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BJP Offers Christians a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Is Religious Pilgrimage A New Playground For The Political Parties?

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community

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In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented. Wikimedia Commons
  • The political parties (BJP and Congress ) are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage in the coming local elections of the eastern states of India
  • The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively
  • After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022

The Campaign promises during the elections times are quite bizarre nowadays, from “I’ll cut your taxes,” to “vote for me, and I’ll set you free.”

In the coming local elections in the Christian- majority state of Nagaland in India the agenda by the rival BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and Congress parties are unique: “Vote for us and get either a free or a heavily subsidized pilgrimage to Jerusalem.”

Yes, you read it right. The political parties are promising a free trip to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage. The offer has been put up by the Prime Minister Modi- led BJP for the upcoming elections. Even the local partners of the Congress party are treading up the same path.

Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons
Recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. Wikimedia Commons

The BJP has not made it clear yet if it is offering the scheme to all of India’s Christians, or only to Christians in the northeast, or only to Christians in Nagaland. The Christian population in Meghalaya and Nagaland is almost 75 percent and 88 percent respectively. Nagaland is one of smallest states of India, with the population of just under two million people.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel for Haj without Mahram

As per the Tourism Ministry figures, around 58,000 Indian tourists came to Israel in 2017, a 47% increase from 2015.

The elections are scheduled for the February 27 in three northeastern states – Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura – later this month.

The AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi also tweeted on the double standard of the government and lashed out at the government for its discriminatory decision, ending Haj subsidy but allowing subsidies to continue for Hindu pilgrimages like the Mansarovar Yatra.

This would not be the first time that India has bankrolled pilgrimages for the Christians. Before this, the government had subsidized the Haj pilgrimage for the Muslim community. But recently, the central government decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage. The government cited the reason for the subsidy withdrawal as they wanted to utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls. After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner by 2022.

Also Read: Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

The scheme is a clear cut example of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially considering the cancellation of Haj subsidies. It seems quite contrary, on the one hand, the government is cutting down the benefit scheme for one section of the society and on the other hand, some other community is been offered the same thing. Such moves bring out the double standards of the political parties just for the sake of vote bank. In a country like India, such miscalculated steps could backfire in form of communal rights and the results could be unprecedented.

In 2011, Nigeria also did something same as that of India. For many years, their government financed a trip to Mecca for Muslims, leading to some 42,000 Nigerians visiting the country. But with the change in the government, subsidies have been cut considerably and now a 12-day pilgrimage costs around 2000 dollars. The change in stance has resulted in 78% decrease from 2011.

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Wake Up and Roll Up your Sleeves Before Bengal Becomes Another Kashmir

Do not let the majority to be slaughtered thus at the altar of complacency, discrimination, pseudo-secularism, and insane politics

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bengal, kashmir
Do not let the majority to be slaughtered thus at the altar of complacency, discrimination, pseudo-secularism, and insane politics.

By Salil Gewali

It’s highly condemnable that some goons in Kolkata have also destroyed the statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the pride of Bengal. He was a great scholar and a social reformer who worked for the overall welfare of society and always upheld human values. The vandals, who usually harbor evil thoughts, cannot tolerate and nor can they respect the virtues of a person. All right-thinking citizens should vehemently condemn such act of hooliganism.

Yes, it’s worrisome to note how one political party is blaming the other. If there is smoke from the fire, it is certainly due to “damp” wood. Who are those damp woods that are contaminating the social environment in Bengal is not very hard to guess! Of course, it was unarguably a premeditated act considering there were a good number of youths already inside the campus in the evening when the college was on “vacation”. The two gates, which other times remain closed, were open that day. Who can “overpower” the authorities of the institution to open the gate when the state is ruled by an ill-tempered and maverick Chief Minister?

No denying, in Mamata’s Bengal such destructive elements have increased by leaps and bounds and thriving on the extra facilities and cares. Open intimidation and vandalism by special citizens have long been a cause of serious concerns for the natives. But no noises of intolerance by any prominent forces from any quarters. The usual party rivalry and vindictiveness has turned into the brutal enmity and bloodshed in the present Bengal. The hands of the state’s police hands literally tied. They cannot arrest Didi’s swarms of non-dressed infantries. How many innocent people have been shot dead or injured by TMC cadre in past three years is unaccounted — the latest being Joydeb Barman, a BJP leader from Cooch Bihar, who was shot dead allegedly by TMC workers with an AK-47 rifle a few days back. Hardly any print media carried this news, nor any TV channels called for the newsroom discussion to condemn the bloody murder. Again, about two weeks back one political activist – Priyanka Sharma was detained for over six days and harassed by police when she re-posted a morphed meme of Mamata Banerjee. It seems state police forces are only on their toe to support the evil to breed and suppress the voices against the anarchy in the state.

kashmir, bengal
Open intimidation and vandalism by special citizens have long been a cause of serious concerns for the natives.

There is another bombshell relating to Mamata’s special people. Very recently they made a public announcement from the mike warning people from Hindu community to leave the place or bite the bullet. As per the number of WhatsApp clippings that are going around the situation is very seriously ominous. The video footage of crying and weeping crowds of Hindu Bengali, Bihari from Diamond Harbour areas are exceedingly heart-wrenching to see. But this dangerous development was not brought out by any media.  Frankly speaking, people in certain pockets of the state have already experienced a Kashmir type (1989) situation. They have been leaving in frenzied panic their homes to safety as their residential units have been torn apart or burned down. No one has come to the rescue of the aggrieved Hindus.

Again, how does one define a state in which the Hindu temples are deliberately desecrated and idols smashed to pieces? There is a case that even BEEF was thrown into the sacred temple in Alampur by a particular community.

ALSO READ: How Films And Politics March Hand in Hand?

Here what is too shocking is that no media ever raise the alarm bell, nor they scream that democracy is in danger, no intellectual write columns to condemn such kind of instances and highlight the real plight of the natives. Really speaking, what has happened today in West Bengal could happen in Odisha and Bihar tomorrow. Is cancer in “one square millimeter skin-area” not enough to kill a man with a huge structure in a due course of time? One strike of a match-stick is enough to reduce a huge number of building structures to ash. The utter passivity and unconcerned attitude of the majority is only proving detrimental. How long should the majority be the victim of the “intellectual of hypocrisy” — one of the fundamental causes of the scourge? Hindus are undermined, they are oppressed, they are suppressed, they are tortured and they are kicked out of their own native place. Enough is enough.  Rise up from your slumber. Do not let the majority to be slaughtered thus at the altar of complacency, discrimination, pseudo-secularism, and insane politics.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali