Wednesday, March 23, 2011




-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*


On March 24th 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero was brutally gunned down while celebrating mass in his native country of El Salvador. For several years, Romero was very vocal in denouncing human rights violations which were perpetuated on the most vulnerable sections of his country.  He was a fierce critic of the Government and the military junta of his times.  He did everything within his means to promote human dignity, protect the lives of innocent people and to oppose all forms of violence.


It was no secret therefore, that it was the Government of his day and other vested interests who decided that he had to be done away with.


Today, March 24th (thirty one years after his assassination), the United Nation observes his anniversary as the 'International Day for Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims'.


There is great significance to this day.  Apart from honouring and recognizing the important work played by Romero, the day is intended:


·         to honour the memory of victims of gross and systematic human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice;


·         to pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in, the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all


The observance of such a day could not have come at a more propitious moment.  Only last month, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders Ms. Margaret Sekaggya visited Ahmedabad and several other cities of India to assess the ground reality.  The report she presented at a Press Conference on the conclusion of her visit was indeed alarming! Today, in Gujarat and other parts of India, several of those who take a stand for truth, human rights and justice are subject to intimidation and harassment by vested interests. RTI activists and other whistle blowers have even been killed. The powerful go to any length, to buy up people, co-opt them or even 'put them in their place'. 


Truth, today, has become inconvenient to many.  And of course, Gandhiji's 'Satyagraha' was a great source of discomfort to many.  The easiest thing is to do away with such people: it doesn't matter if one is a Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero or for that matter an Amit Jethwa.


In a message for the Day, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says 'as we inaugurate this new international observance, let us recognize the indispensable role of the truth in upholding human rights – and let us pledge to defend the right to the truth as we pursue our global mission of human rights'.


On a day like this, we need to celebrate Oscar Romero but we also take a stand on behalf of those who work relentlessly for the right to the truth concerning gross Human Rights Violations and for the dignity of victims.


(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


24th March, 2011

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052

Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333
Fax:  79 27489018





Monday, March 21, 2011

LET'S ELIMINATE RACIAL DISCRIMINATION..21 March, 2011 by Fr. Cedric Prakash sj


-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*


The very first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights".


March 21st, every year, is observed as the 'International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination'.  On this very day in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa against the apartheid "pass laws".  In 1966, the UN General Assembly while proclaiming this International Day, 'called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination' (resolution 2142 (XXI)).


Earlier, in 1949, thanks to the vision of Dr. Ambedkar and our Constituent Assembly, the country gave to its citizens the fundamental values of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.


Sadly however, there is a huge gap between the ideal and the reality.  While we Indians, are first to cry hoarse when we feel racially discriminated in Australia, UK or the USA, we don't bat an eyelid when discrimination literally becomes institutionalized in our everyday reality at home. 


The Dalits continue to be at the receiving end in a society which has by and large become immune to their plight. They continue to be "stereo-typed" for specific jobs and even in 'kitlis' (tea stalls) - where one would think that all are equal-separate saucers / cups are "reserved" for them. 


Every effort is made to co-opt and homogenize the Adivasis.  Apart from the fact that they are denied their rights to the 'jal', 'jungle' and 'jameen' (water, forest and land) which have been rightly theirs for centuries, the onslaught by mega-corporations and the nexus with vested interests makes them strangers in their own land. 


The poor and the marginalized and particularly the Dalits or Adivasis, have little or very limited access to what is rightfully theirs be it education, healthcare services, employment opportunities and other basic amenities.  Discriminating others seems to have become an "okay" thing and many of us don't even realise that we do so.


One needs to do a cursory glance at the 'Matrimonial Columns' (which is a great source of revenue for our dailies) and one will realise how caste, colour and ethnicity easily gain precedence over intrinsic values.  If this is not blatant discrimination, then what is?


A day like today should provide us with the necessary motivation to look into ourselves, our attitudes and actions and goad us to take courageous steps towards a more inclusive society. Let's eliminate racial discrimination today!


(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


21st March, 2011

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052

Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333
Fax:  79 27489018






Thursday, March 10, 2011

From the play "LEY MARSHALEIN"(March 9th 2011)


Last night we experienced a stellar performance by Ms Ojas S.V. entitled "LEY MARSHALEIN" on the struggles of the people of Manipur and very specially that of SHARMILA IROM..

