Bangalore, March 09, 2014: The Art of Living (AoL) centre near Pakistan’s capital Islamabad has been vandalised by unidentified gunmen, the city-based humanitarian and educational non-government organisation said Sunday.
“Around 15 gunmen entered the centre at Bani Gala on the outskirts of Islamabad late Saturday and vandalised it after tying up the security guards to trees in the complex,” the NGO said in a statement here.
People present at the centre were safe and no one was injured in the attack.
Though the centre has a capacity to house about 60 people at a time, the stress-elimination programme was shifted to Nankana Sahib, about 350 km from Islamabad, the statement quoted AoL Pakistan faculty member Shahnaz Minallah as saying.
The centre was unveiled by AoL founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in 2012.
- mid day
Bishop Paul D’Souza of Mangalore has requested the Karnataka state chief election commissioner not to depute Christians on election duty on Maundy Thursday, when elections are held in the state.
If the Christian government employees and schoolteachers are put on put on election they would be deprived of attending important Maundy Thursday service, held ahead of Easter Sunday, he said.
The Bishop has also requested the Election Commission that since many schools where polling is held fall in precincts of the church, the faithful should not be put to inconvenience due to security arrangements at polling booths.
In a letter to the election Commission, the bishop noted that the election commission has scheduled Lok Sabha election in Karnataka on April 17, which is Maundy Thursday when Christians across the world commemorate Last Supper of Jesus Christ.
If Christians are posted for election duty on the day their fundamental right to practice the religion will be violated and the right guaranteed under Article 25 to 28 of the Indian Constitution will be violated, the bishop maintained.
- times of india
Communist-backed Innocent seeks Cardinal’s blessings
Kochi, March 11, 2014: “I came only to seek his blessings,” the actor told media persons. Noted Malayalam film actor Thekkethala Innocent, who is contesting the Chalakkudy constituency backed by the Left Democratic Font, met Cardinal Mar George Alenchery, the head of the Syro Malabar Church, in Kochi on Saturday.
“There will be place for Innocent in my heart,” Cardinal Alencherry said after the meeting. Innocent said that the cardinal had visited him when he was in the hospital for cancer treatment.
“I came only to seek his blessings,” the actor told media persons.
“I am optimistic about winning in Chalakkudy constituency. The strong relationship with the people of the place will be a great advantage for me. People there have seen and known me for over 20 years,” Innocent said.
“If I win, I would like to do more things for the common people in the coastal and high range areas,” he added. Cardinal Alencherry also gave his best wishes for the candidate.
- new indian express
Kerala communists back Catholics in elections
The Communist party in Kerala has thrown its support behind five Christian candidates in the southern Indian state, a traditionally Christian stronghold, in the country’s forthcoming national elections.
The move highlights a bridging of the divide between communists and Christians in the state, as well as a growing disaffection between Christians and the ruling Congress party, particularly over the issue of the government’s plans to protect the Western Ghats, a hilly region that runs through Kerala.
Christians, who comprise less than 20 percent of the state’s 30 million population, have been politically decisive in some pockets of the state’s electorate and are traditionally strong backers of the Congress party.
The Left Democratic Front (LDF), an alliance of communist parties in the state and a perennial foe of the Congress party, says it has agreed to support the five Christian candidates.
“This is the first time that the communists have supported so many Christians,” said A Jayashanker, a political analyst based in the Kerala state capital Thiruvananthapuram.
It is not the first time that communists and Christians have found themselves on the same side of electoral issues, but this time “it is an attempt to take advantage of the current political situation,” as the Catholic Church is disappointed with the ruling Congress party on the issue of the Western Ghats, Jayashankar added.
Christian groups, led by a number of Catholic bishops, have been campaigning against government plans to implement recommendations of the High-Level Green Committee aimed at increasing environmental protection in the Western Ghats.
Christian leaders say the recommendations would, if implemented in their entirety, displace millions of farmers – the majority of them Catholics.
