Chennai, April 10, 2014: Denial of BC community certificate to converted Muslims amounts to deprivation of fundamental rights, the judge said.
The court also ordered the Tamil Nadu government to instruct officials to issue backward class (BC) community certificates to people who embrace Islam.
“I have no hesitation to come to the conclusion that a person belonging to Hindu backward class community, on conversion to Islam, would get the benefit of backward class status if the person is covered under List III of the government order no. 85,” said Justice D Hariparanthaman on Wednesday.
The list contains seven sects of ‘backward class’ Muslims. They are: Ansar, Dekkani Muslims, Dudekula, Labbais (including Rawthar and Marakayar speaking Tamil or Urdu), Mapilla, Sheik and Syed, the judge pointed out.
Justice Hariparanthaman criticized government communications sent in February 2010 and August 2012 asking collectors not to issue BC certificates to converted Muslims.
Describing it as persecution of Muslims and akin to ‘untouchability’ practised on dalits, the judge said, “Denial of BC community certificate to converted Muslims amounts to deprivation of fundamental rights.”
The judge was passing orders on a petition filed by M U Aariffaa, who was a Nadar (a BC community) before her conversion to Islam in 2006.
She approached the court when officials denied her government jobs reserved for backward classes on the ground that her conversion disqualifies her.
While accepting amicus curiae M Ajmalkhan’s stance that there is no such a thing as ‘converted’ Muslim, Justice Hariparanthaman disagreed with his claim that unlike in the case of Christianity, a convert’s original caste status is erased on embracing Islam.
The judge also flayed the Tamil Nadu Backward Class Commission for its stand that no convert to Islam is entitled to get BC community certificate and that all such existing certificates are bogus.
“The view expressed by the commission has no basis and it has to be rejected, as it would result in the denial of community certificates to all converts to Islam,” Justice Hariparanthaman said.
The court directed the government to offer Aariffaa the job for which she had qualified.
- times of India
Pastoral letter of Andhra Pradesh federation of Churches (APFC) on state and general elections 2014
Secunderabad, March 27, 2014:
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Greetings of Peace and Joy in the name of Lord Jesus Christ!
As you are aware, at this point of time our beloved State of Andhra Pradesh is in a very critical situation. In the last few years, we have gone through much tension and agitation due to the struggles for and against the bifurcation of the State. Finally, the Parliament passed the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act and the Central Government has fixed June 2, 2014 as the appointed day for the formation of two states of residuary Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Meanwhile, the State and General Elections have arrived and we are preparing for them. This is an important moment for us since the direction that our State and Country takes and their progress largely depends on our Assembly and Parliament.
Our Duty as Patriotic Citizens
At this critical juncture, the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches (APFC), which is a state-level apex body of Archbishops, Bishops and Heads of Churches, held its Seventh General Body Meeting on March 27, 2014 at St John’s Regional Seminary, Hyderabad.
During the meeting it was resolved to issue a Pastoral Letter on the ensuing state and general elections. As Pastors of our people, we consider it our duty to address you through this Pastoral Letter on behalf of APFC, so that, joining hands with all people of good will, we can effectively contribute to shaping the future of our State and Nation.
At the outset we wish to make it clear to all that the APFC, including its member-Churches, do not identify itself with any political party. But we have a responsibility as Bishops / Heads of Churches to urge every eligible citizen to exercise his / her right and duty to vote and do so prudently, carefully and judiciously. All our parish priests / pastors are urged to impress on the people their obligation in this regard.
We must remember the value of our vote and admonish our people not to dishonor it by trading it for money and liquor and by casting their vote basing one caste, creed and clan. We must be convinced that every vote does count. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our families not to let go of this opportunity to get involved in bettering our State and Nation.
