MEMORANDUM PRESENTED TO SHRI ATAL BIHARI VAJPAYEE, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA BY REV. GODFREY DE ROZARIO SJ, BISHOP OF BARODA AND FR. CEDRIC PRAKASH SJ, COORDINATOR, UNITED CHRISTIAN FORUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (GUJARAT), ON BEHALF OF UCFHR AT AHWA, DANGS, GUJARAT ON SUNDAY, 10TH JANUARY, 1999 ON THE RECENT ATTACKS ON CHRISITANS IN GUJARAT
Honourable Prime Minister,
Welcome to Ahwa !
We are extremely grateful that you have taken the trouble to come to visit us in Gujarat. Your visit, we sincerely hope, will be like a soothing balm to the miniscule Christian community in Gujarat - which has been systematically terrorized through a series of well-planned and well-orchestrated attacks.
From your many recent public statements, Your Honour, we are aware that you have kept abreast of the recent happenings in Gujarat. Your categorical statements ensuring peace and security to all Indians - especially the Minorities - have definitely been a ray of hope to all of us; that you have taken the trouble to visit us, in spite of your hectic schedule, provides us with an even greater hope : that you are serious about translating your words into action.
To say that the Christian community in Gujarat - and very especially in the Dangs District - has been very terrorized and traumatized, is an understatement. For a community which cherishes and tries to live the values of the Kingdom of God : peace, love, justice, brotherhood - the attacks on Christmas day (inspite of our requests to the Gujarat Government to stop the anti-Christian rally in Ahwa) - has left a deep scar, which hopefully, only our faith and time, will heal. The meticulously planned attacks and a the vicious smear campaign unleashed by communal and vested interests - through hand-bills, slogans, speeches and even through some vernacular media - will make any true Indian hang his head down in shame.
Even till yesterday (9th January, 1999), some vernacular newspapers carried statements from functionaries of the Hindu Jagran Manch and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad stating "that their struggle against Christians will continue until all Christians, Priests have left the Dangs.!" This public threat we feel, is a clear form of terrorism.
Besides, their continual acts of vilification have sought "justification" in :
Apart from the above and several other baseless and unwarranted allegations, what deeply saddens us is the role of the Gujarat Government. In spite of our various representations (oral and written), the Government has done very little to ensure that we get the peace, security and protection which is rightfully oursIn fact, the Government here has deliberately sought to play down the attacks on us, on Churches and other Institutions, and have gone on record even to say that "the recent happenings were cause by Christians !"
We have already brought most of the above to your kind attention, in our letter addressed to you dated 31st December 1998 (Copy of which is appended).
Further, we are also appending together with this Memorandum copies of all relevant letters and other documents which will give you an idea of the gravity of the situation in Gujarat.
Finally, Honourable Prime Minister, we earnestly request you to ensure that the Government of Gujarat pays heed to the following demands which we have already made to them :
1. Stop making false, unfounded allegations against us
2. Take strong action against inflammatory pamphlets and speeches
3. Prohibit mass gatherings against us on our feast days and around our places of worship
4. Compensate our losses
5. Appreciate our services in public
6. Take a stern action against all those who take the law in their hands and attack us
7. Implement with immediate effect the recommendations of the Minority Commission
8. Establish immediately Minority and Human Rights Commissions in Gujarat
In this year, as the world celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we pray, that the Rights of the Christian Minority in India are no longer trampled upon.
We thank you once again for your presence and for giving us a patient hearing,
Bishop Godfrey de Rozario sj
Bishop of Baroda
For, THE UNITED CHRISTIAN FORUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (GUJARAT)
(The above memorandum was substantiated by copies of other letters written by the UCFHR (Guj.) to Government officials, inflammatory materials being circulated against Christians, list of attacks on Christians since December, 25th, '98 besides other relevant materials).