Prashant .A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace
Post Box No. 4050, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad 380 009, Gujarat, India
Tel. : +91 (079) 66522333, 2745 5913 . Fax : +91 (079) 2748 9018
AN OPEN LETTER TO MR. P.A. SANGMA
5th July, 2012
Mr. P. A Sangma
Dear Mr. Sangma,
Welcome to Ahmedabad!
Ahmedabad which is over 600 years was founded by a great and benevolent ruler: Ahmed Shah who transcended the narrow boundaries of religion; besides, from the sanctity of his ashram, on the banks of the river Sabarmati, Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation gave to the world his twin doctrine of 'Ahimsa' and 'Satyagraha'.
Sir, it is necessary for me to provide you with this brief introduction because as a Presidential candidate, it is important at this stage, that you demonstrate every possible desire to safeguard the sacred principles of the secular Constitution of India namely Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.
What makes it imperative for me to write this Open Letter to you, are your recent utterances on the BJP and the right-wing elements of the country which clearly indicate that should you become the President of the country, you will abandon all propriety and will not be able to function as the final guardian of the Constitution of India.
When you were questioned about the attacks on the Christians in Kandhamal and other parts of Orissa, your response has been 'where is the proof that the BJP has done it? Don't make wild allegations!' The point is either you have not done your homework or you would conveniently like to forget that in the run-up to the last Orissa elections 2009, your main backer to these Presidential elections Mr. Naveen Patnaik, very clearly said that the BJP was responsible for the attack on the Christians in Kandhamal.
If you so wish, we could give you a whole list of BJP leaders (including those arrested) both from Orissa and outside, who are responsible for fomenting the violence. So it is indeed sad, when people like you brush off such incidents as 'one or two; here and there' as though it is of no consequence for hundreds and thousands be it in Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat or any of the BJP-ruled states.
Since, you very eloquently maintain that at the heart of Christianity is forgiveness, (unfortunately, you do not demonstrate this act when it comes to dealing with your opponents.) let's forget Christians and focus on what happened in Gujarat in 2002 when thousands of Muslims were brutally attacked, raped, burnt alive, dispossessed of their homes and lands, in what is known the world over as the 'Gujarat Genocide'! Mr. Sangma, I would like to know what is your stand on this? Or is it once again for you 'something small; here and there?' It sounds like a joke! Should you become the President of India, would you be able to defend the Constitutional rights and freedom of every citizen of this country?
What about the anti-conversion law we have in Gujarat? It could easily rate as the most draconian law in any democracy of the world. Just take a moment out of your busy schedule and go through it and let us know if it is not violative of Article 25 of the Constitution of India.
We do appreciate the fact that you are a tribal but I am not sure what is your take on the fact that the adivasis of our country are derogatorily referred to as 'Vanvasis'. There is indeed a great difference between being the original inhabitants of the land and mere forest-dwellers! The tribals in Gujarat, as in many parts of the country, have lost plenty of what is rightly theirs because of the nexus between the politicians and the other vested interests. If you look carefully, you will see how the tribal identity is systematically denigrated by these groups.
To top it all, you were actually a candidate that was put forward by the BJD and the AIADMK. The BJP had in fact no candidate to offer the nation. They apparently did their best to find a suitable candidate but were unsuccessful. So of course, without wanting to rock the boat of potential allies, they plummed for you and tomorrow obviously after you lose, they will go to town to say, that they were supporting a Christian and a tribal! (The fact is, they have been consistently against both: Christians and tribals)
Mr. Sangma, what we need for this country is a statesperson (not someone defined by religion or ethnicity) to hold the high office of the President of India; a person who is not only able to cherish the lofty principles enshrined in the Constitution of India but someone who can doggedly defend these, at whatever the cost. By aligning yourself with the divisive and fascist forces of this country, you have aptly demonstrated that you do not fit the bill.
We sincerely hope that by visiting Ahmedabad and particularly Gandhi's ashram, you would in some small measure, imbibe the legacy left to us by great men like Ahmed Shah and Mahatma Gandhi. If you do so, it will certainly stand you in good stead post - July 19th to work for tribal unity in this country and the repeal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the North-East and in Jammu and Kashmir. …!
God bless you!
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj