Christian Council welcomes Government Decision to invoke Article 355 in Orissa

The All India Christian Council has welcomed late night reports that the Union Government has invoked Article 355 of the Constitution warning the administrations of Orissa and Karnataka it will intervene they do not immediately bring to a halt the continuing violence by the Sangh Parivar against the Christian community.

The Union Government directive comes days after All India Christian Council leaders, with Mr. Mahesh Bhatt and Maulana Mahmood Madani, MP, called on President Pratibha Patil urging her to enforce Article 355 of the Constitution of India on Orissa, the State worst affected. Since then violence spread to Karnataka, with Mangalore district as the focal point, and is now raging even in Madhya Pradesh with a Cathedral torched in Jabalpur after violence in Indore, Jhabua and some other towns. The delegation members from the Christian Council included Dr John Dayal, Dr Abraham Mathai of Mumbai and Rev Madhu Chandra of New Delhi.

Top legal opinion available to All India Christian Council had then held that while Article 356 calls for imposition of President’s rule when New Delhi takes over reins of power through the Governor and his Advisors, Article 355 says the Union Government can directly act to protect States against external and internal disturbance. It is obvious that despite the nonchalant attitude of the Home Ministry, the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, both of whom had been approached by several delegations of the Christian community, finally decided to act. A delegation of Members of Parliament was meeting the Prime Minister today evening on this issue.

The All India Christian Council delegation had reminded the President, as also Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, that the violence that has continued against Christians in Orissa from 23rd August till today justified the use of Article 355.

Dr. John Dayal Secretary General of All India Christian Council, who returned from Orissa lat, last night, said the situation in both states was getting out of hand. In Orissa, the Sangh Parivar had now turned against the state police, and had in fact lynched policemen in attacks to free the few culprits police did manage to arrest for murdering Christians and torching churches in Kandhamal and other districted of the state.

Dr. Dayal said civil society fact finding teams as well as priests staying with the refugees in various government camps have spoken of the terrible living conditions. Several children have already died and large scale epidemics are feared. The government’s response has to been to coerce several tribal and Dalit families to leave the camps. The condition of the tens of thousands of people on the forest is not known, with relief agencies not permitted to go beyond the government camps.

Dr. Joseph D’souza, the President of All India Christian Council demanded in the letter addressed to the Presdient of India and Prime Minister to bring the Hindutva outfits Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayam Sangh and Bajrang Dal as terror outfits.

The All India Christian Council has also condemned the police violence against Nuns, mothers and youth in Mangalore and demanded exemplary actions against the policemen and their offices.

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