Bhopal gas disaster survivors lambast Modi govt for laxity towards criminal US corporations

May 27, 2015 by admin  
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bhopal gas tragedyBhopal, May 26, 2015: Survivors of the December ‘84 Union Carbide gas disaster on Tuesday condemned the NDA government for its failure to secure justice and provide rehabilitation to gas disaster victims and survivors during its one year rule.

“The year of Modi’s rule is a year of deliberate laxity by the government towards the criminal American corporations and neglect towards the medical care and economic rehabilitation of the victims,” an activist from one of the five Bhopal-based organizations fighting for the rights of the survivors told a press conference on the occasion of the completion of one year of the NDA government.

On the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984, a toxic gas leak from the Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant in this Madhya Pradesh capital had killed and affected thousands of people. Around 3,000 people were killed instantly and many others suffered a lingering death over the years. It left victims injured and maimed, with many suffering lung cancer, kidney and liver failure and eye disorders after coming into contact with toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas.

Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, said the organizations were particularly angry about the Modi government’s undue favours to Union Carbide’s owner Dow Chemical in the last one year.

Balkrishna Namdeo, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha, said “The CBI that was prosecuting Dow Chemical’s Indian subsidiary, Dow Agro Sciences, knowingly suppressed evidence against the company and the criminal case of bribery was discharged by the CBI Special court last year”.

“In the last one year, the government has twice failed to make Dow Chemical appear in the Bhopal District Court in the criminal case on the disaster. It appears that Prime Minister Modi is sending a dangerous message to US corporations that they can do business in India but not obey the laws of the land,” said Nawab Khan, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha.

According to Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action the NDA government’s tacit support for Dow Chemical is evident in its refusal to involve the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in scientific assessment of the environmental contamination in and around the Bhopal factory. “The assessment by UNEP would have fixed Dow Chemical’s liability amount and cleared the way for clean-up of the toxic contamination but the Environment Minister nixed the possibility.”

The Bhopal survivors’ organizations said that the NDA government’s support to the American corporations is matched by its neglect toward the medical care and economic rehabilitation of the victims. “The Supreme Court’s Monitoring Committee has repeatedly pointed out the lack of doctors, good quality medicines and effective treatment protocols in the hospitals for the gas victims without any improvement in the last one year,” said Safreen Khan for the Children Against Dow Carbide. According to her, the central government has deliberately ignored complaints on large scale corruption in the economic rehabilitation of the survivors.

- tcn

Opposition campaign of spreading fear among minorities failed: Heptulla

May 27, 2015 by admin  
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minorities in indiaNew Delhi, May 26, 2015: Fear was spread ahead of the general elections last year that “minorities, especially Muslims, would be killed and mistreated if the BJP-led NDA comes to power” but, after a year of the Narendra Modi government, this has been proved false, said Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla.

“Muslims and other minorities are on the path of development and peace,” she said.

In an interview to IANS on the occasion of the Modi government completing one year in office, the minister said the opposition’s “false campaign” had an effect, but it did not last long and withered away.

“They (the opposition) said there would be communal riots and the ministry of minority affairs would be dissolved,” she said, adding that what happened instead was “just the opposite”.

“Nothing which the opposition was alleging happened and the minorities have realised that the National Democratic Alliance government was for all,” Heptulla said.

She cited examples like the case in Saudi Arabia where 40 Muslims from Bihar were arrested and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and others from the Modi government ensured their safe release, and the rescue operations in war-torn Yemen.

Heptulla told IANS that the government’s efforts in handling these situations made people realise that “the Modi government was not against minorities; it was, in fact, for them”.

On being asked how, she as minority affairs minister, plans to set right the government’s image which took a hit after incidents of attacks on churches across the country, she said that “it was the duty of the head of the government”.

“Head of the government has to give them the confidence… and the prime minister has done it by assuring them that no wrongdoer would be spared,” the minister said.

“He (Modi) has done it on various occasions, once on August 15 while addressing the country from the Red Fort, in the Lok Sabha and on various occasions… even internationally also, making it clear that the constitution was the most sacred book (on the basis of which the government would function),” she said.

Listing what the Modi government had done in the past one year for minorities, the minister said six points of the government’s plan for minorities, which were promised before general elections, were being implemented.

These include that youth, girls in particular, get education and jobs without discrimination; strengthening and modernisation of minority educational systems and institutions and others were being implemented sincerely and girls were being encouraged by giving them scholarships, she said.

