Sunday, September 14, 2008

Attacks on churches and Christians in Mangalore

Section 144 has just been clamped on Mangalore city.

Police resorted to lathi charge and throwing tear gas grenades at peaceful protesters where a number of nuns and women were injured and had to be taken to hospital.

What the hell is wrong with our country and its people? (I would not normally use such strong language in print, but it doesn't even begin to demonstrate how strongly I feel)

Today morning between 9am and 10am, Bajrang Dal activists attacked and destroyed 4 churches in Mangalore City.

Why? Because New Life members distributed pamphlets which said "Do not Worship Hindu Gods"
While I admit that this could be an incendiary statement, does this justify attacking people and churches who do not even agree with the methods used by the New Life preachers?
Does this justify attacking members of a church, who have not had anything to do with conversions or preaching and just listen?

Lets look at the issues here:
1. The Bajrang Dal resorts to violence because of something that is printed that they do not agree with.
2. When the Bajrang Dal says that conversions are illegal, (and all the other things they do with tis as their cause) aren't they infact enforcing that "you cannot worship any God other than a Hindu God"
3. The New Life Church is a relative newcomer, known to be more hardline than most other churches which distance themselves from them. Shouldn't the Bajrang Dal have at least distinguished that?
4. Even if they did not agree with what was printed by the New Life church in India, couldn't they try having a dialog with them first, before resorting to violence.
Looks like the hooligans behind these attacks are only interested in breaking bones and getting their adrenaline pumping rather than really trying to sort out any kinds of problems or misunderstandings.

The ruffians broke all the religious statues in the Sisters of Poor Clare's Adoration Monastery. They threw the Holy Eucharist on the ground and desecrated it.

Is this OK, just because it is being done against Catholics/Christians in India who have historically been as non-violent as the Jains and buddhists (other minorities) in India?

Concerned members of the churches gathered in the church grounds during and after evening mass in a peaceful way to seek assurance and guidance from the priests and other religious. Wasn't this a peaceful gahtering compared to mobs rampaging and torching buses because of some mud smeared on Meenatai's statue? or The countrywide riots following a desecration of an Ambedkar statue in Kanpur? The second incident was also of smeared mud. Both the desecrations happened on public roads. This does not make it right, but compare this to religious statues being broken on private property, the Holy Eucharist (which Christians believe is the body of Christ once it is blessed) thrown on the ground. Do not Christians have a right to congregate to discuss their fears following such incidents.

Remember the Christians were gathering in peace outside their place of worship (since the insides of the church were full) not going out and torching buses or hurting other innocent people.

To add fuel to the fire, the police arrived. No issues with their arriving where crowds had gathered, but they started lathi charging the gathered people and seriously injured nuns and women among the crowd and threw tear bombs inside the church where Sunday evening mass was being held. A religious ceremony, a peaceful ceremony, held everyday inside these churches.

Was this responsible on the part of the police to use force and violence against unarmed, peaceful members of the public?

People present at the scene said that the police themselves were pelting stones at the crowd and caning them, hurting both people and damaging property in the vicinity.

The news channels started to broadcast about this and then completely hushed up. I turned on my India feed of NDTV which promised for 15 minutes to show an update and news about Mangalore city and suddenly it stopped showing those banners without showing any news about what had happened. Looks like someone high in the political chain, got to them and yanked the news off the air.

Now take 2-3 other incidents into perspective.
On 29th August over 40,000 Christian Educational Institutions across India stayed closed to register a peaceful protest against the continuing violence against Christians in Orissa which has now spread to 13 out of 30 districts.

On the same day, the government of Karnataka announced its decision to take action against Christian schools in the state for closing without prior permission.

This same government has yet to take action against the Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishat and RSS workers, who had launched violent protests when the JD (S) failed to hand over the state reins to the BJP last year.

Is it any surprise that both Karnataka and Orissa currently have the BJP in power?

The VHP held violent protests in Madhya Pradesh and other places asking why the Christians had killed Saraswati? (by shutting educational institutions for a day) What about all the occasions when the BJP/VHP/Bajrang Dal/Shiv Sena and other Hindu organisations force schools, colleges and business to shut shutter for their own bundhs which destroy all normalcy in the cities?

Why are these double standards in play? Why are Christians being given the short end of the stick? Religious Christian institutions have a large role to play in education, medicine, caring for the orphans, abandoned, old and dying in India. Christians have been one of the most tolerant minorities in India (imagine what would have happened by now if by chance the Bajrang Dal hooligans had desecrated a mosque this morning) who have contributed immensely to the growth of the country. Why this treatment? Do they deserve it?

Do they deserve a government that is apathetic to their religious sensibilities being trampled upon?

Christians have always believed in being peace loving, patient and tolerant. Will the Christian youth of today continue to be as tolerant when they see the atrocities being committed against their brethren in Orissa and the North East?

