RSS media on Christians


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Fascist Mindset
RSS media on Christians

Prakash Karat
The author is a Polit Bureau member of CPI (M)

The reports connected with the spate of attacks on the Christian community around the country generally mention organisations like the Bajrang Dal, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Jagran Manch for their involvement in the anti-Christian campaign. For most people, these seem to be separate organisations which are responding to local situations. It is difficult for them to connect all these attacks to a coordinated centre or a single organisation.


If any evidence is required to show that the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is the centre from which the anti-Christian crusade emanates, one has to only read the literature produced by the RSS. The Organiser, which is the English weekly run by the RSS, has been running a continuous hate campaign against the Christian communities in its columns for quite some time. In fact, if one reads the issues of the weekly for the past two months, one would think that the Christian community, which constitutes 2.5 per cent of the population today, poses the greatest threat to the majority Hindu community and the integrity of the country.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram are the two major organisations set up by the RSS who are conducting the current war against Christianity. Under their umbrella, many other outfits such as the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch are working as the instruments for the intimidatory campaign against the Christians.

The RSS has officially declared that India faces a grave threat from Christianity. It talks about a plan to evangelise India by 2000 AD by which every village is to have a church and the Bible in every home. This "diabolic" plan is attributed to the Vatican and a western conspiracy. That this is not a stray allegation is confirmed by the fact that Karyakari Mandal (National Executive) of the RSS, which met in Nagpur between December 9 to 12 last year, adopted a resolution against conversions in which it is stated that "evangelisation by 2000 and beyond is a project that has been meticulously and jointly operated all over the world, particularly in Bharat."

It is ostensibly to counter this Christian conspiracy to implement a mass conversion plan that the RSS has geared up all its organisations to counter the Church. The seriousness with which the RSS has taken this threat is also seen by the fact that in the five-day Chintan Baithak, organised by the RSS last December, one of its ideologues, P Parameswaran, spoke about the challenges that they were likely to face in the coming years. He "warned the country to face the challenge of evangelisation by 2000, when the Vatican plans to increase the church activities manifold."


The war on Christianity which has been stepped up by the RSS after the Vajpayee government came to power is concentrated in the Adivasi areas as the RSS itself recognises that the Church is most active among the Adivasis and the poorer sections.

The columns of the Organiser have also concentrated attacks on the Christian educational institutions. They are called "sheep in wolf's clothing" and accused of being centres for converting Hindu students to Christianity. One of the articles says: "Their educational institutions admittedly provide good education but they, as is often reiterated, also generated a feeling that subtle methods were employed by them at indoctrination of tender minds towards the Christian faith." (Organiser, January 10, 1999).

Another novel argument produced by the author of the article is that the convent education of the Christians has resulted in replacing ignorant non-believers by well educated and aggressive non-believers. "These non-believers may well have caused the current turmoil" referring to the recent attacks on the Christian community.

The Organiser has added one more pet target for attack, apart from its usual vilification of Mother Teresa. Dr Amartya Sen who is satirically described as a "permanent resident of officially Christian Britain" cannot be forgiven for highlighting the fact that literacy and education should be one of the priorities of the country. This, to the RSS, sounds suspiciously as endorsement of Christian educational activities. It is not the "lunatic fringe" in the VHP alone which is denouncing Sen; the inspiration comes from the RSS.

The editorial line, which conveys the official position of the RSS, is more strident and threatening. After the rape of nuns in Jhabua, when the Christian community organised protests all over the country, the Organiser editorial denounced those who dared to protest as "Lunatic Lucifers," Lucifer being the Biblical term for the devil. The editorial dated December 13, 1998 demanded that "The leaders of the Christian community should look inward and apologise for the un-Christian acts perpetrated in their zeal for proselytisation, which anyway has a not-so-hidden agenda." It goes on to warn the Christians to keep quiet or risk being branded as anti-national: "Lucifers are playing with fire. Their current minority madness smacks of separatist and alienating tendencies that were behind the partition."


