Caritas’ National Assembly to showcase its best so far

September 19, 2014 by admin  
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CaritasNew Delhi, September 18, 2014: The National Assembly of Caritas India, starting today, will showcase best of community mobilization efforts of the organization with the thrust of animation.

The two-day event is organized in Bangalore and will see 167 Caritas member organizations under one roof.

Nearly 200 participants, including international donors, directors of member organizations and special invitees are expected to take part in the event.

Using story telling method, sixteen best cases will come alive on canvas in vibrant colors creating a visual impact of tangible results churned after 25 years of reflection and realization process of animation.

“The definition of human development puts ‘people first’, as subjects of change, having the power and capacity to make the choices and uphold their own dignity,” Fr. Paul Moonjely, deputy director of Caritas India.

He said that the concept of human development today is better understood in terms of equity and justice.

Cases from the fields of community health, natural resource management, rights and entitlements and disaster mitigation are some of the key thematic focuses during the event.

The event will also be marked by a release of the book “Animation Muse” on animation and three awards would be conferred under the categories of best annual report, best animation story and best story teller.

Renowned activist and author Prakash Louis and presently the Director of Indian Social Institute will deliver the key note address on the occasion.

- press release

Priest hoists saffron unity flag

September 19, 2014 by admin  
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priest hoists unity flagThiruvananthapuram, September 17, 2014: An “unlikely guest” unfurled the Sangh parivar’s saffron flag to mark the launch of its 2014 Janmashtami festivities in Kerala last week.

Nidheesh Njanakkal, a priest of the local St Francis Xavier’s Church at Thaikkattusseri in Alappuzha district, did the honours on Wednesday morning on an invite from the RSS organ for children, Balagokulam.

This was the first time that a Catholic priest had hoisted the flag at the Balagokulam event.

Balagokulam state general secretary Prasanna Kumar said the flag-hoisting ceremony was a state-wide “annual” ritual that has been going on for 36 years. “Local units invite an eminent person, irrespective of political or religious leanings, to hoist the flag. In Pathanamthitta district, we had Janata Dal MLA Mathew T. Thomas and (actor) Suresh Gopi in state capital Thiruvananthapuram,” he added.

“This time, we held it at 10,000 centres. The event announces the start of the festivities that culminate in a ‘sobhayatra’ (procession) on Janmashtami day.”

This year’s sobhayatra took place today, when Kerala observed Lord Krishna’s birth, the delayed celebration a result of differences in the astrological calendar. North India celebrated the day in mid-August.

Njanakkal, whose church belongs to the Syro-Malabar Catholic division, said he accepted the invite to promote religious harmony. “The event was taking place not far from the church and I attended as it would help strengthen religious harmony,” the young priest told The Telegraph.

The Syro-Malabar Church, headquartered in Ernakulam, is a part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and is a congregation of Syrian Catholic Christians and, perhaps, the biggest in Kerala.

The priest’s cynosure role came barely three weeks after another church in Thaikkattusseri played host to the Sangh’s Rakshabandhan celebrations. At that event held in St Antony’s Church on August 17, priest Paul Alanchery tied rakhis on children.

Vimal Ravindran, an RSS functionary and Balagokulam office bearer for the district, said the invite to the priests was a “conscious effort to reach out to various communities and remove misunderstandings, if any”.

“Every year, we have instances where teachers in some minority-run educational institutions ask children to take off rakhis as they believe they are a religious symbol. We wanted to send the message that it was not so and that it was a national festival which reaffirms the sense of brotherhood,” Ravindran added.

Kerala, where Christians account for a substantial chunk of the population, has sometimes seen tensions between the community and Hindus. In the early eighties, Hindu outfits had successfully fought attempts to erect a cross at Nilakkal, considered a point of entry to the Sabarimala hill temple.

Thaikkattusseri, in the fishing community-dominated Alappuzha district, has had its share of religious strain, too, when the backward Pulayas converted in droves to Christianity.

But with sects like the Pentecosts winning over converts from Catholicism, there has been a reduction in tension between Sangh outfits and Catholics. The friction between the Catholics and the Pentecosts, an emerging sect, has helped defuse the hostility between the traditional foes — the Sangh and the Catholics.

