New Delhi, 23 January 2007 - Statement by Dr John Dayal, Member, National Integration Council, Government of India.
The bloodthirsty manner in which the Hindutva brigade in India celebrated the Birth Centenary of its founder and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh chief Guru Golwalkar last Sunday is evidence that the hyper nationalist and religious fundamentalist group has sharpened its attack on Christians and Muslims as enemy aliens in India.
Not only did the Hindutva Parivar violently attack residential Muslim areas in the Silicon city of Bangalore in Karnataka taking out a provocative procession, which defied the police, it attacked institutions in Kangra of Himachal Pradesh, its spokesmen made repeated announcements on friendly Indian language television news channels that they would wage war on [Muslim] terrorism and [Christian] Conversions which they identified as the twin threats to India.
Their cadres among the `Sadhus` [saints or mendicants], now congregating along the Ganges-Yamuna Rivers` confluence at Allahabad, they said, would ensure their the dream Hindu Homeland Nation [Rashtra] was realized as soon as possible.
The vitriolic diatribe against religious minorities has reached its peak on the eve of elections to several State Legislative Assemblies in the country.
For the most, Indian police forces have been mute witnesses to the Hindutva violence. In Bangalore, capital of Karnataka which is now ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the political face of the RSS, the police made an ineffectual attempt to control the ravaging mobs, killing one person. In Kangra, they watched helplessly and in Kanpur, the industrial capital of India`s largest province of Uttar Pradesh, they came much too late although television cameras were on duty recording the mass violence.
The Kanpur violence, in fact, was the one that gave away the Sangh Parivar intolerance. What they presumed was a Christian conversion rally because two White United States citizens were in attendance, turned out to be an interfaith prayer and dialogue meeting where a Sikh cult leader from New Delhi had taken two of his foreign guests as key speakers.
Curiously, only one news channel showed violence and identified the attackers as Hindutva Parivar members. Only one Hindi language newspaper, the mass circulated Amar Ujala, reported the incident in detail. Another channel took the Hindutva side and said the meeting was of Christian missionaries even though nether police chief of the city denied it was so. The police chief, Sinha, promised action against the ringleaders who masterminded the well planned attack. The silence of other mass media was not explained. Newspapers in Uttar Pradesh routinely target the Christian minority in publishing statements of the Sangh Parivar against Church groups and institutions.
The Americans, who were not identified, were said to be in a state of panic and had cut short their stay in the hotel in Kanpur. The Sikh cult leader was identified as Sant Sangat Singh Bains, who has a large ashram in New Delhi, and is known for his work in ecumenism and inter faith dialogue. The organizers of the meeting in Kanpur are well-known Hindu intellectuals Kailashpati Tripathi and his associates who have an inter religious meeting every week. The police said later they had arrested two persons who they did not name.
I saw the Sangh aggression on the Hindi Television news Channel `Seven`. The camera recorded how the peaceful meeting was abruptly disrupted by a mob of about twenty persons who slammed open the door of the hall, tore down the curtains, climbed up a table and smashed the sound system. Then they assaulted some of the persons attending the meeting even as their spokesman told the television reporter that they would not allowed conversions in Hindu Rashtra of India. Mr. Tripathi later told a fact finding team of the All India Christian Council that there was no Christian activity in their meeting, which was part of a series of prayer dialogues they have been organizing for a long time. In the past, there had been no objections, much less attacks, on their inter faith meetings, he said.
In Kangra, a small town in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh whose Congress government recently passed a law banning religious conversions - defying the Congress president`s directive - a fanatical crowd surrounded a Christian run orphanage and wanted the pastor to close pack up and leave the state. The police watched and then curiously advised the crowd to file a formal complaint with the police against the pastor and his group. Pastor Behal`s has had a church, and children`s home with about 15 inmates for several years in this district town. Of late, the local Hindutva groups have been railing against him, and want him out of the state where outsiders are not permitted to own property but can run institutions. The Sangh violence against Christians has not surprised me. Neither am I surprised that violence takes place in states that are ruled by the BJP as much as in other states ruled by the Congress. The one difference is that in Congress ruled states, the police make an effort to act against the attackers, while in BJP governed states such as Madhya Pradesh, even preliminary reports are not registered by the police.
I have also in many letters on behalf of the All India Catholic Union and the All India Christian Council, addressed to Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Mr. Shivraj Patil, spelled out the Sangh conspiracy against the Christian community.
The national leadership has been told time and again that the writ of the Indian Constitution seems not to run in states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. They have also been told that the mushrooming number of anti-conversion bills actually convinces the Sangh cadres that they are right in attacking Christians. The most shocking has been the anti conversion bill passed in the Himachal Pradesh assembly, controlled by the Congress, in utter defiance of the assurances of the Congress president.
Unless the national government and the Supreme Court of India direct state governments to take preemptive action, we fear that anti Christian violence will only escalate in coming months.