Delhi Christians focus on communal harmony *Delhi Archbishop’s open letter *Justice for CV victims

February 29, 2012 by admin  
Filed under Gujarat, India, newsletter-india, Persecution

Gujrat Pogrom 2002New Delhi, February 28, 2012: A rally of the capital’s Christian community at Raj Ghat, led by Archbishop Vincent Concessao, has demanded that the government speedily enact a law against communal violence to ensure lasting religious harmony and peace in the country. The Bill against communal and targeted violence [access to justice and reparation} drafted by the National Advisory council in 2011 provides the basis for such law, the meeting said. The Delhi rally was part of a national wide campaign to remember the victims of the Gujarat anti Muslim pogrom in 2002 on the tenth anniversary of the horrendous violence.

A large number of leaders of Muslim political parties and groups participated in the two hour programme where speakers slammed the Gujarat government for its attitude towards the victims.

The statement adopted at the meeting, which ended in a candle-light finale, said: The Christian community worldwide believes that Love – caritas – is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace.  It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. In the 2,000 years of its existence in the country, our community has striven for Peace, and for Justice even as it has brought , as Mother Teresa did,  human concern and love to the wounded, the despised, the deserted and those abandoned and left to die.  And there is nothing worse than the aftermath of  communal violence where communities are goaded to wage arson, rape and murder against their brothers and sisters of another faith. In the 1990s, India, according to government estimates, saw more than 6,000 communal riots, including the terrible anti Sikh violence in Delhi and other cities.

“The first few years of  the 21st Century has marked two major acts of communal violence that have wrought shame on our great civilization, and shamed our noble motherland, India. The first was  the anti Muslim pogrom in 14 districts of Gujarat in February-March 2002, whose tenth anniversary we observe today in deep sorrow and empathy with the victims. The other was the August 2008  violence against Christians in Kandhamal District of Odisha and several other states which saw much rape and murder, and a massive and mindless arson that signed an entire people. What took place during those terrible months is beyond description.  There are volumes of writings, audio visual materials, witnesses and victims who suffered and saw their loved ones die. For those who want proof of this carnage, there is no dearth of it.

“Victims of both acts of violence still await justice. The deaths by murder have not been avenged – most of the killers remain scot free. Most widows have been given just token compensation. There has been no reparation.

“In Gujarat, Civil Rights organizations allege the Chief Minister made this carnage happen and saw to it that all preventive actions were curbed.  As early as December 2003, the then Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare presiding over a Divisional Bench criticized the Government of Gujarat saying, “I have no faith left in the prosecution and the Gujarat government. I am not saying Article 356. You have to protect people and punish the guilty. What else is raj dharma? You quit if you cannot prosecute the guilty.” And in a landmark ruling on February 8th, 2012, the Acting Chief Justice of Gujarat Bhaskar Bhattacharya, very emphatically stated, “Gujarat government’s inadequate response and inaction (to contain the riots) resulted in an anarchic situation which continued unabated for days on…the state cannot shirk from its responsibilities”. In the violence, 790 Muslims were killed and 223 more people were reported missing; 523 places of worship were damaged: 298 dargahs, 205 mosques, 17 temples, and 3 churches. Muslim-owned businesses suffered the bulk of the damage. 61,000 Muslims fled their homes. Police shootings that killed 93 Muslims and 77 Hindus.

“The religious polarization is not good for the nation. The impunity enjoyed by the officials, police officers and above all by senior politicians including the chief minister of Gujarat mocks the Rule of Law, the justice dispensation system and above all, the Constitution of India.

“Many a  brave woman and man, social activists have kept the struggle for justice alive. There has also been an effort to bring new laws into force that will, hopefully, curb communal violence and mass crimes of hate in the future. The Prevention of Communal and Targeted violence [Access to Justice and Reparations] Bill 2011 drafted by the National Advisory Council is one such draft law.

“Yet, the manner of initiating a debate on the Bill in the last National Integration Council meeting did not inspire confidence in the victim communities of the Congress Party’s resolve to implement its 2004 election promise. We would like to place on record that the Constitutional and fundamental right of human dignity as a citizen of this country, and meaningful right to life in all its aspects as interpreted by various pronouncements of the Supreme Court of India, are of prime importance to each of us and no amount of political goodies can substitute it.