There has even been instances of cooperation between the two — as in 2009 — when reports of alleged “love jihad” — a perceived conspiracy involving marriage and conversion of Hindu girls — prompted the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and some Christian groups to fight it out together as they both felt threatened.

The Sangh’s latest attempt to reach out to the Church, too, has coincided with allegations of “love jihad” by some groups, although BJP Union minister Rajnath Singh has dismissed such reports.

CPM leaders spied a “political motive” behind the Sangh’s Janmashtami festivities. Sangh sources rubbished the allegation, saying “rivals were jealous of the roaring success” of the sobhayatra. The outfit’s state president, T.P. Rajan Master, told a media conference there would be 10,000 sobhayatras this year.

Last year, the state Congress had tried to wrest the Janmashtami limelight from theparivar and its children’s wing, the Jawahar Balajana Vedi, had drawn up plans to celebrate the day. But it dropped the plan after a report in the Jamaat-e-Islami run Malayalam daily Madhyamam criticised it as an “attempt to saffronise the state Congress”.

- telegraph

Maharashtra Muslims to go for elections without strategy but with miraculous expectation

September 19, 2014 by admin  
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Muslims VotingMumbai, September 16, 2014: Maharashtra assembly elections are round the corner, 288 seats to go for polls on 15th October and as usual the anxiety of Muslims in the state have started to build up for two major reasons – to keep communal parties at bay and to increase Muslim representation in the assembly.

These worries of Muslims always crop up only days before elections – parliamentary or assembly. Barely a section of the community in reality bothers about the actual strategy months before elections to achieve these two goals in the elections which basically rest at almost all Muslims’ heart.

Even though these are main concerns of Muslims but the community never prepares a united strategy to accomplish the common objective. Muslims make up 11-12% of the population in the state and hence have the possible strength in proving vital during elections if their votes are not divided.

Presently in the state there are set of Muslim led or so called pro-Muslim parties who are eying to fight assembly polls from Muslim majority areas. These are Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Awami Vikas Party, Welfare Party of India, Samajwadi Party (SP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslemeen (AIMIM). Although SP is not purely Muslim party but is the strongest Party mostly preferred by Mumbai Muslims.

As of now these parties have not allied together plus there is no apparent possibility of alliance between SP and AIMIM. Even if these parties get together they will pose main hurdle for INC-NCP than Shiv Sena (SS) – BJP alliance as Muslims in the communally sensitive state are known to least vote for SS and BJP rather they are identified to choose INC-NCP candidates due to their secular stand.

AIMIM has made a grand entry into Maharashtra with Akbaruddin Owaisi holding a huge rally in Mumbai this week where he announced of fielding candidates from Muslim majority areas in the upcoming elections with the motive of increasing Muslim representation in the assembly so as to raise community issues more rigorously.

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which has a strong presence in Kerala has announced of fighting from all 20 Muslim majority seats in and around Mumbai. Former police commissioner Shamsher Khan Pathan led Awami Vikas Party has also announced of fielding candidates from all Mumbai seats. Three years before launched Welfare Party of India has also declared of fighting on 80 seats.

These sections of Muslim parties are indeed going to disturb the equation of Muslim votes in the state especially for already struggling INC-NCP in the state. Learning parables from the defeat in the parliamentary elections and with the worry of impact of debuting AIMIM in the state, Samajwadi Party (SP) state Chief Abu Asim Azmi has already declared of going into seat sharing with INC-NCP.

“One cannot deny that the AIMIM’s candidates will divide the Muslim votes. To avoid the division, we have decided to support the secular parties and may field only 8 to 10 candidates in seat sharing arrangements with the Congress and the NCP,” Abu Asim Azmi reportedly told HT.

In present political scenario in the state some short sighting Muslims are expecting of a miracle in their community favor from the elections while Muslims having awareness are worried with the announcement of fighting election by the number of Muslim parties.

Advocate A.W. Shaikh, resident of Mumbra in Mumbai told TwoCircles.net, “At a time when communal forces are at rise and minority voices are suppressed, there is no need of such Muslim parties as an alternative in the elections rather they should increase awareness in the minority people and unit their vote for secular candidate in the region”.

