Silent rally to protest Orissa killings in Ahmedabad


Ahmedabad : A silent peace rally is set to be held here Tuesday evening by a Christian rights group to protest the killing of a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader in Orissa and the consequent attacks on the Christian community there.

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Organised by the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights (GUCFHR), the rally starts from CNI Church, Victoria Garden, at 4 p.m. and moves on to Mount Carmel Cathedral, Mirzapur. A prayer meeting would be held at the cathedral for all the victims of the violence, said Bishop Thomas Macwan of the Ahmedabad Catholic Diocese.

“No one has the right to take the lives of innocent people. We urge the concerned authorities to investigate the Orissa incidents and find the real culprits behind the attack and take stern legal action against them. Blaming the entire Christian community for these murders without any shred of evidence and unleashing a reign of terror against them is completely unjustified,” Macwan told reporters.

Orissa has witnessed communal violence since Aug 23 when Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, a member of the VHP’s central advisory committee, and four others were killed by suspected Maoist guerrillas at his Jalespata ashram in Kandhamal district.

Radical Hindu groups in the state allege that Christians killed Saraswati because he was opposing religious conversions, even though the state government has blamed Maoists for the killing.

At least 16 people were killed, over 540 houses and 17 places of worship were burnt in the ensuing communal violence, according to official figures.

Asked if the GUCFHR is seeking a ban on organisations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal for their alleged involvement in attacks on the Christian community, Father Cedric Prakash, director of Prashant, a centre for human rights, justice and peace said: “We do not believe in banning any organisation. All we are asking for is that if any organisation is found guilty of fomenting violence, action should be taken sternly as per the law.”

The proposed rally here would be led by bishops and heads of major Christian denominations of Gujarat.

Christian groups earlier wanted to take out similar rallies in Anand and Petlad also, but were not granted permission by the police.