 injured

Posted by jytmkh on October 30, 2008

BREAKING NEWS FROM GUWAHATI

TEXT AND IMAGES BY NANDA KIRATI DEWAN [EXCLUSIVE FIRST PHOTOS FROM THE BLAST SITES]

Dead bodies are carried down on a hand puller in the Ganeshguri area in Guwahati on Thursday October 30, 2008 after powerful bombs exploded in four major locations of Guwahati city i.e. Fancy Bazar, Pan Bazar, DC Court and Ganeshguri Chariali. So far 8 people are feared to have died and expected to increase, more details are awaited. Reports last came in bomb have been exploded in Bongaigoan, Barpeta, Kokrajhar districts of Assam.Photo by Nanda Kirati Dewan (UB Photos)

Dead bodies are carried down on a hand puller in the Ganeshguri area in Guwahati on Thursday October 30, 2008 after powerful bombs exploded in four major locations of Guwahati city i.e. Fancy Bazar, Pan Bazar, DC Court and Ganeshguri Chariali. So far 8 people are feared to have died and expected to increase, more details are awaited. Reports last came in bomb have been exploded in Bongaigoan, Barpeta, Kokrajhar districts of Assam.Photo by Nanda Kirati Dewan (UB Photos)

 

Burning Vehicle are seen in the blast sit of Kachari in Guwahati on Thursday October 30, 2008 after powerful bombs exploded in four major locations of Guwahati city i.e. Fancy Bazar, Pan Bazar, DC Court and Ganeshguri Chariali. So far 8 people are feared to have died and expected to increase, more details are awaited. Reports last came in bomb have been exploded in Bongaigoan, Barpeta, Kokrajhar districts of Assam. Photo by Nanda Kirati Dewan (UB Photos)

Burning Vehicle are seen in the blast sit of Kachari in Guwahati on Thursday October 30, 2008 after powerful bombs exploded in four major locations of Guwahati city i.e. Fancy Bazar, Pan Bazar, DC Court and Ganeshguri Chariali. So far 8 people are feared to have died and expected to increase, more details are awaited. Reports last came in bomb have been exploded in Bongaigoan, Barpeta, Kokrajhar districts of Assam. Photo by Nanda Kirati Dewan (UB Photos)

 

30 OCTOBER 4:25 PM, GUWAHATI: In between 11.30 to 12 noon powerful than Diwali crakers sound were heard in series that too with lots of smoke and outcry of the masses. It was evident that bomb had blast. Assam was rocked by a series of 13 powerful bomb blasts on Thursday morning, six in Guwahati city, two each in Bongaigain, Barpeta Road and Kokrajhar and one in Barpeta leaving at least 47 people dead and 282 injured at the time of filing this report. Injured have been shifted toGuwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH)  and Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital (MMCH).

Wel placed sources informed this correspondent that the four blasts in Guwahati city occurred simultaneously at Ganeshguri, Kachari DC Court ,  market hub Fancy Bazaar and educational institution hub Paan Bazaar between 11.30-11.35 am. Of the four bombs, one at the Ganeshguri was planted in a car.Reliable police officials did not rule out the involvement of Bangladesh-based terrorist group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) in the blasts.

Curfew has been imposed in all the major road of the city. City traffic has sealed all the movements of vehicles other than press persons. Red alert has been declared across the state while the Kamrup district has been put under Section 144. In Guwahati, angry mob set a police van and a fire tender on fire. Mobs has vandalized every thing around them. They were seen attacking press persons as well. Police personnels were forced to open fire to disperse the crowd and the mob.

Panic struck as all phone lines were jammed. The city has a wear and tear look now. Most of the blasts took place in busy marketplaces. Being the festival of Bhai Dooj, the markets were quite crowded which caused more casualties.

From: Himalayan Beacononline

 

 

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Christian-Muslim statement on world financial crisis

Posted by jytmkh on October 16, 2008

The Common Word group of Muslim scholars met Christian leaders and theologians in Cambridge and London this week. Discussions in this interfaith dialogue have mostly been theological, based on the idea that the love of God and neighbour is a core dogma of both religions. In a statement on Wednesday, they included a paragraph about the world financial crisis. There have been lots of comments from various faith leaders about the crisis, but this is the first Christian-Muslim statement I’ve seen.