.Here is a  write-up which has appeared in Today's   The Times Of India( Ahmedabad; ) Date: Mar 10, 2011; Section: Times City;  Page: 2;

For AOL users: <a href="">

- - - - - - -     - - - - - - - -    - - - - - - -   - - - - -
PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Street Address : Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India
Postal Address : P B 4050, Navrangpura PO, Ahmedabad - 380 009, Gujarat, India

Phone : 91  79   27455913,  66522333
Fax : 91  79  27489018

Saturday, March 05, 2011

'The Church we believe in is Catholic' -- Dr Lesley-Anne Knight, head of Caritas Internationalis

Dear Friends,
Here is a passionate address by Lesley-Anne Knight, International Director of 'Caritas Internationalis'...The Vatican a few weeks ago has denied her the possibility for another term in office...Without any reasons,of course..A great reflection for INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY for the pmale-dominated Church and the society we live in...Fr CP

                                                                                    'The Church we believe in is Catholic'

                                                                                              Posted by Lesley-Anne Knight, head of Caritas Internationalis, 3 March 2011, 9:00

Two weeks after Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the Caritas Internationalis (CI) president, informed Caritas member charities that Lesley-Anne Knight had been blocked by the Vatican from running for a second term as CI secretary general, Dr Knight delivered an impassioned defence of the Catholic identity of Caritas to a gathering in Edmonton, Canada.Those present included Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton.

Thank you Archbishop Smith for the opportunity to be with you today and thank you to His Eminence Cardinal Rodriguez, my boss in Caritas Internationalis, for the honour to follow him as a witness speaker.

Exactly one year ago this week, I was in Port au Prince in Haiti, just a month after the catastrophic earthquake that destroyed much of the city and left around a quarter of a million people dead. I stood in the ruins of the city's cathedral, and said a prayer for Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot who was among the victims of the disaster; I visited what was left of a Catholic seminary and saw the personal belongings of young seminarians scattered amid the dust and the rubble. Lying there on a cracked slab of concrete was a torn and battered copy of a book by Eugene Joly entitled "What is Faith?"

It is a question that many of us who work for the Church's humanitarian aid organisations will have asked ourselves at one time or another, finding ourselves in the midst of death and destruction.

Joly wrote: "Faith is an encounter in which God takes, and keeps, the initiative."

Following the Haiti earthquake, there were clear signs of such encounters, where God had taken the initiative.

When disasters like this occur, Caritas Internationalis issues an Emergency Appeal to all its member organisations. The Haiti earthquake provoked an enormous expression of solidarity and compassion from the confederation. Within a very short time, 63 member organisations had contributed around $31 million. But the striking thing was that this money had not only come from the large Caritas organisations, such as Development and Peace here in Canada, and Catholic Relief Services in the USA; some of our smallest member organisations, thousands of miles from Haiti, in some of the poorest countries of the world, had wanted to make a contribution in solidarity with the people of Haiti, and had sent whatever they could spare from their meagre resources.

This is precisely what Caritas Internationalis stands for. The Latin words mean literally "Love across the nations."

While we are thinking of the meaning of words: if you look up the word 'catholic' in a dictionary, one of the definitions you are likely to find is "all-embracing". This is perhaps the sense in which I have most frequently experienced the catholic nature of our Church, working for Caritas.

As a part of that Church, Caritas seeks to be a sign of God's all-embracing love for humanity. One of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, states: "the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race." (Lumen Gentium 1).

In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI recognises that charitable activities play an essential role in this sacramental essence of the Church. He says: "The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word." (DCE, 22)

The all-embracing nature of our Church is manifested in many ways, but I would like to focus this evening on three particular aspects that particularly concern me in my work for Caritas:

• Firstly, the all-embracing love that motivates us and unites us as a confederation.
• Secondly, how that love, or caritas, is expressed in our work, for the benefit of all victims of humanitarian disasters, the poor and oppressed - regardless of race, religion, or politics.
• And finally, how Caritas Internationalis seeks to engage with the wider world, people of other faiths and of none, in order to bring to fruition our vision of one human family and a world without poverty.

