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Religious leaders of different faiths meet in Delhi, agree on 5-point urgent programme of action for peace and rule of law against lynchings

Religious leaders condemn lynchings, call for rule of law to restore peace and communal harmony India’s deep spiritual strength is bulwark against hate, divisive forces

New Delhi: Senior spiritual leaders and intellectuals have called upon the people to seek strength from India’s deep spiritual reservoirs to end the increasing environment of hate, violence and disregard for the rule of law in which many innocents of religious and marginalized communities have been lynched in recent weeks.

Meeting in Delhi on Sunday, 16 July 2017, under the aegis of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the group of 40 leaders called upon the Government to end impunity which was at the root of the atmosphere of fear that stalks the land today. It was felt that these developments threatened not just secularism, but the Constitution and the democratic fabric of the country.

Welcoming Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s assurances to leaders of Opposition parties on the eve of the Monsoon session of Parliament, the meeting noted that the vast majority of the people of India of all communities had been shocked at the lynching in various states on the pretext of protecting cows. The Prime Minister must now see that state governments and their police forces acted against the guilty in an impartial manner.

The meeting agreed on a five-point urgent programme of action:

  • The ideology of hate is a reality and needs to be challenged by Governments, political parties, civil society activists, the criminal justice system and religious communities in a concerted manner.
  • Religious leadership must act at the grassroots to assert the inherent unity of the people. This will help restore public confidence and remove the mutual suspicion that has started growing.
  • The leadership must generate literature as well as content for the traditional, mainstream and social media to challenge falsehood and hatred. Social media can indeed also be used to defeat hate and strengthen bonds between communities.
  • Community leaders must come together at various levels so that tensions can be diffused and trust restored and strengthened. Similarly, national institutions including the National and State Minorities Commissions and other structures must be encouraged to actively work in restoring peace and help strengthen the rule of law. This would also go a long way in ensuring the devolution of development efforts under the 15-point programme and other government measures.
  • A National Inter-Faith and Civil society convention will be held as soon as possible to discuss the developments and the measures that the governments need to take at the national and state levels.

The meeting was attended by Goswami Sushilji Maharaj, Vivek Muni, Dr Umair Ilyasi, Sardar Paramjeet Singh Chandhok, Dr Mohinder Singh, Dr Manzoor Alam, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Chairman of Delhi Minority Commission, Mr. Navaid Hamid, Delhi Minority Commission Member Sr Anastasia Gill, Rabbi Ezekiel Malekar, Prof TK John, Dr Denzil Fernandes, Dr Michael Williams, Rev Vijayesh Lal, Rev Richard Howell, Mr D K Manavalan IAS, Fr Alarico Carvalho, Fr Bento Rodrigues, Delhi Vicar General Msgr Susai Sebastian, Fr Freddy D’Souza, Mr AC Michael, Dr John Dayal, Msgr Chinnayyan Joseph and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, the Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India who had convened the meeting. (Issued by  Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, SFX Secretary General, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India on 16 July, 2017)

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