Here’s the paragraph:

We live in an increasingly global world that brings with it increased interdependence.  The closer we are drawn together by this globalisation and interdependence, the more urgent is the need to understand and respect one another in order to find a way out of our troubles.  Meeting at a time of great turbulence in the world financial system our hearts go out to the many people throughout the world whose lives and livelihood are affected by the current crisis.  When a crisis of this magnitude occurs, we are all tempted to think solely of ourselves and our families and ignore the treatment of minorities and the less fortunate.  In this conference we are celebrating the shared values of love of God and love of neighbour, the basis of A Common Word, whilst reflecting self-critically on how often we fall short of these standards.  We believe that the divine commandment to love our neighbour should prompt all people to act with compassion towards others, to fulfil their duty of helping to alleviate misery and hardship.  It is out of an understanding of shared values that we urge world leaders and our faithful everywhere to act together to ensure that the burden of this financial crisis, and also the global environmental crisis, does not fall unevenly on the weak and the poor.  We must seize the opportunity for implementing a more equitable global economic system that also respects our role as stewards of the earth’s resources.

Do you see any link between faith and the financial crisis? Could this crisis lead to tensions between people of different religions — or bring them closer together?

Cranmer’s Comment: Christian-Muslim statement on the global financial crisis

This could, of course, be a Jewish-Christian-Muslim-Hindu-Sikh-Buddhist-Jedi Knight statement, and it is all very pleasant indeed. Words are nice, especially the word nice, but they do not feed the starving, house the homeless, heal the depressed, of provide jobs for the unemployed. And where is there any mention of prayer?

It is one thing to talk of respect and understanding on a human level, for this is the very nexus of loving one’s neighbour. But talking of the ‘shared values of love of God and love of neighbour’ is precisely the sort of pseudo-theological multi-faith pap which confuses the faithful and leads people astray. Jesus defined one’s neighbour as everyone, including our enemies. The Qur’an makes it clear that the Muslim’s neighbours are ranked, with the kuffar treated somewhat differently from the ummah. The God of the Christians is not the God of the Muslims. One is YHWH, the other is Allah; one is immanent, the other is aloof; one has revealed himself, the other cannot be revealed; one is Father, the other is unknown and unknowable; one became man and dwelt among us; the other cannot condescend; one is mutable and responsive, the other is immutable and immovable; one is agape, the other is more judgemental; one is Trinity in unity, the other is unity; one died for us that we may be redeemed, the other refutes that Jesus died.

But as long as we can all agree that God is the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent transcendent creator, there can be a joint strategy for dealing with global financial meltdown.

Isn’t that so very heartening?

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Stop the politics of division

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

Last week, in responding to some of the hundreds of reactions i received to my September 28 column on the anti-Christian violence in Orissa and Karnataka, i tackled the vexed question of conversions to Christianity, which many readers argued constituted a provocation for the violence. But the conversion issue is not purely a religious one: behind it lies a profoundly political question, one which goes to the heart of the nature of the Indian state, and indeed to the very idea of India itself.

In my original piece i argued that violence is part of a contemptible political project whose closest equivalent can in fact be found in the ‘Indian Mujahideen’ bomb blasts. Both actions are anti-national; both aim to divide the country by polarising people along their religious identities; and both hope to profit politically from such polarisation. In this context, the issue of conversion becomes a diversion. Because to say that conversions are somehow inherently wrong would accord legitimacy to the rhetoric of the Bajrang Dal and its cohorts – who declare openly that conversions from Hinduism to any other faith are anti-national. Implicit is the idea that to be Hindu is somehow more natural, more authentically Indian, than to be anything else, and that to lapse from Hinduism is to dilute one’s identification with the motherland.

As a Hindu, I reject that notion utterly. I reject the presumption that the purveyors of hatred speak for all or even most Hindus. Hinduism, we are repeatedly told, is a tolerant faith. The central tenet of tolerance is that the tolerant society accepts that which it does not understand and even that which it does not like, so long as it is not sought to be imposed upon the unwilling. One cannot simultaneously extol the tolerance of Hinduism and attack Christian homes and places of worship.

