On Wednesday afternoon, at 1 pm, Cardinal Oswald Gracious, Archbishop of Bombay on Wednesday got a phone call. At the other end was a frightened nun from Orissa. She had fled to the forests fearing for her life and had called to ask the archbishop to help. Her battery was running out and this was the last call she could make.
The call has made Mumbai and the rest of the country come together to act against the communal violence in Orissa.
“The fear in their voices is still fresh in our minds. Something has to be done. The killings are unfortunate and to express our solidarity we are asking all educational institutions to remain shut on August 29,” said the cardinal.
This would mean about 11,000 catholic institutions will be shut on Friday. There will also be a prayer and fast across the country on September 7.
There has been communal violence on Christians in Orissa for the past two days and nine people have already died. This is an effort to draw the attention of the Centre to the violence. The movement has been spearheaded in Mumbai with the cardinal along with Mahesh Bhat, Tushar Gandhi, Maulana Mustaquim and several secular NGOs met on Wednesday afternoon.
“If SIMI can be banned then so should the VHP because even they are disturbing communal harmony and killing innocent people,” said Abraham Mathai, member of the State Minority Commission.
In Mumbai, about 150 schools belonging to the Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE) will be shut. “Schools have cancelled their functions and postponed their unit tests to express their solidarity,” said Gregory Lobo, secretary of ABE. The Bombay Catholic Sabha has also organised a protest meet at St Micheal’s Auditorium on Friday.