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Demand for pilgrim fund

Demand for pilgrim fund

Author: Special Correspondent
Publication: The Telegraph
Date: August 20, 2008
URL: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1080820/jsp/calcutta/story_9713722.jsp

[Note from Hindu Vivek Kendra: Hindu pilgrims in India do not have a right to demand normal facilities to be made available to them.]

Christians in the state have demanded that the state government sponsor their pilgrimage to Jerusalem on Good Friday and Easter.

Bangiya Christiya Pariseba wrote to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the minister of state for minority affairs, Abdus Sattar, and the state minority commission chairman on Monday, requesting them to introduce a fund from next year.

"Around 1.5 lakh Christians live in Calcutta. The count across the state crosses 10 lakh. Most Christians want to visit Jerusalem on Good Friday and Easter, but cannot do so because of high travel expenses. Around 95 per cent of the Christians cannot afford to make the pilgrimage," said Herod Mullick, the general secretary of the Pariseba.

According to an estimate of the organisation, less than 50 Christians from the city have visited the Holy Land over the past "five-seven" years. "More than Rs 60,000 is required for each person to make a round trip to Jerusalem," said Mullick.

The Andhra Pradesh government, Mullick said, has recently allocated Rs 2 crore to help Christians from the state visit the Holy Land.

"We thank the Andhra government for their secular gesture and the grant that will help Christians realise their long-cherished dream. We hope the Bengal government, too, will make a similar gesture," the organisation said in its letter.

Will the government accept the demand? Minister Sattar said he had not yet received the letter. "We will have to examine the proposal before taking a decision," he said.

The Pariseba also urged the state government to take steps to set up a cultural and education centre for Christians.

"We had written to the government long ago demanding the setting up of the State Centre for Christian Educational and Cultural Development. But nothing has been done in this regard. We have once again reminded the government of the matter," said Mullick.

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