War of words (15 Jul 2000)
It is most unfortunate that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad is seeking an apology from Christian organisations for their utterances. Ironical, because it is the VHP and the Bajrang Dal who should apologise to the Christians rather than demand an apology from them.
The basic objection raised by Acharya Giriraj Kishore of the VHP is that church representatives have refused to recognise the organisations as the sole representatives of the Hindus. Church leaders have, however, not named the VHP and the Bajrang Dal in their statements. What they have said is they would not like to hold any dialogue with organisations who do not have faith in the judiciary and in the Constitution of India. They have also said they do not consider such organisations to be representatives of Hindus.
In fact, because of the growing confrontation between church representatives and the VHP, the National Minority Commission had taken an initiative to bring both parties to the negotiating table. However, with new conditions being imposed by both sides, this meeting appears highly unlikely. It is a very sorry state of affairs as any new dimension to the confrontation between the VHP and Christian organisations will cause great damage to the nation.
All this is, in my view, nothing but a war of words. The two sides involved are casting aspersions on each other without realising the consequences of their words. I blame the VHP and the Bajrang Dal more than I would the Christian organisations because they are the ones who created this controversy in the first place.
I agree with the Karnataka home minister and Acharya Kishore that Pakistans intelligence agency, the ISI, is behind the blasts in the churches in South India. Pakistans sole motive is to create a confrontation between Hindus and Christians so that they get an opportunity to defame India globally. The VHP is a body of loud-mouthed people who only make controversial and bitter statements. They do not have a set of people who can instigate violence. In fact, in Ayodhya too, in 1992, the Babri Masjid was actually demolished by Shiv Sainiks led by the president of the Shiv Senas UP unit. The VHP had negotiated a deal with then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao to defer the kar sewa and to splash the water of the Saryu river on the disputed site.
Actually, organisations like the VHP and Bajrang Dal are aiding Pakistan in its nefarious designs by making such irresponsible statements. India is a democratic country and every religion enjoys equal rights and protection. The world has so far ignored Pakistani propaganda that minorities are being targeted in India. Unfortunately, provocative statements by the VHP and Bajrang Dal, and incidents of violence against the Christian community has tarnished our image abroad, specially amongst the Christian Western bloc.
This bloc wields considerable clout in world matters as it comprises more than 140 countries, including superpowers like the USA, UK, Germany and France. The ISI is taking full advantage of the VHP and Bajrang Dals irresponsible statements. Pakistan knows that India will be completely isolated in the world if the Christian countries turn against India. If the bomb blasts and incidents of violence continue against the Christian community, the global Christian bloc will become hostile towards India without realising that it is the ISI which is behind these incidents.
Recently, BJP general secretary K N Govindacharya made a clever statement against the Christian organisations. On one hand he was disassociating the Sangh Parivar from any violence committed against Christians and on the other hand, he blamed two Christian organisations for spreading violence. Such statements will vitiate the atmosphere further.
The only saving grace is that our prime minister does not believe in what is being said by the VHP. He is a hardcore secular politician and luckily, all his ministers are secular and do not subscribe to the VHP and Bajrang Dals views. Todays government has no ill feeling against Christians. In fact, our prime minister does not give much importance to the VHP leaders and in order to get attention, these leaders try to create some controversy or the other.
In my view, as long as the government does not give credence to the VHPs statements, Christians in our country have nothing to worry about.