Guatemala quake: 48 killed, hundreds missing, several injured

San Marcos, Guatemala: A 7.4-magnitude earthquake rocked Guatemala on Wednesday, killing at least 48 people in two provinces as it toppled thick adobe walls, shook huge landslides down onto highways, and sent terrified villagers streaming into the streets of this idyllic mountain town near the border with Mexico. One hundred people were missing, and hundreds were injured.
The quake, which hit at 10.35 am in the midst of the work day, caused terror over an unusually wide area, with damage reported in all but one of Guatemala’s 22 states and shaking felt as far away as Mexico City, 600 miles (965 kilometers) to the northwest.
President Otto Perez Molina said at a news conference that 40 people died in the province of San Marcos and eight more were killed in the neighboring province of Quetzaltenango.
San Marcos, where more than 30 homes collapsed, bore the brunt of the temblor’s fury.
More than 300 people, including firefighters, policemen and villagers, tried to dig through a half ton of sand at a quarry in the commercial center of town in a desperate attempt to rescue seven people believed buried alive. Among those under the sand was a 6-year-old boy who had accompanied his grandfather to work.
Residents and rescue workers use heavy equipment to look for people feared buried at a sand mine, after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck in San Marcos, Guatemala on Wednesday. AP
“I want to see Giovanni! I want to see Giovanni!” the boy’s mother, 42-year-old Francisca Ramirez, frantically cried. “He’s not dead. Get him out.” She said the boy’s father had emigrated to the U.S. and there was no way to reach him.
Perez flew to San Marcos to view the damage in this lush mountainous region of 50,000 indigenous farmers and ranchers, many belonging to the Mam ethnic group.
“One thing is to hear about what happened and another thing entirely is to see it,” Perez told The Associated Press. “As a Guatemalan I feel sad … to see mothers crying for their lost children.”
The president said the government would pay for the funerals of all victims in the poor region.
Efrain Ramos helped load a tiny casket carrying the body of his 6-year-old niece from San Marcos’ morgue to a waiting pickup truck.
“She is my niece. The little girl died when a wall fell over her,” a shocked Ramos told a reporter. He said the girl was playing in her room when the quake hit.
The girl’s mother hugged the coffin wrapped with white lace and tulle while sobbing uncontrollably.
Ramos said the family would escort his niece Rosa’s body back home for a viewing.
Many of the colorful adobe buildings in the 10-square-mile center of San Marcos were either cracked or reduced to rubble, including the police station and the courthouse. The temblor left a large gash in one of the streets, and hundreds of frightened villagers stood in the open, refusing to go back inside.
Hundreds of people crammed into the hallways of the small town hospital waiting for medical staff to help injured family members, some complaining they were not getting care quickly enough.
Ingrid Lopez, who went to the hospital with a 72-year-old aunt whose legs were crushed by a falling wall, said she had waited hours for an X-ray.
“We ask the president to improve conditions at the hospital,” she said. “There isn’t enough staff.”
The quake, which was 20 miles deep, was centered 15 miles off the coastal town of Champerico and 100 miles southwest of Guatemala City. It was the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a 1976 temblor that killed 23,000.
Officials said most of 100 missing were from San Marcos. The mainly indigenous inhabitants farm corn and herd cattle, mostly for their own survival.
Hospital officials in San Marcos said they had received 150 injured.
“I’ve been in Guatemala for almost two years and I am used to earthquakes. This was a lot more severe, a lot more shaky,” said Peace Corps volunteer Adam Baker, 27, of Carmel, Indiana, who tweeted a picture of a small landslide behind his house in the nearby state of Quetzaltenango. “Things fell in my kitchen.”
Perez said more than 2,000 soldiers were deployed from a base in San Marcos to help with the disaster. A plane had already made two trips to carry relief teams to the area.
The president urged people to stay put as emergency crews try to reach victims on the few roads not blocked by landslides or debris. He also encouraged people in the affected areas to stay outside and away from tall buildings.
David de Leon, spokesman for civil protection, told radio station Emisoras Unidas that officials were working on evacuations and relief. There were four strong aftershocks by late afternoon.
Perez said 150 people had been evacuated by air from the San Marcos area.
The country’s minister of communications and infrastructure told Emisoras Unidas that landslides had blocked several highways in the west of the country, and it would take at least 24 hours to re-establish transport links to San Marcos.
A spokesman for El Salvador’s Red Cross branch told The Associated Press that the quake had been felt throughout the country, sending people fleeing their homes in the capital, but there had been no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage.
The mayor of Mexico City said no serious damage or injuries were reported in the city, although many people fled their offices and homes during the quake.
In San Marcos, 91 inmates, including five women, were huddled to one side of the adobe makeshift jail that had floor-to-ceiling cracks and threatened to collapse. Police told the prisoners they were to be moved.
“We’d rather stay here and reconstruct the jail than be displaced. That will be hard for our families,” said inmate Benjamin Tomas Gomez.
READ MORE - Guatemala quake: 48 killed, hundreds missing, several injured