But MA Baby, a politburo member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and a candidate for election from Kollam, denies that the communists are simply playing politics in their support of Catholic candidates.
“We field candidates based on their merits and capacity to garner the maximum number of votes,” Baby said.
A senior communist leader told ucanews.com that they had discussions with Catholic Church representatives.
“We have indicated that we would field a candidate of their choice,” he said.
Thekkethala Innocent, a popular Malayalam film star and member of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one such candidate, running for the Chalakudy constituency.
Innocent told ucanews.com that he was offered the ticket by the LDF as a token of his popularity among the common people.
“My father was a Catholic and a communist,” said the 69-year-old. “He told me that only communists fight for social equality.”
He said religion has nothing to do with politics. “We people in Chalakudy don’t think about people on the lines of their religion or color. We judge them by their qualities as human beings.”
Goa, March 06, 2014: Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has made budgetary provisions for saffronisation of Goa by allowing Yoga guru Ramdev and the RSS to set up bases in the state, the Congress said.
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, state Congress president John Fernandes said that the BJP government has laid the red carpet for Ramdev and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue Indresh Kumar, and questioned how announcements made in the budget have already been made in the public domain months earlier.
“NGOs owing affiliation to the Sangh Parivar are being indirectly promoted by the chief minister in Goa. He should not vitiate the communal harmony which Goa is famous for,” Fernandes said.
In his budget presented in the state legislative assembly Thursday, Parrikar announced that yoga would be introduced in schools and that his government intends to tie up with qualified yoga institutions to implement the scheme.
Two months before the budget announcement, Ramdev after a meeting with Parrikar in February had announced that teachers from the Haridwar-based Patanjali Yogpeeth would be teaching yoga in Goa’s schools soon.
Parrikar also told the house that Ramdev’s Bharat Swabhiman Kisan Sanstha among other organisations would be allowed to tackle the issue of stray cows loitering along Goa’s roads.
“It is highly objectionable that organisations linked to the RSS will be funded and budgeted by the Goa government to set up their questionable organisations,” Fernandes said, taking a dig at Parrikar’s announcement to fund the Indresh Kumar-run think tank Forum for Integrated National Security’s (FINS) academy in Goa.
“National security has become a matter of great concern. In order to keep Goa free from terrorism, we need to take immediate steps. The disciplined forces as well as policymakers need to be sensitized and trained,” Parrikar said.
“I, therefore, intend to set up an academy for study in national security and strategic planning, in collaboration with the Forum for Integrated National Security,” he said, adding that an initial budgetary provision of Rs.50 lakh has already been made for the purpose.
Bangalore, March 06, 2014: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will chalk out plans to expand its activities across India at its annual meeting beginning here Friday.
Clarifying that the three-day meeting had no political agenda and was not connected to the forthcoming general elections, the Sangh’s publicity head Manmohan Vaidya told reporters Thursday that the meeting would also evaluate its programmes and performance in social domains.
“No political decision will be taken at the meeting which is being held to discuss and evaluate our work. The top functionaries will review our various activities state-wise and discuss issues of national importance,” he said.
Asserting that the RSS was in favour of increasing participation by the electorate in the parliamentary elections, Vaidya said RSS cadres would work to generate awareness among the people to enroll as voters and exercise their franchise as a democratic right.
The meeting of the Sangh’s highest body for policy formulation and decision-making – the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) – is being held in the city after 12 years.
Besides the Sangh’s Sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Rao Bhagwat and Sarkaryavah (general secretary) Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi and a dozen office-bearers, about 1,400 representatives from across the country will participate in the meet.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Rajnath Singh will also participate in the Sangh’s national and provincial meeting Saturday.
Leaders from the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, tribal welfare organisation Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, student organisation Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, workers’ union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and political party Bharatiya Janata Paksha will also attend the conference.
Srinagar, March 06, 2014: Kashmiri students expelled from a Uttar Pradesh university after they were accused of celebrating Pakistan cricket team’s victory over India Thursday alleged victimisation by administration officials and police.
