About 200 pastors assembled in the Church of North India (CNI), church at Rambagh, Amritsar, 16 October 2008. It also had several women as well as local political leaders like Mr. Hamid Masih, Mr.Ayub Masih, Mr. Jaspal Masih, Mr.Yakub Masih, Mr. Anwar Masih, Mr. John Kotli and Mr. Sucha Masih to name a few without mentioning their political affiliations. All of them spoke and made suggestions and pledged support for the All India Christian Council (AICC) cause. Founded in 1998, AICC is a nation-wide alliance of Christian denominations, mission agencies, institutions, federations and Christian lay leaders.
Dr John Dayal Secretary General of the AICC, shared with the audience the reason for the birthing of AICC, its aim, purpose, history and the track record. He gave facts and statistics of the state of Orissa as well the atrocities done against the church in the rest of the country. He also explained the social and political reasons for the attacks on christian establishments and the church. He very fearlessly alleged that the attacks were perpetrated in a manner by the fundamentalist outfits like Bajrang Dal and other like minded entities to physically as well as ideologically weaken the Christians. First the businesses were attacked and burnt to weaken the Christians economically; women and children, raped and killed ,to create terror and to weaken physically; houses and churches burnt to cause harm morally and physically and the dead paraded as trophies, all this done in a phased and according to a plan which can only be labeled as ethnic cleansing. He further went on to urge the audience to be aware of the rights of every citizen of India. He detailed the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Democratic and Secular India and also urged each to teach the same to our Christians. He said it is very important to avoid saying and doing things that would be considered unpatriotic, unlawful, inflammatory and would hurt the sentiments and feelings of people of other religions.
The situation in many states is far from normal, Dr Dayal said. In Orissa, the situation remains so critical that even the Central Reserve Police Force, meant to guard the Christians and ensure peace, had retreated in the face of Sangh aggression. He said we welcome religious dialogue as much as collaboration with Civil Society institutions. But surely there cannot be a dialogue with criminals and those who have no faith in the Constitution of India, who do not abide with the rule of law, who openly espouse ideologies of hate that have been proscribed internationally since the defeat of Nazism and Fascism in the Second World War.
There is no place in a civilised country for such barbarians. It is for the state to act, enforce the law of the land, and gives them the punishment due to them for the murder of innocent people, the rape of women and the elimination of a people from their homeland.
AICC Secretary for Public Affairs.Dr. Sam Paul, spoke that it is important that we spend time in prayer and ask for power and guidance from God at the same time we need to be united. We should work on creating and maintaining networks inter denominationally as well as build network and cordial and good relationship with government and civil authorities. He said the need of the hour is to be united and be together, and recognise and shun the forces that are trying to bring differences and wedges between the Christians and also among different communities. Dr Sam Paul said the issue of conversion, forcible and with allurements, raised by fundamentalists and the Sangh parivar is a mere excuse, fabrication and false propaganda. National Integration Council chairman Mr Qureshi when examining the claim has rubbished it as nonsense for no state government’s machinery has reported any civil or criminal suit against any Christian organization on that score.
Dr Bernard Malik, President, Federation of Indian Christian Organizations of North America, USA, was also present and in his speech he described the purpose and aim of the FIACONA and also commended the AICC for it support to Christian community in India. While pledging his support to AICC, he urged the people to rise above petty issues be it doctrinal, territorial, or denominational and forge into a cohesive Christian fraternity sharing and bearing a common goal of uplifting the community.