Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gujarat Christians Seek Justice for Orissa Brethren

Gujarat United Christian Forum Seeks Justice for Orissa Brethren

From Ahmedabad, ICNS reports:
Denouncing religion-based violence in Orissa, thousands of Christians demonstrated in Gujarat, the state that has witnessed some of the fierce Hindu-Muslim riots in the country.

Christians of various denominations gathered in Ahmedabad on Tuesday evening in a silent demonstration, wearing black ribbons. They condemned all religion based violence, including the murder of Swami Laxmananand Saraswati.

The rally organized by the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights started from Church of North India’s church in Victoria Garden. It terminated at Mount Carmel Cathedral Mirzapur.

Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, Director of Prashant, a centre for human rights in Ahmedabad, led the peace rally. A memorandum was presented to the Governor of Gujarat, addressed to governor of Orissa, President of India, Prime Minister and several other leaders urging them to take action against on going violence in Orissa.

The memorandum condemned attack on the minority community as an attack on India’s secular fabric and urged authorities to take action to stop the violence in Orissa that has claimed several lives.

Father Prakash wanted the authorities to investigate the violence, find culprits behind the attack and take stern legal action against them.

The priest said blaming the Christian community for these murders without evidence and unleashing a reign of terror on the villagers is completely unjustified.

Violence in Orissa started after a Hindu leader Saraswati was gunned down on Aug. 23 night there along with his four associates. Maoists reportedly claimed responsibility for the killings the next day.

But Hindu radicals allege gunmen hired by Christians murdered their spiritual leader, a charge all Christian groups have denied. The 85-year Hindu leader, based in Kandhamal district, had for several decades opposed conversions to Christianity.

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