Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Churches seek permission to disburse relief in Orissa

NEW DELHI (ICNS): The Churches of India have asked the Orissa government to allow credible organizations such as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and National Council of Churches of India to disburse relief in the riot-hit areas.

“We demand that credible national organizations such as CBCI and NCCI should be permitted to send their team of people to meet with the affected people to express solidarity and provide relief materials meant for all people irrespective of caste and creed,” a joint statement of the United Christian Forum comprising of National Council of Churches of India (NCCI), Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India and the Regional Utkal Christian Council said.

The note was jointly signed by Bishop DK Sahu, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archbishop Raphael Cheenath, CBCI spokesperson Rev Dr Babu Joseph and Bishop Samson Das, President Utkal Christian Council

“The hapless victims of violence had to take shelter in forests for many days without proper food and sanitation. As of now few have turned either to relief camps or to their relatives, but the situation is far from satisfactory as those in camps are receiving inadequate supply of quality food and clothing, and the living conditions are less than hygienic,” the statement said.

‘While acknowledging the steps taken by the State Government for rehabilitation package and ordering a judicial inquiry, we strongly demand for a CBI enquiry into the whole incident and fix responsibility on organizations and individuals that are behind this most unfortunate human tragedy,” it added.

The statement said the forum “takes serious note of the development in Kondmal District of Orissa where communal harmony was seriously disrupted on the occasion of Christmas 2007.

“The people of Kondmal district belonging to different religious communities have been living in peace and harmony for several decades. However with deep regret we note that the Christmas celebrations of 2007 were rudely interrupted by some lawless elements initially at Brahmingaon and the matter should have been sorted out immediately by the administration with prudence,” it said.

It noted that, “Due to lack of timely intervention by the district administration despite prior information, the situation went out of control and communal elements took the fullest advantage of the situation which resulted in large scale arson and rioting.

“We strongly condemn the violence, destruction and desecration of places of worship and burning of houses belonging to innocent people. We would like to place on record our findings of the damages caused in the communal flare up in Kondmal district,” the statement said.

The following are the figures summing up the total destruction gathered by the Church groups

large churches destroyed 5;

village churches 48;

residence of religious women 5;

residence of priests 4;

hostel 7 meant for 800 children;

vocational training center 2;

houses destroyed or burned over 500;

shops destroyed 126.

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