Tuesday, March 09, 2010


This writer was part of a fact-finding team that inquired into the "attack" on the Holy Family Church, Hinkal, in Mysore in February 2002. The team had found out, among other things, that the incident was a minor one - a minor scuffle in the church premises and a broken window-pane. The incident should have been localised and contained. But, it was blown out of proportion and internationalized by the media and the self-styled leaders and spokesmen of the minority communities. It was a classic example of vested interests making a mountain out of a molehill and spreading distress and divisions among neighbours of different faiths and provoke religious sentiments and fan the flames of hatred". (Report attached).

I was again part of another fact-finding team that visited Managalore and Udupi following violent incidents there in September 2008. The report* of this team too is attached for your ready reference.

Yes, no civil society can condone violence. But mere condemnation is not a method to avert the repetition of violence. We have to find out if the violence is deliberate and unprovoked, or due to provocation. If it is the former, then there is one set of solutions, which mostly involve applying the law and severely punishing the perpetrators of the violence. However, if there is provocation, then we have to study the issue in greater detail. We have to understand why there has been a provocation for the violence, and who are the persons or organisations behind the provocation.

The real source of danger to the Indian Christian community is not the handful of Hindu extremists. Most of the violent incidents have been due to aggressive evangelization and faith-marketing. Other than this there have been few attacks on Christians. Finally the sensitive and sensible Christians must realize that acts of certain "born-again", cultic and splinter groups among them who denigrate Hindu gods and abuse Hindu rituals as “ barbaric” are the root cause of tension between Christian and Hindu communities. Christian leaders known for their erudition, equipoise and empathy should come out in the open to disown such acts of intolerance.

It is worth recalling at this juncture what Fr. Adolf Washington, media coordinator, Archdiocese of Bangalore, wrote in Deccan Herald some time ago:

“There are several groups of people doing the rounds in Bangalore adopting persuasive techniques not just to convert people but also to spread animosity against mainstream Christian denominations.

They hurl invectives against the teachings of Christian denominations and even induce people to tender a written “resignation” to the pastor or priest. Since some of these groups do not even accept the divinity of Christ, in effect, their conversion should not be understood as conversion to Christianity but to their organisation. Mainstream Christian denominations do not go on a conversion spree, only splinter groups and cultic groups do so probably for some self-gain.”

Terms such as "evangelistic campaign", "missionary strategy", "campus crusade", "occupying non-Christian areas", a "blitzkrieg" of missionaries, and sending "reinforcements" sound more appropriate to military enterprises than to Christian witness to God's redeeming love in Jesus Christ. The statistical approach implied in the words "the unreached millions" is derogatory to neighbours of other faiths."Unreached" by whom? When Indian Christians themselves use these phrases, which have originated outside the country, to describe their neighbours living next door to them in the community, Christians should not be surprised if the nehigbours are offended. (Courage for Dialogue- Dr Stanley Samartha).

Call it the irrational Hindu anger at being cheated of destiny. Call it the Hindu backlash at the growing fanaticism in other communities. Call it the end of the tether for Hindu patience and tolerance. India's cycles of violence continue because it is only seldom that we have allowed healing to take place. It is imperative that our ears be made sensitive to the heartbeat of the 'other' community or caste. And we must all assist and permit a true healing. Stop spreading hatred, against any particular community, Hindu or Muslim, or those who are branded as our enemies, like butter on hot bread. And stop being merchants of hate. We must learn to overcome hatred by love.

All of us would be doing a great service to the cause of communal and religious amity and peace in this country if we learn to show a little humility and a little diffidence about the correctness of our views. We should not seek to satisfy our thirst for ego and vanity by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred and jealousy. We have to teach ourselves that consideration for others is nobler than muscling our way to the front.

About 250 leaders from 11 Churches and denominations who met recently in Bangalore resolved not to condemn or denigrate deities of other religions, or the traditions that other religious believers hold as sacred. They also have decided to “work positively to build a harmonious relationship with people of all religions and cultures."

I have written these lines at the risk of being branded as anti-Christian, anti-Church and ‘the blue-eyed boy” of RSS. But, I muster courage from the following a couplet from the famous Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

Speak: your lips are free
Speak: your tongue is still yours
Speak: this lissome body is yours
Speak: this life is yours
Speak: so that the truth can prevail ….
(Bol ke lab azaad hain tere Bol Zabaan ab tak teri hain Bol yeh sutwan jism hai tera Bol ke jaan ab tak teri hai Bol ke sach zinda hai ab tak …. )

Column By:
P. N. Benjamin

No comments:

Post a Comment

Ground Report India publishes articles as they are given. Ground Report India is not responsible for views of writers, critics and reporters. For any contradiction, please contact to the author.

Please give your Name, Email, Postal Address and Introduction with comment.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.