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Preparedness & Response

Preparedness & Response

In view of the consistent attacks on Christians and minority/vulnerable groups in India, here are the PRACTICAL POINTS which we should/could be doing:

I     PRAY

• pray without ceasing

• read, pray and meditate on Mt 25:1-13

• organize special prayers in parishes / institutions/societies/homes

• keep our churches / chapels / prayer halls open for prayer

• pray with our Christian brethren (also in their churches)

• conduct / join meaningful inter-faith prayer (Sarva Dharma Prathna)

• be sensitive (our prayers and other programmes should not be ‘jarring’/’blasting’/ a nuisance to others

• do not use ‘fire crackers’ nor use high decibel speakers - especially after 10.00 pm (remember that many of our neighbours are little children or elderly persons and perhaps even sick) (cfr. the Supreme Court rulings on these matters)

•  what does Jesus say about “ praying?”

  II   DIALOGUE

• keep avenues of dialogue  always open with all

• do not get co-opted or align with or provide legitimacy in any way to fascists / fundamentalists/those who do not support the values / principles enshrined in the Constitution

• do not be naïve: dialogue is  always in the context of  mutual respect , equity and  dignity.

• participate in festivals / prayers of others and invite them to ours

• strengthen areas that unite / connect (search for commonalities / connectors)

• take a stand against divisiveness / biases / prejudices/discrimination: be  visible and  vocal

• network and collaborate with other secular / like-minded individuals / groups

III STUDY - DOCUMENT - WRITE

• study and analyze the situation

• study the ideology of fascists; learn how they operate (“divide and rule”)

(cfr.  ‘Fourteen characteristics of fascism’ by Lawrence Britt  https://ratical.org/ratville/CAH/fasci14chars.html and see the parallels in India today)

• study the  Constitution of India; current /updated laws/policies

• do not limit yourself to issues involving Christians only; get involved in  ALL Human Rights issues, particularly in the defense of dalits, adivasis/tribals, women, children, differently-abled persons, other minority / vulnerable groups

• collect ‘patrikas ‘and other relevant literature (sp. derogatory ones)

• document newspaper / journal articles on contextual / sensitive, relevant issues

• video / audio record inflammatory speeches / proceedings

• write articles / letters to the Editor in national / local / vernacular newspapers / journals on crucial issues

• use “ The Right to Information” Act to get information from / of the Government (Govt. officials / spending)

IV   STAND UP FOR TRUTH, HUMAN RIGHTS, JUSTICE AND PEACE

“Peace in society cannot be understood as pacification or the mere absence of violence resulting from the domination of one part of society over others.  Nor does true peace act as a pretext for justifying a social structure which silences or appeases the poor, so that the more affluent can placidly support their lifestyle while others have to make do as they can. Demands involving the distribution of wealth, concern for the poor and human rights cannot be suppressed under the guise of creating a consensus on paper or a transient peace for a contented minority.  The dignity of the human person and the common good rank higher than the comfort of those who refuse to renounce their privileges. When these values are threatened,  a prophetic voice must be raised.”   (Pope Francis in ‘ Evangelii Gaudium’ # 218)

•  fear ONLY God and no one else;  never succumb to fear or panic

•stand up  always for  Truth and  Justice

• join / participate in /support pro-Constitution, pro-democracy, secular and non-partisan groups  like

Act Now for Harmony and Democracy(ANHAD),  Citizens for Justice and Peace(  www.cjp.org.in ),Indian Social Action Forum(INSAF), Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD),National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)( https://www.britannica.com/topic/National-Alliance-of-Peoples-Movements ), People’s Commission on Shrinking Democratic Space( www.pcsds.in ), Peoples Union for Civil Liberties ( www.pucl.org)

• participate also in the activities / initiatives / programmes of other like-minded individuals / NGOs / groups

• publicize secular efforts / initiatives in our churches / institutions/societies

subscribe to important newspapers, magazines like Indian Currents (www.indiancurrents.org)

• screen films (followed by interactions ) on social issues like ‘Parzania’, ‘Final Solution’, ‘Dharm’, ‘Well Done, Abba!’, ‘Mr. & Mrs. Iyer’

• be visible on important issues: speak out; participate in campaigns / dharnas / rallies; sign online petitions

• keep at a distance ALL vested interests. Do not let them compromise/coopt you.

