Christians Are Not Under Attack In India
All the so-called attacks on churches, which were hyped up recently on many TV channels, turned out to have been minor crimes unconnected with “Hindu extremists”. In other countries, they would hardly find space in the local paper. Why were they flogged for days on TV channels?
There is probably no other country where members of other religions were as safe as in India. Hindus always gave shelter to those who were persecuted in their homelands. Jews gratefully acknowledged that India is the one country where they were never persecuted. Syrian Christians under their leader Thomas of Cana (Thomas the Apostle did not come to India) were given refuge in the 4th century. Parsis came in the 10th century to escape the Muslim invaders in Persia. And in 1959, some 100,000 Tibetan Buddhist refugees found shelter in India – only 12 years after the British had left the country, divided and poverty-stricken.
In contrast, the rich USA with an area three times the size and only a quarter of India’s population allowed only in 1991 one thousand Tibetan families to enter.
Indians never hesitated to accept those who were in trouble and who wanted to preserve their faith because they did not distinguish between human beings on religious lines. Their attitude was that all belong to one big human family and all have the same divine essence in them. For them “religion” was not an identity but a natural, ideal way of life.
So what happened that nowadays there is a lot of talk that Christians are under attack in India? Have Hindus become intolerant?
No. Hindus have not changed. All the so called attacks on churches which were hyped up recently on many TV channels turned out to have been minor crimes unconnected with “Hindu extremists”. In other countries they would hardly find space in the local paper. Why were they flogged for days on TV channels? Why were Christian spokesmen given plenty of airtime to falsely blame the “Hindu right” and claim that Christians are under attack? There seems to be an agenda by the Churches and it would need to be investigated why so many TV channels obliged. A smashed glass pane outside one church, a fire due to short circuit in another church, a theft of 8000 Rupees in a convent school, stones thrown by a mixed group of Hindus and Muslim surely don’t warrant hours of hyped coverage.
Delhi Incidents Myths And Facts
Is the Christian community in Delhi under threat now, as the Narendra Modi-led BJP is at the Centre? Since December 2014, incidents related to attacks on churches all over India and Delhi in particular, have been widely reported and commented upon by the media, both global and local. Even US President Barack Obama, during his visit to India on Republic Day celebrations, chose to pinpoint the issue of religious intolerance in India in his ‘Town Hall’ speech. While he made no specific mention of the BJP being responsible, his comments were widely read as a veiled critique of the Modi government.
Since December last year, five specific incidents of so-called attacks on churches in Delhi have been doing rounds in the news circle, which were further attributed to rise in alleged ‘Hindu extremism’ under the present government. But what we need to ascertain is the difference between the myths and facts in these cases.
The first of these five alleged attacks, which resulted in the burning of St. Sebastian Church in Dilshad Garden in East Delhi, is currently being under investigation by a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Home Ministry shortly after the incident occurred in December.
The second reported case took place in Jasola in Southwest Delhi, where it was alleged that a group of miscreants threw a stone and shattered a window pane. The investigation into the incident by the police found out that it was due to a group of kids playing outside, which resulted in a stone landing inside the church. There is no evidence as yet of any communal angle.
The third incident was reported in Rohini in West Delhi, in which it was alleged that the miscreants tried to disrupt harmony between people by burning the Christmas crib, which was later determined by the police to be the result of an electrical short circuit.
The fourth alleged incident happened in Vikaspuri, in which a small group of men allegedly vandalised a church, but which turned out to be the result of a drunken stupor. Furthermore, the incident was caught on CCTV and the accused was arrested shortly thereafter by the police and he confessed to the crime. Again, there’s no evidence whatsoever of a communal angle.
The fifth and most recent incident, in Vasant Vihar, of a burglary at a Catholic Church, has been determined by the police to be a case of theft–Rs. 8,000 was reported to have been stolen–again, no communal angle.