And as an Indian, i would argue that the whole point about India is the rejection of the idea that religion should be a determinant of nationhood. Our nationalist leaders never fell into the insidious trap of agreeing that, since Partition had established a state for Muslims, what remained was a state for Hindus. To accept the idea of India you have to spurn the logic that divided the country in 1947. Your Indianness has nothing to do with which God you choose to worship, or not.

To suggest that an Indian Hindu becoming Christian is an anti-national act not only insults the millions of patriotic Indians who trace their Christi

 

anity to more distant forebears, including the Kerala Christians whose families converted to the faith of Saint Thomas centuries before the ancestors of many of today’s Hindu chauvinists even learned to think of themselves as Hindu. It is an insult, too, to the national leaders, freedom fighters, educationists, scientists, military men, journalists and sportsmen of the Christian faith who have brought so much glory to the country through their actions and sacrifices. It is, indeed, an insult to the very idea of India. Nothing could be more anti-national than that.

One reader, Raju Rajagopal, writing “as a fellow Hindu”, expressed himself trenchantly in describing ‘terrorism’ and ‘communal riots’ as “two sides of the same coin, which systematically feed on each other.” The only difference, he added, is “that the first kind of terrorism is being unleashed by a fanatical few who swear no allegiance to the idea of India, whereas the second kind of terror is being unleashed by those who claim to love India more dearly than you and i, who are part of the electoral politics of India, and who know the exact consequences of their actions: creating deep fissures between communities, whose horrific consequences the world has witnessed once too often in recent decades.”

That is the real problem here. Nehru had warned that the communalism of the majority was especially dangerous because it could present itself as nationalist. Yet, Hindu nationalism is not Indian nationalism. And it has nothing to do with genuine Hinduism either. A reader bearing a Christian name wrote to tell me that when his brother was getting married to a Hindu girl, the Hindu priest made a point of saying to him before the ceremony words to the effect of: “When i say God, i don’t mean a particular God.” As this reader commented: “It’s at moments like that that i can’t help but feel proud to be Indian and to be moved by its religiosity – even though i’m an atheist.”

As a Hindu, I relish pointing out that i belong to the only major religion in the world that does not claim to be the only true religion. Hinduism asserts that all ways of belief are equally valid, and Hindus readily venerate the saints, and the sacred objects, of other faiths. Hinduism is a civilisation, not a dogma. There is no such thing as a Hindu heresy. If a Hindu decides he wishes to be a Christian, how does it matter that he has found a different way of stretching his hands out towards God? Truth is one, Vivekananda reminded all Hindus, but there are many ways of attaining it.

So, the rejection of other forms of worship, other ways of seeking the Truth, is profoundly un-Hindu, as well as being un-Indian. The really important debate is not about conversions, but between the unifiers and the dividers – between those who think all Indians are “us”, whichever God they choose to worship, and those who think that Indians can be divided into “us” and “them”. The reduction of non-Hindus to second-class status in their own homeland is unthinkable. It would be a second Partition: this time a partition not just in the Indian soil, but in the Indian soul.

It is time for all of us to say: stop the politics of division. We are all Indians.

 Source: SHASHI ON SUNDAY The Times of India

 

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Hindu Fundamentals are Under Attack

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

Shashi Tharoor

There are basically two kinds of politics in our country: the politics of division and the politics of unity. The former is by far the more popular, as politicians seek to slice and dice the electorate into ever-smaller configurations of caste, language and religion, the better to appeal to such particularist identities in the quest for votes. But what has happened in recent weeks in Orissa, and then in parts of Karnataka, and that threatens to be unleashed again in tribal districts of Gujarat, is a new low in our political life. The attacks on Christian families, the vandalism of their places of worship, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, and the horrific rapes, mutilations and burning alive that have been reported, have nothing to do with religious beliefs – neither those of the victims nor of their attackers. They are instead part of a contemptible political project whose closest equivalent can in fact be found in the “Indian Mujahideen” bomb blasts in Delhi, Jaipur, and Ahmedabad, which were set to go off in hospitals, marketplaces and playgrounds. Both actions are anti-national; both aim to divide the country by polarising people along their religious identities; and both hope to profit politically from such polarisation.

