Saturday, April 7, 2007

Church and Nandigram, West Bengal

The Church has responded to the situation in Nandigram, West Bengal, where the Government has a plan to acquire about 10,000 acres of land of the farmers for industrialization. This led to violent protests since January to March 2007 with already at least 18 persons killed in various violences, including 14 short dead in a police firing. The church leaders had a meeting on 2 April. The minutes of the meeting is given below :
The minutes of the meeting at Seva Kendra
with regard to Nandigram held on April 2, 2007
The representatives from SKC, Jesuits, Salesians, Bambina Sisters, ABCD, Indienhilfe, CHAI, Youth Commission and National Fisherfolk Movement attended the meeting.
The meeting started with a prayer led by I.P.Sarto.
Sibani who visited Nandigram on March 24-25 to assess the issues briefed about the situation. She suggested the following to be taken up seriously
1. A neutral agency to make a camp and to stay there to ensure protection to the people
2. To do trauma counselling by personal sharing
3. To influence the authorities to abandon the move of land acquisition
4. To ensure livlihood for the families who lost the jobs
Fr. Thomas Kocherry of NFM emphasised the need to stay with the people to create confidence among the people.
All were unanimous that a team should stay there continuously under the aegis of Seva Kendra Calcutta among the people to create "Peace Zone" to promote harmony, reconcilation, forgiveness and peace.
Frs. Reggie & Sarto would talk to Archbishop Lucas and to meet other Relgious about this move and to get their support.
(Subsequently they met the Archbishop who welcomed the move and encouraged them for the peace Zone. Bishops Lobo & Monis also expressed solidarity over phone).
As a mark of Peace, "WHITE Flags" will be erected and about 10 to 15 people would stay the share the anxieties of the victims and to express solidarity with them
Frs. Reggie, Xavier & Sarto and Ms. Sibani will coordinate the volunteers stay at the Peace zone.
Initially six member team from Hyderabad led by Fr. Thomas ( three priests, two sisters, a lay woman) would stay there during the Holy week from April 3, 2007. Fr. Xavier Jeyaraj, s.j. & Sr. Michael, SDS would also stay with them for a week. They would identify suitable place for a camp to be erected for the volunteers and would create rapport building in the area.
A team led by Frs. Reggie & Sarto would go on Easter Day to continue the Peace Zone initiative....
Vounteers would be welcomed from the Religious houses, seminaries, youth groups, SHG women, etc.....
Their stay would be coordianted by Fr. Reggie and SKC. The SKC would initially support for travelling and food expenses of the voulnteers. Initially "trauma Counselling" and to give protection to the people are the objectives. The vounteers will be motivated to be peace builders and to avoid absolutely any political side. Our Christian presence will be a witnessing one for re-establishing "Peace Zone" in the area. (Reported by I.P. Sarto)

The team has already set up camp to live in Nandigram in the Peace Zone. If any of you would like to be part of this peace process and would like to stay there for a day or two you may mail to Fr. Reggie at

The list of people who have given their names is given below:

Volunteers for Nandigram





Saturday, April 7

Reggie, Sarto, Vinnarasu, Jose

Ranchita & Mukta, DSA

Claretian bro.-1

Sunday, April 8

Sarto, Jose

Ranchita, Mukta

Claretian -1

Monday, April 9

Sarto, Jose,


Sr. Jeya, SCC Provincial & 2 Srs.

Tuesday, April 10

Jose, CSSR -1

2 SCC srs

Wednesday Apr. 11

Sarto, CSSR –1; Jesuit -1

2 DSA srs & 1 SCC

Thursday, Apr 12

CSSR- 1, Jesuit –1

Claretian –1

2 DSA Srs

Friday, Apr 13

Claretian -1

Saturday, Apr 14

Archbishop Lucas, Reggie

Sunday Apr 15

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