Sajid Shaikh, a government employee residing at Bandra in Mumbai said, “Even though we learn lessons in every elections but the community never comes up with united strategy that could help the community as a whole. Rather than launching new Muslim party in the elections the community leaders should compel the already existing secular parties to listen to their problems and to implement schemes in the community favor”.

Till now, Vidarbha Muslims have not recovered from the shock of Lok Sabha election results from where all the 10 seats were won by SS-BJP alliance and hence are not optimistic about the upcoming assembly elections.

Talking TCN, social activist A. Raza from Vidarbha said, “I have found Muslims in the area to be less enthusiastic about the election this time. They are feeling that their votes have no meaning as in the Lok Sabha elections majority of the Muslims in the region had voted to defeat saffron party but none of the candidate they voted won in the election”.

Although some Muslim youths in Marathwada region who are energized with Owaisi brothers speeches are seeing a hope in AIMIM and are expecting the party to deliver same performance as like in Hyderabad.

“This is the party we were waiting for. I am not party worker but wish to soon work for it”, said Saleem, a vendor at the Nanded train station.

“We supported congress against Shiv Sena many times but congress has not lifted Muslim issues and hence we feel AIMIM will be the better option for Muslims”, said a young businessman from Aurangabad who wished to be identified with only his last name Khan.

In such a mixture of hope and worry for the Muslims in the state, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind is the only organization working to unite Muslim votes. It has announced last week that it is going to hold a state-wide campaign highlighting its various demands.

The organization aims to reach out to at least six crore voters through various means, including door-to-door campaigning, corner meetings, symposiums and rallies between September 12 and 21.

Aslam Gazi, senior member of Jamaat-e-Islami and resident of Kurla in Mumbai said to DNA, “At the end of the day, a winnable candidate is someone who can trounce a communal person. We look to consolidate votes instead of dividing them. If votes get divided, that will affect us. If both the major candidates happen to be from the same community, or a non-Muslim stands in a sure-shot secular seat, we look at the standing of the person in the community. In the past this has happened: Muslims were put up, but non-Muslims have won if they were better.”

All political parties will begin their campaigning soon in the state and it is exciting to watch how INC-NCP alliance play its cards this election so as to defeat grand Mahayuti (BJP-SS-RPI) alliance while winning over Muslims vote which will otherwise go to the set of debuting Muslim parties in the state.

Fingers crossed!

- tcn

Communist daily accuses Indian cardinal of siding with Modi

September 7, 2014 by admin  
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Cardinal BeseliosThiruvananthapuram, August 29, 2014: A leader of India’s main communist party on Friday accused the head of the bishops’ conference of supporting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist agenda.

In an editorial in the Malayalam Communist daily Deshabhimani, politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan warned that Cardinal Beselios Cleemis Thottunkal’s comments on Modi’s “good governance model” after their meeting on August 18 helped the prime minister’s right-wing Hindu agenda.

The cardinal also said a day after their talks that “there was no situation so far not to trust the prime minister” since he took office in May.

“His remarks certainly weaken the attempts of secular forces in their fight against Modi’s action plan,” Vijayan wrote.

He cited a series of recent statements by members of the right-wing Hindu group Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and events including an attack on Christians by Hindu fanatics when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat state.

The cardinal should “open his eyes to see the gravity of the situation India is passing through,” Vijayan added.

Although Modi has refrained from making public statements which endorse the right-wing Hindu agenda of his support base, critics warn that hardline elements in his party and Hindu groups including the RSS have been emboldened by his sweeping election victory in May.

Reports this week claim that Hindus in Uttar Pradesh reconverted 72 Christians back to Hinduism although it remains unclear whether they were coerced. Vijyan warned Indian Christians that they could expect further conversions under Modi.

“With whom will the cardinal show sympathy?” Vijayan said in a telephone interview on Friday.

Cardinal Cleemis was not available for comment. However, his Auxiliary Bishop Samuel Mar Irenios said criticism by the Communist Party failed to consider all that happened in the meeting.

“The cardinal submitted a memorandum to the prime minister, which had listed several subjects of Christians’ concerns. The threats to India’s securalism was one of the major concerns,” he said.

