Friday, May 30, 2014
Statement by Fr. Cedric Prakash on the allegations made against him by the Goa CM
The allegations made by the Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar (as reported in some sections of the media today), accusing me of “spreading religious discontent” are extremely mischievous and very unfortunate.
I visited Goa in March 2014 at the invitation of the Catholic Council of Goa and the focus of all my talks was (and which will continue to be) the Constitution of India, the values enshrined in them and the fact that large sections of our people are deprived of their legitimate rights both in Gujarat and in other parts of India.
Article 19 of the Constitution gives me the right of freedom of speech and expression. Apart from focusing on the Constitution, I have been consistent in saying that the Freedom of Religion Law enacted by the Government of Gujarat in 2003 goes against the letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution particularly Article 25 which guarantees every single citizen the right to freely profess, practice and propagate one’s religion. It also goes against Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which gives one the right to freely change his religion or belief to another.
Further, I have always questioned the Gujarat model of “development” which only caters to a section of society. There is sufficient research studies and statistical data to prove that what is being flaunted are half-truths and myths; social indicators of large sections of the poor and marginalized very strongly belie the development of Gujarat. It is common knowledge that Gujarat has always been a fairly industrialized State since the early seventies. It is not a “miracle” that has happened in the last ten years or so.
I have never used or abused any religion to create any ‘discontent’. My closest associates and friends belong to all religions and particularly from the majority community. I have always been an advocate for communal harmony and peace but I do so within the framework of justice and human rights for all. I have never attacked or said anything against another’s religious beliefs. That CM Parrikar has compared me with one of his ilk speaks volumes of his mindset and the fact that fascism is gaining more and more ground in the country.
On April 9th 2014, I had already sent out a response to CM Parrikar on some of his earlier allegations against me. There is nothing which I have said which is not true or which cannot be substantiated with concrete data.
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj