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Christian Council condemns Vajpayee government

Tribal areas of Jharkhand and Orissa fear similar violence after fresh upsurge in hate campaign by Sangh Parivar

Following is the text of statement by All India Christian Council Secretary General Dr. John Dayal and Council's Karnataka state president Kumar Swamy, at a Press conference in Bangalore on 11 May 2002. Others who addressed the Press Conference were noted political scientist Dr Ambrose Pinto, and Karnataka state Trade Union Congress legal secretary N P Amrutesh, Jamiat Ulema e Hind state general secretary Zafarul Islam. The All India Christian Council concluded an intensive three day training camp in Human rights in the city of Bangalore for about 1,000 representatives from the 27 districts of Karnataka.

The All India Christian Council strongly condemns the criminal cynicism that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, his cabinet colleagues LK Advani and George Fernandes, and the Union government have shown in the continuing genocide of innocent people in Gujarat.

Not only has the Vajpayee government scorned international public opinion by protecting the murderous state administration of Rastryia Swayamsevak Sangh Pracharak and chief minister Narendra Modi, their other actions have made it clear that they intend to get the maximum political mileage out of the Hindutva agenda. Rubbing salt into the wounds of the Muslim community and all secular citizens of India, the Vajpayee government has trivialised gang rapes, acquiesced in the fundamentalist demand to close down refugee camps, named the Port Blair airport by Hindutva ideologue Savarkar, and now, elevated to the Lok Sabha Speakership Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi, who has been indicted by Bombay High court judge Sri Krishna in the communal riots in Mumbai in 1992-93. Individually, each of these actions is condemnable. Collectively they expose the length to which the Sangh Parivar and its political face, the Bharatiya Janata Party can go to retain political power at the Centre and in the State. The Parivar's role calls for an international probe. 

The Council joins all peace loving people of the country demanding an immediate end to the violence in Gujarat. The government of Gujarat must be purged of communal and criminal elements that have systemically infiltrated the bureaucracy and the police, and steps must be taken to restore the confidence of the victims. This cannot even begin to be done unless Narendra Modi, mastermind of the pogrom, is first removed as Chief Minister. The Council also demands that the refugee camps be continued with all facilities till confidence is restored and rehabilitation steps take in urban and rural areas allowing people to return to their homes.

The most disturbing trend in Gujarat was the violence in the tribal areas. Christian Council leaders toured the tribal areas of India from Rajasthan in the West to Jharkhand in the east to assess the situation and were shocked to see firsthand the campaign of the Sangh Parivar, which is poisoning, communalizing and polarizing Tribal society in the entire region encompassing Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. There has been mass distribution of hate literature in all these areas. Pamphlets have been distributed which call for the elimination of the Christian and Muslim communities from the region. In many areas of Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh, arms including swords and trishul-shaped hand weapons have been distributed in lakhs. Many training camps have been held. 

This has serious repercussions for the nation. The Gujarat violence was preceded by such hate campaigns. In Jharkhand, such hate literature has specially targetted the Sarana religion and the Sarana speaking communities, generating strong apprehension and unease. The All India Christian Council strongly denounces such efforts. We protested during the Census operations efforts to falsify populations of small and marginalised groups and religious minorities. We call upon the governments of these states to take urgent and transparent steps to crack down on those who are distributing such hate literature and arms, and are sowing seeds of acrimony. 

Violence continues in many states against the Christian community, though it pales before the genocide in Gujarat. Gujarat itself has seen violence against churches and church personnel in the last two months. Churches have also been attacked in Orissa, Jharkhand and even in Karnataka, in Soranagar in Bellary disrtrict and Dandeli. We call on state administrations to be pro-active and take action at the first revelations, before the situation gets out of hand.

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