- ucanews

Jharkhand ‘Love Jihad’ case: Husband sent to police custody

September 7, 2014 by admin  
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Love JihadRanchi, August 29, 2014 : A Jharkhand court here Friday remanded in three days’ police custody a Muslim man, who married national-level shooter Tara Shadeo pretending to be a Hindu and allegedly forced her to change her religion.

The court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ranchi, sent Ranjit Kohli alias Rakibul Hassan to the police custody, a day after the same court sent the accused to 14 days’ judicial custody.

The court Friday reversed it decision after Ranchi police pleaded with it for Hassan’s remand.

Hassan was arrested Tuesday from New Delhi.

In another development, Mustaq Ahmad, vigilance registrar with the Jharkhand High Court, was suspended Thursday.

Shadeo had alleged that it was Mustaq Ahmad who organised her nikah with Hassan, after her marriage was soleminsed in accordance with Hindu rituals.

“If needed, we will interrogate Mustaq Ahmad. We will interrogate people who were present at nikah of Shadeo,” Ranchi Senior Superintendent of Police Prabhat Kumar told reporters Friday.

“We have assured Shadeo that justice will be done and she does not need to fear regarding connections of Ranjit alias Hassan,” Kumar said.

In her complaint to police, Sahdeo, a national-level gold-medallist rifle shooting champion, said she got married in July this year to a person named Ranjit Kohli.

She said the marriage was solemnised in accordance with Hindu rituals.

However, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when people invited her husband for Iftar, she came to know from invitation cards that her husband’s original name was Rakibul Hassan.

She also alleged that Hassan and 20 other people forced her to change her religion. When she refused, she was allegedly beaten up and a dog was set upon her.

Sahdeo alleged that she was threatened with dire consequences if she told anyone about the conversion.

She was kept under close vigil but when Hassan went to New Delhi Aug 19, she sent a message to her family members and was rescued.

- ians

JIT: NRI Muslims run vocational institute & focus on poor

September 7, 2014 by admin  
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JITUP, August 29, 2014: As the car takes a left turn after a drive of over 35 KM on the Lucknow-Faizabad road, near Barabanki, practically all claims of development of a shining India is found gasping on a road where potholes are more visible than the pitch and coal tar. After about 5 KM of bumpy ride our car halts outside the gate of Mughal era fortress at Jahangirabad. The fort has now been converted into an educational institution imparting course in engineering, management and media at affordable fees and is run by a group of Indian Muslims based in the United States.

Jahangirabad Institute of Engineering & Technology (JIT) or Jahangirabad Educational Trust Group of Institutions (JETGI) is promoted by a number of professionally successful Indians who are settled abroad and have come together to promote higher education with leadership skills to give back to the community through Indian Muslim Relief and Charities (IMRC).

I was waiting to meet Amrita Srivastava, Assistant Director (Admin), I started talking to some of the young boys were waiting to take admission. Md. Waris (17) was just out of class 12 and had come to take admission in B.Tech. The boy from Siwan district in Bihar said that his father works as truck driver. Sitting beside him was Rashid Alam, almost same age. He too was from Siwan and had come to take admission in the college. His father, who is a Police Constable in Bihar, too was accompanying his son and was waiting to meet the college authorities for at least partial waiver in fees as it would be difficult for him to pay the full money, he said.

Later I met another young boy Shahid Ansari, from a village in Ghazipur. A bright student Shahid scored over 70% in class 12, but as his father is a farmer, he cannot afford the fees even at JIT. By the time I was done with the work, I got to know that after filling all the formalities, his form has been processed for full fees waiver.

Barabanki of eastern UP has been out of the technology race and remains industrially backward. Besides students from the Eastern Uttar Pradesh, a large number of them came from Bihar, West Bengal and even as far as Kerala.

Away from the media din, this institute is not always running for the crème de la crème, but rather appears content to promote education to students, many of whom would otherwise not be able to study. The UP Government has fixed the B.Tech. salary of up to Rs 75000. As a rule, JIT charges only Rs 50 thousand and thus technically all the students get what they call “Chairman’s scholarship”. Besides there are several other scholarships available to meritorious students, informed Dheerendra Kumar, the Account Manager, In Charge of maintaining records of different scholarships. “Top 30 students who get more than 70% ( 5 each from the five engineering courses and 5 from MBA) every semester gets 50% rebate in based on their performances in examinations,” he told TCN.