“As we express solidarity with the victims of  the 2002 Gujarat violence against Muslims, and other acts of communal violence, and as we pay our homage to the dead in such violence, we demand of the Union government and the Justice apparatus  including  the High Courts and the Supreme court:

1. Justice for the victims — by ensuring that the guilty and those behind them including officials and politicians are brought to book

2. Ending the environment of impunity in which political and Government leaders escape  the law of the land.

3. Urgent and immediate steps to ensure that the survivors can rebuild their lives, get commensurate employment and means of livelihood, farmers get back their land and business victims can resume businesses.

4. Measures by the state government to restore confidence among the victims and ensuring that their life return to normal. One index of this will be when members of the minority communities feel safe enough to live in mixed areas in cities in Gujarat.

5. Ensuring adequate presence of religious and other minorities in the police, investigation and justice apparatus to  strengthen confidence and a trust; and

6. Enacting of the Prevention of Communal and targeted Violence Bill with adequate safeguards on strengthening federalism, early warning and rapid action systems to nip violence before it can assume alarming proportions.”

- fwd: john dayal

Gujarat Pogrom: Archbishop’s open letter to the nation

 

Archbishop Vincent M ConcessaoNew Delhi, February 28, 2012: On the occasion of the 10 anniversary of Gujarat pogrom 2002, Archbishop Vincent M Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi has expressed deep sympathy with the victims of the riots and called for justice to all victims of communal violence in India including the Kandhamal killings. The Archbishop has written an open letter to all leaders of the country over the issue of communal violence and peace and sought their support for the communal violence bill.

While expressing solidarity with the victims of the 2002 Gujarat violence against Muslims, and other acts of communal violence, he demanded the Union government and the Justice apparatus including the High Courts and the Supreme Court:

1. To ensure that the guilty and those behind them including officials and politicians are brought to book

2. To end the environment of impunity in which political and Government leaders escape the law of the land.

3. To take urgent and immediate steps to ensure that the survivors can rebuild their lives, get commensurate employment and means of livelihood, farmers get back their land and business victims can resume businesses.

4. To ensure adequate presence of religious and other minorities in the police, investigation and justice apparatus to strengthen confidence and trust.

Text of the letter:

The Christian community worldwide believes that Love – caritas – is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth. In the 2,000 years of its existence in the country, our community has striven for Peace, and for Justice even as it has brought, as Mother Teresa did, human concern and love to the wounded, the despised, the deserted and those abandoned and left to die. And there is nothing worse than the aftermath of communal violence where communities are goaded to wage arson, rape and murder against their brothers and sisters of another faith. In the 1990s, India, according to government estimates, saw more than 6,000 communal riots, including the terrible anti Sikh violence in Delhi and other cities.

The first few years of the 21st Century has marked two major acts of communal violence that have wrought shame on our great civilisation, and shamed our noble motherland, India. The first was the anti-Muslim pogrom in 14 districts of Gujarat in February-March 2002, whose tenth anniversary we observe today in deep sorrow and empathy with the victims. The other was the August 2008 violence against Christians in Kandhamal District of Odisha and several other states which saw much rape and murder, and a massive and mindless arson that signed an entire people. What took place during those terrible months is beyond description. There are volumes of writings, audio visual materials, witnesses and victims who suffered and saw their loved ones die. For those who want proof of this carnage, there is no dearth of it.

Victims of both acts of violence still await justice. The deaths by murder have not been avenged – most of the killers remain scot free. Most widows have been given just token compensation. There has been no reparation.

In Gujarat, Civil Rights organizations allege the Chief Minister made this carnage happen and saw to it that all preventive actions were curbed. As early as December 2003, the then Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare presiding over a Divisional Bench criticized the Government of Gujarat saying, “I have no faith left in the prosecution and the Gujarat government. I am not saying Article 356. You have to protect people and punish the guilty. What else is raj dharma? You quit if you cannot prosecute the guilty.” And in a landmark ruling on February 8th, 2012, the Acting Chief Justice of Gujarat Bhaskar Bhattacharya, very emphatically stated, “Gujarat government’s inadequate response and inaction (to contain the riots) resulted in an anarchic situation which continued unabated for days on…the state cannot shirk from its responsibilities”. In the violence, 790 Muslims were killed and 223 more people were reported missing; 523 places of worship were damaged: 298 dargahs, 205 mosques, 17 temples, and 3 churches. Muslim-owned businesses suffered the bulk of the damage. 61,000 Muslims fled their homes. Police shootings that killed 93 Muslims and 77 Hindus.

