Christian, Hindu leaders pledge for peace in Kerala

September 30th, 2008 - 12:09 am ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Sep 29 (IANS) A three-hour meeting between top Christian and Hindu leaders to discuss the present communal unrest in parts of India Monday appeared to be a success with both groups hailing the move as a step towards peace.Addressing reporters after the meeting held at a hotel here, Mar Baselios Cleemis, major archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, said the meeting took place in a cordial manner and has been successful with a resolution also passed for communal peace and harmony.

“The aim of this meeting was peace and communal harmony. We have decided that forced conversion is certainly not acceptable and there should be no attack on places of worship,” said the archbishop.

Communal violence in many parts of India escalated after the killing of a Hindu leader in Orissa’s Kandhamal district last month. Suspected Hindu activists carried out attacks on Christians and ransacked several churches during the last couple of weeks in Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

The meeting also warned that none should fall into the hands of vested interest who will use the opportunity of discord between the Christian and Hindu communities for political gains.

The invitation for a discussion came from the Kerala Catholic Bishop Conference representatives here and was accepted by Hindu organisations that included Hindu Aikya Vedi Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Chinmaya Mission, Sivagiri Mutt, Mata Amritanandamayi and three other Sanyasi groups.

The Christian delegation was led by Cardinal Varkey Mar Vithayathil of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and also included bishops from the Orthodox, Mar Thoma and CSI Churches.

Vedi leader Kummanam Rajasekharan told IANS that there was no doubt about the success of the meeting and the contents of the resolution were the same that Archbishop briefed at the press conference.

“The basic issue that has been identified as the reason for a discontentment rose because of inflammatory notices issued and forced conversions. A two member committee with Archbishop Cleemis and Swami Chidananda Puri of the Aadwaith Ashramam will now take the discussions forward and once a consensus is reached, a second meeting would be held,” said Rajasekharan.

Christians in Kerala account for around 23 percent of the 32 million population, of which Catholics alone account for more than 50 percent of the Christian population.

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