It is unusual for a priest to take on a state government. Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest based in Ahmedabad, believes that his duty is not limited to saying prayers for the faithful but also to speak up against violence and injustice. The French government bestowed on him its highest civilian honour and the National Commission for Minorities recently gave him the Minority Rights Award 2006 in honour of his commitment to human rights. He spoke to Humra Quraishi about the dangers of communalism:
I did — and continue to do so — what I thought was the fundamental duty of any citizen: To defend the victim and to stand up for those who are at the receiving end even if the perpetrators happen to be powerful. I have not done anything extra-ordinary, only what was expected of me. It has been difficult of course. There have been all kinds of allegations against me, several threats and I have been kept constantly under surveillance. But I call all this an occupational hazard if one has to stand up for truth and justice.
Has the situation of minorities in
The victims of the
You are a priest. Your critics could say that a priest's job is to be busy with prayer sessions and not get involved in political issues.
Yes, I am a Jesuit priest and I am very clear that the responsibility I am mandated with is to take a stand for truth, justice, compassion and peace. Unfortunately, the role of a priest has been stereotyped and even to a great
degree, compromised. Many of my critics will be very happy to see me confined to the four walls of a church. That is not what Jesus came for, that is not what He preached, that is not what He died for.
How do you perceive the role of 'secular' parties in fighting communalism in
The way most leaders of the so-called secular parties are behaving, vis-a-vis the communal situation in