Sunday, April 06, 2014

Top Catholic leader says attempt being made to tarnish Gujarat human rights activist Father Prakash

Fr Cedric Prakash
By Our Representative
In a statement, Dolphy Dsouza, former president of the Bombay Catholic Sabha, and spokesperson of Save Our Land (SOUL), which recently protested against the “unjust” land acquisition notices issued to various churches and church-run schools in Mumbai, has strongly protested against “disinformation” being circulated about the address by senior human rights activist of Gujarat, Father Cedric Prakash, at the Catholic Sabha at Mt Carmel's in Bandra, Ahmedabad.
Saying that facts are being “distorted” in order to tarnish the image of the man who has been fighting for the cause of the Gujarat riot victims and religious freedom, Dsouza calls Prakash “a very bold defender of human rights and he walks his talks.” Dsouza adds, “He is a great inspiration for all human rights and civil activists. In the frightening atmosphere of the type of fascism that has taken root in Gujarat, he has stood his ground.”
Pointing out that Prakash is the “last person to tone down or be brow beaten in expressing his viewpoints strongly”, Dsouza says, “One does not have to shout to convey the message but of course to drive home the point in view that it was predominantly a Christian gathering was to connect with the gospel stories.” Prakash addressed the Catholic Sabha on April 4.
Expressing concern, Dsouza says, “One of our community members, who was aligned or sympathetic to the BJP, complained to the police about this meeting”. This happened more so because Prakash is “known for his views against human rights violations taking place in Gujarat. So there was an attempt made to derail the meeting which did not happen because the rest were all united.”
In an indirect reference to BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Dsouza says, “The country really does not need a cultic or a strong leader. Our country, of diversity and pluralism and multi-talented citizens, requires an ennobling leader in the mould of Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela.”
Suggesting that this what Prakash had sought to highlight, Dsouza says, “We need leadership that will protect the constitution and safeguard equally the fundamental rights of its citizens irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.”
Saying that “communalism is more dangerous than corruption”, Dsouza’s statement clarifies, "None of the Above" [NOTA] should not be an option as it is a wasted vote. The call is to do strategic voting, mobilise citizens in our areas for an ambitious 100 per cent turnout for voting thus ensuring the preservation and protection of our constitution, the plural ethos and the rich diversity of our great nation.”
Dsouza’s statement comes amidst a post by an unidentified person having gone viral which said Prakash was surprisingly “subdued and had wrapped his facts in Gospel stories”. The post alleged, this may have happened because, one day before the meet, the BJP and the RSS brought a delegation to the parish priest of Mount Carmel's Church asking how he could have a political speech in a religious area.
Wanting the talk to be cancelled, the post said, the meet was held “with plain clothes police all around and BJP moles, and the Election Commission members planted in the audience.” The post added, “I suppose Prakash did not want the parish priest to get into trouble and deliberately toned down his message.”
At the same time, the post agreed that Prakash spoke how the BJP’s avowed aim is to “change the constitution”, detailing how the anti-conversion law in Gujarat was “really a perversion of freedom.”

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