Thousands Gather to Express Solidarity with the Sufferers
At the culmination of the protest and prayer rally of the Christians of Delhi and National Capital region, thousands of people gathered in front of the Orissa Bhavan to express solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the State of Orissa. Nearly 50,000 schools run by the Christians all over the country were declared closed today in protest of what is happening in Orissa. Representatives from the Church of North India participated in full strength. As a token of our support and solidarity with the victims of the violence all the CNI educational institutions were closed on August 29, 2008 and everyone joined in the dharna.
A memorandum to this effect was submitted to the Governor of Orissa. The memorandum called upon the Governor to:
- Write to the President of India to impose President’s Rule in Orissa and that to take over the reigns of governance so that peace is restored in Kandhamal and other districts.
- Immediately suspend not constables and junior officials but the Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police for gross dereliction of duty, and for joining the conspiracy to wipe out Christians in Orissa.
- Hand over the Kandhmal district in particular to the Indian army which alone can restore the confidence of the victims.
- Trace the many people reported abducted, some feared dead or injured, in the last six days.
- Bring back the tens of thousands of Christian tribals and dalit villagers hiding for their lives in the forests, most of them without food and adequate drinking water.
- Hand over all investigations relating to the circumstances and course of violence of the Central Bureau of Investigations. The CBI should also investigate the murder of VHP leader Lakhsmananda Saraswati.
- Expand the terms of reference of the sitting Judicial Commission handed by Mr. Justice Basudeo Panigrahi to fix responsibility and culpability on government servants all ranks, as also on guilty politicians.
- Grant exemplary compensation to the injured. Grant immediate relief and rehabilitation to the victims so that they can rebuild their home, get back their jobs and resume norm human lives.
- Compensate the church to rebuild and restore its religious, education and humanitarian institutions.
- Set up a Fast Track criminal court to try those found guilty at all levels during all phases of the violence.
The Rev. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan, General Secretary, The Synod of the Church of North India, had through a press release called upon the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Chief Minister, Orrisa, to rise to the occasion. He had expressed his anguish and pain at what the Christians had to go through for no fault of them.
The Most Rev. Joel V. Mal, Moderator, expressed pain and anguish and called upon the central and the state government to restore peace and to ensure that the lives of innocent people are saved. He assured prayers and support to the Bishop of Phulbani, Cuttack and Sambalpur Diocese.
Responding to the press release by the Rev. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan, the Archbishop of Canterbury and all the other Partners expressed support and prayer at this crucial time. The Council for World Mission South Asia Regional Council in its meeting held at Khulna, Bangladesh, from August 27-31, 2008 condemned the attacks on the Christian. CWM SARC is a council comprising of the Church of North India, Church of South India, Presbyterian Church of India and the Church of Bangladesh.
Earlier a delegation comprising of Bishop Samson Das, Bishop, Diocese of Cuttack, and Adv. B. D. Das met Mr. Mohammed Shafi Qureshi, Chairperson, National Commission for Minorities and filed a petition seeking intervention. Mr. Qureshi and his team patiently heard the happenings and assured that he would seek additional forces to be deployed and immediate relief to be given to the effected people. He further said that a team from NCM will be sent within a week. Mr. Qureshi further called upon that there should be a ban on entry of people like Mr. Praveen Togadia. An all party delegation to the effected area should be initiated at the centre is another demand that the NCM proposed.
Later a delegation comprising of Bishop Samson Das, Ms. Sushma Ramswai, and representatives from the CBC met the Prime Minister, Shri Man Mohan Singhji. The Prime Minister was anguished to know about the situation. He said, it’s a national shame what is happening in Orissa. He categorically said that the Chief Minister and the Governor have failed to do their duties. Later the Prime Minister called the Chief Minister of Orrisa Mr. Naveen Patnaik and said that he should see that normalcy is restored immediately. The Prime Minister also assured that money from the Prime Minister fund would be released for rehabilitation of the sufferers.
-The Rev. Dr. Enos Das Pradhan,
The Synod of the Church of North India