One of the huge privileges of my job as Secretary General of a worldwide confederation is to be able to visit our member organisations around the world and experience at first hand how our Church embraces so many diverse cultures. I have been lucky enough to share in the celebration of the Mass in some of the most far-flung regions of our planet:

• In the South Pacific islands, where beautiful girls danced, adorned with exotic fresh flowers, to the melodic chants of ancient kingdoms;
• in a sports stadium in Mozambique, where pounding drums and a vast choir produced a sound that must surely have been heard in heaven;
• in the tiny chapel of a remote Guatemalan village, where Mayan Indians listened attentively to the homily, delivered in fluent Quiché by a Spanish missionary Jesuit;

But whatever local expressions of devotion form part of the celebration, I know that the heart of the Mass remains the same. Wherever I may be in the world, through the Eucharist, I know that I share in a communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

As Benedict XVI puts it: "I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or who will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians."

The Eucharist also makes me think of the wider symbolism of breaking bread, of sharing food and drink with others. Even when we encounter language difficulties and unfamiliar customs, there is something about sitting down to share a meal or a drink with people that makes us realise we are indeed part of one human family.

I have experienced this many times. And when that food and drink is offered by people living in the favelas of Sao Paulo; in a refugee camp in Darfur; or a flooded village in India; it is always a humbling experience.

Pope Benedict says: "Eucharistic communion, includes the reality both of being loved and of loving others in turn." But he adds: "A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented."

If we see the world as one human family, how can we bear to see our brothers and sisters suffering? How can we tolerate the fact that one billion of them live in extreme poverty? That 30,000 people die every day from malnutrition and preventable diseases.

Caritas workers around the world are united in our 'catholic' Church. Wherever they may be, through the Eucharist they experience this communion and are called to "the concrete practice of love."

I am sometimes asked why, as a Catholic organisation, we deliver aid to people of other faiths, such as Muslims and Buddhists. My answer is that we help people not because they are Catholics, but because we are Catholics. The Church that I believe in is catholic. Our 'concrete practice of love', which we also know as caritas or charity, must therefore be 'all-embracing'.

In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict emphasises this point, made by the Second Vatican Council in its decree concerning the lay apostolate, which states that "charitable activity can and should embrace all people and all needs." (DCE, 30a)

It is easy enough to make a theological or moral case against discrimination in the delivery of aid, but when we are confronted face-to-face with human suffering, all intellectual argument is transcended by what we feel in our hearts.

This was what the Good Samaritan experienced when he saw the injured man lying at the side of the road. He was "moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them." (Luke 10:33-34)

When you have been to places like Darfur and spoken to Muslim women who have seen their husbands killed and then been raped by militiamen; when you have met the survivors of a devastating earthquake in Pakistan; when you have talked to Buddhists in Sri Lanka who lost loved ones in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the country's bitter civil war; then there can be no question of ignoring the suffering of these people. In the words of Pope Benedict the "heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly".

I grew up amidst the evil that is racism. I was born in Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, and as a little girl I used to wonder why there were no black children at my school. We used to pass them in the car as they walked to their schools and I used to wonder why their schools were so run down and scruffy, why they didn't have school uniforms, and why they had no shoes on.

Later, when I went to university in Cape Town, I encountered racism in the extreme form of South African apartheid. Everything labelled - entrances, even park benches - for either Blacks or Whites. From the impeccably kept grounds of Cape Town University I could look across the bay to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. I was lucky enough to escape from the oppressive atmosphere of apartheid South Africa, but when I left, Nelson Mandela still had another 15 years to serve in prison.

Experiences like these left a profound impression on me and convinced me that there can be no place for prejudice and discrimination in the Catholic Church that I believe in.

When I went to Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake, I was working as International Director of Cafod, our Caritas member organisation for England and Wales. I was accompanied on the visit by the chairman of our board Bishop John Rawsthorne. After a terrifying journey in the back of a jeep, following a tortuous road up into the mountains, we arrived at the small village where Cafod was working with Caritas Pakistan, distributing tents and blankets and setting up a clinic. During the visit, Bishop John met the local imam, who found it difficult to comprehend why a Christian bishop should come all the way from England to visit this isolated village. He was nevertheless pleased to see him. And here, amidst the devastation, I witnessed a brief, precious moment of compassion, empathy and solidarity between these two men.

These sort of encounters are repeated over and over again during the course of our work, and I am convinced that each one sows a small seed of peace and understanding in a world that often appears to be under threat from religious fundamentalism and extremism.

