By Matters India Reporter
Aizawl, Feb 11, 2019: Special prayers, including Mass, were held in churches across Mizoram on February 10 for the defeat of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.
The Presbyterian Church’s Mizoram Synod sources told reporters that members of 16 major denominations in the northeastern Indian state also held prayers the previous night.
The appeal made by the Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee (MKHC), a conglomeration of leaders of major Churches, had asked all the denominations to pray so that the bill gets stalled in the Rajya Sabha.
The MKHC had earlier appealed to members to hold mass prayers on the night of February 16, but issued another circular on February 8 to conduct the prayers on February 9 or February 10.
A press statement issued by the MKHC said that the bill is “harmful” for Mizoram and Christians.
The bill, being vehemently opposed in the Northeast, was passed in Lok Sabha (lower house) on January 8 and the federal government has said it will try to get the Rajya Sabha nod in this budget session.
The bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India even if they do not possess any document.
“Passage of the amendment bill can result in suppression of the freedom of religion and is against the spirit of secularism,” the MKHC statement said.
It appealed to the Church members to pray for religious freedom in India so that the people can continue to worship God freely.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a public meeting at Changsari in Assam on February 9 assured the people of the region that the bill will in no way cause harm to their interests.
Earlier, the United Christian Forum of North East India warned the bill seriously affect the destiny of the region.
At a meeting on February 1 it noted growing unrest, fear and anxiety among all sections of citizens across the seven states of the region at “decisions being made by the Ruling Dispensation that will seriously affect the destiny of North East India.”
A press release on February 4 from the forum spokesperson Allen Brooks said the leaders of all Churches in the region have expressed “deep anguish and pain at the total unconcern and insensitivity of the decision-makers at the Centre to the anxieties of the indigenous people” of the region whose future they say stands threatened.
“It is all the more shocking when major decisions are made in the country based only on religious affiliation, thus compromising the secular identity of the nation,” the press release regretted.
The Church leaders while expressing their solidarity with the people, appealed to the government of India to reconsider its decision and adhere to the democratic voices of its citizens. They also appealed to all its members to pray for a peaceful and amicable solution.