•never invite politicians / corrupt persons/destroyers of the environment as Chief Guests to our functions

• our annual programmes should focus on the current UN Year or on a social theme

• beware of getting involved in issues / activities which make us sectarian / fundamentalist / exclusive

• denounce  Communalism,  Corruption,  Casteism,  Consumerism,and  Criminalisation of society / politics

• organize programmes / seminars / workshops on human rights / relevant issues / legal literacy /topical issues

• constitute village / mohalla / Parish Justice and Peace Committees (JPCs)

• initiate Constitutional Values / Peace Education / Human Rights Education in your schools / institutions

• Use value education books from    Khoj Resources ( www.khojedu.net ) and / or the “ Yes We Can” series

(by  Ratna Sagar www.ratnasagar.com )

•make copies (frame/laminate) of the  Preamble (especially in the vernacular) and gift them as mementoes

• celebrate UN  / special  days  like World Day of Social Justice(20 February), International Women’s Day (8 March), Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination ( 21 March ),  Oscar Romero Day ( 24 March ), Ambedkar Jayanti ( 14 April), Environment Day ( 5 June ),, World Refugee Day (20 June), Indigenous People’s Day ( 9 August ), International Day of Charity(5 September),International Day of Peace(21 September),Day of Non-Violence ( 2 October), Human Rights Day (December 10th)

• identify trouble makers / peace breakers / rumour mongers / divisive persons

• stop rumours / gossip (always try to authenticate things)

• propagate the Right to Information  (RTI), the Right to Education  (RTE) and the Right to Food  (RTF)

• protect, promote, propagate  Constitutional Rights/Freedoms & the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  V    KEEP HOUSE IN ORDER

• maintain and update  all official documents (land records, building permissions, registrations, licenses) and personal identity cards (sp. Elector’s Photo Identity Card – EPIC)

do not laminate official records if they are not done so earlier by the authorities

• keep copies of these always at hand / filed / laminated / secured with your  originals in a Safe Deposit

• adhere to strict accounting / accountability procedures

•  always be Open and  Transparent

• never indulge in any corrupt practice for whatever reasons (taking / giving bribes etc.)

• ensure prompt and complete payment of all taxes (income, building, land etc.)

• know and adhere to ALL policies /requisites of the Govt. / Charity Commissioner / Registrar of Societies /

FCRA (check all updates) etc.

• register Medical Personnel with the Medical / Nursing Council

• provide the requisite bio-medical waste treatment / disposal facilities in hospitals / dispensaries

• refrain from physical and / or other types of abuse on any one

• pay just wages; have service conditions, give appointment letters to all employees (cfr. Labour laws)

•treat everyone (particularly our co- workers) with respect and dignity

•adhere strictly to all the necessary protocols/policies regarding protection of minors, vulnerable persons

(they hit us where we are vulnerable)

VI   PRE-EMPT TROUBLE

• provide prior and authentic information/ meet your JPC

• contact / alert your focal / nodal point immediately, if you sense trouble

• contact the authorities, wherever possible (preferably in writing) – with a proof of submission

• inform the police (know your local police / station); request protection ( only if desperately needed)

• remember “providing security” is  also an official way of them keeping tabs on us! (Don’t be NAÏVE)

• never panic / do not give in to fear

• check if your phones are tapped

•  never give your email passwords to others /  change them frequently

VII    ADDRESS THE ‘REALITY’

• do not get provoked (whatever the reason); be calm and cool!

• seek the support of others (like-minded individuals / groups)

• protect / provide shelter for the weak (old / women / children / infirm)

• inform the police / authorities (always be courteous / polite to them)

• be careful on how and what information you provide about others

• photograph / video / audio record the trouble / trouble makers

• douse out flames

• do not destroy / alter / change / remove the evidence

• do not underplay / exaggerate the reality

• if a situation arises, start writing / computerizing the  complete details as soon as possible

• file an FIR / complaint (name people / be accurate).  You can write your complaint in English / Hindi / Gujarati (or your regional language) and have it attached to the FIR

• approach a higher authority (with full details) if you have problems with your local police

• in case the police have written the FIR / recorded your statement, you MUST read it  carefully before you sign it with the date and time clearly mentioned

• ensure that the copy is signed with the appropriate seal affixed by the concerned police official / station

• request a copy of the FIR / complaint for yourself ( you MUST get it)

VIII   BE VIGILANT

“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!  – Wendell Phillips

• remember that police / official interrogations in a police station and / or our institution, must normally take place only during working hours, on working days.  Police / Government officials should normally  not visit officially any institutions which house women between  1800 hrs. to 0900hrs.