KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – It was the first time that a Catholic communications body heeded the call of Bengal Christian Council and joined the Christian Unity Prayer Rally displaying their banners. The public meeting held at the Rani Rshmoni Avenue close to Kolkata city’s main traffic hub, the Esplanade, had inter-denominational Christian delegations coming from all the districts of Bengal. Signis Bengal members belonging to the Catholic association for Radio, Television, Cinema and Performing Arts participated.
Hundreds of Christian delegates for the Peace and Prayer Rally came in procession from Kolkata’s two railway stations, Howrah and Sealdah, carrying placards and banners, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
On the dais were Church of North India Bishop Ashok Biswas flanked by the Vicar General of Calcutta the Catholic archdiocese Fr Dominic Gomes, Bishop Salvador Lobo of Baruipur and Bishop Joseph Gomes of Krishnagar. There were also leaders and pastors of several other Churches and as well as lay leaders representing their organizations.
Outstation delegates availed of rail passes costing just Rupees 2.00 for their round trip.
Organized under the banner of Bongiyo Christiyo Pariseba (BCP) the afternoon meeting had several thousands of participants.
The BCP General Secretary Mr Herod Mullick addressed the gathering and highlighted the issues plaguing the minority Christian community in the state. He also informed the participants at the rally that a memorandum would be presented to the Chief Minister Mamata Baanerjee for her considered and speedy action.
Some highlights of the petition includes the demand for speedy grating of ST and OBC certificates, need to make available more seats for Christians of OBC category in the colleges, demand for district administration to include poor Adivasi people in the Below Poverty Line category to avail of government facilities, to regularize scholarship distribution for students, to be sensitive to Christian religious sentiments by not fixing Board Exams on major Christian Holydays such as Christmas and Good Friday.
The petition also requests a subsidy of Rs. 30,000 (USD 600) per person toward the Holy Land pilgrimage.