Our work in countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, Sudan, Burma and Sri Lanka has to be conducted with great discretion and sensitivity. We can only work in these countries by maintaining the strictest standards of integrity. Pope Benedict explicitly states that charity should never be used as means of proselytism." (DCE, 31a) "Those who practise charity in the Church's name will never seek to impose the Church's faith upon others," he says.

But that does not mean that through our actions we do not witness to God's love for humanity. As Pope Benedict says, the Church's humanitarian workers: "realize that a pure and generous love is the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love. A Christian knows when it is time to speak of God and when it is better to say nothing and to let love alone speak." (ibid)

It is relatively easy to understand why Caritas, as part of our Catholic Church, reaches out to all of humanity in times of disaster and humanitarian crisis. But we must also embrace and engage other faiths and the secular world on a daily basis, for other reasons: the need to speak out on justice issues, to challenge the structures that keep people in poverty and deny them a life of fulfilment and dignity; the need to ensure the highest standards in humanitarian aid; the need to collaborate and cooperate with other organisations to make our work more effective.

As the Pope points out: "Interior openness to the Catholic dimension of the Church cannot fail to dispose charity workers to work in harmony with other organizations in serving various forms of need, but in a way that respects what is distinctive about the service which Christ requested of his disciples." (DCE, 34)

Pope Benedict acknowledges that there have been many forms of cooperation between State and Church agencies that have "borne fruit" (DCE, 31b) He says: "Church agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian quality to the civil agencies too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness of charitable service." (ibid)

In the course of its work, Caritas engages with governments, with international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and various organisations of the United Nations. We also interact with ecumenical and other faith-based organisations, particularly in peace-building and conflict resolution initiatives. And we participate in networks of non-governmental organisations concerned with coordinating and establishing standards for humanitarian response.

In all of these activities we are conscious of, and remain true to, our Church identity. But at the same time, we participate with a sense of humility, open to what we can learn from others, and respectful of the fact that our colleagues from other religious traditions, as well as non-believers, when they love and serve the least of their brothers and sisters, are also signs of God's presence among us. Because Jesus has always gone before us (Mark 16:7), and is present even among those who do not yet know his name.

I am proud to say that the charitable organisations of the Church, such as Caritas Internationalis, are widely respected in the broader humanitarian community.

At a time when the actions of our Church are subject to rigorous scrutiny, it is all too easy to feel persecuted and want to withdraw into ourselves. But this is precisely the time when we need to embrace the wider world and humbly seek to work towards greater harmony and understanding.

We remember how Saint Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, summoned the Church to open herself to all people, their histories and their cultures. We ask how we can become a better image of our Lord, in whom "There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female - for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28).

The Church I believe in is catholic; and if we are to play our part in building the Kingdom of God, we must reach out to all our brothers and sisters - above all to the least and most marginalised - wherever they may be.

This imperative is illustrated by one of my favourite stories, which returns to the theme of sharing food that I mentioned earlier. The story originates from the Far East and describes visions of heaven and hell. The vision of hell is of a beautiful marble banqueting hall in which there is a long table laden with delicious food. The inhabitants of hell are seated on both sides of the table and are given chopsticks with which to eat the food. But the chopsticks are a metre long and they are unable to get the food to their mouths.

In the vision of heaven we see exactly the same scene - except that in heaven each person is using their long chopsticks to feed the person on the other side of the table.

The story obviously illustrates the virtue and benefit of cooperation and of helping one another. But it also contains a deeper truth: with their long chopsticks, the inhabitants of heaven are not even able to feed the person next to them - they have to reach out and feed the person further away, on the other side, across the symbolic divide of the table.

Through God's love, with God's love and in God's love we are one human family... we are responsible for each other, especially the little ones and the poor.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, made the above address at the Basilica of St Joseph, Edmonton, Canada, on 17 February 2011

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Godhra Verdict: Whither justice ISP I March 2011


                                                                                                     Godhra Verdict: Whither Justice?

