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Published in the 1-15 Feb 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Hate pamphlets turn Christmas celebrations into low-key affair 

By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani

Ahmedabad: Incendiary pamphlets and booklets circulated in many parts of Gujarat before Christmas forced Christians to keep Christmas celebrations a low affair.

The pamphlets full of anti-Christian rhetoric, charged Christians with forcible conversion of poor Hindus and tribals in south Gujarat districts of Dang, Surat, Navsari and Valsand. Similar pamphlets had been circulated in these districts in the past also.

Police arrested a person allegedly linked with VHP distributing such pamphlets on December 18 in Ahwa, the headquarters of tribals dominated Dang district.

Superintendent of Police, Dang district, V. Chandshekhar said that they had arrested Prashant Bore under sections 153 A and 295 A of the IPC and that they are trying to arrest others. Ramubhai Mulubhai Chaurya, a tribal Christian in Koilipada village of Dang said local VHP, RSS and Hindu Jagaran Manch (HJM) activists had been distributing pamphlets since last week.

He said that they handed out the pamphlets to everyone in villages and streets and said what the Christians had been doing. All these have dampened the Christmas spirit.

Khalpabhai J. Chaudhery, a Christian in Borigamtha village said when the pamphlets surfaced, we were afraid whether we would be able to move freely on Christmas and we decided to keep the lights and other decoration as low as possible.

Father Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest and director of an Ahmedabad-based NGO, working for human rights, said that pamphlets bearing outrageous misquotes from the Bible were being circulated in several district of Gujarat for nearly a month. But the government has remained a silent spectator saying there would be no communal disharmony.

All India Christian Council (AICC) joint secretary Samson Christian, said that they have been assured by the officials that they would ensure peaceful Christmas celebrations.

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