An Urgent Appeal: North East Support Centre and Helpline Team

An Urgent Appeal
North East Support Centre and Helpline Team has been receiving calls from different people in Delhi  that some North East people were killed in different part of Delhi last night. NE Helpline Team has checked with Delhi Police, Media and friends and none of them is confirmed.
Now invisible communal forces are once again trying to mislead the nation by such rumour again and it must be stopped immediately.
We appeal to all sections of society, particularly to the people from North East India that any information that may be passed to you by any means, , please confirmed it first by calling Police Helpline No 100, from your community and student leaders. Unconfirmed information will fuel the rumour.
We appeal to Delhi Police to arrange special patrolling in North East Indian dominated areas like Murnika, Mukherjee Nagar, Moti Bagh, Khanpur, Safdarjung Enclave, Defence Colony, Gandhi Vihar, Nehru Vihar, Vijay Nagar, Double Storey, Delhi University Campus, JNU Campus and Sikanderpur in Gurgaon.
For further clarification, the North East Support Centre and Helpline Team can be contacted at 9774303076, 9968291645,  9811535563
Madhu Chandra
Spokesperson, NESC&H
READ MORE - An Urgent Appeal: North East Support Centre and Helpline Team


The Editors.

We are shocked and appalled by the un-ending incidents of targeted violence towards Northeasterners in numerous cities in mainland India. Despite all the tall assurances by political leaders, including the Prime Minister, the act of hatred towards Northeasterners has not decrease, but continues to spread to various parts of the country.  What has started as isolated incidents of atrocities against Northeasterners in certain localities in Mumbai and Pune, especially Bangurulu has emerged as assault towards Northeasterners in the national scale. It shows how callous the Indian state’s approach to people who are minorities among the minorities.  Not only has the attacked threatened and destroyed the livelihood of many young men and women, but also has led to loss of trust on the state governments and the centre in taking necessary measures for the protection of Northeasterners every part of the country. Northeasterners has been made to feel like an unwelcome guest where-ever they went out to live and work in India. 
We want to ask our responsible leaders why the issue has been downplayed as mere ‘rumour’, when the physical assault on Northeasterners are happening unabated in various cities across India. Instead of focusing on attackers, the politicians have chosen to target ‘rumour mongers’. However, the actual social reality has shown that the hatred towards Northeasterners is much more than a ‘rumour’, it is too real to be ignored and brush aside as ‘rumour’. We demand the Government of India and various state governments to be more serious in dealing with the current wave of attacks on Northeasterners.
The root of present assaults on Northeasterners has been traced to ethnic violence in Assam, where indigenous Bodos have been reduced to minorities in their own land. What has been a cyclical violence between two ethnic groups has been painted by the media and other sources have ‘communal violence’. The origin of this violence lies in the failure of Indian state in making its border free from immigrations from other countries, which they have done it deliberately to serve their interest of vote-bank politics. The end results of all this sinister politics is loss of innocent life, and insecurities for indigenous people in their own home and villages.
Now, what we are witnessing is ‘return’ of Northeasterners to their own home in a massive scale, which can only be compared to Partition period in Indian history. Numerous young men and women’s career and livelihood has been shattered by ‘hate crimes’, which the Indian state has remain as helpless watchmen.  We demand the Central and State Governments to take immediate and affective measures to stop the current incidents of violent attacks towards Northeasterners in various parts of the countries. Mere tokenism and lip-service will not work this time as the danger to our livelihood is real and increasing. We asked the state governments to compensate all those who have been force to flee from their work and educational institutions. And all those responsible for attacks and hate crimes must be booked and punish according to the law of the land.
                                                                                                                        Luikang Lamak
President, NEYF, Delhi.
+91-8587895536, +91-8974415409.


