Dr John Dayal for Rajya Sabha

This piece of writing is not to cause offense to anybody, nor a panegyric for somebody.

Rights activist Dr John Dayal

Rights activist Dr John Dayal

I have used the freedom of expression to offer my views to the Indian Church.

Regardless of denominational boundaries, John Dayal is undoubtedly a household name.

Recognized as an unusual gift from God, the indelible mark he has made on Indian Christian community is conspicuous everywhere – East, West, North and South.

How often India has read him in Newspapers and watched him on television on crucial issues pertaining to the minorities!

Be it the Gujarat carnage or the pogroms against Christians in Odisha, whether it is the individual ignominy or an ecclesial scandal, be it a legal battle or an aggressive frontal assault, major Christian groups have all sought his help to defend their cause.

He is not just a “prominent member of catholic community” as the renowned Journalist Javed Naqvi described him in Deccan Chronicle recently. He is perhaps the most sought-after stalwart and champion of suffering Christians in the country today who stays bonded with all sections of the community.

Indian Christian Community is sometimes baffled to see some obscure Christians occupy prominent places in Government Agencies and Commissions. It is indeed mind-boggling why a person of the stature and calibre of John Dayal has never made into those positions.

The community has fielded him to speak for those who have no voice and to fight for those trampled and denied of their rights. But it has perhaps never thought collectively of deploying him in high places of power to be able to bolster a beleaguered community he has served with so much of zeal and enthusiasm.

Like a stigmatized Karna in Mahabharata, totally divested of his supernatural shield and weapons, he fights his battle naturally.

Admittedly, John Dayal’s contribution to the victims of persecution has been immense. Though not placed in the corridors of power, he has served the community well and produced extra-ordinarily.

It would be interesting to witness how a man like him would perform when seated in the Upper House.

Some may argue, it is impossible to think of a motion such as this, certainly not under the new government. But John Dayal is not a new kid on the wall.

The Governments which had many Christians in places of authority in the past had never thought about sharing power with him. Except for a membership in the National Integration Council with no major role to play, he seems thrashed out of the arena.

It clearly calls for freedom from sectarian agendas. Those in political parties who have cherished a long time friendship with him now have to galvanize their good wishes into serious action. There can’t be a better time for Christian friendly states and constituencies to march on magnanimously considering the candidature of John Dayal.

Federations like CBCI, NCCI, EFI and other national bodies have to form and reform ways to impact the process of the government in the next few years, if not anon.

Those who know Dr. Dayal would concur he has the will, the determination, the passion, the prowess, the skill and dexterity.

Doesn’t he deserve a rich offering from the Indian Church before he hangs his boot to retire from active service?

Respectfully submitted by,
Bishop Joab Lohara
President, Free Methodist World Council

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Asian theologian Karotemprel dies

Dr Sebastian Karotemprel, SDB

Dr Sebastian Karotemprel, SDB

SHILLONG, (C.M. Paul) — A legendary theologian in northeast India, died 20 July Sunday evening, 4.50 pm, at Woodland Hospital Shillong. Salesian Fr. (Dr) Sebastian Karotemprel succumbed to a fall he suffered three weeks ago on Sunday 29 June. He was 83 years old.

The burial is on 23rd Wednesday 2014 at 1.pm at Mary Help of Christians Cathedral Church, Laitumkhrah, Shillong presided over by his younger Brother, Bishop Emeritus Gregory Karotemprel, CMI of Rajkot.

Eucharistic celebrations are scheduled for the departed at Sacred Heart College 21st Monday – 6.00pm Mass presided over by his nephew Fr. Sebastian Karotemprel, Director of Vianny Home, Jhabua 22nd Tuesday – 5.00pm – Mass presided over by Most Rev. Thomas Menamparampil, Sdb, D.D., Archbishop Emeritus & Apostolic Administrator Jowai.

Author of several books and keynote speaker at national and international conferences, “Dr Karotemprel has left behind a legacy of theological authenticity, academic rigour and indefatigable labour,” says Salesian archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong, after paying homage to his diseased confrere in the hospital.

Fr. George Malekal sdb, Provincial Superior of the Salesian Province of Silchar to which Fr Karotemprel belonged, says, “Fr Sebastian has left his own indelible mark on the Church and society.”

The national president of the Conference of Religious India (CRI) and the Salesian Provincial of Guwahati Fr V.M. Thomas Vattathara describes Fr Karotemprel, “a legend of our times, a loyal and committed Salesian, an erudite professor, an institution builder, and an active collaborator in the major missionary works in Northeast India.”

A member of the Salesian provinces of Guwahati and now of Shillong, Dr. Karotemprel was was closely associated with some of the major projects of the Salesians in Assam like the Don Bosco Institute Kharguli and the Assam Don Bosco University Guwahati.

Dr Sebastian Karotemprel was the first Dean of the Sacred Heart Theological College Shillong which was re-opened in 1976 and professor of Theology of Mission at the Pontifical Urban University, Rome, and served two terms as member of the International Theological Commission.

He was also member of the Theological-historical Commission for the Great Jubilee Year 2000.

In 2009, Dr Karotemprel’s former student professors at Sacred Heart Theological College published a 300-page book of essays in homage to the outstanding theologian entitled: Be my witnesses: essays in honour of Dr. Sebastian Karotemprel, SDB.”

Fr Karotemprel was also former President of Sacred Heart Theological College, Shillong where he taught for some 40 years. He was instrumental in building up the state of the art modern library at the college and was responsible for the infrastructure expansion of the college.

Besides setting up the seven storey Don Bosco anthropological museum in Mawlai Shillong show casing cultural artifacts of the seven states of northeast India, Dr Karotemprel was the founder editor of the first Indian Missiological Review which he started in 1978 and continues under the name “Mission Today”.

Retired Bishop Gregory Karotemprel of Rajkot is his younger brother and his only sister is Adoration Sister Maria Karotemprel, Provincial of SBAS, Ujjain Province.

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Group asks protection for Christians

efiLETTER TO CHATTISGARH CHIEF SECRETARY

15th July 2014

Mr. Vivek Dhand
Chief Secretary
Government of Chhattisgarh
Raipur, CG

Dear Sir,

Greetings from the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI)! The EFI is the representative body and voice of more than 50,000 member Churches across the nation.

At the onset I would like to thank you for your kind hospitality and time given to listen to our concerns last Friday and for the assurances given to intervene in this very tense situation in Bastar regarding the plight of the Christian minority.

I would like to bring it to your notice that according to reports that I have received yesterday evening, groups motivated by and containing members of Vishwa Hindu Parishad office based in Jagdalpur are going around in villages threatening Christians to leave the village by next Sunday or suffer the consequences thereof. These groups threatening Christians targeted at least two villages namely Gadiya and Parapur. There is also a report from Belar about a similar happening.

Christians have been threatened not to worship in these villages and in Gadiya and Parapur, to leave the village entirely or suffer the consequences. I am afraid that if timely protection and intervention is not provided there is an apprehension of anti-minority violence.

There is also a report received from Kue Mari near Keshkal where a house belonging to a Christian was set on fire. Mr. Antu Ram was told to leave the area or pay a fine of 2000 rupees, which he did and even after that his house was burnt down. Today he is living under a plastic sheet with his family that includes three children and his elderly parents. I humbly request you to please intervene in his situation and provide him some relief and protection.

Once again I want to thank you for your openness and concern for the Christian minority community.

Thank you very much,

God bless you, and God bless India.

Rev. Vijayesh Lal
National Director
Religious Liberty Commission
Evangelical Fellowship of India

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Silencing dissent, and sowing hate

NEW DELHI, (DR JOHN DAYAL) — The report of the Intelligence Bureau under the government of the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, demonising Non Government Organisations, NGOs, and several activists including a Catholic priest, the late Fr. Tom Kotcherry, for working against Indian national interests was a precursor of more direct action to come. The administration took immediate action, ordering Greenpeace, which it had targetted as the prime culprit in delaying if not preventing big money projects in Tribal areas, to take prior permission before it sought any funding from international agencies. That is not to say that the earlier Congress had not used the notorious Foreign Contribution Act to punish NGOs in Tamil Nadu, including a Catholic diocese, for supporting the movement of the local people against the Koodmakulam nuclear power plant which the Union and State governments wanted not so much for the electricity it would produce but for the political gains it could bring to the Congress and the all India Anna DMK. And the risks from the Russian made reactor could be overlooked in the name of development.

But the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government in New Delhi differs in a critical area from its Congress predecessor. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government led by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, was pilloried for its sloth, its corruption and its inability to control the price line. But it had a human face that changed the life of the rural poor through a slew of welfare programmes that did reduce a little from the pain of poverty. Above all, it did not seek to divide the people on lines of religion or egg them on to violence.

Mr. Modi’s government carries a deadly political baggage that seeks to do just that, polarise communities, ranging the majority faith against religions that it brands as alien. In the mineral rich and heavily forested tribal belt that extends from Jharkhand to Madhya Pradesh and beyond, including much of Chhattisgarh and Orissa, this polarising of the countryside has the immediate impact of almost totally wrecking the unity of the people against exploitative and environmentally destructive industrial and mining projects of national and international monopolies. By demolishing ethical NGOs empowering people on the one hand and people’s unity in mass movements on the other, the government opens the hinterland for exploitation by crony capitalists.

It is in this light that one has to see the move in May 2014 by several village Panchayats in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, prompted by the Sangh Parivar’s units such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, to ban the entry of Christian workers, and worship, in their areas. The resolution came to light a few days ago. The Panchayat diktat is that only Hindu religious workers will be allowed into the village areas in the Tribal belt. This is of course entirely illegal, and violative of the provisions in the Constitution of freedom of expression and of movement. The coercive methodology of branding every Tribal as a Hindu, and to turn him or her to oppose Christians, injures the secular nature of society, and the peace that has existed over a long time.

