Info & News
from the Generalate
from the Provinces
All India Christian Council
P. O. Box 2174, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India,
For Immediate Release
India's Civil Society Defends Christians
in New Delhi
About 15,000 people joined Peace
& Solidarity Rally on International Day of Non-Violence
"Killers of Mahatma Gandhi are the same killers of Christians in India,"
said Swami Agnivesh
Union Minister Lalu Prasad promised to bring up the anti-Christian
violence in Parliament
Over 50,000 homeless Dalit & Tribal Christians in Orissa demanded
refugee status from UNHCR
NEW DELHI, October 2, 2008
bout 15,000 Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Buddhists
including politicians and civil society leaders joined the Peace &
Solidarity Rally on the International Day of Non-Violence which falls on
the 139th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, India's 'Father of the Nation'.
The protest highlighted recent anti-Christian violence in India.
Addressing the rally, Swami Agnivesh said, "The very killers of
Mahatma Gandhi are the same killers and abusers of Christians in Orissa,
Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and other parts of the country. The killers –
the Hindutva fascists – do not represent the peace loving Hindu society.
Rather they are damaging the Sanatam Dharma [Hindu way of life]."
India's Union Minister of Railways, Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, broke his
silence over anti-Christian violence across India. Addressing the rally,
he said, "I will personally meet the Prime Minister and discuss the
implementation of Article 355. I will also bring up the anti-Christian
violence in Parliament and debate the hatred of Hindutva forces."
Article 355 of India's Constitution allows the central government to
warn a state government to stop internal disturbances or face federal
action and possible dismissal.
In the morning, the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mrs. Sheila Dixit,
showed her solidarity and expressed concern and pain over the
anti-Christian violence. She condemned the Hindu fanatics who are
responsible for widespread crimes and causing damage to properties owned
by the Christian minority.
Other dignitaries who participated in the rally included Mr. Oscar
Fernandez, Union Minister of Labor; Mrs. Teesta Setalvad, General
Secretary of Mumbai-based Citizens For Justice & Peace; Dr. Udit Raj,
Chairman, All India Confederation of Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribe
Organisations; Dr. Valson Thampu, Principal of the prestigious St.
Stephen's College of New Delhi; Mr. Sitaram Yechury, senior leader of
the Communist Party of India (Marxist); Ms. Shabnam Hashmi, senior
leader of ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy). There were
additional speakers from Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu communities.
The rally concluded seven days of a "Sit-in Protest" organized by the
Christians of Delhi and the NCR (National Capital Region). Major
contributors included the Delhi Federation of Catholics and the All
India Christian Council (aicc). Beginning on Sept. 26, 2008 at 10 a.m
and ending today at 6 p.m., there was 152 hours of constant prayer and
protest at Jantar Mantar – a park in the center of New Delhi – to
express solidarity with victims. Most of the victims are Dalits,
formerly called untouchables and officially categorized as Scheduled
Castes by India's government.
Rally participants shouted "Ban Terrorists, Ban Bajrang Dal," "Ban
Vishwa Hindu Parishad," and "Ban Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh" as they
marched along a 5 km route from Jantar Mantar to Raj Ghat, a memorial to
Mahatma Gandhi. Since the surge in violence beginning in rural Orissa on
Aug. 23, 2008 after the murder of a controversial Hindu swami by unknown
assailants, civil society groups, human rights activists, and various
religious leaders have increasingly called for these Hindutva
fundamentalist groups to be banned as terrorists.
Yesterday, a delegation led by noted film maker Mahesh Bhatt along
with Christian victims from Orissa met the United Nations High
Commission on Refugees in New Delhi and demanded refugee status for over
50,000 homeless Christians. The delegation included Dr. Abraham Mathai
from the Indian Christian Voice and Dr. John Dayal, aicc Secretary
The toll of violence against Christians from Aug. 23 to Oct. 2, 2008:
BIHAR: 1 Church damaged; CHHATTISGARH: 4 Nuns
assaulted; JHARKHAND: 1 Church attacked; KARNATAKA: 4 (of
29) Districts affected, 35 Churches damaged or destroyed, 20 Nuns and
women injured by police; KERALA: 4 Churches damaged; MADHYA
PRADESH: 4 Churches destroyed or damaged and 4 schools vandalized;
NEW DELHI: 2 Churches damaged; ORISSA: 14 (of 30)
Districts affected, 315 Villages damaged, 4,640 Houses burnt, 53,000
Homeless, 57 People killed including at least 2 pastors, 10
Priests/Pastors/Nuns injured, 18,000 Men, women, children injured, 2
Women gang-raped, 149 Churches destroyed, 13 Schools and colleges
damaged; PUNJAB: 3 Christians harassed and imprisoned by police
on false charges; TAMIL NADU: 4 Churches damaged; UTTAR
PRADESH: 3 Pastors and a pastor's wife beaten; and UTTARAKHAND:
2 Christians murdered.
The All India Christian Council (www.aiccindia.org),
birthed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community,
minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of
thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.
aicc Regional Secretary,
9-10 Bhai Veer Singh Marg
New Delhi - 110 001
Tel/Fax: +91 11 23363214