A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

Over the past week, thousands of people hurriedly returned to their
homes in the northeastern states, fearing for their safety in the rest
of the country. The numbers of those fleeing was so high that Indian
Railways had to run special trains to meet the sudden upsurge in
passenger traffic. To a certain degree, the mass departure continues
even today. That the numbers fleeing has gone down is only because
most have left already. The administration was slow in responding to
the event, but soon caught up with the reality of the flight in
fright. Political leaders and the administration tried to assure
fleeing persons with statements declaiming the rumours. However, the
fact is, none were willing to believe these assurances.

The government has now blamed Pakistan for spreading rumours that
caused the panic. It has banned a list of websites and domains alleged
to have posted false propaganda, which fuelled the exodus. Indeed,
given the state of affairs in Pakistan, where the Pakistani government
has minimal control over its military apparatus and is over-run by
extremist elements it is possible that the allegations about the
origin of the messages are true.

However, blaming Pakistan for the exodus would not absolve India from
the realities that the people in India have learned to live with. By
comparison, if past experiences are of any meaning, returning home was
an option to the people from the northeast. This was not so for so
many victims of violence in the past that perished in the very homes
where they were born.

There is not a single political party in the country that has not
capitalised upon sectarian and religious divisions for immediate
political gains. All of them, including those in the northeastern
states, without exception, have, in the past, fuelled sectarian
violence in some of the most abominable forms. And, there is no
guarantee they will not do the same in the future. None of the
political instigators have ever been punished for such deeds. In fact,
many have risen to power through planning, fuelling, and executing
communal violence, in villages, districts and states. Even the
national capital was not spared. The 1984 riots against the Sikhs,
engineered by politicians and henchmen of the party presently in power
at the centre, was a brutal pogrom.

What is illustrated in the past week's event is the alarming reality
of clear-cut sectarian and ethnic fault lines from which India has yet
to recover. The event is iteration of the fact that the people trust
neither their government, nor the law enforcement agencies. Past
incidents of violence committed against Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and
Hindus; in Gujarat, New Delhi, Orissa and Kashmir only underlines this
fact. In all these incidents, the law enforcement agencies, and
subsequently the justice and political apparatus in the country, have
connived with criminals, reminding those who survived the violence
that justice is impossible and that there will be no remorse. Thus far
demanding or offering resignation from office is accountability at its
best in India.

The government that has blamed and now banned selected internet
services, accusing them for precipitating fear will have a moral and
legal dilemma for not acting against similar elements in India. Bal
Keshav Thackeray and his clan, having a stronghold in the financial
capital of India, is not an isolated gang of provocateurs in pursuit
of sectarian violence and hatred in India. If legal standards and
responsibilities are the same in each case, and if the country's
justice apparatus is equipped, and is allowed to apply these standards
in each occasion, most politicians who pretend to be national leaders
in the country, would be in prison today. That it has not happened so
far, and perhaps will never happen, is the root cause of the exodus
that the country is witnessing now. It will happen again. All that is
required is a similar catalyst.

Any community left with the only option of identifying first a
Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, or a Meitei, Naga, Malayalee, Tamilian
or Kashmiri, lives a life of insecurity. The plurality that India
claims exists within its fabric is in fact a fiction. No government
has tried addressing this. Each has only tried deepening it. To
address this divide, what is required is a strong national policy on
justice reforms, since justice speaks only one language, that of
equality. Unfortunately this has been the last priority for all
governments in India so far. Instead attempt is to legislate new laws
like the Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to
Justice and Reparation) Bill, 2011 that lacked clarity in objectivity,
purpose and public consultation.

As a substitute of addressing the root problem, prohibiting access to
web content and blaming the neighbour for ones own misfortune only
reiterates the reality of retardation in Indian political thinking.
That the media has refused to look into this factor, and are
regurgitating the government's blame game, in fact, speaks about its
intellectual wilt.