JIT has a tie up with the Hyderabad based Sahayta Trust that further helps the needy students in payment of fees on merit cum need basis. Kumar informed that in last three years itself, the Trust has given a total of about one crore rupees towards tuition and hostel fees of poor needy students, including 54 in the last batch.

Being a Minority institution, majority of students belong to the Muslim community (minimum 50% of seats are reserved), but there are good number of non-Muslim students as well and the scholarship facilities are also available for them. I also met Badri Vishal Mishra, who too chose JIT as it’s “comparatively cheaper” and he has hopes of getting further rebate.

Besides they institute also helps the students belonging to socially weaker sections in availing scholarships under different schemes of the government not only for the minorities, but also for SC/STs. To encourage the higher enrollment of female students, the institute has decided to give 50% rebate in fees to all girl students.

And it is not just that the college wants to turn into an ordinary charitable intuition, with little infrastructure. It has many meritorious students who are doing quite well after graduating from the college. The new Engineering Building, well equipped workshops and library is as good, if not better than several private run institutes.

JITCourses offered: Besides Engineering in Computer Science, Electronic, Civil, Electronic, Electrical and Mechanical, JIT also offers MBA course. There is a separate Media Institute (JMI) too that offers diploma and certificate courses in media and has the state of art studios and infrastructure.

Many students I spoke to, did had complaints about some teachers, lack of some facilities in Labs or hostel food – the kind you get to hear in most places – but appreciated a single fact, the Institute is never very strict about fees and have been flexible with most students if it did not arrive on time.

However, there was one concern that not only students but even Mr Chandrama Singh, a faculty member at the MBA center and Head of Training and Placement Coordinator, shared; and that is the question of placement after graduating.

“Several of our students have got placed in good companies at state and national level and some have even been placed in Gulf countries,” he said, adding, “But yes that is an area where we need to focus even more.”

He explains that being in hinterland sometimes it becomes difficult for them to approach companies based in big cities, adding that as most of the students come from rural parts, not only from Hindi belt but even in West Bengal and Kerala, and hence often they need proper grooming to be made industry fit.

To work in this area, JIT has tied up with the Hyderabad based English House that specializes in English communication skills and personality development. As I visited the campus, Munawar Zama, Director of English House was conducting a 20 days long workshop not only for the first year students, but also for old students and teachers.

JIT has acquired more land surrounding the fort and several more courses are in the pipeline, beginning with teacher training course, BBA, M.Tech, Diploma engineering and full time bachelors and masters in media. A separate hostel girl students is also being planned. The trust running the institution envisions a full-fledged University dedicated to the downtrodden in years to come.

Professor Khwaja M Rafi, who is credited with expansion of another private university Alfalah in Faridabad, has recently joined as the Principal. He says he has been given the “mandate to establish a center of excellence”, and he is working hard towards it be recruiting highly qualified faculties, and promote good academic ambience in the campus and gradually set up a complete University, with several departments and faculties.

- tcn

National Minority Commission to raise demands of murdered techie’s father; proposes banning HRS

August 28, 2014 by admin  
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MohsinMumbai, August 26, 2014: A panel of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on Monday visited violence affected areas of Pune and after listening Sadiq Shaikh – father of murdered techie Mohsin Shaikh and other members of minority organizations have said that there are sufficient proofs of involvement of radical outfit Hindu Rashtra Sena (HRS) in igniting Pune communal violence in the city and therefore the panel would strongly recommend central government to ban HRS.

The commission panel was in the city to examine the losses suffered by the people and check if the government has compensated the victims, especially family of murdered techie Mohsin Shaikh, a 24-year-old IT manager who was beaten to death in the Hadapsar area of Pune by HRS activists after derogatory pictures of Shivaji and Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray were uploaded on Facebook, sparking communal tensions across the city during 31st May to 2nd June.

The commission panel consisted of three members – Dr. Ajaib Singh, T N Shanoo and Captain Praveen Davar (retd) who visited the city after nearly 3 months of the incidence and met members from minority organizations – Khudai Kidmatgar, Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra, Muslim Saurakshan Hakka Samiti, Sadiq Shaikh and many other social activists.