                                                                                                             Need for a CBI Investigation

                                                                                                                                                                                                       -Ram Puniyani


On 22rd February 2011, the session's court gave its verdict on Godhra train burning of Sabarmati Express. It accepted the Gujarat state's theory that the local Muslims had hatched a conspiracy to burn S-6 Coach of Sabaramati Express. At the same time of the 94 people being tried for this crime 63 were exonerated of the crime and 31 were held to be the guilty of planning to burn the Kar Sevaks. This conspiracy theory was initially put forward by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who within half hour of the burning of the train came to this conclusion. He had gone on to say that the conspiracy has been hatched by international terrorism, in collusion with the local Muslims through Pakistan's ISI. At that time the Godhra collector Jayanti Ravi had ruled out the conspiracy theory.


In such ghastly Railway accidents it is mandatory to investigate them but the Railway Ministry sat quiet, as the then Raliway Minister Niteesh Kumar was part of BJP led NDA Government. This conspiracy theory was given wide currency and was used as a sort of justification for the post Godhra anti Muslim pogrom. The NDA Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee went on to say, Gujarat happened because Godhra took place. UP Chief Minister Mayawati, who was then allying with BJP, campaigned for Modi and in response to the question about Gujarat carnage, said that there was Godhra also! Later with change of Government Lalu Prasad Yadav who became Railways minister in UPA Government, initiated the much delayed obligation to investigate every major railway accident, and instituted Bannerjee Commission. This Commission opined that there is no evidence of a conspiracy by local Muslims.


To prove that it was a conspiracy the Gujarat police investigated the case in a manner in which many witnesses were made to confess of selling 140 liters petrol, carrying the same, cutting open the vestibule between S6 and S7, pouring petrol in the S6 coach and then burning it by throwing the fire balls into the train. The present judgment accepts the conspiracy theory but finds no evidence at all against the culprit-in-Chief, the chief conspirator as per the Gujarat Government, Haji Umarji and also no evidence against other major accused! The whole judgment seems to fall flat on this ground.


The mainstay of conspiracy theory has been the selling of loose petrol, throwing burning fire balls into the train, for all this there is no eye witness, and even those who initially confessed to having sold petrol did not stand the scrutiny and one of them said that he was paid Rs 50000, like the other person who is saying that they sold loose petrol, by Noel Parmar the Chief investigating officer. As such there have been many loose ends in the conspiracy theory. The point that Muslims wanted to take revenge by burning Kar Sevaks does not stand the scrutiny of logic due to multiple reasons. To begin with the Muslims and also the state officials did not know that Sabarmati Express is carrying Kar Sevaks. The only people who knew that Kar Sevaks are travelling in the train were VHP people. Secondly; the train that day was late by close to five hours; normally it comes to Godhra in the midnight. In case of planned conspiracy from outside it is difficult to plan for such circumstances. Thirdly; as vestibule was being cut open, what was being done by the Railway protection force? Cutting-open the vestibule and entering from that is not an easy job. Fourthly, if windows and doors were closed how can burning fireballs enter the train? It was initially propagated that train was stopped by Muslims, but investigations show that the first stoppage of train was due to chain pulling by kar sevaks and the second due to technical failure. There is a general impression that train was locked from outside. The very simple fact that train coach cannot be locked from outside was forgotten while propagating this falsehood.

So as the matters stand there are enough grounds to doubt the theory that it was a conspiracy by Muslims. Another dimension to the whole incident has been added by the latest issue of Tehelka (March 5, 2011). Ashsih Khetan in this path breaking investigation ( shows that there is no substance at all in the theory that it was a conspiracy by Muslims. In a meticulously argued expose he shows that this whole theory is not only fallacious, it distracts attention from the truth of another conspiracy which was going on. As per him it was a conspiracy yes, but not by Muslims. He points out that:

* It's important to recall that, in its 2007 sting investigation (The Truth about Gujarat 2002), TEHELKA had exposed that the nine BJP men who were cited as eyewitnesses were, in fact, not even present at the scene of crime. They had been asked to give false testimonies by the police to further the Modi government's communal and political agenda, and they had gone along to "serve the cause of Hindutva".

* Ajay Baria, a Hindu vendor, forced into the plot; saw it all, Judge Patel has relied hugely on Baria's account. But why would Muslim conspirators pick a Hindu man at the last minute to help load the petrol and burn the train? TEHELKA tried to track him but failed. His mother said he had been coerced into becoming a police witness and lived under constant police surveillance.

