Religious leaders from all over India gathered together to discuss rising religious intolerance and how the country’s secular nature might be at risk. Since the BJP-led government took power in 2014, attacks on religious minorities and their places of worship have skyrocketed. Many claim that the impunity enjoyed by the radical Hindu nationalists organizations is to blame for the dramatic increase in violence. Following this recent gathering, the religious leaders are hoping to confront the government and call on it to act against the radical Hindu nationalist groups responsible for the violence.
07/18/2017 India (Crux) – Catholic bishops in India hosted a group of spiritual leaders and intellectuals to discuss fears the country’s secular nature might be at risk.
“I think it was a very important initiative. It is time to stand up to the hate, and to the lynching,” said John Dayal, who was at the meeting, entitled “Collective Action for Dialogue and Social Harmony.”
Since 2014, India has been ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization.
Incidents of harassment have increased over the past few months, with various Christians being detained or arrested for “attempted conversion,” and places of worship being vandalized.
More recently, a spate of killings related to “cow vigilantism” have happened around the country. The slaughter of cows – which are sacred in Hinduism – is illegal in most parts of India, although beef is often eaten by some Dalits (low-caste Hindus previously called “untouchables”) and members of some religious minorities, such as Muslims and Christians.
Members of “cow vigilante” groups often attack people accused of slaughtering cows, and several people – predominantly Muslims – have been killed over the past year.
The 40 leaders met to discuss the growing violence and intolerance in the country at the headquarters of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in New Delhi on July 16.
Dayal said the meeting was important because Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs attended. He told Crux it was “important that we confront the government and ask it to act.”