All these organizations along with Sadiq Shaikh insisted the commission to propose central government to ban HRS members of which were responsible for creating havoc in the city resulting into the death of innocent IT manager Mohsin Shaikh in Hadapsar area of the city.

Sadiq Shaikh told the commission that even after state government’s announcement of providing job to Mohsin’s brother, state has not allotted any job to him so far although elections are due in the state for which model code of conduct will resume in couple of weeks.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, in a meeting with Sadiq Shaikh and MLA Pranati Shinde from Solapur on June 9, had assured him that the state government would provide a job for his younger son ‘Mubeen Shaikh’ but no official letter have been issued to his name till date.

With this he also asked commission to raise his demand of prosecuting HRS members arrested for Mohsin’s murder under stringent MCOC Act in a fast track court and to protect witnesses in the case so that trial will not get affected.

Representatives of minority organizations presented some photographs before the commission of damaged Mosques, Kabrastan (funeral ground), burnt Bakeries,shops, vehicles etc and have also demanded to compensate all the victims who have not yet been paid damages by the state.

Qari Muhammad Idris , head of Jamiat Ulema Pune unit apprised commission that since many years Hindu radicals in the city terrorize butchers and forcefully snatch sacrificial goats and bulls from their vehicles during transport for Bakr Eid to other city and sell them in other markets. He also told that even after number of complaints to city police such incidences continue to happen every year due to lack of vigilance of police.

After discussion the commission acknowledged the fact that only Muslim community suffered during the 3 days violence and there is absolute need of banning radical outfit HRS which has proved to be a threat for maintaining communal harmony in the society.

“The Commission will also recommend the ban on the radical outfit. The idea of ‘India’ is that followers of all religions stay together in total harmony in the country,” said Dr Ajaib Singh.

The commission appreciated response of Muslims in the city who kept calm and did not indulge in the violence despite damages suffered to them. The commission also appreciated city police in containing the violence though it hinted that if city police would have been vigilant then damages could have been fewer.

“We found that six incidents that involved digging up of graveyards in Bhosari area, and stone pelting at mosques, could have been avoided if police had been more vigilant,” said captain Davar.

In the end commission promised Sadiq Shaikh and meeting organizations of raising demands of immediately providing job to Mohsin’s brother along with other demands posed by Sadiq Shaikh while it meets Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in next two days. The commission also assured of recommending central government to ban HRS.

- tcn

Chabad Centre reopens 6 years after Mumbai attack

August 28, 2014 by admin  
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Chabad CentreMumbai, August 26, 2014: Jewish outreach centre Chabad-Lubavitch, which was bloodied and brutalised in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, reopened to normal activities in its renovated avatar Tuesday.

A group of 25 Rabbis from Asia attended the reopening ceremony at the six-storey Nariman House which houses the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre in Colaba in south Mumbai.

It was one of the targets of the 10 Pakistani terrorists who created the 60-hour mayhem in Mumbai during the Nov 26-29, 2008 terror attacks, sneaking in from the Arabian Sea route.

Among the six people gunned down in Chabad Centre were Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivka.

Rabbi Nachman, father of the slain Rabbi Holtzberg, was present during Tuesday’s ceremony.

“It is a very special day, for his (Rabbi Gavriel) family and friends who remember that day’s terrifying tragedy. They had spread the message of goodness, hope, love and tolerance, we must ensure their mission continues to grow further,” Rabbi Nachman said, remembering his son and daughter-in-law.

The Holtzbergs’ two-year-old son Moshe was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel and their cook Qazi Zakir Hussain who lived there.

Moshe was later taken by his grandparents to Israel along with Sandra. She opted to settle there and was granted that country’ citizenship.

The Chabad Centre is now headed by Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky and his wife Chaya, who are its directors.

There is a plan to set up a $2.5-million Jewish Museum on the fourth and fifth floors.

“This six-storey building was continuously operating under the attack. We are not moving into a new building, we are returning to our original building, and we will be continuing and expanding all the activities that took place here,” Rabbi Kozlovsky said.

Rabbi Moshe Motlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch, said the reopening was “a moment of tears as also of joy”.

“We shall not fight terror with guns and grenades, but by spreading love. I think this is really a message for the whole world. You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific ones,” he said.

