Religious leaders condemn lynching, stress restoration of law
By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: Around 40 spiritual leaders and intellectuals in the national capital on July 16 urged Indians to check an environment of hate, violence and disregard for the rule of law spreading across the country.
They met under the aegis of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) and called upon the government to end impunity, which they noted, was at the root of the atmosphere of fear that stalks the land today. They also said these developments threatened not just secularism, but the country’s Constitution as well as the democratic fabric.
They want people to draw from India’s deep spiritual reservoirs to check increasing cases of lying that have claimed “many innocents of religious and marginalized communities.”
The meeting welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurances to leaders of Opposition parties on the eve of the Monsoon session of Parliament.
However, the leaders noted that lynching in various states on the pretext of protecting cows have shoked majority of Indians from all communities. The prime minister must now see that state governments and their police forces acted against the guilty in an impartial manner, they asserted.
The meeting agreed on a five point urgent program of action:
• The ideology of hate is a reality and needs to be challenged by governments, political parties, civil society activists, the criminal justice system and religious communities in a concerted manner.
• Religious leadership must act at the grassroots to assert the inherent unity of the people. This will help restore public confidence and remove the mutual suspicion that had started growing.
• The leadership must generate literature as well as content for the traditional, mainstream and social media to challenge falsehood and hatred. Social media can indeed also be used to defeat hate and strengthen bonds between communities.
• Community leaders must come together at various levels so that tensions can be diffused and trust restored and strengthened. Similarly, national institutions including the National and State Minorities Commissions and other structures must be encouraged to actively work in restoring peace and help strengthen the rule of law. This would also go a long way in ensuring the devolution of development efforts under the 15 point programme and other government measures.
• A National Inter-Faith and Civil society convention will be held as soon as possible to discuss the developments and the measures that the governments need to take at the national and state levels.
The meeting was attended by Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj, Vivek Muni, Umer Iliyasi, Sardar Paramjeet Singh Chandhok, Mohinder Singh, Manzoor Alam, Zafar Ullah Khan, chairman of Delhi Minority Commission, Navaid Hamid, Delhi Minority Commission Member Sr Anastasia Gill and Rabbi Ezekiel Malekar.
Other prominent participants included A C Michael, John Dayal, D K Manavalan, Jesuit Father T K John, Father Denzil Fernandes, Michael Williams, Reverends Vijayesh Lal and Richard Howell, Fathers Alarico Carvalho, Bento Rodrigues and Freddy D’Souza, Monsignors Susai Sebastian and Joseph Chinnayyan.
Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, convened the meeting at the CBCI Centre.