A year after the swami’s murder, a “day of peace and harmony” in Orissa
A day of remembrance is called for 23 August to commemorate the assassination of Hindu leader and the victims of the anti-Christian pogrom. Mgr Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack- Bhubaneswar, is among the promoters of the initiative. India and the world should remember the event so that violence against religious minorities is stopped around the world.
Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) – Mgr Raphael Cheenath, archbishop of Cuttack- Bhubaneswar; Swarupananda Patra, president of the Orissa Minority Forum; and Bibhudata Das, spokesperson for the Utkal Christian Council have called for a day of “peace and harmony” in Orissa on 23 August 2009.

In a joint statement the three leaders said that “peace and harmony [in Orissa] was shattered by the gruesome murder of Swami Lakhmananda Saraswati and his disciples,” an event that was followed by the “mindless violence against innocent men, women and children in Kandhamal and across Orissa”. In doing this, “criminals have tarnished the image of Orissa and India in the sight of the global community”.

At present Indian Christians are patiently waiting “for the true criminals to be” punished according to the law, confident that they “will not allow [. . .] those past painful events to reoccur.”

Hence “it is necessary to [. . .] remember August 23 [. . .] as a day for ‘peace and harmony’ so that the evil designs of ‘criminals’ to divide civil society on religious lines is [. . .] thwarted.”

In order to end the “hate campaign” and ensure that “violence” does not “wreak havoc in the land of ‘peaceful’ Orissa, the Christian community and” minority leaders are proposing a seven-point plan.

The day of 23 August 2009 should be a day of “peace and harmony” to remember the assassination of the swami, his followers and many innocent people and remind civil society of the value of “unity” against the evil designs of the “criminals” who promote discord and divisions.

For this reason the signatories of the statement urge the government of the State of Orissa and the central government to observe the day of ‘peace and harmony’ and call on the United Nations to declare the day as a ‘Global Day for Peace and Harmony” so that the whole world may observe it.

They also ask the international community to take part in the event in memory of “the pain and suffering” endured by the victims in Kandhamal and call on state and union governments to “provide complete security and protection to religious minorities, their lives, property, institutions, places of worship, etc.” as well as “to swamiji, their disciples and ashrams since violence against them” is used by criminals “to attack religious minorities”. (NC)