Select visitors witnessed the bullet-ridden walls of the two floors which have not been refurbished but shall be covered with glass to enable people have a sense of the monumental tragedy that stunned the world.

- ians

EFI: Kandhamal – Never again

August 28, 2014 by admin  
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Kandhamal riotsOrissa, August 27, 2014: On the 6th anniversary of the Kandhamal carnage, the Evangelical Fellowship of India stands in solidarity with the victims of the violence in Kandhamal district of eastern Indian state of Orissa in 2008. Orissa has a long history of anti Christian violence including the attack on the villagers of Kattingia in Kandhamal (1986), a series of burning of 19 churches in Kandhamal (1986-87), the Catholic Health Centre of India near Latur (1996), burning of Bibles and attacks on the Christian congregations and the burning alive of Pastor Graham Steward Stains along with his two sons, Philip and Timothy, aged 9 and 7 years, who were sleeping in a jeep after a village festival. (1999, January).

However, August 25, 2008 started the worst ever violence against the minority Christian population in the history of independent India. Between 75 and 123 people were killed in the violence – though the government has confirmed only 54 deaths in all. The majority of those killed were Christian dalits or adivasi. Many more were injured, close to 5,000 houses belonging to Christians were destroyed partially or fully, and at least 264 churches and prayer halls were desecrated and demolished. An unestimated number suffered severe physical injuries and mental trauma. While there were a few media reports of women being sexually assaulted, many more such victims were threatened into silence. Although Kandhamal was the epicenter of the attacks, the violence spread to over 14 districts of Orissa and a few other states.

Though the Orissa government claims it took strict action against the accused, statistics show that out of the 827 FIRs filed, charges against the accused were framed in only 512. And only 75 cases ended in convictions, in which only 477 persons were convicted but primarily for smaller or petty offences such as burning of houses and damaging property. Only nine people have been convicted for their role in killing of the Christians.

The failure to effectively prosecute those accused of carrying out violent attacks against the Christian community and the apathy of the state machinery has left victims vulnerable to threats, discrimination and social isolation. The impunity enjoyed by the mobs in Orissa has also emboldened other fundamentalist groups to attack the community elsewhere in the country.

The compensation received by the victims is paltry at best and many victims have complained that they have yet to receive even the full compensation declared by the government. There are petitions pending before the Supreme Court calling for an increase in the compensation payable.

The Evangelical Fellowship of India calls upon the central government and the government of Orissa to take active steps to ensure the protection of the rights of religious minorities in India and strict action is taken against those responsible for violence and hate crimes against religious minorities.

- richard howell

CID begins probe into national shooter’s alleged conversion

August 27, 2014 by admin  
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Tara SahdeoRanchi, August 26, 2014: The Crime Investigation Department (CID) of Jharkhand has started a probe into a woman national shooter allegedly having been tortured to convert to Islam by a Muslim man who married her after posing as a Hindu.

A CID team went to house of Tara Sahdeo during the course of the probe.

Meanwhile, accused Ranjit Kohli alias Rakibul Hussain has sent an email to media houses through his friend Rohit, with a five-page letter attached to it.

In the letter Ranjit alias Rakibul has alleged that Tara had demanded Rs.15 lakh for marrying him. He claimed that he was Hindu and the issue was fabricated.

Tara has refuted the allegations. “Does anyone pay Rs.15 lakh to marry a girl? If he is innocent then why is he absconding. There is enough evidence against him but police are not investigating the case properly,” Tara told reporters.

In her complaint to the police, Tara Sahdeo, a national-level gold-medallist rifle shooting champion said she got married in July this year to a person named Ranjit Kohli.

She said the marriage was solemnised in accordance with Hindu rituals.

However, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when people invited her husband for Iftar, she came to know from invitation cards that her husband’s name was Rakibul Hussain.

She also alleged that Hussain and 20 other people forced her to change her religion. When she refused, she was allegedly beaten up and a dog was made to bite her.

Sahdeo alleged that she was threatened with dire consequences if she told anyone about the conversion.

She was kept under close vigil but when Hussain went to New Delhi Aug 19, she sent a message to her family members and was rescued.

Police have sealed three houses where Rakib was staying on rent and seized his seven vehicles.

- ians

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