15th March 2002

Dear friend,

Greetings from Gujarat!

It’s been one hell of a fortnight! Perhaps, the worst in living memory, for most of us, living in Gujarat. Rampaging mobs indulged in arson, loot, rape, murder… and laid waste a land, we believed was sacred. It was from the shores of the river Sabarmati that Mahatma Gandhi preached peace and non-violence! It is, in this very State, that the Jains, who followed the teachings of Lord Mahavir that even the most insignificant of living creatures should not be hurt, have a pre-dominance. We have never witnessed a carnage of such intensity. It is an ethnic cleansing with practically no Muslims willing to resume their daily life. As I write this, their shops and houses still continue to burn in rural Gujarat. This is insanity of the highest order. We really do not know when it will end. As always, in a calamity-whether man-made or natural - we have responded. Whilst some of our groups and collaborators are providing immediate relief to the several thousands of victims and refugees we have been focussing on a different yet very essential dimension. As a Centre committed to human rights, justice and peace, we at PRASHANT, have been looking into aspects like State complicity, the pre-meditated attacks, the injustices meted out and the sheer horror of this current crisis. It is not possible for me elaborate all that we are involved with, in this letter. However, I suggest that if you wish to know more about what is happening you may log on to www.sabrang.com or http://bocs.hu/shanti/index.html. Gujarat has been hit with a succession of disasters. In the last five years we have seen communal violence, plague, cyclones, droughts and a massive earthquake. Infact, most of the victims have not yet recovered from the earthquake of January 26th 2001. The discrimination which the poor and the marginalised communities have faced, has been a cause of concern to all of us who have been involved in the relief and rehabilitation work. In several ways the current problems have defocused from the rehabilitation issues of the earthquake. With the failure of the monsoons, once again in most parts of Gujarat, another drought looms large. Thanks to the support of MANOS UNIDAS, Spain, we were able to help address last years drought in a small but significant way. The earthquake, the drought and this carnage definitely has a bearing on all our works. The children in our Chhatralayas are affected, because the priority for their studies and their growth takes a back seat. Hopefully we will have exams as usual a few weeks from now and after that they will be able to enjoy some holidays. We are communicatings to some of you after a very long time. Kindly note our new telephone numbers and our ONLY e-mail id. We look forward to hearing from you. As Easter approaches we pray that our lives and this world be filled with PEACE, LOVE and JOY. Do pray for our people and our works.

With warm wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj