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Attacks On Christians? - Hindu Vivek Kendra

Ashok Chowgule ()
October 98.

Title: Attacks On Christians?
Author: Ashok Chowgule
Publication: Hindu Vivek Kendra
Date: October 98.

The Catholic church, with the help of their stooges in the media, has
undertaken a programme to politicise the attacks that have taken place
on Christians. In some cases, they have been successfully able to
divert the issue from the cause for which there is a retaliation against
the Christians. In other cases, purely secular crimes have been termed
as communal. This note will not analyse the various incidents but will
deal with this aspect of politicisation by narrating what happened in a
meeting in Mumbai on Oct 13, 1998.

This meeting, organised by the Bombay Catholic Sabha, was termed as a
protest meeting with the subject stated as: "Attacks on Christians - is
fundamentalism destroying the social fabric in the country?" It was
addressed by Teesta Setalvad, Asghar Ali Engineer, Madhu Deolekar and
the Archbishop of Mumbai. The first two are veritable RSS haters.
Setalvad took upon herself to attack the VHP, while Engineer trained his
guns on the BJP. Deolekar had left the BJP, after a very long
association, for internal political reasons. He placed the issues
properly, and to a certain extent brought some modicum of sanity to the
meeting. The Archbishop went on the standard church propaganda about
their alleged social service.

However, all this is nothing compared with what the representative of
the Bombay Catholic Sabha (BCS) did. He quoted from a writing of an RSS
intellectual to 'prove' that the organisation has an objective of
ethnically cleansing the minorities in this country. To understand the
perverted mind of this person, a little background of his is required.

His name is Hansel D'Souza. He was an office bearer of the BCS and is
still active with it. He conducted the meeting, and in this capacity he
spoke at the end. He was involved with a group which had a dialogue
with an RSS affiliate, Hindu Vivek Kendra (Kendra), some time back. The
basis of this dialogue was a booklet given by the Kendra to the then
Vice-President of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) about a lecture
given by a senior RSS functionary at a Catholic seminary in Pune. It
presented the RSS view of Hindutva, and the way it thinks Christians
should look at this ideology. The Vice-President said that if this was
the basis then there is no need for Christians to worry about Hindutva,
and requested for a dialogue. Spread over a period of about fifteen
months, the two groups met about six times. Each meeting lasted about
four hours.

At these meetings, the Kendra group gave a detailed exposition about
Hindutva, and also answered many questions posed to them. They also
responded to the anti-Hindutva material that was given to them, with a
view to give the RSS perspective on the issues raised. They gave us one
document which tried to present a picture that the RSS was deliberately
targeting, in a physical sense, the Christian churches in the
North-East. It was supposed to be a letter written by a senior BJP
office bearer working in the region. The Kendra established that it was
a forgery. Come the elections of March 1998, this document once again
surfaces in Delhi, in a newspaper whose editor is the National Secretary
of the AICU.

One of the feature of the meetings was that the Kendra answered all the
questions that were posed to them, and read all the material provided by
the Christian group. The Christian group did not reciprocate this
normal courtesy. In fact, even where the Kendra had responded in
writing to the anti-RSS material given, the same was not read by most of
the Christian group.

After the fourth meeting, the Kendra came across an article written by
Hansel D'Souza in a Christian monthly produced from Mumbai. Reading it,
the first reaction of the Kendra was how would the article have been
different if the dialogue had not taken place at all. The Kendra gave a
point by point response to the article. These responses had been
brought to the notice of D'Souza earlier. Perhaps it is in the nature
of the mind set of D'Souza that he would completely ignore and dismiss
the points raised by us. It was on this note that the meetings were
discontinued by us, since we felt that we were wasting our time.

Given this background, the perversion of D'Souza during the Protest
Meeting was to be expected. At the meeting, he read out the following
from an article written by a dedicated RSS activist, and published by
the Kendra:

"When we consider the Muslim and the Christian problem, three different
solutions appear before us. They are 1) to massacre them, 2) to drive
them out of the country, 3) to convert them all to Hinduism by an act of
Parliament. These methods appeal to different people in different
ways. They cite the examples of Bosnia or some countries in Africa
where ethnic cleansing was sought to be effected by violence and

The impression that D'Souza sought to give was that the programme of the
RSS was to indulge in ethnic cleansing of the minorities in India. The
intention was to brain wash the Christian community to think badly not
only of the RSS but also of the Hindus. All this is clear since D'Souza
did not read the lines that immediately followed the sentences quoted
above. They are:

"People who want these types of methods in our country are negligible.
Massacres are totally alien to the temper of Hinduism. Violence and
bloodshed do not fit in the Hindu religious outlook, which sees God in
every living being. We cannot therefore even think of the brutal
methods mentioned above."

The Kendra is not at all surprised that D'Souza should indulge in this
type of perversion. We have experienced the same from him during our
meetings. The Kendra thinks that in this case the Christian community
is at test. Will they remain silent in the face of such slander being
caste against the RSS and the Hindus? The Christian community has to
remember that what D'Souza, a community member, has said was in a
community meeting organised by a community association. They cannot try
to fool the Hindus by saying that these are D'Souza's personal
opinions. Even if they are his personal opinions, it is for the
Christian community to let the RSS and the Hindus know that they are his
personal opinion, and disown them.

The Hindu community awaits a response from the Christians which will
show how they wish to co-exist in a secular India. One of the articles
given by the Christian group to us was authored by Fr George M
Soares-Prabhu. We would like to quote a paragraph from it:

"Whether mediaeval as distinct from modern Hinduism was 'exclusivist' or
not, it was certainly not intolerant in the way that Christianity and
Islam were. Hindu sects may have thought of themselves as superior to
other sects, in that they possessed the 'true' interpretation of the
Vedas, but (unlike Christiani-ty and Islam) they rarely felt the need to
eliminate them! There is nothing in the history of Hinduism or Buddhism
to compare with the obsessive ferocity of Christianity and Islam in
their persecution of other religions or of dissi-dent groups within
their own religious tradition. 'The three Judaic reli-gions,' comments
Toynbee, 'have a record of intolerance, hatred, malice,
un-charitableness and persecution that is black in comparison with
Buddhism's [and, I would add, Hinduism's] record.'"

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