Kashmiri students of Swami Vivekanand Subharti University (SVSU) in Meerut said 67 of them were forced to leave the college after the administration called police to ensure their eviction from the hostel.
The students were accused of celebrating the victory of Pakistan cricket team in a crucial match of Asia Cup championship in Dhaka.
“We were ordered to leave the hostel immediately and head back home. Police arrived at the college in full riot gear with tear smoke shells and lathis,” said Aijaz, a B.Tech student of SVSU Meerut.
“We had no option but to abandon the hostel. Some of us did not even have the money to pay for the train fare.”
“The locals at the hostel had been shouting and hooting during the match as India looked poised for the victory,” he said.
“When the match took a different turn after Shahid Afridi’s batting, some of our friends also started shouting as a reaction. That is all we did, for which we have been punished,” Aijaz said,
He was accompanied by some other fellow students who said the same thing.
Reports here said the Meerut police have registered a case of sedition against the Kashmiri students.
The expelled students said they recorded the conduct of Meerut police and college administration towards them in their cell phones, but those were seized by police.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in Jammu Thursday that charging Kashmiri students with a serious crime like sedition would spoil their academic career.
He wrote on his twitter handle: “I believe the university did what it had to to control the situation but this action by the UP Govt (Uttar Pradesh government) is uncalled for and should be reversed.”
“…while what the boys may have done in Meerut is misguided it certainly isn’t illegal, regardless of whom they were cheering.”
“The sad fact is that some of these students are recipients of the PM scholarship for Kashmiris. Perhaps They need to introspect.”
Abdullah also wrote in his tweet that he “will talk to UP CM (Uttar Pradesh chief minister)… to intervene on behalf of these misguided students to have this charge of sedition removed”.
Goa, March 5, 2014: Christians account for nearly 30 percent of Goa’s 15 lakh plus population. Catholics and some political parties in Goa have opposed the Election Commission’s decision to hold the elections to the Lok Sabha seats from the state April 17, which clashes with Maundy Thursday, a day of religious significance.
Political parties as well as activists have already petitioned the Election Commission of India (ECI) to change the poll date announced Wednesday.
“In my petition, I have said that Maundy Thursday is a holy day for the Christian community,” lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues told IANS. He said voters as well as government servants from the community deployed for election duty would find it tough to balance religious obligation and poll duty.
Banker Bruce Rodrigues said: “As a Catholic, Maundy Thursday holds significant importance in our lives as we come to the end of our Lenten season. And that’s in the middle of Holy Week too. It is not a good decision.”
Maundy Thursday is part of the Holy Week which follows the abstinence-marked period of Lent. The Holy Week signifies a spell of reflection and penance and includes Palm Sunday, which remembers Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with his disciples; Good Friday, which honours the day of his crucifixion; and Holy Saturday, which focuses on the transition between the crucifixion and resurrection.
Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat claimed that minority voting percentage would dip if the ECI went ahead with polling in the state April 17.
“It won’t be difficult to postpone Goa poll dates to after Good Friday. So that everyone can vote,” Kamat said, adding that the party’s Goa unit would petition the ECI to change the dates.
Christians account for nearly 30 percent of Goa’s 15 lakh plus population.
Armed forces were deployed at Pradhanpada village in Odisha’s Kandhamal district today as tension prevailed following damage to an under-construction prayer hall on Thursday. Two platoons of armed police (about 70 personnel) were deployed in the village as part of measures to prevent further trouble and to restore normalcy
A group of anti christian people had attacked the under-construction structure on Thursday. Two persons have been arrested in connection with the incident while a manhunt was on for others as efforts were on for amicable settlement to the issue, they said.
According to a complaint made by the christian leaders, the accused persons threatened 15 persons of eight families involved in the construction work of the prayer house.
All the 15 persons met the SP Kunor Bilash Singh yesterday and apprised him of the situation, who further gave directives for necessary action against those involved.
