Monday, September 1, 2008

In Karwar, 5000 Catholics Join Silent Protest Rally

5,000 Catholics from the South Indian Diocese of Karwar Take Part in a Silent Protest Rally

Bishop Derek Fernandes Submits a Memorandum

5,000 Catholics led by Bishop Derek Fernandes of Karwar in silent procession.

A protest rally was organized by the Catholics of Karwar on Monday, September 01, 2008 at St. Joseph's school grounds, Kajubag, Karwar. About 5000 Catholics from the parishes in Karwar taluk gathered at the school grounds at 10:30 a.m. and proceeded in silent procession through the main streets of Karwar to the Office premises of the Deputy Commissioner, led by the Most Rev. Derek Fernandes, Bishop of Karwar and the priests and religious of Karwar deanery.

The entire procession was in silence, holding banners and placards with the messages condemning the atrocities on the innocent Christians in Orissa and calling for peace and harmony among people of all religions.

The procession converged into a rally in front of the D.C. office and Bishop Derek Fernandes read out the memorandum endorsed with signatures of more than 3000 Catholics, and then handed over to the Deputy Commissioner, who assured to forward it to the Government for necessary action.

Bishop Derek submitting the memorandum bearing the signature of more than 3000 Catholics.

The following is the text of the Memorandum:

To the Deputy Commissioner, Uttar Kannada, Karwar.


You are aware of the ongoing atrocities being perpetrated on the helpless and innocent minority Christian community in Orissa. Certain fundamentalist and communal elements are targeting the Christian community, resorting to vandalism, looting, killing and destroying property.

We condemn the killing of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and his associates. But targeting innocent people as vengeance does not stand to reason. Instead of catching and punishing the wrong doers and criminals, innocent minority Christians are attacked and grievously injured destroying their life, limb and property. In any case violence of any kind cannot be justified for any reason whatsoever.

It is evident that the Government of Orissa and the civil administration has failed to provide the protection to the minority Christian community guaranteed in our constitution. Since the violence and terror are still continuing unabated, it appears that these fundamental and communal elements are operating with the connivance and tacit support of the local administration at the place.

We the Christians of Uttar Kannada district express our solidarity and concern with our victimized Christian brothers and sisters in Orissa and condemn the atrocities perpetrated by the communal and fundamentalist elements. Therefore we request your good self to kindly convey our fears and anxieties to the Government of Karnataka to take up the same with the Government of Orissa for suitable remedial action and immediate relief to our oppressed and unfortunate Christian brothers and sisters in Orissa.

Thanking you,

Bishop Derek Fernandes

and the Christians of Uttar Kannada district.
The protest rally was well covered by the press and television media persons.

Bishop Derek Responding to questions from media persons

To their question about the directive of the Karnataka Education Minister to issue notices to the school managements for closing down the Catholic schools on Friday, 29th August, the Bishop replied, "That itself is another form of atrocity on the Christian minority. Instead of sympathizing with us and condemning the atrocities committed on the innocent minority Christians, our very right of protest is being questioned. We are less than 2 per cent minority in our Country, and if we do not sympathize with our suffering brothers and sisters and protest, who else will do it?"

Similar protest rallies and processions were held in Kumta, Honavar, Sirsi, Yellapur, Haliyal and Joida talukas in the diocese by the Catholics of the respective deaneries under the leadership of the clergy-religious and the Catholic Association and memoranda were submitted to the respective tahsildars.

Fr. Thomas Misquith

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