Exodus in essence is fleeing for survival. Irrespective of the cause,
the country witnesses it each year during the change of seasons.
Legally there is no difference between the conditions, that force
internal migration of an estimated one million people each year who
leave their villages to work and perish in the cities and brick kilns,
feeding the rampaging hunger of construction companies that define the
skylines of India's new urban landscapes, and that of those who flee
work places fearing communal violence. Government policies that result
in the destruction of livelihood options in thousands of villages,
corporate entities that connive with governments in the process, and
the absolute lack of consultation with the people on policies and
implementation when livelihoods are destroyed, are crimes of equal

Central to the issue is the unwillingness of the government and a
large section of citizens to recognise that, at its core, the concept
of a nation-state is that of an entity based on cooperation, i.e. an
agreement between the state and its people to form a nation, on the
guarantee that the state will spare no resources to protect basic
freedoms of the people, irrespective of their race, region, religion,
language and class. This guarantee is the best assurance, which
nurtures unity, speaking the universal language of justice based on
equality. It is this guarantee that the Indian state is yet to fulfil
for its people, who have forgotten or failed to realise the initial
act of cooperation that gave birth to their nation-state, and who
don’t truly understand the price of their daily submission amidst
petty squabbling, which legitimises inefficient and corrupt misrule.

/*For information and comments contact: */

In Hong Kong: Bijo Francis, Telephone: +852 - 26986339, Email:
READ MORE - A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

North Eastern Council – Poised for Progress

North Eastern Council – Poised for Progress

            The North Eastern Council is the nodal agency for the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region which consists of the eight States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.  The North Eastern Council was constituted in 1971 by an Act of Parliament.  The constitution of the Council has marked the beginning of a new chapter of concerted and planned endeavour for the rapid development of the Region.  Over the last forty years, NEC has been  instrumental in setting in motion a new economic endeavour aimed at removing the basic handicaps that stood in the way of normal development of the region and has ushered in an era of new hope in this backward area full of great potentialities. NEC has come up with the roadmap for over all development and progress of North Eastern Region by implementing the NER Vision Document 2020 released by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 2nd July 2008 in New Delhi.  In an effort to translate the vision document into action a high-level Inter-Ministerial group has been constituted to provide guidelines and supervision the strategies and progress for inter-sectoral mobilization in the region.  Some achievements are highlighted below:-

Transport and Communication Sector
NEC lays thrust on strengthening the case of development in NER with special emphasis on connectivity.  More than 60 percent budget allocation of NEC is earmarked for the development of infrastructure, transport and communication. Apart from 9877.62 Kms. completed roads network, 56 new roads projects were selected for taking up during the 11th Five Year Plan, out of which 25 nos. have been given in-principle approval by the planning Commission. 15 Nos Projects have been approved by the expenditure and Standing Finance  Committee for implementation.

Power Sector
            Since inception, NEC has generated and augmented power to the tune of 694.50 MW of capacity addition (630 Hydro & 64.50 Thermal).  The new Micro Hydel Power Generation in the North East Region including Sikkim will further increase by 6 MW in addition to presently installed capacity.  NEC has also contributed 1772.44 Ckt Km of transmission line and 40 nos. of system improvement projects. Preparation of DPRs for strengthening of transmission and sub-transmission of Power Systems in NE Region including Sikkim has been entrusted to PGCIL.

            The NEC has taken up different activities such as pilot projects on double cropping, development of fisheries and animal husbandry. It has also taken up special initiatives for the establishment of Institutions/Centres of Excellence in the States for promotion of animal husbandry in general and veterinary care in particular, for promotion of agriculture extension services, for promotion of biotechnology, horticulture, etc. A new initiative on the development of schemes leading to the development of modern piggery as an advanced livelihood activity has been also initiated. Nagaland Bee-keeping & Honey Mission (NBHM funded by the NEC is an example of a special initiative. Funding the NEC-IFAD Rural Livelihood projects, NERCORMP(Phase-II) in 6 districts of the NER, after a very successful completion of Phase-I, which is  to be implemented over a period of 6 years, at a total cost of Rs. 20000.00 lakhs.

              With the launching of NEIIPP – 2007 by the Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry, the bulk of the task is handled by the Ministry.  However, NEC of late, has been supporting projects mainly on capacity building on bamboo related product.  Important project include project for Rehabilitation of Surrendered Militant in Tripura, UNIDO-CBTC Phase –II project, Establishment of Bamboo Technology Part at Byrnihat etc.  NEC has also commissioned a study on development of border traders in the region to the RIS, New Delhi to highlight the salient aspect of border treat along the boundaries of North Eastern States. Project on livelihood development through Pilot enterprise for re-habilitation of surrendered militants by the Govt. of Tripura taken up where Bamboo based products will be made.  

