At Delhi rally, minorities protest inaction on communal violence

October 14th, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 14 (IANS) Groups representing India’s religious minorities and activists held a protest rally here Tuesday demanding stronger action against perpetrators of communal violence, with several parts of the country seeing sectarian strife in the past two months.The rally at Jantar Mantar in central Delhi condemned the ‘communal violence on minorities in India’ and was organised by the All India Confederation of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Organisations to mark World Religious Freedom Day.

“To choose one’s religion is a fundamental right. On this day to mark religious freedom, we condemn violence and atrocities meted out to minorities - the recent attacks on Christians in Orissa and Muslims after the terror attacks,” said Madhu Chandra, national secretary of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations.

Chandra said accross the nation members of the confederation resented the government’s inaction and were disappointed by the National Integration Council meeting here Monday.

“Crucial issues of arresting perpetrators and putting a ban on radical groups have not been addressed. The action they speak of is very mild,” Chandra averred.

Oct 14 was declared World Religious Freedom Day in 2006 at a mega gathering of Dalits at Nagpur, Maharashtra, to mark the day on which B.R. Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, quit Hinduism and converted to Buddhism in 1956 to be free from caste oppression.

Sixty people from Dalit communities, minority unions and students assembled at Jantar Mantar and raised slogans “Religious Freedom is a fundamental right! Ban RSS! We want judicial enquiry into the Batla House case!” as part of the rally.

While the RSS stands for the Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Batla House is the locality in Jamia Nagar where two Muslim youths were gunned down by police as terrorists suspected to be involved in the Delhi serial blasts.

“Acts of violence on minorities and Dalits - because they change their religion in our secular nation - is preposterous. The main aim of the rally is to ensure that we take a step forward in the Ambedkar movement and play down communal forces,” said Vinod Kumar, a social activist.

Violence against Christians has claimed at least 35 lives in Orissa since late August and a nun is also alleged to have been raped by Hindu rightwing mobs. Thousands of Christians have been rendered homeless in the state. Similar violence has also been reported from Karnataka.

“No faith teaches us to resort to violence - every person must respect another and feel free to follow their chosen faith,” said brother Victor Das, who runs a prayer shelter here, and is general secretary of the Faridabad Churches’ Council.

“People from different faiths - Hindus, Muslims and Christiams - have gathered and stand united for a cause - the bloodbath of innocents cannot be used for political mileage!” Das concluded.

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