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ICC Note:

A bishop in India has dismissed calls by Hindu radicals to make the country a Hindu nation. The bishop was reacting to an editorial by a Hindu fundamentalist group that claimed India should be for Hindus first, and others later. The bishop claimed statements like that of the editorial are those of a fringe group of extremists and not the opinion of the majority of Hindus. He went on further to say that India will likely remain a secular nation as it has been since its inception. 

11/03/2017 India (UCAN) – An Indian bishops’ conference official has reacted sharply against a radical Hindu party for trying to negate the secular Indian Constitution.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary-general of the Indian Catholic bishops’ conference, also disagreed with their insistence that Hindus in India should get priority over Christians, Muslims and other religious minorities.

“India is a secular country and it will also remain so. It was not born out of religion and we do not want it to turn it into some religion-based country,” he said.

Bishop Mascarenhas was reacting to the Oct. 30 editorial in the Marathi-language newspaper Saamana (combat) which said India should become a Hindu nation.

“India belongs to Hindus first and others later,” Indian media quoted the editorial as saying. The publication is considered the mouthpiece of the regional pro-Hindu Shiv Sena party.

The party, which has a history of using violence to defend Hindu culture, said there are many Muslim, Christian and Buddhist countries but “Hindus do not have any country except this.”

Shiv Sena, a militant political party, rules Maharashtra in alliance with the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party that heads the federal government and many state governments. Maharashtra is home to Bombay Archdiocese, India’s largest diocese covering Mumbai (formerly Bombay), which is the biggest city in the country.

Indians have always stood for “tolerant and harmonious” coexistence of different religions, Bishop Mascarenhas told “One small fringe group like this doesn’t make the opinion of a nation. We are quite confident that this is not the view of majority of the Hindus.”

India has 967 million Hindus, or 80 percent of its 1.2 billion people, while Muslims number 172 million, Christians are just 28 million, constituting 2.3 percent of the population.

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