Such bans on a particular faith and the friction they breed, can so easily lead to violence against religious minorities. Memories of the massive violence in Kandhamal in 2007 and 2008, which had its roots in such indoctrination and communalisation, are still fresh, and the struggle for justice for the victims still continues in the High court and the Supreme Court. The Governments of the State of Chhattisgarh and the Union must therefore act urgently to stem this explosive evil while there is still time.

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Missionaries banned from Bastar areas

PAVAN DAHAT
SIRISGUDA (BASTAR), July 5, 2014

Villagers of Sirisguda at the Special Gram Sabha to ban the entry of non-Hindu religious missionaries.

Villagers of Sirisguda at the Special Gram Sabha to ban the entry of non-Hindu religious missionaries. Courtesy The Hindu.

An aggressive campaign by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad had led to a ban on the entry of and propaganda by non-Hindu missionaries, especially Christians, in more than 50 villages of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region in the last six months.

According to Suresh Yadav, Bastar district president of the VHP, over 50 gram panchayats in Bastar have passed orders under Section 129 (G) of the Chhattisgarh Panchayat Raj Act banning all “non-Hindu religious propaganda, prayers and speeches in the villages.”

The Sirisguda gram panchayat in the Tokapal block of Bastar passed the order at a special Gram Sabha organised on May 10.

The order, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, says, “To stop the forced conversion by some outsider religious campaigners and to prevent them from using derogatory language against Hindu deities and customs, the Sirisguda Gram Sabha bans religious activities such as prayers, meetings and propaganda of all non-Hindu religions.”

In Sirisguda, the dispute started when Christian families refused donations for an annual Hindu religious festival.

“They refused donations and used derogatory language against Hindu gods so the Gram Sabha banned them,” claimed Sirisguda sarpanch Jamuna Baghel.

PDS rations denied

In the recent past, some Christians were allegedly attacked in the village and have been denied ration on the orders of the village panchayat.

“It’s been over two months now that we have been denied ration in the village and 10 Christians were attacked when they went to collect ration,” claimed Sonuru Mandavi, whose family converted to Christianity in 2002.

“The villagers came to us with their problems. The VHP only told them about the law. Now that the gram panchayats have passed the orders, it is the responsibility of the district administration to implement it otherwise we will protest. We will also approach the CM and the Governor to get the ban imposed,” asserted Mr. Yadav.

The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF), however, has alleged that the ban is “illegal and unconstitutional”.

“It is similar to what khap panchayats do. How can you ask us to block our religious activities on the basis of a Panchayat Act?” asked Arun Pannalal, CCF president. He said the Constitution guaranteed the freedom of religion to all.

To a question, Bastar Collector Ankit Anand said, “In Bastar, religious conversion is not such a big issue. We will ensure that distribution of ration to the villagers is not interrupted.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/in-bastar-50-villages-ban-nonhindu-missionaries/article6180825.ece

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22 girls join ‘come and see’ program

Girls who joined 'come and see' program

Girls who joined ‘come and see’ program

Tinsukia, (Kaini Martha) – A group of 22 class twelve girls, from Northeast, who had a live-in experience at Auxilium, from May 10 –July 13, 2014, under the leadership of Sr. Kaini Martha and the community are all set to begin the aspirantate at Maligaon, on 18 July.

“Young friends, your stay here is an important phase of your formation. The package specially designed is to help you to discern your vocation,” said superior of the community Sr. Kaini at the inaugural of the ‘Come and See’ program.

‘Come and See’ program is an annual feature of the two months live-in experience for young girls at Tinsukia to recruit candidates for the Salesian Sisters of Guwahati Province. It is organized for girls who are awaiting class 12 results and desiring to join the Order.

“The candidates are the biggest resource of the province”, said Sr. Kathleen Taylor, Visiting Councilor from Rome, to the Superiors at the concluding gathering of her canonical visit to the Province, May 27.

At the two months experience, besides input sessions in Catechism, lives of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello, Bible, English Fluency and Relationship skills, there were co-curricular activities like music, computer, embroidery, debate, quiz, singing, dancing etc, which kept the girls enthusiastic and motivated. This year, two girls dropped out as they did not feel comfortable to go ahead.

Resource persons for the program included Sr. Pasqualina Susngi, Sr. Scolastica Kerketta, Sr. Jemella Joseph, Sr. Eliza Minj, Sr. Veronica Duithuiliu, Sr. Grace Pemmila, Sr. Kaini and Fr. Theotimus Lakra, sdb, Director, Don Bosco Youth Services, Dimapur. Sr. Grace of Auxilium, Itanagar did the yeoman job, animating and accompanying the girls all 24 hours of the day.

The girls expressed their joy for the rich experience and for inspiring them to discern their vocation during the orientation program.

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