US senators and their misplaced concern for India’s Christians – Hilda Raja

US Capital Building

Lady Professor Icon“Hinduism does not inspire terrorism. The US senators are totally off the mark regarding Hinduism and its teachings. They prefer to be blind to the fact that only the religions of the Book are terror inspiring.” – Dr. Hilda Raja

A group of 21 lawmakers of the US has written to Naveen Patnaik the chief minister of Orissa expressing concern over the alleged intimidation of Christians in the communally divided Kandhamal region and the possibility of the perpetrators of the violence going scot-free.

“Given the recent experience with religiously inspired terrorism, we’re concerned that if Hindu extremists can act with impunity toward religious minorities in India, these extremists and their ideologies will begin to affect international security as well”, write the senators.

It is shocking that the US senators have overstepped political probity and exposed their ignorance of historical facts and the present reality. They have no right to address such a concern-dripping letter to a chief minister of India. They could take their concern to world bodies if they felt a genuine concern.

But the whole concern seems to be based on a lopsided perception and deeply entrenched vested interest.

If the concern for violation of  minorities’ rights was genuine then the concern cannot be selective. It should have expressed itself when Hindu minorities were being tortured and harassed in Pakistan, where slaying and maiming of Hindus goes on without a complaint.

In Malaysia the Muslims have threatened bloodshed over the building of a Hindu temple; in Bangla Desh the Hindus are treated as second class citizens and an ethnic cleansing is on in full swing. No voice is raised against this by the lawmakers of the US or by human rights organizations? Bangla Desh has dared to kill many journalists and members of the minority Hindu and Christian communities. Are the lawmakers of the US and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom simply ignorant of these crimes or do they prefer to reserve their concern only for Kandhamal Christian communal riot victims.

It is rather a travesty of truth when they term the Hindu rioters as Hindu extremists. Either the vocabulary is wrong or the lawmakers are ignorant of the meaning of these words. Hinduism does not inspire terrorism. The lawmakers are totally off the mark regarding Hinduism and its teachings, and also prefer to be blind to the fact that only the religions of the Book are terror inspiring. This is proved by world history and today’s scenario of violence. If the Hindus were extremists then how come for generations they have been on the receiving end? Can these concerned law makers point out one instance when the Hindus were on the offensive?

Be it Gujarat, Orissa, or Malegaon in Maharastra it has been a backlash from a group of Hindus to avenge the attack on Hindus.

This is not to justify such attacks and rioting but to understand human psychology. Take the number of terrorists’ attacks all over India by Muslims. Is this not a matter of concern? Hindus are
driven to a corner and need to fight back to survive. The present Indian government with its craze for power has adopted a vote bank policy leading to minority appeasement governance. No people with an iota of self respect will allow themselves to be the sacrificial goats on the altar of power. (Have the US lawmakers forgotten the perpetrators of the horrifying demolition of the World Trade Center?).

Take for example the Gujarat riots. What triggered them? Why were 58 poor Kar Sevaks roasted and charred to death in closed train compartments? There was no shedding of tears for them, no compensation, and no attempt to understand the cause of the heinous crime. On the other hand the backlash which set off the communal riots in Gujarat shook the whole world and its “concern”-filled consciences.

 

Narendra Modi with his Muslim constituency.Gujarat chief minister Modi has been blamed; indeed, the step motherly treatment meted out to Modi and his government is there for people to see. The USA has refused a visa for him. It is an insult to the people of Gujarat who elected him twice as their chief minister. It proves the deep prejudice against Modi and the state of Gujarat. New Delhi has conspired with the USA in this. Otherwise, it is a matter if diplomacy and foreign affairs and the prime minister should have taken up the case and demanded an apology from the USA for refusing a visa to a constitutionally elected chief minister of one of the Indian states. Again, this goes to prove beyond doubt the deep seated bias of the US government and the UPA government in New Delhi

Take the Kandhamal riots which left 40 persons dead. It would be in the cause of justice if the names of the victims are published. Among those affected were also Hindus, though fewer in number than the Christian victims. The home minister does not offer even words of condolence for the dead.

Does religion differentiate the value of human lives? So it is not as though the perpetrators were Hindus and the victims of violence were Christians. It is a mob reaction to the brutal murder of a much revered 83 year old swamiji and three Hindu nuns within their ashram in front of terror stricken children. It is natural that there was an outrage at this and a giving vent to this gruesome murder. But a mob has no rational and in the violence a Christian nun was allegedly raped. This became the blot and shame on India according to our prime minister, when the European Union expressed its “concern”.

What goes beyond one’s comprehension is the fact that Hindus have never been on the offensive. But to expect the Hindu organizations to silently watch the perpetration of violence and harassment against the Hindu community is absurd.

The ethnic cleansing in Jammu & Kashmir is not an issue with the lawmakers of the US and the human rights organizations. The Hindu Pundit community have been systematically killed off and the rest driven out of their homes to refugee camps. It is for a record of sorts that the decimation of the Pundits of Kashmir is mentioned.

But the primary case against the lawmakers of the US is that it is none of their business. Simple courtesy would demand that they mind their own business and if their “concerned” consciences are too heavy to carry then they should unload their burden through right channels. They are lawmakers and have forgotten the process of law. They are even unaware of diplomacy and overstep their boundaries by directly writing to a chief minister of an Indian state.

It is also a case of the pot calling the kettle black, and finally it is because these lawmakers and the Christian organizations need to keep the tempo of alleged harassment against Christians at a high decibel for two reasons:

One, because they want to proselytize the Hindu “aggressors” since many of them believe that it is their God-given command to “go ye and baptize all the nations in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

This command was reinforced recently by the Pope when on Mission Sunday he called upon the Catholic Church to make every one the disciple of Jesus. But what is baffling is why the focus is on India to operate this command. Why not go to China or the Middle East, and why not nearer at home to bring back to the Church the lapsed western Christians.

The second reason is finance and politics – enormous sums of money are involved in this business of proselytizing. It is one of the most lucrative global businesses. Lucre and political power go hand in hand.

Though Christians are aware that Jesus said “you cannot serve two masters”. they conveniently forget the message conveyed through the Temptations in the desert to suit their own vested interests.

Obama also has a Christian agenda for South AsiaFinally it is relevant for the US Commission on International Religious Affairs to note that no harassed community, no intimidated community will go a church building spree. Why not make a survey of the number of churches built in the last ten years throughout India?

It is a myopic perception to see what you want to see simply because it suits your vested interest. One hopes that all those who have “concern” will also have justice and that demands to uphold the truth – nothing but the truth.

All human life is sacred and unique – be it Hindu or Christian or Muslim. Peace cannot prevail if justice is hijacked in the name of the religious minorities. India is a land of diverse faiths, a cradle which has nurtured all faiths. It is a land of refuge which welcomed all peoples of other faiths who when persecuted in other countries made India their home. Hence it would be unjust and far from truth to target the Hindus and make them perpetrators of intolerance and tag them as Hindu extremists.

Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and it has an inbuilt tolerance and a precept that other religions are the different paths which lead to the Paramartha. Hence they will not bulldoze other religious paths to create a “one way” or “one path” society. The sooner Christians and Muslims accept this basic truth the sooner will the communal divide disappear.

» Dr. Mrs. Hilda Raja is a retired professor of social sciences from Stella Maris College, Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu, India. She is a practicing Roman Catholic and is an adviser to the Catholic Bishops Council of India.

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