Anger over seven-year-old Christian boy’s death

Father claims a cover-up and murder by Hindu fundamentalists.

Anmol Gemethi, who died in mysterious circumstances.

New Delhi:

Accusing police and doctors of shielding the accused, father of a slain Christian boy in Rajasthan, northern India, is demanding a second postmortem of his son’s body, claiming that he was brutally killed by Hindu fundamentalists.

“They are hands in glove. Doctors spoiled the first postmortem by saying that the death happened due to drowning and the police is going by the report,” Harish Gemethi, father of the slain 7-year-old boy, told ucanews.com today.

Gemethi, who belongs to Gamidi village of Dungerpur district, reasoned that if his son, Anmol, died due to drowning then “where did the injuries on the body come from?”

“It is the handiwork of Hindu fundamentalists, one of whom is the head of a nearby village where the body of the boy was found. They had earlier also threatened us not to come to the village because of our faith,” Gemethi, who belonged to the Believers’ Church, alleged.

Anmol’s body was found floating in a river in Tardiobri village in the district on Nov. 19, two days after he went missing.

According to Gemethi, the child’s face was mutilated beyond recognition. There were burn marks on his stomach, his toes were chopped off and one hand and leg were deeply slashed.

“My son’s face looked as if he had been burned up. His eyes, nose and ears were gone, and there was nothing that supported his neck. Yet, the police just refused to take any action,” he said.

However, police said that there was no communal angle to the case and it was an open and shut case of drowning.

The police also confirmed ucanews.com that they have received a fresh complaint of another postmortem Wednesday.

“Nobody was booked since police did not find any evidence against anyone but we would start investigation in to the case again from today after the fresh complaint,” Omendra Bhardwaj, Director General of Police, told ucanews.com.

He said that the injuries on the body were inflicted after the boy’s death and are those of the bites of animals in the river as the body was lying in the river for two days.

Meanwhile, a Christian NGO Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) has sent a memorandum to the president of India, prime minister, governor of Rajasthan and other leaders to ensure justice in the case.

“An appeal was made to the conscience of those concerned to direct corrective and punitive measures immediately. Only a proper investigation and the severest punishment for the killers will serve as a deterrent,” Joseph Dias, CSF head, told ucanews.com.

Source: UCAN News

Rajasthan ,Anger ,Christian Boy’s Death ,Tardiobri Village 
English: Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, India. Polski: Pa...

English: Hawa Mahal, Jaipur, India. Polski: Pałac Wiatrów w Jaipurze w Indiach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vatican sends Diwali greetings to India:

 

 

The biggest Hindu festival falls on Nov. 3 this year.

 

 

 

Rome:

The Vatican’s inter-religious dialogue chief has sent greetings for the upcoming Diwali festival stressing the common humanity shared by Christians, Hindus and other religions, ethnicity and cultures.

“In a spirit of friendship, the Pontifical Council for Inter religious Dialogue extends to you best wishes and cordial greetings,” Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said in a message.

“May God, the source of all light and life, illumine your lives and deepen your happiness and peace,” he said.

Diwali, the Indian festival of lights beginning Sunday, symbolises the victory of good over evil, truth over falsehood, and life over death, the message recalled, adding that its roots lay in ancient mythology.

The message urged Christians and Hindus to foster human relationships based on “friendship and solidarity”.

“Regardless of our ethnic, cultural, religious and ideological differences, all of us belong to the one human family,” it said.

“May we, Hindus and Christians, work individually and collectively, with all religious traditions and people of goodwill, to foster and strengthen the human family through friendship and solidarity,” the message concluded.

Tauran is president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, the Vatican’s inter-faith dialogue body.

Source: IANS

 

Vatican , Diwali 

 

 

English: Rangoli, decorations made from colore...

English: Rangoli, decorations made from colored powder, is popular during Diwali. සිංහල: Rangoli, decorations made from colored powder, is popular during Diwali. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Crash course to show India’s Christians how to vote

 

Will it have any impact on the 2014 election?

 

 

  • John Dayal, India
  • India
  • September 10, 2013

 

 

Great hope is being pinned on a recently launched crash course in electoral politics for the Christian, particularly the Catholic, population in India to prepare them for the general elections scheduled for early 2014.

The object is to counter and, if possible, defeat right wing Hindu nationalist groups who are making a determined bid to wrest political power in New Delhi in the general elections. The Church leadership and laity are being told how they can synergize their voting strength in select constituencies in collaboration with other groups in so as not to divide what is said to be the “secular vote”.

This, it is presumed, will help defeat the political parties with a history of antagonism towards religious minorities.

