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Catholic forum’s plea to Manmohan

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The All India Catholic Union on Wednesday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to end attacks on Christians in the Phulbani area of Orissa.

In a memorandum to Dr. Singh, the union urged him to step in to ensure that what happened in the Dangs district of Gujarat during the Christmas season of 1998 was not repeated.

The memorandum said: “The official apathy, the police indifference and the freedom allowed to marauding bands of Hindutva fanatics and armed thugs in Gujarat has been repeated in Orissa in what is a planned conspiracy against the church and our faith.”

Referring to threats of further violence against Christians in the area, the Union said the attacks in the past couple of days would not have been possible “without the complicity of the official machinery and the backing of powerful political groups.”

The memorandum, detailing the attacks on Christian institutions since Christmas-eve, blamed the Kui Janakalyan Samiti for the assaults. The violence was aimed at disturbing Christmas celebrations and forcing Christians away from their faith, it said.

“Deploy Army”

In a statement, the Global Council of Indian Christians said the “saddest part is that this diabolic plan is aided and abetted by the Orissa administration.”

It urged the Centre to declare Kandhamal district of Orissa riot-affected and deploy the Army for the safety of those who had taken shelter in the forests.

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