We need to elect leaders who are close to people and respond to their needs; who uphold the secular and pluralistic character of our Nation and promote communal harmony; who strive for social justice and equality of the marginalized groups like the Tribals and Dalits especially Dalit Christians and protect the rights of the Minorities; who are determined to advance an inclusive economy that supports the poor especially to the unorganized labourers and marginal farmers by ensuring their basic human rights to food, water, shelter, health, education and employment;
Who strive to ensure the safety and security of women and children and their essential rights to life and livelihood; who lay focus on youth for ensuring their holistic development with character building, critical education and life skills; who make every effort to curb corruption and bring about good governance with peoples’ plans and decentralized, transparent, accountable and responsible administration; and who endeavor to protect the environment with sustainable development and safeguard the rights of Tribal and Local communities over land, water and forests.
Concerns of our Christian Community
We are deeply concerned about the pressing needs of our Christian Community in State that call for the urgent attention of the political leaders. Our State records one of the highest numbers of atrocities committed on Christians and pastors. During the recent months these attacks have increased in some districts. Organized mob attacks are taking place on Christians during their worship.
There is a plot to prevent the spread of Christianity for last six decades by denying to the converted Dalits their Constitutional rights and privileges. There is a ploy to prohibit our mission of evangelism and spreading of the Gospel through legislations and government orders (GOs). There is a sinister design to block our educational ministry by stopping the grant-in-aid and not filling-up the aided teachers’ posts. Hundreds of our Church-run schools had to be closed and thousands of posts remain vacant. There is a conspiracy to take over the properties of our Churches and educational institutions by passing a Bill.
To restrain these evil designs and to rein-in the communal forces behind them, along with APFC we must insist that Political Parties include the following demands of the Christian Minority in their Manifestos, which have been already submitted to them by APFC, and strive to implement them in earnest after the elections both in the residuary Andhra Pradesh and Telangana:
Extend SC status to the Dalit Christians by deleting the unconstitutional and discriminatory Para 3 of Constitution (Presidential) Order 19 of 1950.
Continue the grant-in-aid to the Church-run Educational Institutions and fill up vacant aided posts pending from 2004 without further delay.
Remove the ban on propagation and practice of Faiths by withdrawing G.Os Ms. No: 746 and 747 both dated 02-06-2007.
Enact “Prevention of Communal Violence Act”; and “Prevention of Minorities Atrocities Act” in line with the “Prevention of SC ST Atrocities Act”.
Constitute the State Christian (Minority) Finance Corporation fully and allocate at least 15% of the funds and schemes under the Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme and Minority Welfare budget.
Provide representations to Christians in the legislative and civil bodies, administrative panels and in various commissions / boards. At least one Assembly seat in each district and two Lok Sabha seats in the State can be assigned to Christian Minority.
Allocate government lands for the construction of churches, community halls, education institutions and burial grounds.
Pressing need of Our Political Ministry
Although we Christians in India are just about 2% of total population, we serve the people of our country, basing on the values and example of Jesus Christ, in various fields. Our contribution in education, health and social welfare and rural development amounts to more than 20%. Nearly 80% care centers and homes for the persons affected by the diseases like HIV/AIDS, TB, Leprosy and Terminal Cancer, and for the disabled, destitute and aged are provided by us. We are very much involved in poverty eradication, skill development for self-employment and the empowerment of the Marginalized in many ways. In doing all these, our primary mission is to transmit the love and mercy of Jesus Christ to the whole of India beyond caste, creed and community.
But, often we forget that this mission includes also spreading of His message and building up His movement for the Kingdom of God. This demands Church’s involvement in the public life, civil society and political filed, by engaging in advocacy for human rights, networking with other religious and social groups, and participating in the political action where we are conspicuously absent. Signs of times call for Church’s political apostolate and promote political service. Our political ministry is the need of the hour. Hence, as Bishops / Pastors we encourage our members to opt for political vocation and to take up political life and work.
We ought to bring Christian presence to the public life and political field to cleanse and transform it in accordance with the values of love and service, and justice and peace of the Kingdom of God (cfr. Rom 14.17). We must be involved in political ministry to implement the promises of Jesus Christ made in his Nazareth Manifesto (Lk 4. 18-21).
