Laity asks Indian bishops: “Be Bold”!

The All India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest lay organisation in India, on May 24, expressed serious concern at alleged attempts by the federal government and others to divide the Christian Churches in the country.

Jun 01, 2018

By Jose Kavi
The All India Catholic Union (AICU), the largest lay organisation in India, on May 24, expressed serious concern at alleged attempts by the federal government and others to divide the Christian Churches in the country.

A press release issued by AICU national president Lancy D’Cunha and official spokesperson John Dayal expressed solidarity with Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi and commends his courage, integrity and spiritual strength in calling attention to this rising tide of targeted violence against Dalits and religious minorities.

“Archbishop [Couto] has been hounded since his letter to his clergy asking his people to pray for the people, and to keep a special fast every Friday seeking blessings for India and peace in the land. We demand of every bishop in India to issue such a call for prayer for the country. We hope religious heads of all communities will also join in these prayers.

The press release, which was issued in Kolkata, alleges that the ruling party and its ideological affiliates, as well as a section of the media, are trying to pit bishop against bishop and target individual religious leaders who dare speak of the multiple threats posed to India’s democracy and its secular and plural character.

“This malicious exercise wants national and world attention to shift from state violence against the people as in the police sniper fire in Tuticorin which killed 11 persons, including several Catholics, injured a priest and other innocents protesting the expansion of a dangerous Sterlite plant which will poison the underground water resources of the community,” said the officials of the 99-year-old laity group.

The AICU demanded the arrest and trial of police officers responsible for the unprovoked violence they carried out in Tuticorin town in Tamil Nadu, allegedly at the behest of the powerful Vedanta group, one of the several crony capitalists, that owns the environmentally hazardous copper smelting plant.

As the largest and oldest movement of lay Christians in India, the AICU is deeply concerned at the government’s failure to condemn and contain the threats to freedom of faith, livelihood and expression in the country.

“Our beloved land has been ravaged by caste violence. Dalits have been beaten to death in several states of the country.

Dalits and Muslims have been lynched from Assam to Rajasthan on mere suspicion of eating beef or transporting cattle,” the press release says.

The laity group also alleged that Christian persecution is now at its height “in almost every state.” It also notes that “state impunity and often the collusion of local police and civil officials” have aggravated the situation. “Police routinely file cases against the victims, even against relatives of people who have been beaten to death,” it alleges.

The union says it cannot ignore the plight of the poorest of the poor who are targeted and killed in several parts of the country.

“The killers film the murder as if it were an act of valour. The police look on. Ruling party members often take out processions seeking the release of the guilty,” the press release notes.

The government, it adds, has admitted to the death of 111 persons in 822 acts of communal violence in 2017. “As we go towards the 2019 general elections, communal forces widen the polarisation by communal violence. It is crystal clear as to who benefits from the polarisation.” --mattersindia.com

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