Christians observed fast and call for peace rally

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Shillong, Sep 7 (UNI) Christians across Meghalaya today observed fast as a mark of protest against widespread attacks on churches and Christians in Orissa.

More than 18 have reportedly been killed after a senior member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and five of his followers were mowed down by suspected Maoist rebels on August 23 at his ashram in Tumudibandha in Kandhamal district of Orrisa.

''Christian's are fasting in their respective churches or homes as a mark of solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters in Orissa,'' Catholic Association Khasi and Jaintia, Shillong Archdiocese, president Dr SL Marbaniang told UNI here.

Tomorrow, various Christian denominations will take out a peace rally at Don Bosco Stadium here to express concern with the communal riot-hit people of Orissa, he informed.

The association has invited people from all religions, including Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist to attend the peace rally, he said.

Chief Minister Donkupar Roy and Leader of Opposition are also expected to participate in the peace rally.

Concerned over recent atrocities, Mr Roy has asked the Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to use the state machineries to stop attack against Christian to avoid any ripple affect in Meghalaya.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Northeast and Meghalaya's lone Cabinet Minister, AL Hek had also condemned the violence in Orissa.

He said the BJP leaders from the NE have decided to raise the issue during the BJP national executive committee meeting to be held in Bangalore between September 12 to 14.

''The Orissa government must act firmly against the perpetrators of crimes against the Christians there and show that it was committed to maintain peace and harmony among all section of the society,'' Mr Hek said.

Meanwhile, the Central Puja Committee (CPC) in Meghalaya expressed serious concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Orissa ''due to religious intolerance by certain section of people with ulterior motives''.

The Meghalaya Peoples Human Rights Council (MPHRC) also expressed its concern over the ongoing communal violence in Orrisa.

''We are deeply shocked and anguished to hear the atrocities and violence meted out to the innocent Christians and churches in Orissa,'' MPHRC secretary-general DDG Dympep said.

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