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Dalit Christians

By: Dr. John Dayal

Dr. John Dayal

Member: National Integration Council

Government of India

National President: All India Catholic Union (Founded 1919)

Secretary General: All India Christian Council

505 Link, 18 IP Extn. Delhi 110092 India

Email: johndayal@vsnl.com

Phone: 91-11-22722262 Mobile 09811021072

New Delhi , 20 March 2006

Dr Manmohan Singh

Prime Minister of India

Dear Primer Minister

Greetings from the Christian Community.

May I thank you for the compassion and alacrity with which you took my complaint to you about the painful events in Kota against the Emmanuel Mission. Union Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil was kind enough to write to me immediately expressing your concern and promising on his own behalf that he would have the facts as ascertained. Later, the newly appointed chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Ambassador Hamid Ansari also wrote to me saying that he had sought the facts from the State government of Rajasthan. I am sure your communication with the State government of Rajasthan will have its full impact. It has already brought about a sense of relief and hope in the community in general, and in the victims of persecution in particular.

In my own identify as an NIC member and head of two major Church organizations, the Catholic Union and the Christian Council, I also visited Kota, Jaipur and surrounding areas from 18th to 20th March 2006 with a an investigative group for a first hand experience and assessment of the situation, as also our prognosis about the persecution of our people and the pressure on our institutions inn the state.

My colleagues on the team were distinguished persons, including Sr. Mary Scaria, an advocate of the Supreme court and secretary of the Justice and Peace commission of the Catholic Delhi Archdiocese, the Rev Madhu Chandra, Delhi region secretary of the All India Christian Council and two independent journalists, Mr. Anil Chamaria who is internationally known for his incisive reportage in Hindi on Minority and Dalit issues and Mr. Vishal Arora.

We visited Kota extensively and also had a feel of the communal situation in the townships en route, including Bundi and the state capital of Jaipur. We also went through the entire coverage in Hindi and English in all the newspapers in the state relating to the recent as well as earlier anti Christian incidents. We met the District collector, the two ADMs and the SSP of Kota as also the two concerned Station house officers of Police Stations in the city police district of Kota. In addition, we met with several Christian leaders, priests, heads of Orphanages and hospitals, patients and ordinary people. Among them were both Hindus and Muslims,

Dear Prime Minister, the main reason to write to you at this stage is to bring to your notice the very volatile communal situation in the state, and not just against Christians. It is obvious that the Rajasthan State government machinery including the Justice system, and the Civil and law and order administration, are overwhelmed by political pressure from the BJP whose members roam free offering large sums of money for the murder of Archbishop M A Thomas others while the state machinery merrily strangulates his orphanages and schools by summarily rescinding their registrations without even giving enough time to respond to a show cause notice. All threads speak of a conspiracy aggressively executed.

I fear violence can flare up at any time and anywhere, beginning with Kota . The community feels threatened. Already several incidents have taken place against the Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical communities which constitute the entirety of the Church in the State to prove that while the Emmanuel Mission may be the immediate symbol and victim, the conspiracy is against the Christian faith and the followers in the state of Rajasthan, and their social work with the people and marginalized groups. Ten years ago, the Sangh Parivar had threatened to make the district of Banswara "Free of Christians by 2000 AD". They failed to do so at that time. They are trying very hard to carryout their promise now. We seek your intervention in this backdrop and emergency. This is with the concurrence with the members of the Investigative Team under the aegis of the All India Christian Council which accompanied me and of which I was the part.

For the sake of brevity, I break down my report and complaint to you into five components, and for each pleading your attention and concern.

The communal situation in Kota and the state of Rajasthan, with specific respect to the Christian Community.

The conspiracy against the Emmanuel Mission which began in 2002 when the BJP came to power in the state leading to the rescinding of the remigration of seven organizations and the freezing of their bank accounts and the consequences for the inmates of orphanages and hospitals

The precipitate action against the Thomas family leading to non-bailable warrants against Archbishop M.A Thomas and his son Rev Samuel Thomas, Samuel's arrest from Noida in Uttar Pradesh and the daily orchestrated public protests against them

The lack of action against fanatical Sangh Parivar activists, directly liked with the top leaders of the State government and ruling party, who are offering Rs Eleven Lakh for the murder of Archbishop Thomas and Others

Events related to the controversial book called Haqeekat in which there are passages allegedly injuring the religious sentiments of devout Hindus.

1. As Dr Joseph D Souza, President of the All India Christian Council and I had told you and other Central government leaders in our earlier letter, defeated and frustrated religious fundamentalist and hyper-nationalist groups of the Sangh Parivar have Christians in several sensitive states. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Orissa have been at the top of our areas of maximum concern, with Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Karnataka close behind. The provincial administrations and particularly the education and police in all these states are under the control of the BJP.