All six minorities – Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Parsi and Buddhists – are being supported fully in whatever way the government could help them, she said.

The minister said the prime minister’s initiatives of Jan Dhan Yojna, Learn and Earn and other schemes were inter-linked and fulfilled the government’s larger goal of ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’.

- ians

Odisha: Pastor imprisoned for forced conversions?

May 27, 2015 by admin  
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Christians JailedMumbai, May 25, 2015: Rev Timothy Chaitanya Murmu, Pentecostal minister in the village of Manohar (Odisha), has been in prison for the past four days on false charges of forced conversion.

Police in Anandpur arrested the clergyman last Wednesday for baptising 16 tribal people. According to the indictment, he allegedly “forced” them to embrace Christianity in exchange for money.

In September 2014, Rev Murmu celebrated the baptism of 16 tribal residents in the village of Baniajodi.

“The ceremony took place only after obtaining 16 notarised affidavits in which the catechumens said they had embraced Christianity of their own free will.”

However, “the pastor did not present his certificate of baptism, which occurred in 1980,” the GCIC leader noted. “Based on this legal technicality, required by the anti-conversion law, police arrested him.”

A so-called “anti-conversion law” is in place in Odisha, which theoretically bans all conversions achieved by force or monetary exchange.

However, the authorities often used it to persecute Christians, on false allegations of forced conversions.

- asianews

Maharashtra Police notice to mosque asking to refrain from speaking against beef ban in sermons

May 26, 2015 by admin  
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Muslim leaders in Nanded demand action against PI issuing notice aganist a Mosque. Maharashtra, May 23, 2015: Muslims in the city here are worried due to the issuance of notice to the Masjid-e-Sumayya in B and C colony asking to refrain from allowing sermons and appealing people to participate in any protest rallies against recently enacted beef ban law.

The notice that was issued few days back by Tirangah police station situated near city airport to the secretary of the Mosque has irked the community people who are viewing this as an attempt to polarize the social environment and to curtail fundamental rights of the people by the BJP led state government.

However, so far there is no report of any other mosque in the city to have received similar notice.

Leaders and representatives from different political parties including MIM and Congress on Friday met city SP Premjit Singh Dahiya and demanded strict action against PI Subhash Rathod who has issued the said notice.

Dahiya assured delegation of proper investigation in the matter and of legal action if the officer is found guilty.

Rathod told reporters on the issuance of notice, “There is a strong possibility that some political organizations might use mosque to ignite people’s feelings against beef ban law and thereby the peace and harmony in the city can be disturbed. As a precaution such notice is issued to the mosque authority”.

When asked if in past mosque was used as a platform to infuriate minority peoples’ feelings and the peace and tranquillity prevailing in the city was hampered, Rathod replied that never such incidence ever happened in the city but this time there is strong likelihood of such occurrence.

As per Section 149 of Code of Criminal Procedure in order to prevent a cognizable offence any police officer is entitled to interpose, to the best of his ability, the commission of cognizable offence.

Advocate Arshad from the city feels that even though police are entitled to issue notice under section 149, but added, “Such notice issued specifically against mosque implies that mosques are used to disturb peace and harmony of the society whereas the police have no evidence that such events ever happened. This is a clear attempt to terrorize Muslims and to restrict their freedom of speech”.

Another Advocate N. Khan from Vidarbh While speaking with termed this notice as ‘Unwanted indulgence in religious and social affairs of minority community’. He said, “The constitution of India grants every citizen to endorse his views even if it is against government’s enactment. This is what is called as freedom of speech. The person will be guilty if he uses any unlawful means to fulfill his views but speaking on the matters like beef ban that has left many jobless should never be viewed as unconstitutional”.

Maharashtra Congress unit too on Friday accused BJP-led state government of “indulging in religious and social polarization” due to issuance of such notice.

Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Ashok Chavan while addressing a press conference here displayed a notice sent by a police inspector to the Mosque and said, “Does this mean you clamp down on opposing views?”

MIM city president Anwar Javed condemned the issuance of notice in strong word and said, “We have constitutional rights to raise our voice against government’s decision. Today you ask us not to voice against beef ban tomorrow you might ask as not to speak about many more minority related issues. This is an attack on the ‘freedom of speech’ of Muslims and we shall never tolerate this.

- tcn

Church attack accused gets bail in Agra

May 26, 2015 by admin  
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St Mary's Church at PratappuraAgra, May 25, 2015: A court granted bail to Haider Ali, the man arrested for attacking a Catholic church last month, saying his name was not in the First Information Report police filed.

