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HVK Archives: Believe us, we are not ill-treating them

Believe us, we are not ill-treating them - The Observer

S Gurumurthy ()
November 24, 1998

Title: 'Believe us, we are not ill-treating them'
Author: S Gurumurthy
Publication: The Observer
Date: November 24, 1998

'In India, more attacks on Christians' screamed the headlines in
Washington Post on page 29 on November 17, 1998. The popular
American newspaper said, "India is experiencing a new wave of
communal conflict. Hindus, who make up 82 per cent of the
country's 950 million people, are attacking Christians - a 2 per
cent minority - and their religious institutions." The Post
report was credited to Kenneth J Cooper.

Mark the words "82 per cent Hindus are attacking 2 per cent

Cooper further testified, "Harassment is greatest where the
Hindu nationalist sentiment prevails." However, no Christian has
been killed, Cooper - fairly conceded. And, no evidence of
religious motive was found in the rape of four Roman Catholic
nuns in central Madhya Pradesh in September, he added.

The last concession is important, that is, the nuns were not
raped because they were Christians. Why then did Cooper list it
amongst the acts against Christians?

But then, why will he not? When the secular press, leaders,
parties - not to, speak of the Christian clergy in India - had
themselves repeatedly claimed that the nuns were targeted
"because they were Christians," that they were victims of "the
communal forces," that they were targeted by "the BJP and its
front organisations," that the Jhabua episode highlighted "the
danger to the secular character of India."

When the Indian Express revealed that the Jhabua assaulters were
a gang of 24 dacoits, half whom were Christians, the secular
press was deafeningly silent, "Is that so!" exclaimed the editor
of a well-known secular paper.

The articles and comments on Jhabua in this paper must have
poisoned the minds of over a million readers. Yet, despite his
surprise at the revelation, he did not write one word to tell
his readers the truth that the rape was not of the Christians by
the communalists.

At least Cooper had the honesty to admit that there was no
evidence of religious motive in the Jhabua offence. Our secular
press did not do even that much. So much for the secular concern
for truth.

Nor did the Christian establishment in India cover itself with
glory on the Jhabua issue. They obviously relied on the secular
press and parties and reacted. They closed down schools all over
the country and took out children's Processions.

Whosoever conceived this idea is a brilliant communication
strategist. "Why is the school closed today?" was the question
in thousands of households. Not ordinary households, but houses
of several important people - opinion makers and other
influential people. The message to each such house was that
"Christians are subjected to harassment in India."

In fact, in a rally of mainly school children organised by the
Christian institutions in Bangalore, the placards showed that
"Christians are not safe in India." Was the rally in India or

Washington Post and Kenneth Cooper cannot write what the secular
press and the secular leaders in India or the Christian clergy
do not say.

If they withhold the truth, Cooper cannot be faulted for not
writing the truth.

Would the secular press and leaders ever realise that the lies
they spread about secularism being in danger might serve their
political cause here, but that can do a lasting damage to the
image of the country itself What is the cost and consequence of
this kind of 'secularism'?

"Believe us, we are not ill-treating the Christians" - the
Indian Embassy in Washington begs before the Americans in a
statement. "Believe us, the Christian community continues to
enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship and practice
their religion without any hindrance."

"Believe us, India's 23 million Christians are not under any
threat and the news reports which make out that they are, are
incorrect. Believe us, believe us...," this is how India is
beseeching the Americans.

This is what the secularists In India have done to the image of
India in America. For what? just to prove who is more secular
than the other and who Is communal?

Yes, there is an emotive issue, which the missionary activity
has thrown up in India. And that is conversion, which is
detested by many.

It is not simply whether conversion is a secular act or not.

For instance, an all-party protest has been planned in Nashik in
Maharashtra on November 24, 1998 to condemn the conversion of
tribals by the missionaries to Christianity and demanding a ban
on conversions.

Not just the Shiv Sena, but even the secular Congress, the more
secular Janata Dal and the most secular Communist Party of India-
Marxist are together in this protest.

Why do the Nashik parties protest against the conversions? This
is what the protesters say, "The missionaries are taking
advantage of the poverty and illiteracy of the tribals.

The tribals who were converted refused to contribute money and
grains to the annual tribal ritual 'Maulya.'

This has resulted in conflict within the tribals themselves."
This is what conversion does uproots the locals from the local
moorings and alienates them.

Even Mahatma Gandhi had opposed conversions. "Conversions are
harmful to India," the Mahatma had said, adding "If I had the
power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all
proselytising." So did Swami Vivekananda.

Washington Post now says that conversions free the tribals. Let
us see what The New York Herald wrote in 1893 referring to Swami
Vivekananda's presence in the World Parliament of Religions.

The Herald wrote, "He is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the
Parliament of Religions. After hearing him, we feel how foolish
it is to send missionaries to this learned nation."

See what the American press writes today when, not Swami
Vivekananda, but secular press and secular parties speak for

Yes, conversions do create conflict at the intellectual and the
social levels. This has to be debated. But whatever be our
differences, we should resolve them amongst us and not take it
to the United States.

We should do nothing, which would make us a divided house before
the world - but this is precisely what the secularists
persistently keep doing.

What is the lesson? The lesson is to be found in the sagely
advice of Yudhisthira in Mahabharata.

When Bhima and Arjuna were understandably happy at Duryodhana
and company being held captive by the Gandharvas, Yudhisthira
commanded them to get them released. Why?

"Because," Yudhisthira said, "when there is a third party, we
(the Pandavas) are not just five and they (the Kauravas) are not
just hundred, together we are hundred and five." (Vayam
panchadhikam shatam.)

Similarly, when it comes to the Americans or others, we should
be one. This is the lesson and this should be the attitude. Will
our secularists learn?

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