We must not let either set of terrorists prevail.

The murderous mobs of Orissa sought to kill Christians and destroy their homes and places of worship, both to terrorise the people and to send the message ‘you do not belong here’. What have we come to that a land that has been a haven of tolerance for religious minorities throughout its history should have sunk so low? India’s is a civilisation that, over millennia, has offered refuge and, more important, religious and cultural freedom, to Jews, Parsis, Muslims and several varieties of Christians. Christianity arrived on Indian soil with St Thomas the Apostle (‘Doubting Thomas’), who came to the Kerala coast some time before 52 AD and was welcomed on shore by a flute-playing Jewish girl. He made many converts, so there are Indians today whose ancestors were Christian well before any European discovered Christianity (and before the forebearers of many of today’s Hindu chauvinists were even conscious of themselves as Hindus). The India where the wail of the muezzin routinely blends with the chant of mantras at the temple, and where the tinkling of church bells accompanies the gurudwara’s reading of verses from the Guru Granth Sahib, is an India of which we can all be proud. But there is also the India that pulled down the Babri Masjid, that conducted the pogrom in Gujarat and that now unleashes its hatred on the 2% of our population who are Christians.

As a believing Hindu, I am ashamed of what is being done by people claiming to be acting in the name of my faith. I have always prided myself on belonging to a religion of astonishing breadth and range of belief; a religion that acknowledges all ways of worshiping God as equally valid – indeed, the only major religion in the world that does not claim to be the only true religion. Hindu fundamentalism is a contradiction in terms, since Hinduism is a religion without fundamentals; there is no such thing as a Hindu heresy. How dare a bunch of goondas shrink the soaring majesty of the Vedas and the Upanishads to the petty bigotry of their brand of identity politics? Why should any Hindu allow them to diminish Hinduism to the raucous self-glorification of the football hooligan, to take a religion of awe-inspiring tolerance and reduce it to a chauvinist rampage?

Hinduism, with its openness, its respect for variety, its acceptance of all other faiths, is one religion which has always been able to assert itself without threatening others. But this is not the Hindutva spewed in hate-filled diatribes by communal politicians. It is, instead, the Hinduism of Swami Vivekananda, who, at Chicago’s World Parliament of Religions in 1893, articulated best the liberal humanism that lies at the heart of his (and my) creed. Vivekananda asserted that Hinduism stood for “both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.” He quoted a hymn: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.” Vivekananda’s vision – summarised in the credo Sarva Dharma Sambhava – is, in fact, the kind of Hinduism practised by the vast majority of Hindus, whose instinctive acceptance of other faiths and forms of worship has long been the vital hallmark of Indianness.

Vivekananda made no distinction between the actions of Hindus as a people (the grant of asylum, for instance) and their actions as a religious community (tolerance of other faiths): for him, the distinction was irrelevant because Hinduism was as much a civilisation as a set of religious beliefs. “The Hindus have their faults,” Vivekananda added, but “they are always for punishing their own bodies, and never for cutting the throats of their neighbours. If the Hindu fanatic burns himself on the pyre, he never lights the fire of Inquisition.”

It is sad that this assertion of Vivekananda’s is being contradicted in the streets by those who claim to be reviving his faith in his name. “The Hindu militant,” Amartya Sen has observed, presents India as “a country of unquestioning idolaters, delirious fanatics, belligerent devotees, and religious murderers.” To discriminate against another, to attack another, to kill another, to destroy another’s place of worship, is not part of the Hindu dharma so magnificently preached by Vivekananda. Why are the voices of Hindu religious leaders not being raised in defence of these fundamentals of Hinduism?

(Originally published in the Times of India, September 29, 2008)

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Respect an Individual’s Decision

Posted by jytmkh on October 14, 2008

Shashi Tharoor

My last column has triggered an overwhelming response. Gratifyingly, many readers (including several describing themselves as believing Hindus) are as outraged as I was at the anti-Christian thuggery that has been perpetrated in the name of Hinduism. Killers of children are not Hindus, even if they claim to be acting on behalf of their faith; it is as simple as that. Murder does not have a religion — even when it claims a religious excuse.

