Thursday, December 22, 2005

Church attacked, Pastor intimidated in Goa

From our correspondent

Hindu fundamentalists ransacked a church at Ponda in Goa when the worship was going on and dragged its pastor to the local police station alleging that he was disturbing peace in the area. And the police refused to act, leaving the stage to the hooligans to do whatever they wanted.

As usual the church of the New Life Fellowship in Ponda, 40 km from Panaji, the capital of Goa, started the worship on 18 December 2005 with a gathering of about 80 believers. Just after the worship began, about 20 Hindus carrying chains, iron rods and sticks and barged in and started to smash the audio system and other equipment. When some believers tried to protest, they manhandled them and chased all of them out of the church.

The attackers threatened the pastor Rev Cajetan Tellis with dire consequences if he tried to preach in the church again. All this happened after alerting the local police in advance against the fundamentalists who had tried to intimidate him on 11 December 2005. In fact on that day the attackers had brought six policemen to the church who took him to the police station. The in-charge of the police station questioned the pastor but found nothing wrong. Yet he refused to take action against those who took law into their hands. The police arrested six persons for the attack on 18 December 2005 and detained them in the police station.

In a memorandum submitted to Governor SC Jamir, the All India Christian Council (aicc) condemned the attack and sought stringent action against culprits as well as adequate security for all churches in Goa.

"The devious insensitivity of the district administration and the police is a matter of great shame as we profess to be the world's largest secular democracy. These constant efforts by communal fanatics to strike at the heart of India's plurality to eliminate any semblance of diversity with a blatant disregard for the religious rights enshrined in the Constitution of India must be put to a stop. Such a shameful act is unacceptable in a civilized society such as ours in an era of globalisation and is in violation against the provision of the Article 25 of our Constitution and accepted 'Universal Human Rights Convention'. The Christian Council demands that the perpetrators of this crime be arrested and booked under the appropriate sections of the IPC viz. section 153 (A) and 295 (A)," the memorandum said.

The memorandum was signed by aicc president Dr Joseph D'Souza, aicc Maharashtra State General Secretary Dr Abraham Mathai, Goa United Christian Leaders Association Chairman Rev Gerson Coutinho, New Life Fellowship Coordinator Rev Felix Cardozo and Rev Mathew Kurien of the Assemblies of God Church,Goa.

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