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Ukhrul: The Tangkhul Baptist Churches Association (TBCA) on Wednesday strongly condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for an hour-long nationwide cleanliness drive on a Sunday.

Ahead of Gandhi Jayanti Day on October 2, PM Modi has issued a clarion call to people across the country to participate in one hour of ‘Shramdaan’ (voluntary labour) for a cleanliness drive on October 1, which falls on a Sunday. The national cleanliness drive will begin at 10 am under the theme ‘Ek Tareekh, Ek Ghanta, Ek Saath’ (one date, one hour, together).

During a press conference held at its headquarters, Rev. Dr. Themreishang Horam, Education Secretary of TBCA, stated that cleanliness is one of the core teachings of Christianity, and they advocate it with ardent devotion. However, conducting a cleanliness drive on their holy worship day amounts to desacralising their faith, he said.

The Church association further appealed to church members to avoid conducting cleanliness drives on Sunday and suggested setting aside another day to honour PM Modi’s call.

Church leaders also questioned PM Modi’s intention when he declared the ‘Clean India Mission’ on Sunday. Rev. Horam pointed out that every year, on 2nd October (Gandhi Jayanti), the nation performs a cleanliness drive, so there is no need to reschedule it for Sunday.

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“This seems like a systematic persecution of religious minorities, and this is not the first instance,” said Rev. Horam.

He also mentioned that in the past, they have experienced similar persecutions during the BJP regime. In 2014, the Centre declared 25th December (Christmas) as Good Governance Day, and 17th April was declared as Digital India Day in 2017, according to TBCA.

“We Christians view this as systematic prosecution, ignoring our religious rights,” it said.

TBCA also reminded the government about Articles 25-30 of the Indian Constitution, which provide and guarantee fundamental rights to advocate, propagate, and administer the practice of their own religion.

Rev. VA Ayo, Finance Secretary of TBCA, and Youth Secretary Homreishang Muinao also attended the press briefing.

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