This political exercise has been undertaken by a small group in the Archdiocese of Delhi working with representatives of Protestant churches and Muslim religious leaders, apart from a handful of civil society activists.

But members of the core lay team spearheading this campaign in applied democracy have their work cut out. They face problems ranging from rank incredulity on the one hand to the passive disinterest of people who feel they are too few to make any impact. The upshot is that many feel they will not be missed if they don’t vote. This feeling of resignation could have far reaching consequences.

The Christian community in India is so small as to seem irrelevant. At 25 million people, it accounts for only 2.3 per cent of the national population, or one fifth of India’s largest and politically powerful Muslim minority community. While there might be more Christians than Sikhs, the Sikh community is concentrated in Punjab from where they control the state legislature and government, and can have their voice heard decisively in the country’s parliament.

In contrast, the states where Christians are a substantial proportion of the population – Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Goa and Kerala — are themselves politically miniscule, with a total of less than 30 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. Uttar Pradesh alone, for example, has 80 seats.

Historically, the Christian community, with some individuals as exceptions, has been considered close to the Indian National Congress. It was loyal to Mahatma Gandhi and to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of the country. And over the decades it has to an extent remained loyal to Indira Gandhi and her Nehru-Gandhi clan, which controls the ruling Congress Party, though no one of the clan holds any ministerial position at present.

The opposition parties, especially the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, have jeered at Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi for her Italian Catholic origins, but the Christian community itself has derived no advantage from this connection.

There have been no Christian chief ministers of any major state in the past, other than of the tiny three in the north east, and Goa and Kerala on the west coast.  In other areas, disempowerment of Tribal Christians continues to be a sad fact of life, and Dalit Christians in particular feel betrayed by the Congress-ruled federal government.

There is a deep seated feeling that development funds for religious minorities have been sluiced to the Muslim community, deemed to be a “vote bank” of Congress and Samajwadi political parties, at the cost of the silent Christians. This by itself failed to arouse the community for years.

The turning point, one feels, was the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal in Orissa state in 2007 and 2008. The sheer magnitude of the violence shocked the community and its religious and secular leadership out of their torpor.

There had been more than 20,000 “communal” riots, or religion-based acts of mass violence, since 1947, but the victims in almost all of them were Muslims. The Sikh community was the victim of mass violence in 1984 following the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.

Though there had been thousands of sporadic and isolated acts of violence against pastors, priests and nuns, there had been just one case of mass violence, and that in Tamil Nadu. Kandhamal suddenly made the Christian community aware of its vulnerability.

The lack of an adequate and comforting response from civil society and political parties also made it clear to the Christians that they really had no political voice, and had to find one.

It is impossible for the Christian community to become politically viable on its own strength. But many in the community have come to realize that they can be a force-multiplier if they act in concert, and perhaps in alliance, with other like-minded groups.

The cementing factor is the common concern against the rise in religious fundamentalism triggered by the right wing Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and its political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party. It rules in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab [in a coalition with the Akali Dal of the Sikhs].

The recent emergence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, widely presumed to have encouraged a veritable genocide of Muslims in 2002 in his state, as a prime ministerial candidate in 2014 has brought a rare sense of urgency.

Christian leaders realize that with Muslims and other “secular” entities, they can make a difference in perhaps as many as 140 parliament constituencies, which could be decisive when it comes to the formation of a future coalition government.

The Muslim community is known for its “strategic voting” which maximizes its presence by giving a winning edge to select candidates who have the best chance of defeating anyone seen as being communal or sectarian.

The call now is for the Christian community to adopt and join this concept of strategic voting, and help the electoral prospects of candidates – and they can be of any of the political parties – who have the best potential of defeating candidates with a known communal bias or track record of hostility towards religious minorities.  It is not an easy task to educate a Christian community scattered widely across the country, split into denominations, cultural rites and scores of language and cultural groups.

The time is short, the resources very limited, and the experience extremely little for extensive political mobilization at the grassroots. But the collective adrenalin is pumping high, as early reports come in of a swing of the young and the middle class towards Narendra Modi, with his known animosity towards religious minorities.

Perhaps nothing may come out of this exercise in a worse case scenario. But the newly acquired political awareness will be useful in the future building of a community that is aware and proud of its identity and knows how to assert its rights for development and security equity under the constitution.

John Dayal is the general secretary of the All India Christian Council and a member of the Indian government’s National Integration Council

Source: UCAN News..

 

Nehru and Gandhi at the opening of the Indian ...

Nehru and Gandhi at the opening of the Indian National Congress, 1937. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Police raise presence in Kandhamal: sectarian violance of 2008

 

Security stepped up for riot anniversary.

