Rons Bantwal for Daijiworld News Network - Mumbai
Mumbai, Aug 15: Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh, has once again nominated Dr Abraham Mathai, general secretary of the All India Christian Council, as vice-chairman of the State Minorities Commission, for a term of 5 years. Dr Mathai's nomination was forwarded by a number of Christian and minority organizations, like the All India Catholic Union, All India Christian Council, National Council of Churches in India, Catholic Secular Forum, Raza Academy, Jamait-e-Ulema, Muslim Council of India, besides Union and State ministers like Oscar Fernandes, parliamentarian Priya Dutt and prominent persons like Mahesh Bhatt, Adm Vishnu Bhagwat and other MLA's and MPs.
Dr Mathai has been part of the Maharashtra Minorities Commission since 2000 as a member and thereafter promoted as vice-chairman and the current reappointment is seen as a recognition of his community service over the years. He was successful through the efforts of the late Sunil Dutt, in getting the SEEPZ church re-opened for worship after over 500 years. Among his other successes, can be counted the allotment of the Mulund cemetery and protection to a number of nuns and priests, when their premises were attacked by communal forces. It may be recalled that he personally rushed to the help of Bishop Thomas Dabre, when he was attacked in the jungles of Mokada Taluka, in Thane rural recently. Dr Mathai, was also responsible for getting the strongman of the saffron combine, Praveen Togadia banned from Nandurbar on the eve of Christmas in 2003 to prevent any untoward incident.
Baroness Cox (Dy. Speaker, House of Lords, UK), Sunil Dutt (Union Minister for Sports & Youth), Teesta Setalvad (Best Bakery Case), Kiran Bedi (Woman Supercop) and Nafisa Ali are to name just a few recipients of the Graham Staines, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa Awards, constituted by him. Finally, to quote John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union and member, National Integration Council on Dr. Abraham Mathai- "He has emerged as a major activist for human rights and the Freedom of Faith Movement in India, at risk of physical danger and at great personal cost. His work for the community has made him a household name among Christians."