Nagaland Baptist Church Council, NSCN (I-M), Naga Students’ Federation and Nagaland Theological Colleges Association have expressed opposition to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for nationwide cleanliness drive on October 1, which falls on Sunday.
In a statement, NBCC general secretary Rev. Dr. Zelhou Keyho while agreeing to nationwide sanitation drive, however, opposed the drive being organised on October 1 (Sunday).
Appreciating Modi for coming up with a nationwide cleanliness drive and a creative way to unite the country, the NBCC, however, said that since October 1 is Sunday, a day of worship for the Christians, the church in Nagaland would have to politely turn down the call.
While acknowledging the good initiative, the NBCC has informed its constituent churches to observe the day either on Saturday or on Monday. “As we do so, NBCC would like to put on record that any good initiative must take the diverse religious communities into consideration. This will drive the animosity and hatred, insecurity and fear, threat and intimidation and unify the big nation,” it said.
Further, NBCC reminded that the church was neither against the sanitation day nor anything with good intention to unify the nation. However, since the day falls on worship day, NBCC said the Christians in Nagaland would choose to go to church on October 1 (Sunday). “We will sacrifice another day at our convenience to show our cooperation and solidarity to the nation,” NBCC assured.
NSCN (I-M): NSCN (I-M) has termed as “playing into the nerves of the Naga people’s religious ethos” the call of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi for a nationwide cleanliness drive on October 1, which falls on Sunday.
NSCN (I-M) through its MIP stated that Nagas as Christians cannot “simply” abide by the call of the Prime Minister of India “no matter how noble is the cleanliness drive.”
It stated that for any such nationwide drive for cleanliness, the sentiment attached with the spirit of secularism must be rightfully respected. MIP stated that Naga people would stand as one Christian family to “resist such cleanliness initiative” that defied the mutual respect for different faiths, which reflected the secular character of India.
According to MIP, the NSCN cannot remain as mere spectator to any policy or initiative that obstructed and undermined Christian faith.
NSCN (I-M) said the “bold step” taken by Chakhesang Baptist Church Council (CBCC) that “We must obey God rather human beings” was something highly valued and appreciated. “It is to stress the importance of Naga people’s attachment to God, because no matter the challenge of life, no matter the weight of problem we face, it is God who sustains us,” MIP stated.
It said the Christian’s Holy Bible teaches that God not only created the universe but He upholds and sustains it day by day, hour by hour. Stating that according to Bible “Christ, the son of God, upholds the universe by the word of His power”, NSCN (I-M) has, therefore, said that the Nagas cannot deny God by obeying the call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
NSF: Naga Students’ Federation through its president Medovi Rhi and general secretary Chumben Khuvung vehemently condemned PM’s call for a nationwide cleanliness drive on October 1, which it said was a day that holds deep religious significance and was traditionally recognized as a day of rest and worship in Christian faith.
NSF said PM Modi’s call for a collective cleanliness drive under the banner “Ek Tareekh Ek Ghanta Ek Saath,” on Sunday has raised concerns among Christians in India and beyond. It said the call for a nationwide event on a Sunday was “deeply insensitive” to the religious sentiments of the Christian community and outrightly detrimental to the very essence of Secularism.
NSF acknowledged and appreciated Centre’s initiatives for the betterment of society, including cleanliness drives. However, NSF said it firmly believe in the importance of unity and mutual respect among citizens of all faiths, maintaining the fabric of secularism in the Indian sub-continent.
Further, NSF said it acknowledged cleanliness as an ideal that everyone should advocate, regardless of one’s religious beliefs. However, NSF expressed dismay over what it perceived as “a communal attitude” of the Centre, which appeared to “target” Christian faith and other minority communities intentionally.
NSF, therefore, called upon all Church associations and local churches across the Naga homeland to boycott the proposed social work. NSF also urged them to instruct their members to abstain from participating in the drive as a sign of resentment against the “repeated attempts” by the Government of India to disrupt Christian faith and practices in the country.
Further, NSF appealed to the frontal organizations and Christian leaders in general to stand together in defence of their Christian faith. NSF affirmed its commitment to protecting the rights and religious freedoms of all communities in the Naga homeland and in the wider Indian society.
NTCA: Expressing concern over the proposed cleanliness drive being organised on Sunday, the Nagaland Theological Colleges Association (NTCA), representing the theological colleges in Nagaland, Tuesday raised issues related to the sentiments of the Christian community in India.
While appreciating the initiative led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, NTCA through its president Dr. Alem Sangtam said that the cleanliness drive named “Ek Tareekh Ek Ghanta Ek Saath (One Date One Hour Together)” has been enthusiastically promoted by the government, emphasizing the importance of voluntary labour for cleanliness in honour of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.
However, NTCA has expressed reservations about the chosen date. The association reminded that Sunday holds deep religious significance for the Christian community as a day of worship and rest. “By scheduling this national event on a Sunday, it inadvertently clashes with the holy day for millions of Christians across the country,” NTCA stated.
Stressing on the importance of respecting religious diversity in India, the NTCA has called for a reconsideration of the date for the cleanliness drive to ensure that it did not disrupt the religious observances of any community.
NJCF plea to defer cleanliness drive
Nagaland Joint Christian Forum (NJCF) has appealed to the state government to defer nationwide cleanliness drive, which is scheduled for October 1, 2023 (Sunday) to September 30, 2023 (Saturday) in Nagaland
In a letter to state chief minister Neiphiu Rio, NJCF vice president Rev. Dr. N. Paphino requested the chief minister to defer the event since Sunday is a day of worship for Christians.
The forum stated that the church cannot allow her members to make that day a working day.
NJCF said the church was aware that cleanliness was part of the civic duty and would do so joyfully except on Sunday, which is a day of worship for Christians and not for work.
The forum has, therefore, requested the chief minister to disseminate the information like wise to concern department and authority to declare Saturday as a day dedicated to nation with cleanliness drive in Nagaland.
Kma, Wka cleanliness drive on Sep 30
Kohima Municipal Council and Wokha Town Council have decided to conduct the cleanliness drive on September 30, 2023.
In a circular, KMC administrator T. Lanusenla Longkumer, in pursuance of the directive from the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs on contributing one hour for cleanliness drive throughout the country, has informed all concerned including business establishments to clean their immediate surroundings on September 30 from 6 a.m. onwards. In this regard, ward panchayats along with ward/colony/sector sanitation committee have also been requested to do the needful.
In another circular, Wokha Town Council administrator Tsidi has also informed all including shopkeepers that a mass social work will be held on September 30 from 7 a.m. onwards.