Priest seeks solemn New Year, sympathy for rape victim

Last Updated: Thu, Dec 27, 2012 09:40 hrs

Panaji, Dec 27 (IANS) In the midst of all the din and buzz in India's busiest party destination, a few sombre soldiers of humanity want Goa's party scene to lower the volume in solidarity with New Delhi's 23-year-old gang-rape victim.

The small movement, with potential to go viral, has been started by an unconventional Roman Catholic priest and a band of followers who have been raising social concerns in the past ranging from illegal mining, land abuse, crime, and the like.

The priest, Bismarque Dias, says the nation's conscience has been shaken by the Delhi gang-rape and the brutality of the police crackdown on protestors who were demanding a tough legislation on rape.

He said the time had come for Goa to act in solidarity with the hurt and dying rape victim. "We should be solemn in our celebration of New Year. The country's soul is hurt," priest Dias told IANS.

Goa has an enviable line-up of dance parties scheduled in the week from Dec 25 to Jan 1.

Starting with what is billed as Asia's biggest electronic dance music (EDM) party Sunburn 2012 (Dec 27 to 29) at Candolim beach, to Live from the Console (Dec 29 to 30) at Cavelossim beach and KRANK 2012 at Morjim beach, the parties will continue into the New Year.

This is in addition to a string of balls and formal dances which have been the mainstay of entertainment for Goan Catholic families celebrating the festive season every year.

Dias says the Dec 16 gang-rape incident in the national capital has cast a pall of gloom across India, warranting muted celebrations. He called for toning down the parties in Goa especially since the state too has witnessed several crimes against women and minors.

"How can any right-minded person celebrate like this, especially when in Goa too rape and molestation crimes are rising? How can we be celebrating when all this is happening," Dias asked.

The priest, the first from within the Roman Catholic Church to contest elections in Goa in March 2012 on a 'manifesto of kindness', made news internationally.

Dias won close to a couple of thousand votes and lost the polls, but won the hearts of thousands more in the state for his 'honourable campaign'.

"Wherever there is oppression, Jesus is being oppressed," Dias said, adding that he hoped the church in Goa would issue a statement in this regard.

"Pray and show solidarity with victims of rape by not dancing, as our country is in trauma," says Dias, who has already started his campaign online.

The gang-rape of the 23-year-old in a moving bus in New Delhi earlier this month has rocked the country.

The incident sparked a string of protests in the country, with the biggest at New Delhi, where police mercilessly beat up the peaceful agitators demanding tougher laws against rape.

The victim, in critical condition, was air-lifted to a specialty hospital in Singapore Thursday.

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