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"Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." -1Cor. 4:11-13
Religious persecution in secular India!
- Fr. Johnson Punneliparambil V.C.
Fr. Johnson Punneliparambil is in North India since 15 years. He has been active mostly in
U.P. and M.P. The writer analyses the recent attacks on Christians in India with the skill and exactness of a researcher. The real and hidden purpose of these persecutors is unveiled. Tacit permission from political and police authorities encourage them to repeat attacks on Christians.
Late Archbishop of Delhi, Rev. Fr. Alan De Lastic (20 sec. wave file)
Is India only for Hindus?
What Indian Constitution upholds as freedom for the practice and propagation of religion in the secular India is still a distant reality for the 2.3% strong christians of the country. The Constitution provides equal freedom and opportunity to every religion in the country. It does not discriminate any religion on the basis of its place or origin. If it does, it should first of all throw Hinduism out of the country, because it is the earliest religion to enter this land of Dravids and tribals. Very few people are aware of the fact that Hinduism came along with Aryan invaders who pushed the original inhabitants of India to the southern parts of the country and occupied the central and northen belt thousands of years back.
Some modern day Indian thinkers try to re-mould the history to suit their own purposes. Some extraordinarily patriotic citizens claim that India is only for Hindus. They forget the fact that the Mother India has welcomed all who came to her with equal warmth. If Christians came two thousand years back the Hindus came only a few thousand more years back. If one who came first denies entry to the next it is sheer barbarism and aggressive show of muscle power. But India has been very broad minded and secular from time immemorial. She is known for her tolerance and love for peace.
Today India stands on the verge of vertical split on the basis of religion and petty politics. The politicization of religion has fuelled the communal tension in the country. Some politically powerful religious leaders patronize the deviant acts of their supporters and help them easily escape punishments. The recent attacks on the lives, places of worship, and properties of the missionaries and the result of such type of a protection to those who commit such heinous crimes. Whether it be the brutal massacre of Rev. Graham Stains and his two kids or the merciless killing of Bro. George at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh and a gospel worker Ashish Prabash in Punjab or the attack on the life of Fr. Thomas K.K. in the Archdiocese of Agra or the bomb attacks on certain churches in some southern states, the motive is the same. These crimes are committed in such an organized manner that they believe that the missionaries can be compelled to withdraw from their missionary activities. Since the target is the same religious community all over India the offenders are also suspected to be part of the same strategic conspiracy.
Though the state and central governments try to explain away such incidents as casual attempts of theft, the circumstantial evidences clearly prove the contrary. Home Minister L.K. Advani's assumption that these incidents are the results of cross border terrorism give no stuff for believing. His haste to blame Pakistan's Inter Service Intelligence or other foreign terroist group reponsible for such crime before any investigation is conducted points to the suspicious assumption whether he was in the know of those attacks in advance. The efforts of top B.J.P. leaders to solve the Sangh Parivar workers from any involvement in such criminal activities raises doubts in the minds of the secular thinking people. Certainly most of these incidents took place and became too frequent only after the present N.D.A. government assumed office in the centre. It is widely doubted whether the criminals are in any way sheltered by the government and its subsidary organisations.
The Sangh Parivar is apparently opposed to the spread and growth of Christianity in India. Organisations like the R.S.S., V.H.P. and Bajrang Dal are believed to be fanatically opposed to Christians in India. In many places they have openly exhibited their true colour. Incidentally B.J.P. is the big brother in the Sangh Parivar and the major party in the ruling coalition. Thus the B.J.P. led government has a moral obligation to restrain those indulging in anti-christian activities before it turns out to be a severe communal issue. So far the leaders have only tried to hush up the incident by describing it as only local issues. Also the different investigating agencies and commissions appointed by the government end up with findings that please their master. Even doubts are raised about the integrity regarding the working of the National Minorities Commission. Government's inability to punish the culprits boosts the spirit of such antisocial elements to indulge in further such crimes and get scot-free.
In the context of the increasing incidents of attacks against the christian missionaries and their properties it is necessary to investigate into the reasons for such happenings. The christians by their very mission are pro-poor. As Mahatma Gandhi said, for poor, God comes in the form of bread. The christian missionaries have always tried to redeem the poor people from the hardships of their poverty. This poverty is both external and internal. Tens of thousands of missionaries carry out this mission out of their love for Jesus Christ and not for anything else, not even for conversion. Conversion is not the motive but only the consequence of such missionary activities. This mission is misinterpreted and opposed by a group of people for their vested interests. They are afraid the poor will no more be their slaves. Thus they terrorize the christian missionaries to forcefully withdraw from their mission.
Today christianity is presented by a group of people as a Western religion forced upon Indians during the colonial period. Very few are aware that Indian christians are as old as Christianity itself. St. Thomos, the direct disciple of Jesus Christ came to India and preached christianity here soon after the death of Christ, i.e. in 52 A.D. After that many missionaries from different parts of the world preached Christian faith in India. The English missionaries came to India very late. But some authors describe christianity in India as an offshoot of British rule. Thus christianity is identified with the religion of the oppressive and immoral whites and the missionaries their representatives. Christianity with this image is opposed widely as a hangover of the anger against the British rulers. How different the things would have been if they knew the fact that India received Christ even before the West received Him.
The charitable, educational and medical institutions run by the Christian community are doing well in all parts of the country. Inspired by the success of Christian institutions some non-christians have begun to give Christian names to their instutions to lure the people. Out of mere jealousy, certian people have decided to tarnish the good image of the Christian instutions by implicating them in false allegations and litigations. They try to harass the persons related to such institutions. One such incident took place in the Archdiocese of Agra recently. They are often doing it at the behest of some others who want to bring up their instutions and make huge financial profits.
It is very clear that the presence of Christian missionaries in certain parts of the northern states is a threat to the vested interests of some people including politicians and business men. A missionary is a person for others, one who stands for Justice, spreads the message of equality and love, and cares for the down trodden. This is exactly what is mostly opposed. The murder of Rev. Sr. Rani Maria F.C.C. in broad day light with more then forty stabbings on her body near Indore in Madhya Pradesh a few years back reflects the cruel treatment meted out to those who promote social justice.
More than fifty years have passed after gaining freedom from the British rulers. Yet it is sad to state that India is still not completely free. As the great Indian poet Tagore said, the true freedom is where the mind is without fear. This freedom is not eqully and fully enjoyed by all the citizens of India today. More harm is done to the country by the self styled modern patriots than the colonial rulers. Unfortunately they are either close to the power brokers or part of the power itself. In this context the government of India has a leading role to tell the world that India is truly free and secular. It should protect the lives and faith of all Indians and above all ensure a sense of security in the minds of all who wish to follow one religion or other. The christians are not asking for any extra favour or generosity but their rights as children of Mother India.
Jai Yesu! Jai Bharat! (Praise Jesus! Praise India!)