Of course, it is easy enough to condemn anti-Christian violence because it is violence, and because it represents a threat to law and order as well as to that nebulous idea we call India’s ‘image’. But an argument that several readers have made needs to be faced squarely. In the words of one correspondent: could the violence ”be a reaction to provocations from those religions that believe that only their path is the right path and the rest of humanity are infidels?” He went on to critique ”the aggressive strategy being pursued by some interests in the US to get people in India converted en masse to Christianity, not necessarily by means fair.”

In his view, ”aggressive evangelism directed against India by powerful church organisations in America enjoying enormous money power, has only one focused objective — to get India into the Christian fold, as they have succeeded, to a considerable extent, in South Korea and are now in the process of conquering Mongolia.” Arguing that ”mass conversions of illiterates and semi-literates — and they also happen to be poor, extremely poor” is exploitative, he concluded: ”powerful organisations from abroad with enormous money power indulging in mass conversion” are ”a destabilising factor provoking retaliation”.

I have great respect for the reader in question, but on this issue I strongly disagree. I cannot accept any justification for the thugs’ actions, nor am I prepared to see behind the violence an ”understandable” Hindu resistance to Christian zealotry. Put simply, no non-violent activity, however provocative, can ever legitimise violence. We must reject and denounce assaults and killings, whatever they may claim to be reacting to. Our democracy will not survive if we condone people resorting to violence in pursuit of their ends, however genuine and heartfelt their grievances may be. The whole point of our system of governance is that it allows all Indians to resolve their concerns through legitimate means, including seeking legal redress or political change — but not violence.

Let us assume, for the purposes of argument, that Christian missionaries are indeed using a variety of inducements (development assistance, healthcare, education, sanitation, even chicanery — though there is only anecdotal evidence of missionary ”trickery”) to win converts for their faith. So what? If a citizen of India feels that his faith has not helped him to find peace of mind and material fulfillment, why should he not have the option of trying a different item on the spiritual menu? Surely freedom of belief is any Indian’s fundamental right under our democratic Constitution, however ill-founded his belief might be.

And if Hindu zealots suspect that conversion was fraudulently obtained, why do they not offer counter-inducements rather than violence? Instead of destroying churches, perhaps a Hindu-financed sewage system or paathshala might reopen the blinkered eyes of the credulous. Better still, perhaps Christians and Hindus (and Muslims and Baha’is, for that matter) could all compete in our villages to offer material temptations for religious conversions. The development of our poor country might actually accelerate with this sort of spiritual competition.

Of course i am being frivolous there, but my point is a serious one. Freedom of conscience is not a negotiable right. An India where an individual is not free to change his or her faith would be inconceivable. Some have been citing Gandhiji’s criticism of conversions, but his view was based on an eclectic, all-embracing view of religiousness that is a far cry from the narrow bigotry of those who today quote him in opposing conversions. Gandhiji’s point was that there was no need to convert from any religion to any other because all religions essentially believed the same thing. But when he famously asserted that ”I am a Hindu, a Christian, a Mohammedan, a Parsi, a Jew”, Jinnah sharply retorted, ”only a Hindu could say that!”

The fact is that many faiths do tend to see theirs as the only true path to salvation, and their religious leaders feel a duty to spread the light of a supposedly superior understanding of God to those less fortunate. As Gandhians or as rationalists we are free to decry their views, but the Indian Constitution gives each Indian the right to ”propagate” his religion — and to challenge that right would, in the most fundamental sense, be unconstitutional.

So, let each religion do its thing, and let each Indian be free to choose. At the same time, let conversion be an issue of individual conscience and not mass delusion. I would have no difficulty in considering, in principle, the idea of a democratically-elected legislature deciding that the constitutionally-protected right to convert to another faith can only be exercised by an individual, rather than by an entire clan, tribe or village.

An end to ceremonies of mass conversion might not be a bad thing: let each individual who believes he or she has seen the light go through an individual act of conversion — one in which he or she must affirm that they know what they are giving up and what they are entering into. If an entire village wants to convert, that will make for a very time-consuming process, but at least it will not be open to the suggestion that a large group has been duped, or forced, collectively to embrace a faith that its individual members do not properly understand.

