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India    BISHOP LEADS INDEPENDENCE DAY OBSERVANCE DESPITE MAOIST THREAT
A bishop led an Independence Day observance in his eastern Indian diocese despite Maoists' threat to behead anyone who raised the national flag in the region.
    Bishop Michael Minj SJ of Gumla, whose diocese covers the Jharkhand region in Bihar state, raised the three-colour national flag at Rampur Catholic School to lead its celebration of India's 53rd Independence Day last Tuesday.
    Maoist Communist Center (MCC) activists planted black flags in the region and defaced walls with slogans warning people not to celebrate the day that marks the end of British colonial rule in India in 1947.
    MCC slogans on the walls of government schools and offices in various Jharkhand districts threatened "to cut of the head of whoever hoists the national flag."
    As long as people are poor, and exploitation and corruption continue, celebrating Independence Day with few rich has no meaning, the slogans said.
    Bishop Minj said his decision to observe the day disturbed priests and laity in the diocese.
   
UCAN
   
22 Aug 00



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