Protestant and Catholic churches have expressed deep shock and grief over the ongoing communal violence in Assam that has claimed over 40 lives and have forced 1,70,000 people to flee their homes.
“The Catholic Bishops' Conference of India is deeply pained at the violent clashes taking place in Lower Assam,” said CBCI Secretary General Archbishop Albert D'Souza.
The Catholic leader lamented that the humanitarian crisis and the mindless violence have shattered the lives of many.
The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI), an apex body of the Protestant and Orthodox churches, also expressed deep concern over the violence in Assam, especially in the districts of Kokrajhar, Dhubri and Chirang.
"This is a repetition of the 2008 carnage in Kokrajhar where 55 people were killed and thousands of people were displaced and still many have not been able go back to their own places. It is very upsetting to see that this unwanted episode is being repeated, displacing people, destroying property, and annihilating human lives," said the NCCI General Secretary, Roger Gaikwad.
He added that despite advanced security systems in India, the people were not provided adequate protection and the culprits who were involved in the violence have not been identified and booked. "The authorities should have responded appropriately to the early incidents but nothing was done to contain the problem."
While expressing solidarity with the suffering people, the NCCI also urged both the communities to stop the arson and violence.
The NCCI also called upon churches to pray and facilitate peace processes among the people. "We also call upon all churches and Christian organisations to pray for peace, to render whatever assistance possible to the afflicted people, and to advocate the cause of indigenous people whose land, livelihood and lives are under threat," NCCI said in a statement released last week.
Meanwhile, leaders of various churches and Christian denominations met at the Bishop's House in Bongaigaon and resolved to pray for peace and distribute relief to thousands of people who are put up in various relief camps.
Inter Church Peace Mission (ICPM), an umbrella organization headed by Bishop Nityananda Borgoyari of Northern Evangelical Lutheran Church (NELC- Bodo), Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of the Catholic diocese of Bongaigaon, Bishop Juel Tudu of NELC (Santhal), Bishop Sulen Narzary of Lutheran Church, were reported to be among those who took part in the event.
The group apparently also formed a core committee of five representatives from NELC, Baptist (both Bodo and Garo) and Catholic Church. The members decided to visit all the camps in lower Assam as a 'goodwill mission' from August 3-4.
Clashes between Bodos Hindu and Muslim minority immigrants began on July 19 after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier on Saturday announced Rs. 300 crore as special assistance for development of the violence-hit areas. Singh also announced Rs two lakh each to kin of those killed in riots.
Assam violence: Church calls for peace as concern mounts for those displaced
By: John Malhotra
Monday, 30 July 2012, 22:26 (IST)
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