Why are these atrocities against Christians being downplayed in the media? (Try googling for the attack against Christians in India and see how many Indian media links pop up) Why aren't they being given coverage? Is it because the powers-that-be know that they aren't doing a thing to control, controllable situations and the miscreants in their party? Is it because the powers-that-be know that the Christians haven't ever retaliated with violence? How long will the Christians community be able to react with tolerance and peace? (2 values that a lot of Indians in the news seem to have completely forgotten about)

Final note of irony: Union minister of labour and employment Oscar Fernandes (a Christian) was in Mangalore today to inaugurate the opening of a (Hindu) temple.

And so we debate endlessly in the media about terrorism coming in from across the border while we burn our own own citizens in their homes and places of worship.

Also Published on desicritics.org

8 comments:

voiceofneil said...

Good one there kim.... WHat was disturbing was Catholics continued to say its not us but they in the whole protest. How long will we continue to Say Catholics Protestants and Evangelicals. In this time of distress i think all of us should get together and pray for the city and its people. Otherwise the Wrath of God will destroy this city and the Nation.
I am ashamed to call myself an Indian.
Noone, not even the law and the Government of the Land came to our rescue. Sad right?
And what are we blamed for? for spreading good news of the Lord?
atleast we allow all hindus to enter our Churches, they dont even allow all of them to enter their temples....
We need to rise and Rise strong.

vittal said...

The whole incident is very disturbing. Bhajarang Dal thugs need to be seriously disciplined for their destructive activities. We don't need 'taliban' like organizations.

At the same time, it's high time Christian leaders step up and condemn all those 'conversion' activities including the printing/distribution of material that is offensive to other religions.

Spreading good news of the Lord doesn't have to include putting down other Gods. It's stupid.

Hope all sides wake up and stop this crazy things.

Kim said...

Vittal, I agree with you completely, if by conversion you mean conversion by force or by promising monetary or other benefits.

If a person is converting because they believe in a different God from the religion they were born into, then it is his/her right to do so.

No religion or God, ever advocated going out and hurting other people. It is stupid what is being done in our country in the name of God by different vested interests.

a hindu atheist said...

Does conversion by force still happen? I don't know how that can happen when this is a democratic country.

If people convert because of money then i am not sure why my fellow hindus would be worried. How religious that person would be? And who would want those king of people in their religion?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm a Christian living in Delhi, and to hear of this violence in Mangalore just after the Delhi bomb blasts is too terrible!
If the Indian Govt. can ban outfits like SIMI, then Bajran Dal, VHP etc. should also be banned because they're no less at spreading terror.
We must do something about this, cause a movement...our leaders must condemn this wholeheartedly and take this up with the highest officials in the govt.

MATHEW said...

Dear Friend,
We are living in a country which has provisions for the freedom to practice any religion. The duty to protect the interest of the minorities and majority is of the government.
Most of the majority Hindu community are peaceful and loving people. They do not endorse the actions of the extremist elements in Bajrang Dal, VHP and the like.
It is for us to show them that if the harmless nuns in the adoration convent in Mangalore can be harmed, their ignorance is very high. What would happen next is anybody's imagination. Even a party like BJP will stand to loose heavyly if it continues to use double standards.
Our direction now should be Supreme court and dismissals of governments which cannot protect its citizens.
Also, is there any need to mention about the shameful way in which most of the media has reacted to these gruesome incidents.
May God give the grace to each one to do their duties well.
K.J.Mathew

True Indian said...

If India claims itself a democratic country and if its constitution proclaims that every religion has the freedom of practice and propagation, why the people of minority community are targeted. Aren't they Indians? Can’t they live with the rights they have been bestowed by the Indian constitution? Even if they are propagating religion, it is according to constitution. These Hindu militants have to be reminded that this nation is built by diverse communities and it is a democratic nation. They can’t have false belief that they are in a Hindu nation and carry out atrocities against minority community that too unofficially. They have to be woken from this dream. These militants have masterminded their plots against minorities time and often, and have been successful making this country a terror struck nation. Irony is that these fanatics are worried about patriotism of minorities when they themselves are responsible for plundering India with their agenda of making it a Hindu nation. They care damn about India and they don’t have an iota of patriotism . May these Hippocratic Hindu terrorists stop taking teachings about patriotism to minorities. Who has given these Hindu terrorists the authority of policing the society......our impotent law and order system? Why the ruling sate government not taking appropriate action against these organisations.

Raghul said...

hi friend, there is no question of minority and majority here.. have you ever heard of any case where hindus convert others by force or by giving monetory benefits? first stop cash flow from vatican.and i am sure all these atrocities will stop automatically. i have respect on all religions, you can preach about your gods but there is no right you can ask others to convert to your religion. i went to andaman last year and i noticed that most of the tribes are converted to christians.. do they know anything about religion or caste? is it most required to convert them? offering money and converting is too bad.. this is what i feel.

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