* Two petrol pump attendants who claim they sold 140 liters of fuel to some Muslims on 26 Feb, Ranjitsinh and Pratapsinh Patel had first told the police that they had not sold any loose petrol that crucial night. In a shocking turnaround, six months later, they changed their version. However, TEHELKA caught Ranjitsinh admitting on camera that he and Pratap had been bribed Rs. 50,000 by police officer Noel Parmar to do that. He also tutored them to identify particular Muslims in court as being the buyers

* Jabir Bahera, a petty criminal, first named Maulvi Umarji as a mastermind. Bahera claimed it was Umarji who picked coach S-6 as the target, but also said Umarji was not present at any conspiracy meetings. He later retracted everything

* Sikandar Siddique, another petty criminal, had said Maulvi Punjabi had incited the mob. But Punjabi was not even in the country that day

 Khetan's path-breaking investigation makes it clear that the real conspiracy is not from the side of Muslims. Truth is many a times stranger than fiction. We have been made to believe from last many years that it is Muslims who are responsible for Malegaon, Samjhauta, Ajmer and many such blasts. Those writers and social activists who doubted this police-Hindutva version of the cause of terror were totally ignored by the investigating authorities and by the big media. Their investigations did show the involvement of Hindutva elements. These writers and social activists were criticized and intimidated for being anti Hindu and anti nationals. Now as the matters stand today, thanks to Hemant Karkare's investigations and later Swami Aseemanand's confessions, truth is that in all these cases of acts of terror, Hindutva groups were involved. Now by piecing together the observations from the one of Godhra Collector Jayanti Ravi to the Sting operations by Tehelka Khetan points out "That there was a conspiracy afoot in Gujarat those years is beyond doubt. But as this story shows, it was a conspiracy of a different kind. It was a conspiracy designed to rent the fabric of this country: a conspiracy by State machinery to blacken one community's name. And declare them the enemy."


In this case the nature of shoddy, biased investigation done by police is very obvious. We do need an impartial investigation; a CBI inquiry into the whole thing is called for. We are living in strange times. The sectarianism, the politics of religious identity has overtaken the better of us. What is aggressively propagated is far from truth, and the truth remains submerged in the din of hysteria created by politics in the name of religion. Be it terrorism, be it communal violence, we need to invoke our humane, rational faculties, honesty and professionalism, overcome our biases, investigate the acts of crime properly and punish the guilty, irrespective of their religion. So many innocents have lost their lives, 59 Kar Sevaks, over 2000 innocent Muslims! We do need to reject the politics of communalism and try to follow the path of justice, the path of peace and communal amity as shown by the greatest Gujarati-Indian of all the times, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.



Issues in Secular Politics

I March 2011


response only to ram.puniyani@g,




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

          Mobile:   9824034536 e-mail :









The brutal assassination of Pakistan's Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, this morning in Islamabad is symbolic, of the chaos to which Pakistan is heading towards.   

Mr. Bhatti, as the world knows, was a vocal critic of the controversial blasphemy law. In spite of several death threats, he stuck to his guns for the repeal of the draconian law. 

Only in January last, the Governor of Pakistan's Punjab Province Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own bodyguard, over his opposition to the blasphemy law. 

Whilst condemning this assassination, we call upon the Government and the people of Pakistan to stop the fundamental forces that seems to have taken control of Pakistan and to ensure the rights and freedom of every single citizen there. 


Fr. Cedric Prakash sj



2nd March, 2011


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Statement on sentences awarded for Godhra train burning - March 1st, 2011

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

            Mobile:9824034536  e-mail:


                                                                   STATEMENT ON SENTENCES AWARDED FOR GODHRA TRAIN BURNING


The decision of the Sessions Court at the Sabarmati Central Jail in Ahmedabad to award the death sentence to 11 persons and a life term to 20 others convicted for the burning of the train at Godhra, is to say the least, simply outrageous and shocking!

The Judgment, delivered a few days ago, spoke about a "criminal conspiracy".  However, there is practically no evidence to substantiate this theory.  Besides, the so-called 'key conspirator' was among the 63 acquitted, which obviously adds to the hollowness of the 'conspiracy'.

The verdict and the sentences given, are undeniably, a travesty of justice.  Going by pure logic, will an even more serious punishment await those who were responsible for the bloodbath that followed the burning of the train?



Fr. Cedric Prakash sj



1st March, 2011