            That the act of promotion of tourism could be streamlined and appropriately planned, NEC has taken up the task of preparation of a Comprehensive Tourism Master Plan for the region through commissioning of the expertise of M/s Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Mumbai.  On 8th April, 2011, M/s TCS gave a presentation of their findings at the Ministry of Tourism, Government  of India in presence of all the Govt. Stakeholders including the representative of the 8 States Govts. of the region.  The final report is expected shortly.  NEC has included in its Plan, programmes such as – Support to Projects related to Tourism in NER, Capacity Building in Tourism and Hospitality sector, development of Inter-State Tourist Circuits, renovation of IB/Tourist Lodge/Guest Houses owned by State Govts. and Publicity Campaign for promotion of Tourism. Construction of Yatriniwas-cum-NEC Guest house at Paltan Bazar Gwahati dully completed and inaugurated by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam in the presence of Hon’ble Union Minister DoNER and Chairman NEC.The seven stories building will cater to the accommodation requirement of tourist etc.
            NEC has been providing financial assistance for up-gradation of infrastructure facilities for the existing hospitals as well as creation of hospitals in the remote areas of the North East where such facilities are yet to be set. With regard to manpower development in medical, paramedical and allied health disciplines, NEC has been providing financial resources for up-gradation of infrastructure facilities and seats are allocated to all the NE States so that development of such manpower takes place equitably.
            NEC has been extending financial support to Meritorious students of North Eastern States. More than 10,000 students have been benefitted so far.  Support for infrastructure development of sports, education, social sector, etc. is also extended. A number of Sports Stadium have been constructed across the states. Football Academy at Kolasib, Mizoram and Tennis Academy at Imphal are under construction.  Development of Schools and College infrastructure such as Sikkim College of Science, ITI Tabarijoo, construction of Tribal hostel at Chandanpur, Science Lab at Thambal college, Music College at Nagaland etc are underway. Capacity building programmes for unemployed North Eastern Youth are also conducted. NEC has trained more than 6000 youths under this scheme ranging from IT, BPO, Aircraft maintenance, Beauty Care, CAD/CAM Ayurvedic Thearphy, Plastic processing, Banana fiber extraction, Tourism and Hospitality Management etc.
Dr. T.Ao Football Tournament was constituted for the North Eastern region to be held annually amongst the states. The Second such tournament was held at Manipur during Nov,2010. North Eastern Council Chairman’s Sports Award for excellence has been constituted where cash awards are being given to medal winners in Commonwealth, Asian and National Games. A 500 seaters Rajiv Gandhi girls hostel for students of NE States is under construction at Delhi University. Working Women Hostel at Delhi also under construction. To improve Maths and Science teaching in the NE, Teachers Trainings are being conducted.
            The NEC has also initiated the following :
(i) Strengthen Geo-Informatics Application for Rural Development (C-GARD) Laboratory in NER, (ii) Support of e-Governance schemes to the respective Boards of School Education/Education Deptt. in the States of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim with Online connectivity to schools, (iii) I.T. education infrastructure has been extended to 194 schools in Meghalaya, Manipur and Sikkim and (iv)Computerization of Food & Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs department.                                                          

Apart from the  usual  work of bringing out achievements  and  newsletter  about  the NEC,  as  part  of  its   initiative  for   development  of  Art  and  Culture, NEC  has  taken  up  project  for  Preservation  &  Promotion of   Archeological  Park  at   Itanagar, Arunachal  Pradesh  for  Rs. 370.00  lakhs,  of  which   Rs. 120.00  lakhs  was  already  released as  first  installment. 

            Projects funded by NEC are being monitored on a regular basis. Evaluation studies are being carried out by the Central/State Government institutions/Organizations so that the socio-economic impact of such projects are known.  To strengthen the monitoring mechanism in the NEC Secretariat, an initiative has been taken to appoint Consultants for this purpose but due to non-availability of suitable candidates as per the eligibility criteria, the same has been re-advertised.  Seminars Symposiums/Workshops etc. which have regional impact in the NER are being sponsored to various colleges and other educational institution.
One of the main activities of the IFC & WSM sector is to administer and run the North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management (NERIWALM), Tezpur, Assam.  The Institute has imparted training to many persons which include professionals, farmers, NGOs. Etc.  During the  11th Five Year Plan, the IFC & WSM sector has sanctioned 10 Hydro Electric projects, 5 Irrigation projects, 19 Flood Control and River Management projects and 1 Watershed Management project in different States of the NE Region except Sikkim.  In Sikkim, NEC has sanctioned 8 Water Supply and anti-erosion projects during the period in question. 
READ MORE - North Eastern Council – Poised for Progress