Police arrested him saying he attacked St Mary’s Church at Pratappura May 16 after a tiff with his Christian girlfriend.

Additional district and sessions judge Pankaj Kumar Singh said no one identified him in court and that all the police have is a ‘self confession’.??

Ali’s defence lawyers Dinesh Aggarwal and Manoj Kumar Sharma told the Times of India that the poor rickshaw puller was falsely accused. “His only fault was that he was passing by the church when the incident occurred.”

“In the court, neither police nor the complainant party produced any evidence against him. Taking cognizance of the FIR, which did not even mention Haider’s name, and the fact that he had no previous criminal record, the judge granted him bail on two sureties of Rs 25,000 each,” the lawyers said.

Public prosecutor Shishupal Yadav confirmed that Ali had got bail on Wednesday.?

However, the 23-year-old Ali, who hails from Sultanpura area of Idagh colony, is still in the district jail, as he doesn’t have money to pay his bail bond.

The attackers had decapitated the statue of Baby Jesus and put what resembled some sort of a leash around the neck of the statue.

The desecration, which had come on the heels of a string of similar attacks on churches in New Delhi, had the 1 lakh-odd Christians in Agra up in arms, following which the state minority commission dashed off letters to the district magistrate and SSP.

The commission sought an explanation from the officers even as police lodged an FIR against unidentified persons hours after the incident came to light.

- times of india

Christian leaders meet Jaitley for confidence building

May 26, 2015 by admin  
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Catholic bishops in DelhiNew Delhi, May 25, 2015: A group of Christian leaders, including the three Catholic bishops in Delhi, met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday as a measure of “building confidence.”

“The meeting was a confidence building measure between the government and the community. The discussions were cordial, constructive and very positive,” said Father Savari Muthu, spokesperson of the Delhi Archdiocese.

The leaders included Archbishop Anil J T Couto of Delhi, Bishop Kuriackose Bharanikulangara of Faridabad, Bishop Jacob Mar Barnabas Gurgaon and Jesuit provincial of South Asia Father George Patteri. The 14 leaders met Jaitley at his residence Saturday.

They had a 90-minute meeting during which the leaders expressed their concerns about the community.

Sources said Jaitley recollected the community’s contributions to the society and made it clear that neither the BJP nor its government support attacks against the minority community.

The community leaders said they will have more such meetings in the future.

The meeting is seen as significant as it was a part of the BJP-led government’s image building exercise.

The government has come under criticism for frequent attacks on churches and inflammatory statements by BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders.

- indian express

Nepal: Missionaries of Charity asked to get permission for aid work

May 23, 2015 by admin  
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Missionaries of CharityNepal, May 22, 2015: Members of the Missionaries of Charity had to spend more than two hours waiting at police headquarters for clearance before they could deliver food, blankets and other promised relief to earthquake victims in a remote mountainous area of Nepal.

The group of six sisters, eight brothers and about six volunteers had asked for police accompaniment on their May 16 mission because, on an earlier trip, they had been accosted by looters while carrying aid to people trapped in the mountains overlooking Kathmandu Valley.

But from the Missionaries of Charity center for destitute women at Mitra Park in Kathmandu, the police escorts diverted the vehicles carrying relief material to police offices in Lalitpur District, one of the three districts in the Kathmandu Valley. The officers insisted that government permission was required for relief distribution.

After the intervention of Bishop Paul Simick of Nepal, Chief District Officer Yadav Prasad Koirala let the group get on their way but warned that, in the future, the missionaries should leave relief distribution to the government.

The nuns told the officials that they had distributed aid to more than 200 families in the Khani Dhanda mountain area and, with Catholic youth, had trekked eight hours to identify other needy families who had not been reached by relief groups.

“This is the first time we are facing such a situation,” Sr. Marica told Catholic News Service as the convoy of five vehicles took to the dusty mountain path to Khani Dhanda.

Sr. Armelle, the most senior of the Missionaries of Charity in the group, explained that they had purchased relief material from the market according to the requirements of the people after their preliminary visit. Rice, tarps, woolen blankets and other materials were packed into kit bags for distribution.

“In some areas, they asked for utensils. In other places, they asked for more rice,” Sr. Armelle said.

When the convoy reached Khani Dhanda, the Missionaries of Charity brothers unloaded the 140 kit bags, while the sisters lined up those who had been given coupons on the earlier visit.

