“Christians Are Completely Safe In India”
“This government has investigated all the cases and the culprits have been booked most of the time,” KJ Alphons, a former IAS officer and Member, National Executive, BJP, said during a conversion with Rohan Pal regarding various issues from the myth about the recent attacks on churches to the security of Christians in India. Excerpts:
Whenever there is a non-Congress government in India, incidents like those happening in Delhi start rising. It happened in 70s when Janata government was there and more recently in Karnataka in 2008 while BJP was in government. Why is it so that every time only one community is targeted in this violence?
When BJP comes to power attacks on churches increase—it is not correct. The number of attacks has not gone up; the intensity has not gone up. If you analyse the number during the past 10 months it has not gone up at all. Now if you see the number of cases in which the investigation has been done and the culprits have been caught in the past 10 months, then you will come to know that the cases have been investigated much better. In fact, most of the culprits have been caught, which was not seen during the Congress rule. There is a much better investigation, i.e. arrest of culprits during the present BJP rule. So, this is all some kind of fear psychosis, which is created by a section of media and by some section of the society, which do not like the BJP. They basically want to create a fear psychosis that when Modi and BJP come to power the minorities are in sheer danger.
It is said that the churches in India have well-planned mission with huge funds from the West to carry out silent conversion. Also, the Niyogi Committee Report of 1956 held the activities of Christian missionaries and conversions to be a threat to India. Do you think there is an international agenda for it?
No there are two-three things. One is that Christianity has been in India for 2000 years. Before it went to Europe, before it went to Italy, which is a seat of Catholic Church, it came to India. In 52 AD, one of the disciples of Christ, Saint Thomas came to India and the Syrian church was established. So the Indian church is the oldest Christian church in the world. And therefore, some people saying that this is the new church which was established in India will be wrong. The Syrian church is a very Indian church. It is not a church which is transplanted somewhere else from Europe or anywhere else. It is the Indian church which follows Indian traditions. Secondly, the church does not receive any money from outside. The Syrian church in India is one of the richest churches in the world. We don’t need anybody’s money but we send a lot of money out of India. Syrian churches are not getting any assistance from anywhere else. If you look at the Christians in India, then 90 per cent of the Christians in India are Syrian Christians. If you are talking about the church in India then let’s talk about the oldest church in India and not about the new converts which are very few. When you say Christian in India, you talk about new converts, Anglo-Indians in India. It is not Christianity in India. Christianity in India has very deep roots.
Let’s talk about the percentages. In 1951 census, Christians were 2.9 per cent. As per the 2011 census, Christians are only 2.3 per cent or even less. Christians have come down dramatically in India. Therefore, there is no reason for anyone to fear. So this is again the fear psychosis which is created that India will be converted into Christianity and that very large-scale conversions are taking place, which is not true. Basically, what are Christians doing in India? They are running institutions and hospitals in the most remote areas where nobody goes. They are running orphanages, old-age homes, homes for the destitute etc. So they are doing fantastic service for humanity. And I think this is something that the government has to appreciate. And if they had been converting, then their percentage should have gone up, not come down so dramatically. So, I think nobody has anything to fear from the church. And therefore, all these talks about large-scale conversions and there is huge amount of money coming in for conversion are not true. At the same time, I believe our Prime Minister has categorically said that the Constitution of India is very clear that anybody has the right to believe in anything they want. So, accordingly, this ghar wapsi is also fine if you have the right to believe in anything you want to. You become a Christian, you become a Muslim. Tomorrow you want to become a Buddhist and if you want to go back in what you believed earlier, it is completely fine and you have the constitutional rights to do so. And therefore, I do not really see any problem with ghar wapsi either. That is also a constitutional right. So I don’t think that anybody including Christians should make noise over ghar wapsi. If you have the right to convert, then you also have the fundamental right to go back.
And thirdly, a very senior police officer who has done a very distinguished service in the police, Julio Ribeiro wrote an article saying that he feels insecure in India. He has done a great job and he was a fantastic IPS officer but I think whatever he is saying is untrue. Therefore, the accusation of Julio Ribeiro that he feels insecure in this country, Christian community completely feels insecure in this country is a completely wrong allegation. My community is completely with Prime Minister. See, there are fringe elements in every religion and there are some in Christian community as well. They say that Modi is anti-Christian, is anti-Islam. No, we don’t think so. When our PM says that he will protect everybody in this country, we believe him.
Rape and paedophilia within the church have taken such horrific epidemic from across continents that finally even the UN was forced to slam the Vatican in its report stating that the Vatican’s policies allowed priests to rape. What do you have to say about it?
Yes, there have been many cases of Catholic priests being involved in sexual harassment of children. Hence, Vatican needs to take a serious action against it. The present Pope is completely ruthless in these kinds of cases. He has made it clear that in no case would there be any compassion in any of those cases. Yes, I understand that in past serious action was not taken against these priests and they got away. But that won’t be the case in future. The Pope has said that any allegation would be looked into and if there is any violation of the right of any child that will be taken very seriously.
Do you think Christians are safe in India?
I believe Christians are completely safe in India. See, there are the beautiful churches, massive churches in the country. I think those criminals, who travel at night after having a couple of drinks, feel like throwing stones on to these beautiful buildings. They are criminals. I won’t hold the whole society or any community responsible for that. These are anti-social elements that are present in every religion. How can we say that any particular community is responsible for that? This will be unfair. These are the criminal elements. This government has investigated all the cases and the culprits have been booked most of the time. So, I would say that the government is doing a good job. And the communal elements should be isolated in every community.