For this, we need Christian political leaders with value-based politics and with service-motive which is inspired by our Supreme Leader and Lord Jesus Christ “who came not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20.28). Hence, we encourage Christians, especially the youth, to take up leadership roles in public and political life. We ought to strengthen our democracy by working for electoral reforms so that not only the rich and powerful and their kith and kin but all citizens can have equal opportunity to contest and participate in governance.
We urge the Christians in the State, to participate actively in the democratic process by exercising their right and duty to vote discerningly to elect service-minded, secular and sincere leaders who are free from crime, corruption and communalism.
We urge our Faithful to pray ardently at home and in our churches, especially on the Sunday before the polling day (in Telangana on April 27 and in Seemandhra on May 4) that the elections may bring us good governments. We request our Priests / Pastors to read this Pastoral Letter on that day or any Sunday before the polls and distribute the copies of the same to our church members.
Soon we will be part of two separate of states of residuary Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. All the same, the people both the states must cooperate and support each other as members on one joint family putting aside resentment. With the God’s strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can all work unitedly for a bright future for all the Telugu people. As we conclude, we lift our State and Country to our Guru and Lord Jesus Christ to guide, protect and bring us abundant graces.
May God bless us!
With prayerful wishes and God’s blessings,
Archbishop Thumma Bala
CSI Moderator Bishop G. Dyvasirvadam
Presidents of A.P. Federation of Churches (APFC)
Panaji, April 10, 2014: Church people’s appeal to vote for a secular party is criticized.
The state unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) in Goa has accused the BJP, Congress and Catholic church of sowing seeds of communal hatred by using terms like “secular” in the run-up to parliamentary polls.
“The BJP and Congress are accusing each other as communal. In addition, Goa’s Catholic church has appealed to the people to vote for a secular party,” CPI’s North Goa candidate Suhas Naik told reporters today during a press conference.
In the entire bargain, he said seeds of hatred are being sown by these organizations including the church, which is detrimental for the people of Goa, he said according to a PTI report.
“This will be harmful for the future of Goa whose secular fabric has been left untouched by any kind of developments nationally,” Naik said.
The CPI leader, who is also spearheading the agitation for resumption of mining, accused the RSS of masterminding the ban on iron ore extraction industry in the state.
“The RSS never wanted economically weaker people to be uplifted. The mining industry gave economic strength to this class which did not go well with the Sangh,” Naik alleged.
Naik also alleged that religious institutions also opposed mining in the state.
“Religious institutions had issued a circular appealing to the BJP to oppose mining, if they wanted support to come to power,” the CPI leader alleged.
He said if the CPI forms a government at the Centre, it would form a Goa Mineral Ore Development Corporation (GMODC), which would distribute shares of profits from the mining industry among all stakeholders.
- zee news
Bihar, April 9, 2014: Muslims and Christians in India are not outsiders but an integral part of the country, said retired Justice Rajinder Sachar responding to criticism against comparative report on the condition of Muslims submitted by a panel headed by him.
“Secularism and socialism are fundamental elements of the preamble of the Constitution, without which no government can run, and those against these fundamentals can be tried for treason,” said the 90-year-old legal luminary.
He was addressing a seminar on ‘Educational, economic and social uplift of Muslim minority in Bihar that Tauheed Educational Trust organized here on Monday.
The former chief justice of Delhi high court said secularism is not against any religion. Secularism means religious equality and that no religion is superior to others, he added.
He also quoted Swami Vivekanand, who had asked Hindus not to treat themselves as superior, and said all religions are one and Vedantism was incomplete without Islam.
“The country can’t progress without equal rights and participation of Muslims and Christians. Discrimination on the basis of majority and minority is sheer foolishness. The governments should examine conflict as a result of discrimination and inequality in society,” he said.
Justice Sachar said his report, which he submitted in 2006, is a comparative study of the condition of Muslims and other religious groups and so far nobody could prove his findings wrong.