 

 

 

The ruins of a Christian church in Sikoketa in the Raikia block of Kandhamal district

By Ritu Sharma
Barakhama: 

Officials in Orissa state’s Kandhamal district have stepped up security in sensitive areas ahead of the anniversary of sectarian violence in 2008 during which more than 100 Christians were killed by Hindu mobs and many more were injured or sexually assaulted.

“We have deployed police … to avoid any untoward incident,” N Tirumala Nayak, the district collector, told ucanews.com.

Nayak, the highest government official in the district, said no specific threats have been made against Christians and that the increased deployment of police was only a precaution.

The district endured seven weeks of violence that broke out on Aug 25, 2008, in which Hindu extremists targeted the Christian community, assaulted several women including a Catholic nun and burned homes, churches and orphanages owned or run by Christians.

Christian residents say they fear for their safety, despite reassurances from authorities.

“We are living in fear all the time. According to the rioters [in 2008], anybody who wants to live here has to be a Hindu or has to become one by converting,” said Kartik Nayak, a Christian youth leader in the Barakhama area, home to a large Christian community.

“Police have also started patrolling in our area and asking if there is any trouble from the other community,” he added.

Several others in Barakhama said they fear attacks from Hindus on the anniversary, which also commemorates the murder of Hindu leader Laxmanananda – an event that triggered the violence.

Maoist rebels subsequently claimed responsibility for Laxmananada’s killing, but the blame was pinned on Christians.

“The Hindu fundamentalists want to kill us. They threaten us day and night,” said Nayak, adding that the smallest provocation could lead to violence.

Barakhama was hard hit during the 2008 violence. Two people were killed and all 322 Christian homes in the settlement were burned.

“We fear them. They killed my husband just because he was a Christian. We cannot do anything. They are in the majority,” said Loorma Digal, whose husband was shot dead by the rioters.

However, district collector Nayak said he had not received any information on specific threats to the Christian community. “We also have sources on the ground that update us about the situation and everything is peaceful,” he added.

Despite their fears, Christians say they will observe the anniversary with peaceful programs including workshops, rallies and demonstrations in the state capital of Bhubaneswar, said Fr Ajay Kumar Singh, who works on behalf of victims of the violence.

Fr Singh added that a rally has been scheduled for August 30 in Phulbani town in Kandhamal to demand justice for the victims of the 2008 violence, which will include participants from civil society, the Church and human rights organizations.

Few suspects have been convicted in the five years since the riots broke out, and those that have received only minor sentences. Thousands more, say victims, have escaped justice.

“We will submit a memorandum of our demands to the district head and the governor of the state,” Fr Singh said.

Source: ucanews.com

 

Kandhamal , Anti-Christian Violence 

 

 

English: Images from Orissa Communal violence....

English: Images from Orissa Communal violence. A Christian institution is in flames during the violence against christians by Hindu nationalists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

Goa parish celebrates I-Day differently

Residents of the village, south of Margao, hopes the festival to bring together the whole village, cutting across religious and any other barriers.

(photo courtesy daijiworld)

A village in south Goa under the leadership of the local parish plans to have a traditional festival in an eco-friendly way with lots of fun, old games and cultural events on Independence Day August 15.

Largely patterned on the ‘Patoianchem festival’ being held in north Goa during the last few years, the event was organized under the leadership of parish priest Father Agnelo Cypriano Rodrigues of Carmona village.

Residents of the village, south of Margao, hopes the festival to bring together the whole village, cutting across religious and any other barriers.

Cultural leaders in some parts of Goa have initiated an effort to urge the government to declare Patoianchem festival as a state festival.

The villagers were busy for several days in the run-up for the event.

“We have invited everybody, Hindus, Muslims and Catholics, and everyone is involved,” Cajetan Fernandes, moderator of parish pastoral council (PPC) of Our Lady of Health of Soccoro church, Carmona.

The event coordinated by the PPC was planned to revive old traditional games of yore, which have almost faded into history, Fernandes added.

The villagers will assemble as one family but seven groups of them will march in a procession to the venue of church ground. “Each group will have everything in a vibrant colour, whatever they wear, sari, trousers or the cap, as per their group,” a villager said.

Elected representatives, MLAs and ministers have been kept out. “There are no sponsors and it will be very eco-friendly,” the villager added.

“Most importantly, there will be no plastic, no alcohol,” Fernandes explained.

The villagers will be served traditional Goan food in coconut shells and eco-friendly plates of leaves.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes

Margao Fish Market

Margao Fish Market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

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