- business standard
Sri Lanka, March 06, 2014: The Sri Lankan Navy has restricted the entry of those journalists visiting Katchatheevu island to cover this year’s annual St.Antony’s Church festival who have ‘temporary visa.’
Unlike last year, when more than 30 journalists from the print and television media were taken along with other pilgrims, the Lankan navy made it clear this time that only those who had obtained ‘visa’ would be permitted to visit the island and cover the festival.
The festival is scheduled for March 15 and 16.
The Verkodu Parish in Rameswaram, which coordinated the pilgrimage, had appealed to the Lankan authorities through the High Commission of India in Colombo to relax the restriction, but the High Commission, after checking with the authorities, clarified that “these are common formalities and they should be adhered to,” said Fr. L. Sagayaraj, Verkodu Parish Priest.
The Lankan navy, in a communication to the Parish, had said “the media and journalists are welcome to the festival, but they should apply formally for appropriate visa and then attend the festival.”
Enquiries revealed that only a few media persons have applied for the visa.
Meanwhile, about 1,300 pilgrims from different parts of Tamil Nadu and a few from Karnataka and Kerala have registered for the pilgrimage till Tuesday as the last date for the registration, said Fr.Sagayaraj.
Last year, 2,831 pilgrims had visited Katchatheevu in 77 mechanised boats and 23 vallams (country boats) and this year, only mechanized boats would be allowed to carry the pilgrims for safety reasons, he said.
So far, 45 mechanized boats have registered for the trip and 30 pilgrims could travel in each boat, apart from five crew members, he said.
On reaching the island around 3 p.m. on March 15, the pilgrims would attend the “way of the cross” procession followed by a holy mass and adoration conducted by a senior priest from Tamil Nadu, he said.
After attending the Feast mass and adoration, conducted by the Jaffna Parish Priest, the host on the morning of March 16, the pilgrims would return home, he added.
- the hindu
Mumbai, February 28, 2014: Deputy Chief Minister and Maharashtra Finance Minister Ajit Pawar recently presented an interim budget, a total outlay of Rs.5417.2 crore for the next four months aimed at satisfying voters across the state, ahead of general and state assembly elections to be held this year.
The Congress-NCP government, which had been promised skies to minorities, has again shown a thumb to them. The Maharashtra interim budget presented is the latest proof. In the Rs 5417.2 crore budget, only Rs.131 Crore has been allocated to Muslims. This fund will be allocated for basic development of madarsas, development of minority institutions and post metric scholarships. Whereas the budget allocates Rs. 2378 Crore for the upcoming Kumbh Mela in Nashik district. This fund will be utilized for the preparation of Kumbh Mela and for the development of the areas near Kumbh Mela.
Muslim organizations and ulema are feeling cheated by this allocation of mere Rs. 131 Crore in the budget. They say that the state government has many times agreed with the Sachar report but has failed to implement it.
Minority organizations’ dissatisfaction with the budget is also because the state government have on the one hand announced many schemes for the development of scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and OBC and have allocated thousands of fund for them but on the other hand have allocated only RS.131 Crore for the minorities. This allocation to minorities is not even half of the amount allocated to them in the last budget.
Abu Asim Azmi, Samajwadi Party MLA of Maharashtra has also expressed his discontent with the budget and said that the budget is not balanced and has not done justice with all the sections of the community and has appealed for increase in the fund for the minorities in the state.
State Minority Minister Muhammad Arif Naseem was dissatisfied with the allocation of less fund to minorities and in protest had not attended a meeting which was held by the state ministers before the announcement of budget. He has said that mere Rs.131 Crores are not sufficient for the development of minorities in the state and that he would request Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to raise fund for the minorities.
The general secretary of Legal Aid Committee of Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra (Arshad Madni) said, “Even though minorities of the state are with Congress and NCP, the government has turned a blind eye on them. Non congress governments in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have done better than Congress where they allocated Rs. 20140 Crores and Rs.800 Crores respectively”.