He also condemned the attitude to see Muslims with suspicion in the wake of terrorism.
He referred to the December 6, 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and said the Lucknow high court had observed that those involved in this act were not suited to run government.
- times of india
Madhya Pradesh, March 24, 2014: Hindu extremists charge the religious leaders, “guilty” of watching a movie about Jesus with a group of Christians. The police arrest them without checking veracity of the allegations. Brother Sonjith and Brother Simson, on 22 March in the city of Moraine were detained on charges by a group of Hindu fundamentalists.
The two Pentecostal leaders had organized the vision of a film about Jesus along with some Christians, in the house of one of the faithful. On being made aware of the projection, some extremists filed a complaint to the police, claiming that Christians were forcibly converting Hindus.
The police arrived on the scene and arrested the pastors. After being interrogated for two hours and having proved their innocence, the officers released them. “ The zealous pro – Hindu law enforcement agencies waste no time in arresting innocent Christians, taking them from the intimacy of a private home, without any evidence. Less than a month before the general election, we are concerned about the Christian community in Madhya Pradesh and other states led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)”, Sajan George of the Global Council of Indian Christians said.
Egypt, March 08, 2014: “Fr Frans was killed in the monastery garden with two shots to the head. It was a deliberate act,” said Fr Said Ziad Hilal SJ who talked to the Arabic service of Vatican Radio about the priest who was slain yesterday in Homs.
Fr Bimal Kerketta SJ, an Indian priest who runs a Jesuit school in Minya (Egypt), talked to AsiaNews about his friendship with the Jesuit priest who lived in Syria for 50 years, where he tried to hold together the local community, which included both Christians and Muslims.
Fr Kerketta’s testimonial follows. (Adaptation by AsiaNews)
Before the war in Syria, I visited Homs twice and I lived with Fr Frans van der Lugt for a few days. I saw his work and daily activities. He was a brave man, devoted to others, regardless of their religion.
He always tried to do his best to bring Muslims and Christians of various denominations together, in every sphere of life.
Father Frans was fully integrated into the life and culture of the Syrian people. He spoke Arabic very well and had great scientific knowledge of the Qur’an. Syrian Muslims will feel his loss the most. Many Muslims had come to live in the monastery under his care. Even an Islamic sheikh and his family had found refuge.
A Jesuit, Fr Frans van der Lugt ran special programmes for disabled Muslims and Christians, for the needy, the disadvantaged and the marginalised of society. He had special programmes for women who came to see him every day: for literacy, job training and home economics. Some worked in the vineyard of the Jesuit community.
His death is a severe blow for peace-loving Muslims and Christians. Now both sides will be even more scared. Even among different Christian denominations, it will not be easy to take steps towards one another, to work together.
In Islamic countries, we priests focus on people’s humanity, on standing together as brothers and sisters.
In two days, Fr Frans would have turned 76. He was born 10 April 1938.
When he heard the news, the Jesuit community in Minya was shocked, because until his death he was able to maintain a balance between army troops and rebels, helping Muslims and Christians to live side by side.
The life of the Jesuit community in Homs is extremely difficult. None of the ten priests who lived in Syria has left the country, even though life is hard and hazardous since the war broke out. But such is our vocation as Jesuits: to serve Christ and the people with our lives.
During the fighting, our vineyard was attacked, captured and looted by the rebels. Now it is hard to reach: everything was destroyed.
The place where he was killed is controlled by the rebels. These use Christian homes and buildings to attack the Syrian army.
The place is more than a thousand years old with narrow streets. When soldiers move in, the rebels attack them with guerrilla tactics . . . thanks to the strong support of some Gulf States.
It is sad that religion, rather than bind humans, kills them, erasing ancient bonds of spirit and life.
As for me, I am ready to go to Syria and work there, at any time. I am talking to my superiors. God save Syria.
