Tuesday, December 11, 2007



10th December 2007
Dear Friends,
We are on the eve of  Elections here in Gujarat....However, one is aware that there are thousands of people who still do not have their Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or have these cards with totally wrong information / spelling, etc.
However, Election Commission sources have informed all eligible voters through the media that one will still be allowed to exercise one's franchise with the help of alternative documents.
The Election Commission has validated fourteen  documents ( photo identity ), which will permit one to exercise one's vote in the absence of an EPIC.  These are :
 i)    Passport
ii)   Driving licence
iii)  PAN card
iv)   Identity card of State Government, Central Government, PSU and Pvt. Ltd. Companies
v)    Bank passbook
vi)   Student I-card
vii)  Registered deed of property
viii) ST, SC and OBC certificate
ix)   Pension book
x)    Widow pension book
xi)   Freedom Fighter ID card
xii)  Weapon's licence
xiii) NREGS job card
xiv)  ESI card
All this, obviously, if one's name is on the Electoral Rolls and if it corroborates with the name on  the above mentioned

Persons with faulty EPICs whose names are on the Electoral Rolls but who are able to furnish one of the above mentioned I-Cards are also eligible to vote.
Kindly encourage as many as possible to exercise their franchise.  It is always better that one casts one's ballot as early as possible, to prevent bogus voting later on during the day.
Any complaints of fraudulent / bogus voting, etc. should be brought immediately to the notice of :
Ø  The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), 
     Election Commission, General Administration Department, 
     Block No. 7,     II Floor, Sachivalaya, Gandhinagar 382 010
     [ Tel.:  (079) 23250316 / 23250318   Fax:  (079) 23250317 ]
ceo_gujarat@eci.gov.in     www.ceogujarat.nic.in
Let's hope and pray that we have  free and fair elections in Gujarat !
Yours sincerely,
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)  today celebrates the Birth centenary of Fr. Pedro  Arrupe who was born in Bilbao Spain on November 14th, 1907. 
Fr. Arrupe was in the midst of his medical studies (where he was faring brilliantly) to join the Jesuits in order to commit himself in service to God and to people.  He spent forty years of his life in Japan where he mastered the Japanese language and culture. 
The defining moment of his stay in Japan was on August 6, 1945 when the world's first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  Fr. Arrupe was in the midst of this tragedy.  He made his Jesuit residence into a make shift hospital administering to those who were badly wounded.  For days on he selflessly catered to the dying and the wounded using his medical skills to the maximum.  For several years later Pedro Arrupe would recall the horror and tragedy of the atomic explosions, encouraging people, across the globe, to do everything possible to halt nuclear warfare. 
In 1965, he was elected Superior General of the Jesuits and during his tenure he emphasized the importance of Jesuits being deeply rooted in God  and at the same time, taking the side of justice in whatever they did.  In 1980, he founded the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) which has been selflessly serving, thousands of refugees in different parts of the world  for more than twenty-five years now.  He also insisted that Jesuit education should form men and women in the service of others. 
In 1981, he suffered a stroke from which he did not recover.  He died on 5th February 1991, at the age of 84 years, leaving behind a very rich legacy of being deeply rooted in God and at the same time fighting for the rights of the poor, the marginalized and the displaced.
The Jesuits in Gujarat (and in several parts of India) today run well-known institutions like those of the Xavier's family which are committed to the cause of education and to the service of the poor and the marginalized.  In celebrating the memory of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, they continue the rich legacy he has left them. 

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
14th November 2007



Ms. Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), addressed a packed Press Conference on Monday 19th November 2007 at PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.  She told the media in her characteristic blunt style,  how the Citizens for Justice and Peace had  visited several villages in  the Panchmahal and Dahod Districts and also several parts of Ahmedabad city, to get a grassroot level feedback on issues related to security, justice and reparation to the victim survivors of the Gujarat Carnage of 2002 and of the way the people there still suffer.
Ms. Setalvad provided hard facts with concrete evidence of how the Gujarat Government
has simply ignored the condition of the riot victims.  In Citizens Nagar for example, the residents face the perennial problem of acute unhygienic conditions; unclean water, with a high degree of salinity, no sewerage, no health facilities and no schooling.  A similar condition is evident in Faizal Park, Vatwa and Siddiquibad, Juhapura.  Ms. Setalvad shared with the media a representation which CJP had made to the Collector of Ahmedabad that day. 
Several of the victim survivors were also present at the Conference.  These included Rehana Banu, the mother of 13 year old Riaz Musafar Beig who lost his life in Citizens Nagar ten days ago, due to kidney failure which was caused by prolonged consumption of highly saline water "what can I do"  she lamented.  "There are absolutely no facilities which have been provided to us.  The water is totally contaminated, there are no clinics or hospitals where we live, and not even a medical shop.  The doctors in another hospital said that I would need more than 1.5 lacs to treat my son and I just could not afford that.". 
It is almost six years since the Gujarat Carnage and even as another election draws near,  the victim survivors have literally nowhere to go as the collective conscience of the State continues to be in a denial mode with a complete lack of remorse.  However, Citizens for Justice and Peace continues its relentless struggle to focus on the truth and to ensure justice for the victim survivors.
For Citizens for Justice and Peace
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj

20th November 2007



We condemn the senseless terror attacks and the wanton destruction of life and property which took place in various parts of Uttar Pradesh yesterday, 23rd November 2007.
We extend our sympathy and solidarity to the families of the deceased and to all those who have been affected in any way, by these ghastly acts.
We call upon the Governments of Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre to adequately compensate the victims and their families in the interest of justice and to bring to book expeditiously, all those involved in these heinous acts.
Finally, we pray that good sense may prevail and that every form of violence is eschewed by all sections of society and that the Governments everywhere respond to the legitimate demands of the people.
Fr. Cedric Prakash sj
24th November 2007



Media reports alleging that Narendra Modi has justified the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter, must come as a  great shock to all in civil society. 
The Chief Executive of a State has been entrusted with safeguarding the Constitutional rights and freedoms of every single citizen in the State.  The fact that such "fake encounters" are given a legitimacy,  speaks volumes of the depths to which divisive communal politics has plunged into.
We call upon the Election Commission to take immediate cognizance and action on these communal utterances and hope that civil society will see the long term consequences of such irresponsible statements and exercise its right through the ballot box to vote out these communal and divisive elements
Fr. Cedric Prakash

5th December 2007