“Every Indian is a Hindu and Minorities Will Have to learn Their Place in the Country”
By ICC’s India Correspondent
3/25/2015 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern)-A new wave of attacks on Christians across the country of India has religious minorities doubting the word of Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. Last month, Modi vowed to protect the Indian constitutional right of freedom of religion across the country. He went so far as to condemned violence targeting religious minorities and promised to keep Christians and other non-Hindus safe. However, the reality is that his words have not been followed up with action.
Mr. Modi, speaking at an event organized by the Christian community in New Delhi on 17th February, 2015, said, “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion,” said Modi. “Mine will be a government that gives equal respect to all religions. Equal respect for all religions must be in the DNA of every Indian. Unity strengthens us, division weakens us.”
Modi’s remarks came during a time of severe criticism that his government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharathiya Janata Party, had not done enough to stem religious tensions that surfaced since it came to power last May. Modi, having strong Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) roots, took over the government last year with a historic win in the country’s general elections. However, since the election there has been sharp rise in the incidents of violence targeting Christians. Though Modi’s remarks came as a breath of fresh air, the recent outbursts of violence targeting Christians and Churches have only strengthened the apprehensions of the Modi led government.
Rev. Vijayesh Lal, Director, Religious Liberty Commission of EFI, speaking at a protest rally that marked 300 days of Modi rule and its failure to restrain hate and violence against religious minorities, said, “Modi’s “assurance” to religious minorities is challenged and countered by Mr. Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the powerful Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, who asserts, repeatedly, that every Indian is a Hindu, and minorities will have to learn their place in the country”
Christians and other religious minorities have serious doubts regarding Modi’s legitimacy and sincerity in safeguarding their right to religion and ensuring the safety and protection of the minorities in this secular democratic nation of India.
Several incidents of attacks on Christians and Churches have been reported from all corners of India in the last month. One such incident was that of a church still under construction which was vandalized March 6, 2015. The idol of a Hindu god was placed inside the premises. Similarly, a nun in her 70s was gang-raped by a group of bandits on March 14th, 2015, when she tried to prevent them from robbing a Christian missionary school in West Bengal of eastern India.
Just after Modi’s remarks and his promise to protect the minorities, 20 Christians were detained and beaten by police in Jaipur, Rajasthan, for distributing Christian pamphlets. Three unidentified men attacked the St George Catholic Church in New Panvel, Navi Mumbai in the wee hours of Saturday, March 21, 2015, by hurling stones inside the church compound and damaging the glass enclosure of the statue of Saint George.
Dr. John Dayal, official spokesperson of the United Christian Forum said that “Desecration and destruction of churches, assault on pastors, and illegal police detention of church workers has been the pattern of the Sangh Parivar.” He pointed out that, “In Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and other states, the terror, physical violence and social ostracizing of Dalit and Tribal Christians continues, the Prime Minister refuses to reprimand his Cabinet colleagues, restrain the members of his party members or silence the Sangh Parivar which claims to have propelled him to power in New Delhi”.
Religious freedom in India continues to remain a challenge and threat to the secular democracy of the country, as religious minorities live under enormous pressure and doubt under Modi-led BJP rule.