All these states have sizable populations of Dalits and indigenous or Tribal people who have historically shown an abiding interest in the life and message of Jesus. It needs to be recalled that the Sangh Parivar had as early as the mid 1990s publicly declared that it would make the Banswara district of Rajasthan `Christian-free? by the end of the century. Despite a reign of terror, Christians remain in Banswara. Kota , with its history of tension between Muslims and Hindus to which the Collector and Police officers attest, seems the likely tinder box for future tension and possible violence. The fact that the Emmanuel Mission is active in this city makes them the logical target. However, Catholic schools have been attacked in Kota and even a Leprosy hospital being run by Catholic nuns has been targeted. Is a leprosy mission a threat to security, or to any religion? Is a leprosy clinic a forum for Conversion? Other attacks have been in Jhalawar, Beawar and in Jaipur

2. The Conspiracy against the Emmanuel Mission: Archbishop M A Thomas has been active in Kota for more than thirty years. His is an independent mission whose charism is caring for Orphans and running schools and hospitals for them. Although he is not part of the mainline Catholic and Protestant Churches and works independently of them, he is popular with the people and his record of service has led to the government awarding him the Padma Shree three years ago But despite this, his work, and the success of his institutions continue to invite hostile attention. As soon as the BJP came to power in 2002, clandestine enquiries were launched against all his institutions which were subjected to a harsh probe and financial audit by the department dealing with Registration of societies and charitable organizations. It is three years, but so far they never confronted him with any wrongdoing. Now suddenly without notice and with no time for him to respond, the organizations have been derecognized. Following this, their bank accounts stand frozen. That leads to a shortage of fuel and food for the orphanages. For three days, the Orphans told our delegation, the food had to be cooked on a wood fire as they ran out of cooking gas. Now the collector has assured us that he has ordered the gas agency to ensure there is constant supply of the gas. In the hospital, patients have been cared off by the staff because of the presence of the police and threats that if any one is treated, the staff would be arrested and the hospital closed down. Inmates include orphans suffering from tuberculosis and at least one child in a coma. The timing of these actions is the most suspicious.

3. The Thomas family itself is terrorized. Non-bailable warrants were issued against MA Thomas and Sam Thomas and their senior staff arrested on charges of a controversial book being found on their premises. Without going into the merits of the case, it is obvious that the justice delivery machinery was under great political pressure to see that the Thomas family is incapacitated and is no longer in charge of the institutions. Samuel Thomas was arrested from Noida under controversial circumstances, and it was only some adroit action by the Police superintendent that he was saved from lynched. He is now safe in police custody, but there is much to be said in which anticipatory bail has been refused him in recent days. A notice is pasted at his door declaring his father to be an absconder. Samuel Thomas's wife, now in the US , has told us by email that all charges are politically motivated charges.

4 .he lack of action against fanatical Sangh Parivar activists, directly liked with the top leaders of the State government and ruling party, who are offering Rs 11 Lakh each for the murder of Archbishop Thomas and others, speaks the most clearly of the conspiracy and its political roots and continuing patronage. I am attaching herewith a copy of a press cutting highlighting this murder order. It smacks of what Al Qaeda does. And the law looks on silently, even weakly.

6. The controversy of the book Haqeekat. The book has been banned, so we have not seen a copy. However, I have read excerpts in the RSS weekly Panchjanya. They are not in good taste. The law must take its course against the author and translator, but is the Mission and its founder in any way connected even if the book was found on their premises. Even otherwise, by identical yardsticks, former minister Arun Shourie, the late BJP writer Sita Ram Goel, and many a Sangh professor ought to be prosecuted for hurting the feelings of Christians, apart from senior BJP leaders who hurt the sentiments of Muslims on a daily basis. Is the charge for which Archbishop Thomas faces non- bailable warrants of arrest as an absconder?

Dear Prime Minister, even our preliminary enquiry shows grave miscarriage of justice, malice aforethought by those in power and connivance between the state machinery, the activists of the Sangh Parivar and the State government.

The immediate victims are not the Emanuel mission or even the Thomas family, much as they have suffered. The victims are the 2,200 orphans, scores of patients, leprosy victims and others. The mission, the Archbishop and the community remain victims of injustice.

May I appeal to you once again to order a high level probe into the entire matter and see that justice is done. Meanwhile, the state government must be told in no uncertain terms that its actions are making India a target of derision in the comity of nations. The warrants against archbishop M A Thomas must be withdrawn, Samuel Thomas must be released, the Emmanuel mission organizations must have their registration restored and their bank accounts made operative, and the Christian community at large assured pf safety in their own homeland.

Dear Prime minister, we look to you for justice. Let the law take its due course without political pressure from the state and the ruling party of that state, and without malice amongst the leaders and officials.

Thank you

John Dayal

For and on behalf of the All India Christian Council team which investigated the Kota incidents


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