Thursday, August 19, 2010
ASIA: INDIA: TRIBAL MEN EXPELLED FROM BAPTIST VILLAGE FOR CATHOLIC FAITH
UCAN report: The Catholic Association of Nagaland has appealed to the state government to help two tribal men expelled from a predominantly Baptist village in the northeastern Indian state for embracing the Catholic faith.
The two Pochury tribesmen were ejected from Phokhungri village by the local council. (LOCAL TRIBE MEN PICTURED)
The village must only have Baptists, anyone joining other denominations must leave, a council resolution said.
Lay Catholic organizations in the state have taken the case to civil authorities.
Peter Lichamo, a senior government official, said his office will give its verdict by next month.
The village council, however, allowed the wives and children of the expelled men to stay in the village providing they remain Baptists.
The Pochury Catholic Union and the two men earlier asked civil organizations to help them return to the village.
The Phokhungri Area Public Organization, an influential citizens’ forum in the locality, intervened and requested the village council to withdraw its expulsion order. It, however, refused.
The organization then suggested the men seek help from higher authorities and the courts.
“It’s a very sad state of affairs when rules barring other denominations exist,” said Chichutho Jose, the Catholic union’s general secretary. “It is a fundamental breach of human rights.”
Baptists demolished a Catholic church in Anatongre, Kiphire district, on July 9, apparently on the same grounds. The Catholic Church has also protested the closure of its schools in Nagaland.
Baptists constitute most of the people in Nagaland where Christians form more than 90 percent of its some 1.9 million people. The minority Catholics run several schools and institutions across the state.