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Is Modi government responsible for the rising religious intolerance in India?

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By Anurag Paul

In a few weeks Narendra Modi completes 300 days as the Prime Minister of India. He came into office riding a promise of development. But his term so far has been marred with the rise of incidents against the minorities in the country.

During his term, the incidents of communal violence have gone up, nearly 600 during last eight months. The associates of BJP have become more assertive and the intimidation of the religious minorities has gone up.

“The rape of the 70 year old catholic nun in Bengal two days ago and the vandalisation of a church being built in Hissar in Haryana, not very far from the national capital, New Delhi, are horrific incidents that need urgent intervention by the state governments,” Dr. John  Dayal, spokesman, United Christian Forum for Human Rights told NewsGram.

“What is happening in Pakistan has shocked the world, and the Pope has spoken against the persecution of Christians in that country. India is NOT Pakistan, and it is the duty of the elected governments to assure security.  It is scandalous that in Haryana, the local people are reported to be saying they will not tolerate a church in their locality. Freedom of faith is an important constitutional guarantee  for democracy in India. The community, and in fact any religious community for that matter, have a right to construct a place of worship in conformity with the rules and regulations,” he further added.

THERE WERE ABOUT 150 INCIDENTS OF ANTI-CHRISTIAN VIOLENCE IN 2014, INCLUDING TWO MURDERS.

There is patently a great chasm and disconnect between political pronouncements of religious freedom and protection of institutions and places of worship, and the reality on the ground,  both in cities, town and urban areas and in the villages. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who spoke at a Christian meeting reassuring religious minorities of their rights and security, has so far chosen not to comment or even identify the Ghar Wapsi, coercion and hostility to Christian worship and prayer services specially in rural areas in most parts of India. In the absence of a categorical denunciation of such acts, hate speeches and identifying those responsible, these elements who have powerful political support, enjoy immunity from police action.

“The constant attack on Christian minorities in India parallels the attacks on Christian minorities in Pakistan. What is the difference between Pakistan and India, when in both the countries, the Christian minorities are the targets of the majority,” said Father Dominic Emmanuel, Spokesperson, Delhi Church.

“All these incidents only points to targeting minority that is known for its services. Therefore We condemn all such atrocious activities,” he further added.

What happened actually in Hissar, Haryana?- NewsGram Investigation

Subhash Chand was pastoring a church in Kaimri village in Hissar districit of Haryana. Since February, this year they were constantly disturbed by the activists of Bajrang Dal. They used to come, knock the door, jump the wall in order to frighten Subhash Chand and his wife. Since the couple has no children, both of them were silently suffering the oppression. In order the avoid the constant attack by these Hindu extremists, they went for a while to Ambala.

The whole incident of placement of Hanuman idol in the church, theft and vandalisation of church property happened in the absence of the church priest.

Haryana has a BJP government since October last year. Local residents in the village alleged that the priest was trying to construct the church despite the fact that there was no Christian in the entire village.

 Subhash Chand lodged a complaint against 14 people, following which a case was registered by police under sections 147 (Punishment for rioting), 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 295 (destroying, damaging a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class of persons), 380 (theft in a building), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

The idol of Hanuman and the red flag has been confiscated by the Police.

Growing religious intolerance

Religious intolerance is growing ever since this government has come in to power, said Rev. Sunil Sardar, Convener, Satya Sodhak Samaaj Antarrashtriya.

“The ruling government has not been able to control the extremist Hindu groups like Bajrang Dal. Government’s silence on these issues and delayed response is frightening”, he added.

“We call upon the central and state governments to act in unison to identify communal elements, investigate this gang rape and all other cases expeditiously. Law and Order is a State subject,” said Mr Anurag Mishra, Chief Executive Officer, AMMI.

“It is therefore all the more necessary to expeditiously enact a law to prevent communal and targetted Violence.  Such a bill has been on the table of the Parliament since 2005.  Its enactment into law will go a long way in strengthening the secular ethos of India, and peace and harmony across the wonderful God-given diversity of the country.”, he added further.

Mr Dilip Mandal, Former Managing Editor of “India Today Magazine” accepted that the incidents of religious intolerance is the worst form of hegemony in which the quotient of the coercion is very high.

“It is problematic for me because it affects all religious lower caste Hindus, dalits, OBCs,  tribals, women, farmers and all marginalised sections of the society. Such incidents are against the pluralistic democratic ethos of the Indian Constitution drafted by the great visionary of our time, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar,” he told NewsGram.

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