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Naga Christians appeal to maintain communal harmony and protection of Christians in Orissa

September 20, 2008 Story

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To
The President,
Republic of India,
New Delhi.
Through the Governor of Nagaland State.

Sub: Appeal to maintain communal harmony and protection of Christians in Orissa.

Your Excellency,

    The Nagaland Christian Forum of Nagaland is seriously concerned about the escalation of violence that erupted after the gruesome murder of a VHP leader Swami Lakshmananda Saraswati along with four other people in the Tumiliband region of Kandhamal district of Orissa on August 23 by Maoist leader, Azad, who has claimed responsibility for the killing. Swami Lakshmananda who was 84 years old is also believed to have orchestrated the Christmas 2007 riot against Christians in the Kandhamal district of Orissa which has left thousands of Christians homeless to this day. Whatever Swami Saraswati was, the Christians in Nagaland true to its belief and practice condemn the dishonorable act of murder of such a religious leader in Orissa and appeal for maintenance of harmony and peace.

    In retaliation to the Swami's death, the extremist wings of Hindus in Orissa pointed fingers at the Christian community and has engaged in a series of attacks against Christians which started on 24th of August 2008. As violence and atrocities on Christians continue, situation is very serious and worsening day by day with violence being intensified. Fearing for their life many Christians including women and children, have fled to forests for refuge. They are deprived of food and other basic necessities of life. We are deeply pained to see our brothers and sisters in Orissa targeted for no fault of theirs. They have become victims of malicious campaign by certain unruly fundamentalists who take the law in their own hands. We wish to also tell that in all these violence and atrocities, Christians have never retaliated against the Hindus.

    Why should Hindus hate Christians? We love our country, India. Christians have contributed not less than any other religious groups in the building of our country. We are proud of what we have built together with other people. But we feel really sorry and betrayed that we are always looked upon as a despised lot of people. We want you to safeguard the right to equality, and the right to freedom of all people.

    The attacks have been on churches and church related institutions. As a secular country, our constitution guarantees "right to freedom of Conscience and religion." While people in Nagaland irrespective of religion, sex and race uphold the constitution dearly, our Christians brothers and sisters in Orissa are barred of safety to live in the great Republic of India which boasts of its democratic and secularist Constitution. We feel sorry that these Hindu extremists have made the Constitution of India a farce and mockery.

    The list of violence meted out on the Christians at Orissa is never-ending. We are deeply aggrieved to see our brothers and sisters in Orissa targeted, victimized and slaughtered for their simplicity. Therefore, we appeal to the Head of the Republic of the India and also the State Governments to take strong measures to curb violence caused by any group in the country. The psychological damage done to the Christian brothers and sisters in Orissa is very grave. We therefore earnestly appeal that Your Excellency takes up prompt action in such a way as to create tranquility and render maximum protection to the attacked Christians in Orissa.

Rev. Zhabu Terhüja, President - NCF

    
Fr. George Keduolhou, Secretary - NCF

   
Rev. Dr. T. Nyekha, Treasurer - NCF


Copy to:
(1) Prime Minister of India
(2) Governor of Orissa
(3) Governor of Nagaland
(4) Chief Minister of Nagaland
(5) Deputy Commissioner, Kohima
(6) President, All India Christian Council