“Hindutva” Hidden Agenda of Terror Going to be Unleashed Again?
On Monday last, Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh declared the government's commitment to minorities and soon after called for a debate on conversions. It's reminiscent of former Prime Minister Shree Atalji's similar call which, then, led to uninterrupted and systemic attacks against Christians in India in 1998.
The 'hidden agenda' of the central government is of growing concern to all right-minded citizens. The honourable minister has used the forum of the state minority commission with an ulterior motive leaving members of the minority community feeling defenceless and orphaned without the protection of the central government. The minority community would rather that instead of “instilling a sense of security” the central government would provide actual security to its minority citizens when they face threats and attacks instead of tacitly supporting right-wing groups by calling for debates when action is called for. On hind sight, perhaps we can get the foretaste of things to come in the days ahead, in different parts of the country, as it had happened earlier.
Human Rights Watch had reported during that period: “Between January 1998 and February 1999, the Indian Parliament reported a total of 116 incidents of attacks on Christians across the country. Unofficial figures were over 300. Gujarat topped the list of states with ninety-four such incidents. Attacks have been reported in Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Manipur, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and New Delhi. Attacks on Christians have ranged from violence against the leadership of the church, including the killing of priests and the raping of nuns, to the physical destruction of Christian institutions, including schools, churches, colleges, and cemeteries. Thousands of Christians have also been forced to convert to Hinduism.”
The communities affected represent some of the poorest in the country and include Dalits and members of local tribal communities, many of whom convert to Christianity to escape abuses under India's caste system. In many cases, Christian institutions and individuals targeted were singled out for their role in promoting health, literacy, and economic independence among Dalit and tribal community members. A vested interest in keeping these communities in a state of economic dependency is a motivating factor in anti-Christian violence and propaganda.
“These recent attacks represent a clear failure on the part of both the central and the state governments to ensure that such communities enjoy the full protection of their constitutional rights to freedom of religion and equal protection under the law. Despite the existence of comprehensive legislation to address the problem of religious intolerance and communal violence, the government has failed to prosecute the offending individuals and organizations; instead, it has, in many cases, offered tacit support and indirect justification for the attacks.
“Christians are not the only minority to be targeted by the Sangh Parivar. Violence against Sikhs in northern India in 1984 and against India's Muslim community nationwide in 1992 and 1993 also stemmed from the activities and hate propaganda of these groups. Members of the Sangh Parivar include the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps, RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council, VHP), and the VHP's militant youth wing, the Bajrang Dal. These organizations, although different in many respects, have all promoted the argument that although India is a democracy, because Hindus constitute the majority of Indians, India should be a Hindu state.
“In the words of a Sangh Parivar activist in Gujarat, 'The VHP is for the promotion of religion, the Bajrang Dal is for the protection of Hindus, and the BJP is for politics. The work systems are different, but the aim is the same. We all want akand bharat: all nations under India. We want what we had before independence, minus the British. We should have a Hindu nation.'
“Despite this ideological position, the VHP has denied any involvement in the attacks on Christians; instead, it has repeatedly accused Christian missionaries of converting the poor by force, a charge that the Christians have rejected. The Christian community also asserts that the situation has worsened since the Hindu nationalist BJP came to power in Delhi in March 1998.
Although Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has publicly dissociated himself from the VHP and given assurances of safety to all Christians, his position has been ambiguous: while officially condemning the killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines in January 1999, for example, the prime minister called for a "national debate on conversions." Human rights groups criticized the move as legitimizing the motives behind the Staines attack.” [Human Rights Watch report 2002].
For Global Council of Indian Christians,
Dr. Sajan K. George,