The religious polarization is not good for the nation. The impunity enjoyed by the officials, police officers and above all by senior politicians including the chief minister of Gujarat mocks the Rule of Law, the justice dispensation system and above all, the Constitution of India.

Many a brave woman and man, social activists have kept the struggle for justice alive. There has also been an effort to bring new laws into force that will, hopefully, curb communal violence and mass crimes of hate in the future. The Prevention of Communal and Targeted violence [Access to Justice and Reparations] Bill 2011 drafted by the National Advisory Council is one such draft law.

Yet, the manner of initiating a debate on the Bill in the last National Integration Council meeting did not inspire confidence in the victim communities of the Congress Party’s resolve to implement its 2004 election promise. We would like to place on record that the Constitutional and fundamental right of human dignity as a citizen of this country, and meaningful right to life in all its aspects as interpreted by various pronouncements of the Supreme Court of India, are of prime importance to each of us and no amount of political goodies can substitute it.

As we express solidarity with the victims of the 2002 Gujarat violence against Muslims, and other acts of communal violence, and as we pay our homage to the dead in such violence, we demand of the Union government and the Justice apparatus including the High Courts and the Supreme Court:

1. Justice for the victims — by ensuring that the guilty and those behind them including officials and politicians are brought to book
2. Ending the environment of impunity in which political and Government leaders escape the law of the land.
3. Urgent and immediate steps to ensure that the survivors can rebuild their lives, get commensurate employment and means of livelihood, farmers get back their land and business victims can resume businesses.
4. Measures by the state government to restore confidence among the victims and ensuring that their life return to normal. One index of this will be when members of the minority communities feel safe enough to live in mixed areas in cities in Gujarat.
5. Ensuring adequate presence of religious and other minorities in the police, investigation and justice apparatus to strengthen confidence and a trust; and
6. Enacting of the Prevention of Communal and targeted Violence Bill with adequate safeguards on strengthening federalism, early warning and rapid action systems to nip violence before it can assume alarming proportions.

On Behalf of the Christian Community
Archbishop Vincent M Concessao,
Archbishop of Delhi

- fwd: prashanti

Delhi meet demands justice for CV victims

 

Rememberance of Gujrat Pogrom 2002New Delhi, February 28, 2012: Leaders of various religions prayed for peace in India and demanded justice for victims of the sectarian violence in Gujarat on its tenth anniversary yesterday.

“We should all unite to fight communal forces if we want this nation to develop,” Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi told a gathering at an inter-faith meet organized in New Delhi at Rajghat, the mausoleum of Mahatma Gandhi, an advocate of nonviolence.
Some 300 people from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian communities attended the event in New Delhi, organized by the Delhi archdiocese and federation of Catholic associations.

The prelate said there should not be any discrimination on the bases of religion, caste or creed as “we all are equal in front of the law.”

The meet also paid homage to the victims of anti-Christian violence that took place in Orissa’s Kandhamal district in 2008.

The violence in the western Indian state of Gujarat was triggered by the burning of a train in Godhra allegedly by a Muslim mob, killing 58 Hindu pilgrims on February 27, 2002.

This in turn prompted retaliatory attacks against Muslims and communal riots on a large scale across the state in which 790 Muslims were killed and 523 places of worship, including 17 temples and 3 churches, were damaged.

Hussain Ilias, a Muslim leader said at the inter-faith meet, “it is very unfortunate that even after ten years people are still fighting for justice. He said justice delayed is justice denied.”

He said suppression will stop only when we punish the culprits else incidents like this will be repeated in other states.

Muhammad Aliem, another Muslim leader, blamed the Gujarat government for the genocide.

Archbishop Concessao, had earlier in the day in an open letter, urged the state government to take measures to restore confidence among the victims so that they can rebuild their lives.

Father Cedric Prakash, who is the director of an NGO in Gujarat, at a similar meeting in Ahmedabad, said “minorities in the state are still treated like second-class citizens and a good section of them are confined to ghettos without even basic amenities.”

He said that realization and repentance are the first steps toward normalization and for enduring peace.

- ucan

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