Of course, the debate is not merely a religious one — it is profoundly political. So i will brace myself for more mail and return to the topic next week. (huffingtonpost)

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Orissa Violence: Kandhamal reports from NDTV

Posted by jytmkh on August 29, 2008

 

As Kandhmal continues to simmer with sporadic incidents of violence around 30,000 Christian run schools and colleges across the country will be closed on Friday as part of the All India protest by Christians against the violence there.

In West Bengal, Christian organisations will demonstrate before the Orissa Bhavan.

In reaction to the violence, there has already been a police reshuffle in the conflict-torn district with the former DCP of Cuttack moving in as the new superintendent of police of Kandhmal.

The Orissa assembly is expected to take up a no-confidence motion by the Congress against the Navin Patnaik government’s handling of the situation.

 

Violence subsiding in Orissa, curfew relaxed
Amid signs of subsiding violence in Orissa’s riot-ravaged Kandhamal that left 10 people dead, relief camps and free kitchens were opened in six places and curfew was relaxed in some areas.

In the wake of many of its MLAs and ministers demanding party’s withdrawal from the coalition government, senior BJP leaders met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik seeking a thorough probe into the killing of VHP leader Laxmananda Saraswati instead of presuming Maoist involvement in the crime.

They said the real culprits should not be shielded at any cost.

While their demand was seen as a pressure tactics to regain the party’s diminishing importance in ruling combine, BJP general secretary in-charge of Orissa Vinay Katiyar discussed the matter with state unit to resolve the issue.

Claiming the situation in Kandhamal was returning to normalcy, the chief minister told the assembly that free kitchen and relief camps were operating in six block areas while security personnel were asked to conduct flag marches to ensure peace and harmony among the people.

The riot-affected people were being accommodated in relief camps with adequate police protection, he said, adding that magistrates and police force were being deployed in all sensitive places.

While as many as 11 criminal cases had been registered in different police stations of Kandhamal relating to murder, arson and rioting, the total number of criminal cased were 85 across the state.

Noting that the government would not spare anyone who took law into hands, Patnaik said 167 people have been arrested so far.

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Church Helps Flood Victims In Bihar

Posted by jytmkh on August 27, 2008

MUZAFFARPUR, India (UCAN) — Several Catholic Church centers and parishes have been affected by unexpected floods in the eastern Indian state of Bihar.

Father Maria Selvam, director of Muzaffarpur diocese’s Social Service Centre, says the floods that started Aug. 20 have affected around 1 million people in the state’s northern region. Bettiah, Muzaffarpur and Purnea dioceses cover the region.
Father Selvam told UCA News on Aug. 25 that a breach on Aug. 28 in a dam on the Kosi River in Nepal triggered the floods, which he said have “trapped” seven parishes and half a dozen mission centers of the diocese. “Still our priests and nuns are striving hard to help people with whatever they have, despite being in trouble themselves,” the diocesan priest added.

Among the affected are some 60 leprosy patients of Sneha Dham (abode of compassion), a hospital in Muraliganj, a village in Madhepura district, 1,200 kilometers east of New Delhi. The Missionaries of Charity Brothers, founded by Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, manage the 26-year-old facility.

When Brother Ignatius, head of the local brothers’ community, spoke with UCA News on Aug. 24, he said the hospital was under 2.5 meters of water. The flooding had forced some 100 villagers to seek shelter there.

The Religious said they stitched plastic bags together to make a canopy on their roof to shelter the leprosy patients. He explained the hospital was able to feed the people, since it usually stores provisions for a month. But it could not renew its daily supply of perishable items such as milk and vegetables.

“Even fuel wood was procured from the market. The floods have blocked all movements of people and goods,” Brother Ignatius said. But he added that the leaders of Muzaffarpur diocese, which covers the area, had assured help.

Father Joseph Moses, pastor of Sakhua parish, who is engaged in relief work, told UCA News on Aug. 25 that they are using boats to bring beaten rice, corn and other items to the affected villagers. “Army helicopters sometimes drop food packets,” he reported, but he did not think these were enough for the flood victims.

