Spiritual leaders condemn violence in India

By Matters India Reporter

Goa: A group of spiritual heads from various religions has denounced the sporadic violence that is taking place in India.

“We condemn all violence, lynchings and killings and request the authorities to take strong and speedy action against those involved in anti-social acts. We are very concerned about attacks on educational institutions and places of worship. We denounce in unequivocal terms the attacks this week on three Catholic Churches in Rourkela, Odisha at a time when the peaceful Christian Community was celebrating their feast of Joy, Easter on last April 1,” said a press statement.

They made a statement after a forum on “Collective Action for Dialogue and Social Harmony” organized by Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in collaboration with the Agnel Region of the Society of Pilar and Bharitya Sarva Dharma Sansad and others in Goa, Western India, April 5.

Indians have lived together for ages in a country where unity in diversity has become a model for the world People of different communities speaking different languages, practising different faiths, coming from diverse regions and cultures and subcultures have built and developed this beautiful country India India which as a great number of young, has many aspirations, and the most important one is the passionate desire to live in peace and harmony.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, Secretary General of the CBCI; Sushil Goswamy Maharaj President, Bharply, Sarv Dhorm Sansad; Imam Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, Chief Imam of India, President, All India Imam Association; Paramjit Singh Chandok Chairman, Bangla Sahib Gurudwara; Lamuwa Vivek Muni, President International Mahavir Jain Mission, and Bikku Sanghasena, Founder, Manobodhi International Meditation Centre, Ladakh, were representing various faiths spoke at the event.

It is in this background that the religious leaders expressed their deep worry and concern at the way forces of hate and division are striving to polarise the Indian Polity. They were deeply distressed at the communal tensions that they have seen in recent days in West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan and other states. They strongly condemned those who are seeking to inject the portion of hatred into society.

“We reiterate every Indian has his dignity and respect and the night to decide what one eats, to marry the person of one’s choice, to choose the education one selects and the freedom to practice whatever faith one wishes to profess We take strong exception to anyone taking control of these individual decisions be it on the part of the State or by so-called cultural organizations. No one is to be categorized as anti-national or non-patriotic based on his religion, region or belongingness to a community,” they said.

They vehemently denounce mobs that go around taking law and order into their hands and appeal that the Constitutional norms and articles be respected and implemented in letter and spirit. They were saddened to see that in society caste still plays an important role and demanded that Dalits be given their rightful place in society. They emphasised that the rights of the tribals, the marginalized, the workers, and the poor be upheld and protected.

“We call upon all men and women of goodwill to stand up for social harmony in India cannot progress simply with slogans and promises. A nation can progress only when its people live with each other as brothers and sisters, where egoism gives place to selflessness, hate gives way to love, peace replaces violence. We wish to promote the way of love for as Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. only love can do that,’” they said.

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