Tuesday, March 26, 2013


-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

March 26th 2013!  It is the tenth anniversary of two infamous incidents in Gujarat.

Early morning (on March 26th, 2003), Haren Pandya, a former Minister of the Gujarat Government was found assassinated under very mysterious circumstances in the heart of the western side of Ahmedabad.  Till today the whole details of this dastardly act has not yet come to light.

His late father, Vitthalbhai Pandya was quite convinced of who was behind the killing and he went from pillar to post hoping that the full truth of his son’s murder would be revealed. Nothing has happened so far!  It is common knowledge though that Haren Pandya testified before the Citizen’s Tribunal and clearly named those responsible for the Gujarat genocide of 2002.

On that very day (March 26th 2003), the Gujarat Government unanimously passed the Gujarat Freedom of Religion Bill 2003. The Opposition had staged a walk-out opposing the contents of the bill.  This Act is one of the most draconian law in post-independent India.  In violation of Article 25 of the Constitution of India, it necessitates (among other anti-people provisions) that anyone wishing to convert to another religion must first seek the permission of the civil authority in the State.

Both the murder of Haren Pandya and the passing of the Freedom of Religion Act are clear indicators of how terror has seized the State and how the fundamental rights of an ordinary citizen, are denied.

26th March, 2013

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

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052
Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333
Fax:  79 27489018
Email: sjprashant@gmail.com     www.humanrightsindia.in

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