Monday, 15 September 2008

Attacks on Churches: Saffron siege in Karnataka

Just when the country is facing repeated terror strikes, this is the last thing we would like to witness: an inter-religious conflict.

Alas, this is happening in Mangalore and the coastal belt of Karnakata. After large-scale killings and destruction in Orissa, the Saffron bands are now busy in burning churches, ransacking prayer halls, demolishing statues and all sorts of vandalism, for which they are notoriou, in Karnataka.

And just when terrorism has spread its tentacles in the country, the 'patriotic' Saffron bands of RSS, which mainly comprise the Bajrang Dal, seem to have taken upon themselves the task to stop conversions.

We may not like religious conversions. The founding fathers of India and its constitution, Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar, detested conversion due to allurement or coercion. But, we must also look at the ground realities.

India is a secular nation where everybody is free to practice and preach their religion. Let it be very clear about that. Secondly, we may believe that tribals are natives and Hindus but the truth is that Evangelists don't consider them as Hindus and this is not absolutely wrong.

And even if religion has reduced to such a level that people are being bought to a faith, it must be considered that both the VHP and the missionaries are involved in this game equally. None can claim greater moral ground. It is also a truth that the percentage of Christians in India hasn't increased, rather it has gone down in the last decade and they are a tiny minority.

However, the violent incidents are unjustifiable. In Mangalore, Udipi, Chikmagalur & Dakshin Kannada nearly two dozen churches have been attacked. Incidents of stabbings were also reported. Later the police were targeted by Christians in retaliation.

If it is anti-Christian violence in Karnataka, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, then Maharashtra has a different movement where linguistic terrorism is unleashed by Thackerays.

What kind of a banana republic is this, that can't stop or act against any law-breaker?

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