By Augustine Singh
Bhubaneswar: The Catholic Priests’ Conference of India (CPCI), an association of progressive diocesan priests, honoured a Catholic priest from Odisha, Eastern India, for his commitment to promoting minority and human rights.
“We are honouring Ajay Kumar Singh, a clergy of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese, Odisha, at the CPCI national convention and annual general body meeting held here, for his contribution to the cause of human rights and the welfare of the marginalized,” Father Philip Kattakayam, CPCI secretary, told Matters India.
Bishop Niranjan Sualsingh of Sambalpur, Odisha, presented a plaque and citation to Father Singh as a token of appreciation on behalf of CPCI.
Father Singh was the main speaker at September 25 meeting, in which about 42 Catholic priests across India discussed on “Social justice and human rights in the context of the Constitution of India.”
Father Singh is currently the director of Odisha Regional Forum for Social Action, Bhubaneswar. It is the social work coordinating body of six Catholic dioceses, under the aegis of Odisha Regional Catholic Bishops’ Council.
Father Singh champions the cause of human rights and minority rights issues, Dalit and Tribal rights as part of his advocacy programme among various stakeholders such as with government officials, writers, social workers and people at large.
In 2013, Father Singh had received the national minority award for his campaign against the 2008 Kandhamal riots in Odisha.
The priest, who hails from Kandhamal district of Odisha, studied MBA in Rural Management from Jesuit-run Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar, prior to his appointment as director Catholic Charities, social service wing of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar Archdiocese.
He also held the position of director Janavikas (people’s development), another social development institute at Konjamendi, Kandhamal.
Earlier he worked for years as an assistant parish priest in several parishes in Kandhamal district that forms part of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar archdiocese.
He also holds LLB and MLL degrees in law and teaches as a visiting professor at Morning Star College, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and Khristo Jyoti Mohavidyaloyo (regional theologate), Sambalpur, Odisha.
He has spoken on human rights issues at many national and international meetings and workshops.