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Time to Defend Minorities

P. A. Chacko P. A. Chacko
10 Jan 2022

The nation is on the verge of a civil war. This is the opinion of those who watch the political scenario of the country today. The reason, they point out, is quite evident to every sensible person. Religious fanaticism with political blessings has raised its ugly fangs threatening to wipe out India’s minority communities. 

The Muslim community has been the worst affected so far. Open hatred towards them unleashed by Hindu right-wing groups has been creating ugly and horrendous scenes. Vilification campaigns, false litigations, open attacks by hooligans, lynching, demolishing their buildings, declaring open threats to eliminate them are just a few examples. 

In a heightened frenzy to defend themselves by violent means of even killing Muslims, the Hindus are advised by Sadhus and politicians to take to arms to wipe Muslims out. Men of conscience ask if this is not a call for genocide or a civil war, what else it is. The fourteen per cent Muslim population will be compelled to defend themselves under the Constitutional provisions. 

Now they are turning to Christians. In the states where the Hindu right-wing group is ruling, the politicians are using their foot soldiers to intimidate Christians, desecrate and destroy their worshiping shrines, break their religious statues, chase out praying groups and conduct bhajans in Churches, attack pastors, get Christian leaders and pastors arrested on false charges, and so on. 

In a study on attacks on the Christian community, it has been found that in 2014, the year of Narendra Modi’s ascend to power as the Prime Minister, there were 127 attacks. The number steadily increased. In 2015 it rose to 142; in 2016 it was 226; in 2017 it reached 248; in 2018 it became 292; in 2019 it climbed to 328; in 2020 it showed 279, and in 2021 there were more than 470 instances.  

What does this indicate? No one can deny that there is a planned sinister move to threaten, chase, intimidate and wipe out the Christian community. Parmatmanand Maharaj’s instruction to his fanatic followers to arm themselves with axes against Christians is a clear example. In some instances, the attackers point blank told the Christians, ‘You don’t belong here. Pack up and go’. The message is clear: ‘Father Mukt Bharat’ and ‘Chadar Mukt Bharat.’ 

What are the implications? The minorities are an unwanted entity in this nation! That the Hindus only matter! The Hindu Rashtra should include only the Hindus. In others words, they want to eliminate other communities even by violent means or through a cleanliness drive. The Hindu religious state they propagate is of a political agenda and they want to establish it by violent means. 

If this is not a declaration of open war against minority communities, what else can we call it? It is indeed a provocation to civil war, a threat to the nation’s integrity and internal security. It is an anti-national threat that should attract the UAPA.  Even Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the nation, is not spared. Godse, the killer of Gandhiji, is openly hailed as a divine entity and Gandhiji is tarnished as an enemy of the nation since ‘it was because of him the partition took place.’ The Godse followers are swelling in their number and Gandhiji has become the butt of their abuse. The nerve-chilling incident of shooting at Mahatma’s effigy by the Hindu Mahasabha zealots, led by Puja Shakun Pandey, on Gandhiji’s martyrdom anniversary in 2019 was a hate-filled dastardly act, to say the least. Many have also wondered if the State is not using its police force as a tool to enforce its right-wing agenda. Only because of public hue and cry some arrests are made as eye wash and the arrested are set free under bail. 

What should be the response of the Christian community at this predicament? First of all, the Christians and their leadership should express their serious concerns at the fast-deteriorating situation of the country. Should they stand unaffected and watch from the sidelines the destruction of the nation that is happening at breakneck speed? What have they said about the right-wing agenda of rewriting the Constitution of the land?  What response have they made about the man-made rising cost of living which has made the poor victims of exploitation and poverty? What concerns have they raised about the right-wing attempts to desecularise the nation by foisting the idea of Hindu Rashtra? What concern did they express when Muslim citizens were hounded as anti-nationals, attacked and killed in cold blood? 

It appears that Christians are a frightened group quietly watching Neroes fiddling while the nation is burning! Have our feelings for the good of the nation become numb? We expect something else from our violet-capped princes of the Church. We ordinary Christians want them to show pastoral leadership by standing up and acting at least when their sheep are getting butchered and quartered by political hounds. Can the church leaders come out of the secure precincts and lead the people to raise their voice against the rising atrocities? 

The Indian Currents has something relevant to say in its editorial: ‘The Church hierarchy does not seem to have grasped the gravity of the situation. They are yet to realize that sand is slipping beneath their feet.’ It warns that knee-jerk reaction is not the need of the other. Rather, all the Christian factions should come under one umbrella and call for a stop to all right-wing atrocities and to the government’s studied silence.

The entire world is talking about the eroding situation in India. Foreign press has bold headlines questioning the happenings in India.  A host of ex-army Chiefs, Air Marshals, Vice Admirals, Major Generals, Colonels, Ex-IPS, IFS and IAS officers, journalists, professors, scholars, economists, etc. have risen to the occasion by raising their fears to the President of India. They have requested him to take serious note of the genocidal calls against the minorities and the murderous attacks by rightwing groups. 

Their letter said: “We are seriously perturbed...at the repeated calls for establishing a Hindu Rashtra, and if required, picking up weapons and killing of India’s Muslims in the name of protecting Hinduism...We cannot allow such incitement to violence together with the public expression of hate-which not only constitute serious breaches of internal security, but which could also tear apart the social fabric of our nation...The call to police and army to pick up weapons to participate in the cleanliness drive amounts to asking the army to participate in the genocide of our own citizens. It is condemnable and unacceptable. We call upon the Government, the Judiciary and the Parliament to protect the integrity of our country.”

But what is the Christian leadership doing to make its voice heard?  They came for Muslims, and we kept quiet. They distorted historical facts by telling the Adivasis that they were Hindus and Adivasi Christians were ordered to ‘Ghar Wapsi’ purification ceremony. We kept quiet. They ill-treated the Dalits and treated them as dirt. We kept quiet. Now they are at our door steps gunning for us. Who is there to save us? Here again our Christian leadership seems to be failing us. Is it basking in the memory of Modi hugging the Pope in the Vatican? If so, they are totally mistaken. 

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