According to the Delhi Police’s own records, as pointed out by Firstpost.com, in 2014 there were 155,654 incidents of crime in the city, of which there were 10,309 burglaries and 42,634 “other” incidents of theft, which do not involve motor vehicles or houses. Total crimes reported almost doubled from 2013 to 2014. Significantly, it’s not just churches that are periodically vandalised and robbed in India. With incidents of theft alone, according to the Delhi Police, 206 temples, 30 gurdwaras and three churches (out of some 200 or more churches in Delhi) and 14 mosques were ransacked in 2014. And it’s pretty much clear that such crimes didn’t start with the Modi government coming to power. As the Delhi Police data shows, these are routine affairs which occur every year in Delhi.
By Nilabh Krishna
Yes, there was also the break-in into a convent school in West Bengal, where not only 1,2 million Rupees were stolen but a 72 year old nun was allegedly gang raped.
This was shameful no doubt and this news reached in no time all corners of the world. It fitted well into the image that had already been crafted over the last 2 years – of India as a rapists’ nation. The Vatican radio spoke of India’s shame which went viral on the internet. It turned out that Bangladeshi Muslims, probably encouraged by the Pakistani secret service, were behind it.
Typically, the media fell silent. The BBC ran a scroll that an arrest has been made in the nun gang rape in India. They didn’t mention that he was a Bangladeshi Muslim. Neither the Vatican, nor the cardinal or the bishop apologized for their wrong, greatly publicized pre-judgment of the case that it was connected with the Hindu re-conversion drive of RSS and VHP.
The campaign of media and Christian representatives against “Hindu extremists” is not likely to end soon. New incidents will come up and the Christian spokesmen will again peddle the “truth” that under Narendra Modi as Prime Minister the Hindus are emboldened to “attack” Christians in hate crimes and that Christians feel helpless and insecure. The TV anchors will continue to prod them: “Do you feel unsafe in India?” and all Christian spokesmen will again reply “Yes” and claim that hate crimes have increased since Modi came to power.
There are other voices, too, who do not take part in this back stabbing of their Hindu brothers and, probably closer to the truth, blame the Christian clergy for trying to sow discord between communities. Yet those Christians, like Robert Rosario or Hilda Raja, are not likely to get an invitation to represent the Christian side, because they wouldn’t further the agenda to portray Hindus in poor light.
Mainstream media has tremendous power to shape opinions. Churches have tremendous financial and political clout. Both obviously cooperate to portray Hindus as intolerant and hateful of other religions—contrary to facts. There is a third power that wants India to get a bad image the world over, at least as bad as its own image is. It is Pakistan. The Sunday Guardian of 21th
March exposed that the Pakistani secret service increased its budget six-fold to achieve the goal that India is put into the same bracket with Pakistan on human rights issues and downgraded by the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
This goal has already been achieved in regard to projecting India as a rapist country. In the west, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh are now seen as being on the same level. In fact, India stands out negatively: it is openly thrashed for its ‘anti-women attitude’, while it is politically incorrect to thrash Muslim countries. The German professor who quoted India’s rape culture as reason to reject an Indian shows the huge damage that this false portrayal of India has done.
Unfortunately, India did nothing to put the issue into perspective when the maligning campaign started, and it seems that India again does nothing to prevent an equally damaging, also false perception that Hindus are prone to hate crimes against Christians. Sometimes I wonder whether Indians are even aware how detrimental to India’s image abroad the media campaign has already been.
At least the government, if not the public at large, would know that India is neither in the top league of rape countries, nor are Hindus known for hate crimes and discrimination against members of other religions.
They would know that India has presently a population of 1270 million, and that it is unfair to compare absolute numbers of crimes with other countries. If the crimes that happen in the USA, Canada, in all European countries including Russia plus Australia were added up, then they could be compared with the number of crimes that happen in India. Can the media be made to give a balanced reporting on the issues it takes up? Does anyone remember the hype that media created about AIDS some 20 years ago? “India second only to South Africa” they screamed. Nobody mentioned that India had 1000 and South Africa 50 million inhabitants.
