By John Dayal
(UCA News) – It has been a year of fear in India. The trauma of massive deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic – bodies floating on the holy Ganges or waiting for their turn for hours at cremation sites – has not subsided.
At year’s end, fear of death in the pandemic may have been replaced by an uneasy feeling in the pit of the stomach for fear of being butchered by fanatic nationalist mobs whose screams were heard. the day of Christmas.
Politicians, government officials and police were content to watch, helpless or in complicit silence, as they had done in the spring of April and May.
On Christmas Day, speaking from a distance to the Sikh community who commemorated one of their gurus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a long look at the atrocities committed by medieval Muslim emperors on Hindus and Sikhs.
Even as he spoke, violent Hindu mobs, now referred to as Hindutva elements in a generic and politically correct collective expression, attacked churches, praying congregations and groups celebrating Christmas in 16 towns and villages across India. The incidents have covered states as diverse as Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi in the north to Assam in the far northeast and Karnataka in the south.
With these latest attacks, targeted anti-Christian violence this year has peaked at more than 400 separate incidents, with the United Christian Forum’s estimate putting it at perhaps 460.
The United Christian Forum, its legal partner Alliance Defense Freedom, Persecution Relief, and the Religious Liberty Commission of the Evangelical Fellowship of India all agree this is the highest total since the Orissa (now Odisha) pogroms. in 2007 and 2008. At that time, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata (BJP) party led vital ministries in Orissa in a coalition government.
This year, the physical violence has been accompanied by a strong structural dose of punitive legal measures, with Karnataka in the south joining several others in the north in targeting minorities.
Karnataka’s legislature has passed a law that virtually criminalizes religious conversions and targets Muslim and Christian men who might want to marry a Hindu woman. Ironically, these anti-conversion laws are officially called the Freedom of Religion Acts.
If the law is passed by the upper house, Karnataka will join Orissa, Arunachal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Rajasthan to have such laws in the statutes.
The laws are apparently against conversions (mainly to Christianity) by force or by fraudulent means, including monetary inducements, medical aid, and free education. But in recent times they have been refined to criminalize Muslims marrying Hindu women in what is called the “jihad of love”.
The laws have also been used against national icons such as the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity, who were created by the dreaded Mother Teresa, Nobel Laureate and Bharat Ratna, India’s highest national honor, and now a saint of Catholic Church. .
As of this writing, the foreign funding license of the congregation, which operates orphanages and homes for the dying and destitute in nearly all states, has been blocked by the Modi government. No reason was given.
Modi, who hugged Pope Francis when he called for the Vatican to travel to the world climate summit in Scotland, has remained silent.
He invited the Pope to India, a move that Hindutva organizations have fiercely opposed since the late Pope John Paul visited the country in 1999 to launch the document. Ecclesia in India.
Blocking funding for the sisters could well be a whistle for her supporters. It is quite possible that the license will be restored within a few months. The global institution is far too large to be taken lightly in such a summary matter.
Modi is also silent on targeted hatred with his supporters calling on Hindus as a whole to join in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Christians. These appeals have been made repeatedly by high-level religious leaders and in meetings called Dharm Sansads, or religious parliaments. One was held in mid-December in Haridwar on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, with another in Raipur, the capital of Chhattisgarh.
But a few months earlier, on September 29, Ayodhya’s Jagadguru Paramhans Das had announced that he was going to commit jal samadhi – commit suicide by immersion in water – unless the government declares India a Hindu nation by October 2. He also called for an end to the citizenship of Indian Muslims and Christians.
On September 21, he released a video calling for the murder of Christians and Muslims. In a Facebook Live session, he said, “Every Christian and Muslim will be kicked out. Any Hindu murdered will be avenged. Christians and Muslims who converted from Hindus, those Christians who killed Hindus, will be avenged. The end of Christians and Muslims has begun. We came here and there are a lot of swords and weapons to see.
The theme of the event in Haridwar was “The Future of Sanatan in Islamic India: Problems and Solutions”. As the media reported, many major religious leaders, right-wing activists, fundamentalist activists and Hindutva organizations gathered from December 17-19. For three days, this event was the scene of an extraordinary surge of hate speech and violent mobilisations.
“We have to prepare,” said Swami Prabodhanand Giri, president of the Hindu Raksha Sena, Uttarakhand. “Either you are preparing to die now or you are preparing to kill, there is no other way. Like in Myanmar, the police, politicians here, the military, and every Hindu have to pick up the weapons and do this cleanup. There is no solution other than that.
Sadhvi Annapurna (aka Pooja Shakun Pandey), abbot of Niranjani Akhara and secretary general of the Hindu Mahasabha, said: “Nothing is possible without weapons. If you want to eliminate their population, then kill them. Be ready to kill and be ready to go to jail.
The star participants included BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay and BJP leader Mahila Morcha Udita Tyagi.
Make no mistake, the call to eliminate Muslims in India and anti-conversion laws are genetically linked. Civil society in India is realizing this threat. Muslims are very worried. But large Christian organizations do not appear to be fully aware of the threat yet, with the exception of a few leaders such as Archbishop Peter Machado of Bangalore and Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi.
The international community has been shocked by the Indian government’s apparent crackdown on Mother Teresa’s sisters and their orphanages and destitute homes. The best international newspapers such as The temperature from London, New York Times and Washington post made headlines in the persecution of Christians and Muslims.
But Western governments are silent as they see India not only as their primary arms market, but also as a key strategic element in their fight against China’s expansion in the Asia-Pacific region.
The US State Department has ignored recommendations from the US Commission for International Religious Freedom to name India on its “red list” of countries engaged in “systematic, continuous and egregious” violations of religious freedom – for the sake of it. second year in a row. India is the United States’ only designated major defense partner.
This is the world at the end of 2021.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.