*Fr Bimal Kerketta is an Indian priest who has lived in Egypt for ten years. He heads the Jesuit-run school in Minya
“He (Modi) is set to come (to) power in India,” Singhal told a gathering of Hindus in the eastern Nepali city of Biratnagar.
Once Modi assumes office, it will not take much time to see Nepal as a Hindu state, he said.
Nepal was the world’s only Hindu state until 2008 but was declared secular once the Maoists ousted the monarchy.
Since then, a section of Hindu leaders in Nepal and India have campaigned to reinstate Nepal’s identity as a Hindu state.
“The day Modi comes in power in India, I declare that Nepal will turn into a Hindu state,” said Singhal.
“Under pressure from China, the US, Europe and some Muslim countries, the Hindu identity was finished here,” he said.
Singhal was given a rousing welcome in Biratnagar with thousands of Hindu activists gathering to listen to him.
Nepal’s religious minorities tell government to be “secular” and not just support Hindus
Kathmandu, April 01, 2014: Nepali authorities are spending millions on Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival, helping set up free accommodations for 10 million people. Christians, Muslims and Buddhists are united in demanding equal treatment for all. Protestant leader slams the authorities for ignoring Christian demand for “land to turn to build a cemetery,” something that “is not fair,” he says.
Nepal’s religious minorities are protesting against the government, which, despite its secular nature, continues to provide financial and logistical support only to Hindu religious events.
The latest example is the Hindu festival of Maha Kumbh Mela. Held every 12 years, the great event began yesterday for more than a month bringing holy men to Chataradham in the southern part of the country.
A similar event is held in India. It involves actually a pilgrimage to the Sapta Koshi, a holy river, where pilgrims perform meditations and ablutions.
In Nepal, celebrations attract some 10 million people; in India, it can draw up to 100 million.
Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala opened the celebration yesterday. In order to help in the celebrations, his government allocated more than 5 million rupees (about US$ 50,000), including free shuttle service to and from the venues of the festival, as well as free room and board to pilgrims. The event is scheduled to end on 2 May 2014.
“It is not right for the state to support de facto one religion and ignore the others,” said Rev C.B. Gahatraj, a Christian clergyman.
In doing so, “it is clearly showing a policy to marginalise and ultimately suppress minorities. We only want a treatment that is fair and equal for all since we live in a secular and democratic nation.”
Sadly, the authorities “have ignored every year our request for land to build a cemetery,” the Protestant leader explained.
They “banished us from our land near Pashupatinath temple. They continue to treat us second-class citizens. Meanwhile, they use taxes collected from everybody to help Hindus. This cannot be called a secular government. “
Nazrul Hassein, a Muslim, and Dharma Murti, a Buddhist, agree. “The government’s partiality for Hinduism poses a psychological threat to all of us.”
Mumbai, March 28, 2014: Accountant, 25 years old, the young woman is educated and comes from a wealthy family of the highest caste. She tells AsiaNews about her journey of faith: the first few times in church as a child with her mother, and her engagement to a young Christian. Now she wants to “become an example for others, never forgetting that I’m embracing Jesus and his teachings”. She Will be baptized during the Easter Vigil.
Naturally drawn towards Christianity” following a spiritual journey that has culminated in the decision to ” follow Christ because without him we are nothing”. These are the words of Pavithra Subramaniyan Iyer, 25, as she describes for AsiaNews how she matured her decision to convert to Catholicism. Born into an educated and influential Hindu family of Brahmin caste, the girl is an only child and works as an accountant. Her father was a banker and her mother a university professor in economics. Below we publish Pavithra’s story.
I would have never imagined how events would change me over the course of one year, since I told my parents that I would like to embrace the Catholic Faith. There were no objections, and both my parents will be present and share my joy at my Baptism at Easter Vigil .
At that time, I was also on a sort of personal spiritual quest and had read about different forms of spiritual experiences including those of the Christian faith. I understood God to be a sort of father figure. I did not know that Jesus Christ was His son, miraculously conceived and born from a virgin. But I knew that Jesus rose from the dead after he had been crucified.