If the media were fair, they would discern that the charge of 160 hate crimes against Christians in the last 10 months, especially when those include theft and a stone thrown by a drunkard, is no reason to shout “Christians don’t feel safe in India”? Why do they play into the hands of the west which will be pleased to get a stick to beat India with?
In England, there were over 1,000 hate crimes only against Jews in the last year. This would equal over 20,000 hate crimes in India if it is put in proportion to the population. In USA, several Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were killed only because they were Sikhs, Hindus or Muslims. Should the USCIRF not put the US and Europe on its watch list, before it even thinks of condemning India?
There are several indicators that clearly show that Christians are not persecuted in India and are even pampered: The percentage of Christians keeps increasing. Their places of worship multiply manifold and are free from government interference, unlike Hindu temples. Many Christians are in high positions. Missionaries have the guts to openly declare that they want to plant hundred thousand churches in India and “evangelize the whole country in this generation” (from a Christian youth magazine called “Blessings”). Christians and other minorities are privileged and get special benefits like scholarships, etc. Christians can teach the catechism in their schools to Christian students, while ethic teachers in those schools must not mention Sri Krishna, or Hindu philosophy to Hindu students. Compare this with the situation in Pakistan and it becomes evident that the “operation equal blame” depends entirely on spreading falsehood and manipulating the world opinion.
How to counter this mischievous agenda? Certainly not by going on the defensive and giving special attention to Christians. “Justice for all, appeasement for none” is the way to go. The nun gang rape has been carried to the eight corners of the world as a ‘communal crime’ because the victim was a Christian. How would the kin of a Hindu girl feel who has been raped and maybe even killed by Muslims or Christians, yet neither the media nor even the police take any interest in the case, because it is not communal enough when Hindus are at the receiving end? Crimes need to be treated as crimes and religion should be out of consideration.
Operation Equal Blame
According to a report in The Sunday Guardian through analysts based within the territories of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Ranaghat incident, where along with a robbery of 1.2 million rupees and a 72-year-old Catholic nun was raped by three young men, was carried out through an extremist organisation based at Khulna in Bangladesh.
The organisation “used recruits from two different faiths for the operation, and arranged their return to Bangladesh within hours of the atrocity”, thereby making it harder to apprehend actual perpetrators of the incident. More disturbingly, these sources allege that a section of the local police in the vicinity of the school “was aware of the planned operation, and agreed to ensure safe passage” to the perpetrators. They, however, denied that any political party had a role to play in the heinous crime, which has traumatised the peaceful and progressive Christian community throughout India. “Elements in the local police ensured that the follow-up action (after the rape) was first delayed and then taken in such a fashion that evidence got destroyed” and that “even though the extremist youth shown on the CCTV cameras were moving around in the neighbourhood for six days before the assault, the local police failed to bring in residents of the area who could have identified them”. They claim that after such a botch-up of the initial leads in the case, “only the usual suspects will get rounded up by the CBI, which is relying on the local police for assistance in solving a crime that the latter allowed to take place”, and hence “the actual planners and facilitators of the attack will escape”.
This incident should be seen in an altogether different framework. In the last 10 months of Narendra Modi’s government coming to power, many attempts have been made to characterise the government’s ideology synonymous with the so-called Hindu extremism. According to the report, GCC-based analysts opine that since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power at the Centre on 26 May 2014, Pakistan’s ISI has increased its budget by six times for Operation Equal Blame, designed to ensure that India and Pakistan share the same brackets on issues of human rights highlighted by the international community. According to these GCC-based analysts, who track the activities in Bangladesh and Nepal of the ISI and its associated groups internationally, the organisation has since 2011 set up a budget to fund attacks on Christian organisations and priests in India, so as to ensure that the international media reports India in the same way as it does Pakistan, a country where the Christian community has been discriminated against since the 1980s and where members of the community are routinely killed or converted through threats. Such activities have sharply stepped up since the middle of last year.
