Agartala (Agenzia Fides) - Christians living in the state of Tripura, in northeast India, are saddened by the fact that the Autonomous District Council elections are scheduled for Easter Sunday. They therefore request the postponement of the ballot in question. "Scheduling the elections for Easter Day, dedicated to the central mystery of faith for all Christians around the world will not only prevent Christian voters from participating in the electoral process, but will also harm the religious feelings of the Christian community", said in a statement. note sent to Agenzia Fides the Bishop of Agartala, His Exc. Bishop Lumen Monteiro.
"The Christians present in the State of Tripura - in all some 160,000 people - were disappointed and shocked when they learned of the date of the elections", said Father Joseph Pulinthanath, spokesman for the diocese of Agartala.
The territory of the Diocese in question entirely covers that of the State. The election for the Tripura Autonomous District Council has been set for April 4, Easter Sunday. The Autonomous District Council administers the areas dominated by the indigenous tribes of Tripura. Nearly 68% of the state's territory is covered with forests and hills.
In this context, Mgr. Monteiro wrote a Letter to the State Commissioner in charge of Elections, expressing the concern of the Christian community over the date of the ballot which coincides with Easter Sunday. The letter calls for the rescheduling of the election date "to allow all citizens to exercise their own right to vote and at the same time be able to meet their obligations of faith as Christians".
Speaking of the elections to be held on Easter Sunday, Sagar Sagma, Catholic lay leader, told Fides: "The Electoral Commission did not take into consideration the religious feelings of Christians and the importance of Easter. It is not appropriate and it is uncomfortable for us. We hope for a postponement".
Tripura is the third smallest state in India. Its territory, of 10,491 km2, borders Bangladesh to the north, south and west and the Indian states of Assam and Mizoram to the east. Because of its geographical isolation, its territory being largely composed of mountain ranges, its economic progress is made difficult. Poverty and unemployment continue to plague Tripura, which has limited infrastructure. The majority of residents are engaged in agriculture and related activities although the service sector accounts for the majority of the state's GDP. The Church continues to work on behalf of individuals and ethnic groups in terms of social work, education, health care and evangelization.
Out of a total population of 3.6 million, 83% are Hindus, 8.6% Muslims and some 4.3% Christians, the remainder being divided between Sikhs and followers of tribal religions. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/3/2021)