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Church movement for peace in Garo hills

Shillong, July 3: The Roman Catholic Church, under the aegis of the Tura diocese, has pledged to go all out for peace to return to the strife-torn region of Garo hills.

As part of the effort, the church will launch “Shalom Meghalaya” on August 17.

The message of Shalom Meghalaya is uncomplicated. To the militants, “please return home and live as we live”. To the Meghalaya government, “please ensure prevalence of rule of law in Garo hills”.

As part of Shalom Meghalaya, a detailed action programme has been chalked out at a recent meeting convened by Tura bishop Andrew Marak. Representatives from places like Rongara in South Garo Hills, Bajengdoba in North Garo Hills, Ampati in South West Garo Hills and others participated in the meeting.

Father Theodore T. Sangma and Father Sunny Joseph Mavelil, along with 12 others, will lead the movement for peace by organising various programmes.

“We have studied and reflected and waited for action on behalf of the suffering people in Garo hills and we will not rest until peace is restored. The Catholic Church is initiating the movement for peace and call upon all people of good will to collaborate in one heart and soul,” a statement from the church said.

The programme will commence with a peace gathering in Tura on August 17, which will kick off a motor rally for peace.

The rally will tour Garo hills where public meetings and sensitisation programmes will be conducted.

Every Sunday, prayers will be conducted in all the churches in Garo hills.

A candle lit inter-religious prayer service will also be held in every parish church and village on August 16, in honour of the people who were murdered by militants and others.

District teams will hold peace gatherings in the district headquarters and undertake signature campaigns.

“We plan to collect one lakh signatures for peace, which would be to the governor and to the President seeking protection of life and property, which are the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country,” the statement added.

Moreover, the statement said there would be committees at the parish level to function as vigilance teams to report on kidnapping, extortion and murder, which go unreported because of non-filing of FIRs. There are more than 35 parishes in Garo hills falling under the Tura diocese.

Pamphlets containing peace pledge and prayer for peace, the causes and effects of militancy will be reached to at least 1 lakh households in Garo hills, the statement added.


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