The report claims that, through a US-based security analyst, over the past four years, the ISI has liaised through its associates with NGOs and individuals worldwide to “facilitate the preparation of reports which seek to show that India is a country where Christians and Muslims are grossly discriminated against”, pointing out that the effort is to ensure that the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) succeeds in lobbying the US government to place India in the same bracket as Pakistan when the Obama administration makes public its report on international religious freedom by the end of this month. “From New York to Geneva to London, squads from the ISI have been active in ensuring that a stream of misinformation reaches policymakers about the situation in India”, a process in which they have been aided by several well-intentioned individuals and groups who have jumped onto conclusion that “India is fascist” bandwagon being propelled by some politicians in India eager to discredit the Modi government.
It can now be said most certainly that whoever indulges in violence which can be construed as hate crimes, such as the recent attacks on Christian institutions across India, are promoting the ISI’s Operation Equal Blame and are giving India a bad name in the international arena. (NK)
Hindus have no reason to be defensive. Spokesmen are dishonest when they claim that Christian are unsafe in India. It will be difficult to find any other country where Christians in minority are as safe and pampered, as among Hindus. If someone needs to be on the defensive, it is the Christian clergy and they may know it. Maybe that is the reason why they act as bullies in tune with the dictum ‘attack is the best defense’. They will stop playing the bully only when they perceive their opponent as strong.
Strength here doesn’t mean to bully back. It simply means to be clear, stick to truth and stick to dharma. It also means not to be afraid to point out the adharmic, divisive aspects in Christianity.
We live in the 21st century when science has discovered that there are different levels to reality. The apparent variety in this universe is based on uniform oneness. Our deepest essence is made of the same stuff, as it were. The Indian rishis knew this, ages ago. Where then is there place for a huge fire where billions or maybe trillions of heathens will burn for eternity after the Day of Judgment?
What is more of a hate crime: when a stone is thrown at a church by a drunkard or when respected clergy declare without any proof that Hindus are damned to eternal hellfire if they don’t become a member of the Church, and when they brainwash Christian children to believe this? Will TV anchors be outraged at such discriminatory, baseless allegation which can lead to real hate crimes? Will Hindus (and other heathen like Buddhists, atheists, etc.) demand an answer from the Churches?
Christians who originally came as refugees, and later went berserk during the Goan Inquisition, are now on a well-planned mission with huge funds from the west to change the broad-minded attitude of Hindus from “We revere ALSO Jesus” to a narrow-minded “We revere ONLY Jesus”?
Contempt and intolerance for other religions is inbuilt in Christianity. Its goal is clear: all must follow Christ. Hinduism must disappear. If they say something else in Interfaith Dialogues, it is deception. The spread of Christianity is not in India’s interest. It is not in humanity’s interest either.
Hinduism unlike Christianity and Islam, has no agenda and never had an agenda to wipe out other religions. In India, there always were innumerable paths to the one truth. It is India’s job not only to honour their valuable heritage and educate their own people and the world about it, but also prevent their people from being deceived, threatened or allured by unfair means to a divisive ideology.
The Churches don’t succeed anymore to enforce belief in unreasonable dogmas among Christians in the west, yet their financial and political power is mind boggling. They have plenty of funds to defame Hindus and Hinduism the world over. India is no equal in this fight, as most of her own media seems to have switched sides.
Maybe the Prime Minister himself needs to point out on his visit to Europe that Christian Churches are on a massive conversion spree in India because they have this strange and baseless notion that otherwise Hindus go to hell. They should relax. Hindus won’t go to hell. Most Europeans will agree with him.
However, I don’t know how much damage the media campaign “Christians are under attack” has already done. I just checked with a cousin in Germany. Yes, he heard already that there were attacks on Christians in India…
By Maria Wirth
(Maria Wirth is a German, came to India in 1980 & writes on India’s spiritual tradition)