My Mother was educated in a convent school and believed in Jesus Christ, and knew all about his life and ministry. She would take me to church and to the novena service of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, Mahim, and I got this habit of going to church from my mother as she had a belief in Jesus Christ. Almost every year, we used to celebrate the Lord’s Birthday- where I received gifts and new clothes and we had a festive lunch at home and at Easter, our home was filled with colourful Easter eggs. There was a sense of peace that I used to feel when I entered the Church.
I had no idea that there was a plan that he had made for me. There was a image that he had already created of me in Him. He sent me angels to take care of me and guide me on a path. All things fell into place automatically and I was drawn towards the Lord.
I met this Christian boy who became my best friend and now fiancé, who supported me in every walk of life may it be sad or happy. He was and is my support-system. Eventually we decided to take our relationship a step further than friendship. My fiancé’s Mom explained to me the importance of Christ in their lives. ‘Without him we are nothing. Everything that we have achieved is through him and the reason we are living is him.’ Her faith is really strong which lead me to follow her faith.
I took a decision to follow him. In no time I approached the Diocesan Pastoral Centre and met ‘Father Terrence’. He gave me some time to think about my decision and explained the consequences of my decision. I somehow thought this would do me good, something from within me made me take this decision although I did face some sort of turmoil just as Moses or Jonah did.
Gods works are so marvellous. He handed me over to a set of Angels – my animators – ‘Zita, Fatima , Patricia and Rose’ who nurtured me along with the other candidates. They imbibed the seed of faith in me which I will carry forward throughout my life and even after that. They are teaching me about the Lord in such a way that I yearn to learn more and more about him.
I wasn’t really aware what type of class it would be, what they are going to teach and so on. I had too many questions in my head. I still remember it was raining heavily the first day I entered and found some more of them like me wanting to enter the faith. Honestly, they made me feel so comfortable. We have discussions, question and answer sessions, we pray together. Now that we are reaching towards the end of my classes I am feeling so hurt; I wish it was a class which never ended. I enjoy learning about the lord with my animators and other classmates. I can’t imagine not going to my classes every Thursday. It has become a part of my life.
From the beginning until my first retreat, I came to know Jesus as ‘God’ first then ‘Son of God’ ,’ A Messiah’ to being ‘A Saviour of the world’, who died for us in order to free us from sins. Such a huge sacrifice for such sinful people like us who think mostly of worldly pleasures. I realized that whatever the situation be in life we must face it and move forward. We must take up our own cross then God will automatically be with us.
Now let me introduce you to my sponsor and Godparent ‘Auxelia and Tony Gonsalves’ I am very lucky that the Lord has given me such loving, caring sponsor and Godparent who have stood by me throughout this new journey of my life. They introduced me to my parish, they sit with me and pray, explain to me my doubts. They helped me to build a connection with Jesus and make him my friend who is always available to listen and understand.
Whether other people have the time or not, He is there to guide, protect, be with you always, at every moment. Through this journey from knowing Jesus to having my Rite of Acceptance in my Parish and my Rite of Election – my life changed – I started reading the bible, attending mass, learning prayers, reading about the faith. Most importantly the effects -I started inculcating ‘the Beatitudes’ in my life ; I started seeing Christ in other people, it has changed the way I look at life, I am aware that my behavior has an effect and that I should not forget that I am embracing Christ and his teachings. I have to set an example for others by the way how I conduct myself. I passed my CA exams, got a job in 15 days of getting the degree and regained back my self-confidence which seemed lost.
When My Rite of Acceptance and Election was conducted I felt that I am very lucky to come into faith at this point as I feel privileged that the Parish Priests, relatives, parents, parishioners all are a part of my journey. Special Intercessory prayers were said for me. I was welcomed into the community with such warmth. Not only that I felt privileged to get Bishop’s blessing. The Mass that was celebrated on that day can never be forgotten.
