Bishops charge Centre with denigrating Christian community

Refuting allegations that the Tuticorin Diocesan Association is funding and instigating the agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, the Tamil Nadu Bishops' Council on Thursday accused the Union government of denigrating the Christian community by blocking the registration number given under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to the Diocesan Association and freezing its bank accounts. “It is highly condemnable that the government is unleashing repressive measures. We are pained by the government's action,” said A.M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore and President of Tamil Nadu Bishops' Council.

Addressing reporters along with Yvon Ambroise, Archbishop of the Tuticorin Diocese, Rev. Chinnappa said the church had no motive other than sharing the local people's concern and fear over about the safety of the plant.

He said while it could be the stand of the government that progress could not be achieved without adequate power, there was no denying the fact that safety and progress should go together. “Progress should not be at the cost of human lives.”

He said that it was for the world community and not just the people of Kudankulam to find an answer to the question of safety of nuclear power plants.

Rev. Yvon Ambrose said that Bishops had a moral responsibility to stand by the people at the time of crisis and suffering. “The people on their own selected the Church premises in Idinthakarai to launch their protest. They have the right to choose it. It is wrong to assume that we can convince them to give up their protest.”

Asked what could be the motive of the Congress-led UPA government, which always sought to protect the interest of the minorities and pressed for a comment on DMK president M. Karunanidhi's support for the project, he declined to comment saying, “Do not drag us into an argument with politicians.”

The Bishops said the people were agitating not because they were Christians, but because the plant was located in their village. “The Hindus and Muslims who live in and around the area also are up in arms against the project.” It was wrong to say the Christians alone were opposing the project.

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