According to Father Aby Abraham, pastor of the diocese’s Saharsha parish, half a dozen Church hostels for tribal children are among the worst-affected sites. The youngsters “have taken shelter on rooftops as their schools and hostels are marooned,” the Indian Missionary Society priest told UCA News. “They can’t cook and so have been starving for days.”

Father Abraham said local villagers brought food packets for the children. “It is a common scenario that flood victims loot government relief materials. But in our case the flood victims, though hungry themselves, provided us boats and men to ferry food articles to the hostel children,” he added.

The priest revealed that some villagers told him they would have looted the food packets if they were not meant for the hostel children. The priest and children offered Sunday Mass on Aug. 24 for the villagers, he added.

Father Alex Kurissummootil, pastor of Khagaria, another parish of Muzaffarpur diocese, told UCA News that Church people as well as the government became “complacent” after the region was spared the usual July floods. However, the breach in the 60-year-old Kosi dam caused an unexpected and devastating manmade calamity.

The priest said the river has taken a new course after the flooding, affecting hundreds of villages. “Their inhabitants are in panic since they have never faced flood vagaries,” he explained. “Church relief teams and government official now advise the people to move out to safer places.”

Father Valerian Deepak Tauro, secretary to the Muzaffarpur bishop, told UCA News the diocese has asked for national and international aid agencies to help meet the needs related to the “unprecedented floods.”

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Orissa violence continues

Posted by jytmkh on August 27, 2008

More people have been killed in violence against Christians in the Indian state of Orissa while India’s bishops have announced a day of prayer and fasting for peace.

UCA News reports Catholic education institutions across India have decided to close on August 29 to protest continuing violence against Christians in Orissa state.

The Church will also observe September 7 as a day of prayer and fasting for Christians in the eastern Indian state, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) announced at a press conference in New Delhi yesterday.

Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil of Ernakulam-Angamaly, CBCI president, has appealed to all Catholic groups to organise “peaceful rallies across the country to register strong protest against the repeated attacks” on Christians.

Reports reaching the Orissa state capital of Bhubaneswar, 1,745 kilometers southeast of New Delhi, indicate no letup in the anti-Christian violence. Church people told UCA News on August 25 and 26 that at least five people have died in the latest attacks. They recounted how armed men ransacked and torched churches, presbyteries, convents and Christian healthcare centres and hostels in the state.

Hindu radicals took to violence after a Hindu religious leader, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, and five of his associates were killed on August 23 in the state’s Kandhamal district.

Maoists reportedly claimed responsibility for the killings, UCA News says, but some Hindu groups have alleged Christians masterminded the killing, a charge all Christian churches and denominations have denied.

Bidhan Nayak, a Catholic social worker in Kandhamal, told UCA News that Hindu radicals killed one person in Badimunda village. He says that violence continues unabated in the district. Despite a curfew, armed Hindu activists roam around the area “in a one-sided attack,” he added.

Fr Alphonse Toppo, vicar general of Sambalpur diocese, told UCA News that a mob burned to death Rajani Majhi, a 20 year old nurse at a hospital for children afflicted by leprosy, in Bargarh parish. The mob also beat up Father Edward Sequeira, the hospital director.

In another incident, two Catholics and a Hindu were killed at Tiangia village in Betticola parish, under Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese. Dasharath Pradhan, the Hindu, was a Christian sympathiser, Father Manoj Kumar Nayak, who hails from the village, told UCA News.

Meanwhile, the Holy See has expressed “solidarity to the churches and religious congregations” of India, victimised by violence.

It has called on everyone to rebuild an “atmosphere of dialogue and mutual respect.” The Indian Church and the Sisters of Mother Teresa have welcomed the appeal for reconciliation, but in Orissa the acts of destruction, including the burning of homes, churches and Christian institutions, keep rising.

SOURCE

Five Killed As Anti-Christian Violence Continues In Orissa (UCA News, 26/8/08)

Orissa: Vatican expresses solidarity to victims; Indian bishop calls events shameful for the state (AsiaNews, 26/8/08)

Orissa: Hindus torch Christian homes and churches, three die asphyxiated (AsiaNews, 26/8/08) 

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Indian church workers raped, killed (CathNews, 26/8/08)

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