Now I have just gone through my first scrutiny – Yes I am proudly saying that I am God’s Chosen One (there is a purpose for which he has chosen me)to whom he is giving the living water.
I am proceeding towards the day when I will be initiated into the faith, will receive the holy spirit which will guide and protect me throughout life and most importantly eagerly awaiting to receive the body and blood of Christ; the day when Christ will start living in me (as expressed by Paul) and through this strength I can spread this good news to the world.
Panaji, April 02, 2014: The Goa Church is a significant player in Goa’s socio-political space with its Catholic population pegged at nearly 27 percent.
The Goa BJP is using Catholic legislators in the party as a “mask” to openly criticize the Church in Goa for hyping the secularism versus communalism debate ahead of general elections, the NCP Tuesday alleged.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) vice president Trajano D’Mello also told a press conference here that the drug mafia had shifted its allegiance to the present government, which was why a legislative committee report on drug trade in Goa was not being adopted by the BJP-led coalition government.
“Why are BJP’s Hindu MLAs not coming forward to criticise the Goa Church for starting a debate on secularism and communalism? Why are only Christian MLAs being used as a mask by the BJP?” D’Mello said, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to start in-fighting within the minority community in Goa.
Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza of the BJP and other Catholic legislators, who are either members of the saffron party or are part of the ruling coalition, have been openly criticising the Church as well as the Roman Catholic priests in Goa for the last one week.
While D’Souza blamed the Church for trying to create a secularism versus communalism divide, Benaulim legislator Caitu Silva accused Catholic priests of supporting the Congress.
“I want to know why the priests do not tell the people two months in advance to support the Congress. Why do they tell us to support the Congress only on the eve of election,” Caitu told reporters Sunday.
The criticism of the Church and one of its social organisations by the ruling Catholic MLAs follows attempts by the former to kindle a secularism versus communalism debate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, much to the displeasure of the BJP, which has insisted on development as the agenda for the general elections.
A circular and a voters’ pledge issued by the Church and its satellite organisations was also obliquely critical of exclusionary and corrupt governance methods adopted by both BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Goa Church is a significant player in Goa’s socio-political space with its Catholic population pegged at nearly 27 percent.
D’Mello also said the delay by the BJP-led Goa government to act on a crucial legislative committee report on the police-politician drug mafia in Goa, could mean that the drug mafia had switched loyalties to the incumbent government. The report, which was tabled last year, has not been adopted by the government yet.
“When was the report tabled? Why is the government not adopting it? BJP MLAs themselves are on record in the assembly as saying that minor children are slowly being addicted to drugs. Does the government want to encourage this?” D’Mello said.
Incidentally, D’Mello’s NCP is backing Congress candidate Ravi Naik for the North Goa parliamentary seat. Naik and his son Roy find themselves indicted in the very same report for their links to Goa’s drug mafia.
Panaji, April 1, 2014: A political party in Goa wants the Catholic Church to define “secularism” after some politicians allegedly began to interpret in their favor a Church appeal to elect those who support secularism.
The Goa Su-raj Party (GSRP) says the Church’s message “is being misconstrued by some national political parties to be a candid support to their candidates.”
“Therefore, it is important for the Catholic Church to define secularism,” founding president, GSRP, Floriano Lobo, said in a press note.
“Political parties such as Congress have been pulling the wool over the eyes of the voters in Goa for years together with talks and claims on being a secular party,” it said.
It said Goa witnessed at least two communal riots under Congress rule. On the national stage too, Congress party has divided India on religious grounds, it alleged. “There is no doubt that past history shows BJP as communal, but it also shows Congress as non-secular,” said Lobo.
Catholics form 27 percent of Goa’s 1.5 million people and Church wields considerable influence among Catholics. It pastoral letter asked people to vote for “secular” candidates.
In a veiled reference to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, it said the Lok Sabha election campaign is titled in favor of one individual to make it look like a Presidential contest.
Reports say since Church’s call to support “secular candidates” every party including the BJP has been claiming that they stand for secularism in the country.
- times of india