Mental shift

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MEDIAWATCH: What’s behind anti-Christian violence in India?

Posted by jytmkh on September 18, 2008

Written by: Joanne Tomkinson

<!– blog ## for search indexer, do not remove –>The fire is spreading,” Indian newspaper The Times of India says, talking about the escalation in Hindu attacks on Christians in the east and south of the country. Hindu extremists have burned down churches, homes and schools belonging to Christians, and the spiralling communal violence has so far killed 22 people in the eastern state of Orissa.

 

The mobs driving thousands into makeshift government camps are complaining that Christians in the area are forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity. But has this intensifying violence been solely sparked by conversions? 

Many commentators think not, pointing to the violence’s social, economic and political roots. 

“The attacks on Christians are being sought to be justified on the ground that people are being forcibly converted from Hinduism or tribalism to Christianity,” the The Times of India writes. “But on closer scrutiny, it appears the issue isn’t merely of conversion.” 

Instead the trigger seems to be in the rise in prosperity and status that accompanies this conversion to Christianity, the paper says. 

Some Hindu groups are saying that Christian converts are still claiming job benefits by stating their religion as Hinduism on official papers, but actually practising Christianity in order to get a jump up in social class, the paper says, though it adds that there is no independent verification of these claims. 

“Religious conversion is a social issue needing address by community leaders through dialogue,” the paper writes. 

An article on news website Voice of America (VOA) picks up on this point about the social and economic triggers for the violence. 

For example, one of the groups that have come under attack in Orissa, the Panas, are among the poorest in India, Hemanth Naik, of grassroots civil rights group Forum for Peace, in Kandhamal, Orissa, told VOA. 

With “scheduled caste” status, they are one of the lowest ranks in India’s caste system. By converting to Christianity, they have been able to access the schools and health clinics run by Christians that they’ve otherwise been unable to use. 

“Conservative Hindu groups bristled at the idea that Christian groups, largely funded by Western countries, were giving the lower-caste Panas an unfair advantage,” Voice of America says, summarising Naik’s take on the primary reasons behind the violence in the area. 

The All India Christian Council, a coalition of the country’s Christian groups, meanwhile, says state neglect has also played a significant role in allowing the violence to escalate. 

“The State government must assume full responsibility. The Chief Minister of Karnataka has failed to live to his promise of communal harmony. The State Home Minister is guilty of conniving in the violence, as he disregarded ample warnings that had come in the wake of the Sangh violence in Orissa,” the Council says in an article for the Daily Etalaat Srinagar newspaper. 

This view is echoed elsewhere. 

“State governments should realise the gravity of the situation and act accordingly,” a separate editorial in the Times of India says, concluding: “Communal violence is primarily a law and order problem. A strong response from the state government should bring the situation under control in Karnataka.” 

An editorial in Indian newspaper The Statesman, however, says that there is more than political neglect at play here, and blames hardline Hindu nationalists for stirring up trouble. 

“Since 1999, BJP (political party, Bharatiya Janata Party) affiliates like the Bajrang Dal, Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, have systematically fomented communal hatred and engineered inter-religious clashes at different places in Orissa in a bid to expand their parent party’s political support base,” The Statesman says. 

“In the backdrop of all that happened in December 2007, the anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal last month was a tragedy foretold – a painful narrative of police and administrative indifference, of repeated official complicity and consistent incompetence,” the editorial concludes. 

Local politics and power struggles have definitely inflamed the violence in areas like Orissa, agrees Jacob Ignatius in an article for current affairs website Open Democracy

Though Christians still only make up 2.3 percent of the Indian population, and are never likely to grow into the dominant religion, the fear of conversion is very real, Ignatius says. But this has been exploited. 

“Hindu extremist groups like the VHP are fixated on the issue of conversions to Christianity – in part from dogmatic opposition to people leaving their religious fold, in part from insecurity about members of the lower castes trying to break free from the caste system,” he explains. 

That’s why the majority of attacks on Christians are directed against the formerly low-caste converts such as the Dalit Panas of Orissa, Ignatius says. Attacks, he says, which are provoked by political manipulation and fear-mongering. 

“The political instigation of anti-Christian sentiment by the Hindu rightwing for electoral gain is another danger to Indian democracy. In the interests of a peaceful, progressive and just India, it must be opposed.” (Reuters Alertnet)

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3 Responses to “MEDIAWATCH: What’s behind anti-Christian violence in India?”

  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

  2. Pargat said

    It is sad to see that VHP/ Bajrang Dal are getting the largest contributions from US. This money supplied from US is used to bring down Churches and attack tribals in India.

    The BJP, Bajrang Dal, RSS and VHP which are anti-christian are a bigger danger than terrorist organisations. They must be banned and their fund raising in western countries should be stopped.

    Everything should be done by western nations to stop atrocities agains Christians in India.

    Time to wake up and stand up to call of sane and secular Indians!

  3. Gurpiar Singh said

    Christians are getting tremendous sums of money from abroad, they are openly converting scores of hindus to christians, using foreign money they are able to provide some facilities and poor hindus are lured and christians have certain targets to meet. Some states they have gained a very large percentage of conversion, now those states are demanding independence. BAN CONVERSIONS.

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