Elderly women carried the relief materials in cane baskets on their heads.

Ram Bahadur Tamang, a student, said that recipients were grateful for the help, noting that, “except for (Buddhist) monks who came with rice, nobody has bothered to come here in three weeks.”

The Catholic Church is a major provider of relief in remote areas of Nepal after the nation was devastated in a magnitude-7.8 earthquake on April 25.

- cns

Scrutinize passports of Muslims and Christians, orders Karnataka police

May 23, 2015 by admin  
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PassportBengaluru, Nov 18, 2015: The Karnataka police has landed in a controversy after a senior police officer issued a circular, asking officers concerned to scrutinize the passport applications from Muslims and Christians deeper.

The controversial circular was faxed to police commissioners of Bengaluru, Mysuru, Mangaluru, Hubballi-Dharwad and Belgavi by Amar Kumar Pandey, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) of the Internal Security Wing. Interestingly all these major cities have sizeable population of Muslims and Christians.

The circular stated “Apart from verifying the nationality of applicants clearing passport applications, police should find out religion and sub-sect details. In case of Muslims, they should find out if the applicant is Sunni or Shia. If s/he is Sunni, then delve deeper and find out if the applicant belongs to Deobandi or Barelvi or Ahle-Hadith sub sect. Similarly, if an applicant hails from the Christian community, details like Roman Catholic or Protestant etc should be collected.”

When quizzed by media, Pandey defended himself saying he did it in the interest of national security by focusing on “developments across the world.” He refused to divulge further reasons for his issuing the circular saying it was in the interest of ‘security.’

Temporarily withdrawn

Later he retracted on the circular saying it is “temporarily” withdrawn adding “at this moment, the circular issued by me is null and void. We will take a fresh call on it after remaining it after reexamining the matter. It may take three or four days.”

Though the circular is scrapped “temporarily,” the motivation behind Pandey’s action is still uncertain. When the media questioned him why Hindus have not been named, he gave an evasive reply, saying, “There are so many sub-castes. We are doing it.” But he had no substantive explanation to back his claim.

- coastal digest

Workshop on Mining and Migration held in Odisha

May 23, 2015 by admin  
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Workshop on Mining and MigrationNew Delhi, May 21, 2015: The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Justice, Peace and Development, New Delhi in collaboration with Odisha Forum organized a two-day workshop on Mining and Migration at Utkal Jyoti Pastoral Centre, Jharsuguda, Odisha, May 19-20. Some 60 people from different dioceses of Odisha took part on this workshop.

Bishop Niranjan Sual Singh of Sambalpur, in his inaugural address said, “It is extremely important for us to know the present situation in order to bring about peace, justice and dignity in society. Due to development purpose, industrialists come to tribal areas. Industrialists are the main cause of troubling to the development indigenous people.”

“Development of society without the development of an individual makes no sense,” he added. “We may have good roads, railways, housing, and so on but if every citizen of country doesn’t develop, makes no sense. The poor and the downtrodden people need to be given more focus for their all-round development.”

The prelate talked on “Present situations in our own society.” He mainly stressed on the two points, namely: heavy mining and migration. Heavy mining has the greatest effects on human, animals and plants. Rapid mining has been the foremost contributor to environmental degradation and pollution.   The tribal people are fully dependent on their land for livelihood. Sadly, heavy mining has brought big challenge for the tribal and Dalit people in society. The church must be convinced, compassionate and inspired to bring about change. It must be an agent of change.”

Dayamani Barla, tribal lady activist from Jharkhand state started her talk saying that today the entire country is fighting for peace, justice, development and harmony.

“Indigenous people are the original settlers and original inhabitants of earth. Adivasi culture, their life, behavior, languages and ethics have direct connection with the water, land and jungle. Thus they have their own importance with regard to jungle, water, land and environment at large.  Adivasi culture dies from the moment they are displaced from their own land, water and jungle to other places.  When the indigenous people are displaced in the name of development, their culture, history and identity gets exploited, destroyed, finished off,” said Barla, known as ‘iron lady of Jharkhand.’ She added, “We are like soldiers in our own land. It is our great duty and responsibility to fight for our human rights, to fight for our tribal rights and avail justice.”

Prashant Paikray, in his talk, explained participants about the impact of mining on lives of Adivasi and Dalit, mostly referring to Khandadhar and POSCO experience. Paikray is the spokesperson for POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, the popular coalition fighting against an industrial project of the South Korean steel corporation POSCO, Jagatsinghpur district, in Odisha.