NE Helpline Demands Delhi Police to Absconding Murderer and Rapist of 7 Years Old NE Girl

North East Support Centre & Helpline

For Immediate Press Release

North East Support Centre & Helpline salutes Delhi Police on arrest of Nigerian nationality who allegedly murdered a tribal women belonging to the Kuki-Chin community of Myanmar (Burma) in Delhi on April 29. NE Helpline also demands Delhi police to arrest absconding murderer of seven years old Naga girls in 2009 and rapists of Dhaula Kuan gang rape case of 2005.
According to source reaching to North East Support Centre & Helpline, Delhi police has managed to arrest the absconding murder case accused of 23 years old women belonging to Kuki-Chin communities of Myanmar today. The accused has confessed the charges against him according to sources reaching.
According to the police the accused and the deceased was staying together in Uttam Nagar for the past several months. Both of them were said to occupy a rented room in the first floor. The landlord found a bad smell emanating from the said room. Then the landlord contacted the police immediately. When the police broke opened the door, a decomposed female body was found stuff inside a travelling bag. A case of murder was registered in Uttam Nagar Police Station.
Madhu Chandra, Founder Director of North East Support Centre & Helpline also appeals to Delhi Police to reopen the pending cases without action being taken, “Delhi Police must take action now to arrest the absconding murderer of seven years old girl, who was raped, murdered and dumped in water tank in Mahipalpur, New Delhi on April 19, 2009.” He further appeals to Delhi Police to take action to arrest the absconding gang rapists of Mizoram women at Dhaula Kuan in 2005.
The recent research conducted by NE Helpline reveals the silent feature of racial attack on its own countrymen from North East India, whose appearance and culture are different from mainline India. 78% of North Easterners in Delhi face racial discrimination in different forms which is slightly less compare to the 86% in 2009. The 83% of North East men and the 74% of their women face racial discrimination in Delhi and NCR. 
“Delhi Government and police still have to develop policy and plan of action to end racial attack and sexual violence against North East Indian communities and women in Delhi and NCR,” says Madhu Chandra.
“The best form of prevention against racial attack and sexual violence against men and women from North East India is to bring those accused under the justice of the law of the land irrespective of their communities,” added Madhu Chandra.
North East Support Centre & Helpline ( is combined initiative of various human rights activists, social workers, students, journalists and lawyers seeking to prevent harassment and abuses meted out to women, North East People and tribal communities of different states.
Released by
Angam Haokip
Media In-charge

RZ 61, 4th Floor, Palam Vihar, Dwarka, New Delhi 110075. Tel 25084561
READ MORE - NE Helpline Demands Delhi Police to Absconding Murderer and Rapist of 7 Years Old NE Girl

After Mandla Kumbh, India's Madhya pradesh State profiles Christian community

Madhya Pradesh Madhya Pradesh cops pull back Christian profiling plan

Naveen and Firoz Mirza , Hindustan Times
Bhopal, April 15, 2011

A police circular in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh seeking detailed
profiles of Christians and churches in the state has been withdrawn
after protests from members of the minority community.

State chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday sought a report
on the circular issued on March 23. This is the first time such a
circular was issued in Madhya Pradesh.

The controversy caused by the circular surfaced at Ashtra town in
Sehore district when a police official allegedly threatened a
Christian priest who declined to give information sought through the
circular. “The officer threatened to take me to the police station
when I refused to provide details,” said Father Francis Scaria of the
Ashtra parish.

The police top brass claimed ignorance about the circular even though
the state police headquarters issued it to all police stations,
seeking information on the financial status, political leanings and
sources of funding of churches and their staff.

Director general of police SK Rout reportedly did not know about the
circular till Wednesday when a delegation of Christians brought it to
his notice.

Rout told HT, “All district police units have been directed not to
collect any such information.” The circular had triggered alarm and
anger among Christians, who viewed the order as a prelude to
unleashing organised violence on the community.

Bhopal’s Archbishop Leo Cornelio, who heads the Catholic Church in the
state, said, “It is a conspiracy against Christians in Madhya
Pradesh.” He said similar profiling was done in Gujarat, where
Christians were targeted in religious violence in some districts
between 1999-2000.

Father Anand Muttungal, spokesperson of Catholic Church, Madhya
Pradesh, said the circular violated the community’s fundamental
rights. It betrayed the anti-Christian bias of the state government,
he said.
READ MORE - After Mandla Kumbh, India's Madhya pradesh State profiles Christian community