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English [20050309] [sajtóközlemény] Olvasási ido: 5 perc PRESS STATEMENT... ILLEGAL ARREST OF FR. PRASAD GONSALVES IN RADHANPUR, GUJARAT (Emberi jogok, Harmadik világ, Kereszténység)
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Sajtóközlemény: Fr. Prasad Gonsalves jogtalan letartóztatása Gujaratban / PRESS STATEMENT... ILLEGAL ARREST OF FR. PRASAD GONSALVES IN RADHANPUR, GUJARAT

PRESS STATEMENT

ILLEGAL ARREST OF FR. PRASAD GONSALVES IN RADHANPUR, GUJARAT

Radhanpur is in the heart of the arid areas of Banaskantha District in North Gujarat.

For more than twenty-five years now, the Catholic Ashram situated there has been rendering yeoman service to the poor and marginalized people through medical, educational and social developmental initiatives.

One recent and laudable initiative has been a low-cost housing project, very specially for those who have to eke out a living through hard, manual labour every day. This particular work attracted a lot of goodwill from many around but also brought in its wake a disgruntlement from those who could not become beneficiaries.

Among those is a middle-aged lady called Shantaben Gulabbhai from the Jawaharnagar village. Some time ago, she approached the current Trustee of the Catholic Ashram Fr. Prasad Gonsalves, a Jesuit Catholic Priest, demanding that she too should have a new house in Anand (where she also apparently lives almost 300 kms. away). Fr. Prasad naturally said it was not possible for him to help her out, saying that the housing project was meant for the very poor people of the area itself. Shantaben obviously did not take kindly to this response and on January 5th 2005, she went to the Radhanpur police station to make a complaint against Fr. Prasad.

The police patiently listened to her and then sent for Fr. Prasad asking him for his version of the story. The latter readily gave it. On cross-examination, the lady broke down and said that the allegations which she was making against Fr. Prasad were not true and all she wanted was for some help for her house. On a suggestion from the local police, Fr. Prasad promised to see what he could do to help her and the matter stood closed.

However, two months later, on March 5th 2005, a rabid newspaper called "Sarhad-no-Saad" brought out from Patan ran a fairly large story on its
front page about Shantaben and her grievance against Fr. Prasad, also stating that she had approached the Home Minister of the State for help. On March 7th 2005, after a lot of pressure from VHP and RSS outfits of the area, Fr. Prasad was summoned to the court in Radhanpur. He was
accompanied by his lawyer Mr. Babubhai Makwana. Fr. Prasad was interrogated for a short time (apparently after Shantaben's interrogation). The Magistrates then, after some consultations, decided to send Fr. Prasad to Judicial custody, citing the Atrocity Act against him.

According to the complaint made by Shantaben when she approached Fr. Prasad for a house, he asked her first to convert from Hinduism to Christianity and also "to have a sexual relationship with him for one night".

On the basis of these flimsy and fabricated allegations, the lower court deemed it fit to arrest Fr. Prasad at 7.00 pm. on Monday 7th March, fully
aware that the following day is Mahashivratri, a public holiday.

Shantaben's own brother, Ishwarbhai Ramsinhbhai Rana, in a written statement has alleged that over the years, Shantaben has been indulging in anti-social activities and literally terrorizing people and is known to be an extortionist in the area.

We strongly condemn the unwarranted and baseless arrest of Fr. Prasad, just because he is a Christian Missionary, doing good to the people. We urge all authorities and like-minded citizens, to act expeditiously to secure his immediate and unconditional release and to book all those who indulge in vile and communal activities.

Fr. Cedric Prakash
Director
PRASHANT
(A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Post Box 4050
Navrangpura Post Office
Ahmedabad 380 009
Gujarat, India
Tel: 0091 79 27449744 / 27455913
Fax: 0091 79 27489018
Email : [email protected]

Földrajzi hely (amirol szól): Gujarat (India)

Szerző: Prakash, Cedric SJ

Csoport, mozgalom, irányzat (ahonnan származik): Prashant