He shared of his experience in this field specifically protest against POSCO. He said that in the name of development hundreds of multi-national companies are set up in tribal areas and establishing their mining. These mining are badly affecting the indigenous people. Instead of development of these people, the disaster is followed in their lives. “The money and political power can do nothing if our people are united and stand as one,” he said.

Fr. Savari Raj, Director of Chetanalaya, social service wing of Delhi Archdiocese, spoke briefly on women trafficking issues out of his experiences. He first mentioned the major reasons of this issue—displacement, lack of job opportunities, and in order to support siblings. He shared the real situation of Tribal, Dalit and minorities in New Delhi. They are not paid full salary, sexually abused and don’t get proper health care. He suggested that in order to prevent this women trafficking, rescue operation and safe migration is must.

Fr. Charles Irudayam, secretary of CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development, dealt with Catholic Social Teaching and stressed on social activism. In his talk, he explained the participants why the church is concerned about human rights or why is it involved in social activism. God has endowed every human person with an inherent and inalienable dignity which entails basic rights. The church is mandated to protect human rights and to educate its members about the dignity, liberty and equality of all humans. Respect for human rights is the requisite for peace.

Quoting Pope John Paul II, Fr Irudayam, said, “Peace and rights are two benefits directly related to each other as cause and effect. There can be no peace where there is no respect for, defense and promotion of human rights.”

Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh, director Odisha Forum, presented political environment impacting Tribal and Dalit in India. “If we calculate the percentage of religious minority including Adivasi, Dalit, Muslim, Christian Dalit, the percentage will be around 34 %.  There is no single representative of these groups among Supreme Court and High Court Judges. He further explained the ideology of Hindutva that believes in one religion, one culture and one state. He touched role the role of Jaipal Munda and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in fighting for the tribals and Dalits. He too spoke about the anti-conversion law which is indirectly suppresses the Tribals and Dalits.

Fr. John Kerketta, social service director of Sambalpur diocese, said that the church has been playing a significant role in the field of education, health and social work. He added from his own experience regarding the current burning issue of separation of Christian Tribal and Dalit and non-Christian Tribal which was an eye opening for the participants to reflect.

Participants acknowledged and appreciated the initiatives of the organizers, Fr. Irudayam and Fr Singh and coordinators— Srs. Sophia Mary, SSpS and Manjula Bara, HM, on the subject on mining and migration, which provided scope to broadening their knowledge and commit on the issue on the ground.

- dr charles irudayam

MP Christians appeal for federal protection

May 20, 2015 by admin  
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Rashtriya Isai MahasanghBhopal, May 19, 2015: Christians in Madhya Pradesh have appealed to the federal government to provide them protection following a spate of attacks on the Christian community by suspected Hindu hardliners.

A three-member delegation met federal Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday requesting his help in ending what they called “continuous anti-Christian attacks” in the state ruled by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Christian leaders, including Anita Benjamin, spokesperson of the Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh (national Christian forum) met Singh after a church and a home for disabled children run by Augustinian nuns were attacked last week.

The state has witnessed attacks on Christians ever since the BJP came to power in the state more than a decade ago, Benjamin said.

The BJP winning federal elections a year ago has further emboldened extremists, she told

More than 20 attacks and incidents of police filing fake conversion cases against Christians have been recorded in the state this year, according to Christian leaders.

During Sunday’s meeting, the delegation told Singh about an attack on Christians praying in a Church while police looked on.

The alleged attack took place on May 12 at a Presbyterian Church in Indore.

Benjamin said Singh listened to what they had to say and immediately telephoned Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and told him to take action against those involved in the attack, she added.

Eyewitnesses said police stood at the gate while fanatics stormed into the church and beat up Christians, accusing them of conversion activities.

“They kept hitting us, alleging that we were involved in religious conversion and fake healings”, said V Joseph, a Protestant pastor.

Religious conversion is a punishable offence in the state, if done without permission of government officials.

He and two others were later charged with conversion offences, Joseph said.

“Police, even after knowing our innocence registered a case against us,” he said.

Elsewhere, bricks were thrown last week at a home for physically handicapped children run by Augustinian sisters, in Khandwa district.

Fortunately, there were no children there at the time of the attack, said Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal of Indore.

“Fundamentalists seem to have a feeling that they can do anything and get away with it,” he said.

“It is not the [national] government but local leaders and the foot soldiers of fundamentalist organizations that are creating trouble for us,” he added.

- ucan

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