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Guest Commentary: Anti-Christian Violence in India: A Perennial Calvary

Posted by jytmkh on September 10, 2008

By Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally
9/10/2008

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

“In the wake of this latest violence, it seems that for Christians in Orissa and elsewhere in India, their daily life and existence have become a Perennial Calvary.”

 

Even in Refugee camps, suffering Christians are being harassed by Hindu extremists and being coerced into what the radicals call
Even in Refugee camps, suffering Christians are being harassed by Hindu extremists and being coerced into what the radicals call “re-conversion” under dire threat to life, limb and freedom.
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ROME (Catholic Online) – This article is based upon a talk given at St. Paul’s Pontifical College in Rome after the first cycle of anti-Christian violence was unleashed by Hindu fanatical organizations in Orissa, India last Christmas season. The second cycle of anti-Christian violence,apparently perpetrated by the same Hindu fanatical organization, was unleashed after the condemnable murder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader of the Kandhamal area.

The violence is a sign of growing venomous hatred against the Christian community in India among Hindu extremists. In a preplanned, nonsensical and very undemocratic manner, Christians were wrongly accused of the murder. As citizens they have a right to the constitutional protections of the legal system of this Nation. Their poor treatment raises serious questions concerning the democratic structures of India. In my speech I observed that ‘Christians do not celebrate Good Friday on Christmas Day. But for the Christian brothers and sisters in the district of Kandhamal and its adjacent areas in Orissa, India, Christmas turned out to be a Good Friday, ‘a veritable Calvary’!’ Now, in the wake of this latest violence, it seems that for Christians in Orissa and elsewhere in India, their daily life and existence have become a Perennial Calvary!

Orissa has a dark history of communal violence and hatred. There is the burning to death of Graham Staines and his two young sons in 1999. His family was engaged in the care of leprosy patients. However, this time, the intensity of the violence has grown into inhuman and unimaginable proportions. It has also done great damage to the age old coexistence and diversity of India, both at home and abroad. The gang raping of nuns, burning alive of human beings, destruction of churches, setting fire to the orphanages and houses of the poor, beating up and public humiliation of priests are not marks of a humane culture and true democracy. Yet in India, they thrive and survive!

The trump card of forced conversion has also been played by the fanatics this time. Certain media ‘analysts’, of a pro-Hindu fundamentalist nature, have been vocal in demonizing missionaries and even the Pope, who is the supreme spiritual head of the Catholic Church. A close scrutiny of these articles reveals them to be a bundle of lies patched together. They forget centuries of differences coexisting. Some portray missionaries as only engaged in the tribal areas; conveniently forgetting the fact that majority of urban India is served and supported by the missionaries and benefits from their energy through a chain of elite schools and affordable hospitals.

The fanatics have tried to portray the missionaries as devilish, making others forget they are sons and daughters of this country and are constantly engaged in groundbreaking humanitarian services for the promotion of human dignity. The perpetrators appear to be right wing Hindu radical organizations such as VHP, RSS, Sangh Parivar and Bajrang Dal. The hate talk continues as reports show that the security situation is vulnerable. That is despite the lofty assurances of the central and state governments. Because of the helplessness felt by the Christian community at the hands of the prevailing governments, the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhuvaneshwar was forced to approach the Supreme Court seeking a CBI enquiry into the masterminding and commitment of violence against the Christians. A question must be asked here: was not this tragedy avoidable if the governments had acted in time? This must be answered by the citizens of India who still have faith in the power of the constitution of this Nation. The nature of the problem of the ongoing antichristian violence calls for a deeper reflection at three levels.

1. As a Political and Social Problem

The Christians in India are law abiding citizens. India guarantees the freedom to practice and propagate one’s faith. They are attacked without respect for Indian law or human dignity. Hence this amounts to a constitutional violation of the rights of an entire community. It is therefore highly condemnable and an offense under Indian law. Accordingly, the Church has drawn the attention of the authorities at the state and central level. The Church feels that the ‘inaction’ of the state machinery to intervene effectively and pacify the situation, despite the repeated representation of these concerns, was akin to a political condoning of the actions. As a socio-political problem, various political parties and national organizations for minority and human rights, along with other NGOs, have strongly reacted and sought swift action.

2. As a Christian Missionary Issue:

The Christians are falsely accused and brutally targeted specifically because of their Christian faith. At this level, our response must be spiritual, praying for the suffering communities and for the perpetrators, as we pray for our enemies. As Christians when are attacked, in our martyrdom of suffering, we are bound to witness to the Love and Forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church in India, from the South to the North and East to the West has demonstrated spiritual and charitable solidarity. Thus, the ongoing sufferings of these innocent and poor Christian brothers and sisters continue to augment our faith and sense of ecclesial identity and shared mission. This is obvious from the recent pastoral words of Archbishop Cheenath and Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, CssR.

3. As an Ideological Problem. The Need for a theological and philosophical Response

We will examine these elements in my next installment.

Santhosh Sebastian Cheruvally belongs to the diocese of Gorakhpur and holds a doctorate in Christology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

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One Response to “Guest Commentary: Anti-Christian Violence in India: A Perennial Calvary”

  1. mukesh jain dara sena said

    SWAMI LAXMANAND KO MARNE WALI ISAIYAT ATANKWADI ADARM HAI ISKA NASH KARNA HAR HINDU KA PAHALA DHARM HAI.

    DAYAN BTA KAR JINDA JALANE WALI INSANIYAT KI DUSMAN ISAIYAT KA NASH KARNE WALE DARA SINGH BANNA HAR HINDU KA PAHALA DHARM HAI

    POPE KI BIBLE KE VAYVASTHA VIVRAN ADHYAY KI AYAT 12(2-5) OUR17(2-5) MEIN CHIRISTIANO KE KHUDA KA ADESH HAI KI ISAIYO! JITI DARTI KE MOOL NIVISIYON OUR DEVI DEVTAON KO SADA SADA KE LIYE NAST KAR DO TAKI US DESH SE UNKA NAMO NASHAN TAK MIT JAYE. JITI DHARTI KE SURYA CHANDRMA VA DEVI DEVTA PUJAK STRI – PURUSHO KO PATTHRON SE MAR DO. NISCHAYA HI YAH EK ADHARM HAI. IN ADHARMIYO OUR DHARM NIRPEKSHTA KE SHATRUON KO DHARM PRCHARAK KAHANE VA MANNE WALE SHAITANIYAT KE UPASAK HAIN. ADHARM KA NASH KARNA HAR HINDU KA HI NAHI BHARAT SARKAR KA BHI PAHALA DHARM HAI..
    BIBLE MEIN KAHI BHI HINDU YA ANYA NSLO KE LOGON KO ISAI BANA KAR APNE MEIN MILA LENE KO NAHI LIKHA HAI . BALKI INKO KATL KARNE KA ADESH DIYA HAI..ISAIYAT KE JHANDE KE NICHE HINDU NASL KA ISAI BHI POPE DWARA MARA JAYEGA.MAINE APNI PUSTAK WA CD ‘YEESHU MEIN SATAN HAI’ MIEN ISE SABOOTO KE SATH PARSTUT KIYA GAYA HAI.
    SURYA EK AKELA DHARTI KO PARKASHMAN KARTA HAI . CHANDRMA AKELA APNI CHHATA BIKHERTA HAI.TUM BHI AKELE APNE SATIYON KO JODO. ATANKWADI ISAIYAT KA KHULEAM YA CHHUPKARNASH KARO. KALIMATA TUMHARE SHATH HAI.
    MUKESH JAIN,
    PRESIDENT -DHARM RAKSHAK SHREE DARA SENA

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