Upset by the adverse coverage in the media, both the RSS chief Rajinder Singh and its general secretary H.V.Seshadri issued statements published in the Organiser. Seshadri's statement reveals the mindset and culpability of the RSS in putting the anti-Christian plan into action. First of all he denies that attacks on Christians have taken place. He claims that official enquiries have shown these are "concocted and blown out of all proportion with a view to maligning Hindu organisations." Next he justifies the attacks and blames the Church for them: "the RSS also wishes to emphasise that attempts at conversion of the vanavasis, backward and other poorer sections of Hindu society by the Church...are bound to provoke severe reaction among the Hindus" (emphasis added). Next, in the typical RSS fashion, the attackers are depicted as the victims. Criticising those who are influenced by Christian propaganda, he states that "Such one-sided reaction may well further embitter the feelings of persons who are already the victims of aggression." Not only are the Christians the culprits provoking "a severe reaction," those who support them are embittering the "feelings" of "victims of aggression." The victims here are the poor Bajrang Dal and Hindu Jagran Manch activists. There can be no better example of fascist double-speak.

The Organiser also provides glimpses of the communal poison that the RSS combine is injecting against the Christian community in the field. The hatred built up against "missionaries," nuns and priests is provided an ideological and organisational direction by the RSS. The December l2 issue of the Organiser carries a vituperative attack on "Christian friars and nuns engaged in converting gullible patients and their relatives to Christianity" in hospitals in Orissa. It cites as evidence such goings-on in a hospital in Bhubaneshwar and asserts this is happening elsewhere too. It is such vicious propaganda which created the atmosphere which led to the torching of Staines and his two sons.


The language and the tone is comparatively restrained in the Organiser, when compared to the crude and lying propaganda conducted in the RSS run papers in the states. An RSS paper, the Rashtradeep, brought out from Cuttack, in its report on the Staines murder, brazenly asserted that Staines had brandished a revolver threateningly, which led the crowd to attack him. There are a number of statements by VHP-Bajrang Dal spokesmen in Orissa who have indirectly justified the Manoharpur outrage. But none match the shocking brazenness of the BJP MP from Balasore, Kharavela Swain who declared Graham Staines a "social criminal" and "those who burnt him have done so with the aim of protecting Hindu culture and Hindutva." These remarks at a press conference at Baripada were reported in Dharitree, on a well known daily in Orissa, on January 31. This is the same line of argument as Seshadri's that conversions by Christians "are bound to provoke a severe reaction."

The term "evangelisation" which means preaching the gospel, is deliberately distorted to depict all Christian activities as "forcible conversions." The constitution in article 25(1) provides the right to profess and practice and propagate religion. This is objected to by the RSS. It wants the "right to propagate" deleted just as it is opposed to article 30(1) which guarantees the rights of minorities to run their educational institutions.

There are some Christian sects which resort to evangelisation aggressively. If these activities transgress the law in any manner, such as causing offence to the religious sentiments of others, they can be dealt with according to the law. Similarly, there are certain Church groups, affiliated to the CIA, who have aided and assisted secessionist groups in the North East. Such cases are to be dealt by the concerned authorities. CIA infiltration is not a feature unique to any Christian related organisation. The CIA is known to infiltrate political parties, institutions, and the media, including the RSS outfits.


To depict such things as a Christian conspiracy to subvert the Hindu community, and therefore India, is a product of the communal and fascist outlook of the RSS. In its perverted vision of nationalism, any ethnic community or religious group which does not get assimilated into the Hindu fold is to be treated as alien and obliterated.

There is ample material in the RSS papers such as Organiser and Panchajanya about the RSS role in the anti-Christian build-up. While this has always been the approach in the RSS ideology and practical activities, what is new is the heightened aggression and intimidatory tone in the RSS pronouncements against the Christian community and the Church. This has come about after the BJP came to power at the centre. There is a visible ring of authority, and the demand that the media conform to its diktat stems from the fact that the RSS perceives itself as exercising the levers of power. After all it now operates from the PMO, the home ministry and the information and broadcasting ministry.

A reading of the RSS papers and documents clearly shows that it is instrumental in the anti-Christian campaign. Utilising the BJP being in the central government, the RSS wants two things done. Firstly, the RSS wants to check and eliminate Church activities in the Adivasi areas. It has been its long standing complaint that Church activities are going unchecked among the Adivasis. It was to counter it that the RSS set up the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram. But now having the central government at its command, the RSS decided to embark on coercive tactics to achieve its aims. Secondly, the RSS wishes to desperately penetrate the North Eastern region, particularly the Christian majority areas. Here too, official backing for its aggressive efforts is seen as essential to achieve its aims.

While undertaking this plan, the RSS is aware that it can go about this only step by step. The compulsions of the Vajpayee government dependent on allies for a majority calls for a degree of restraint. Gujarat is an exception, since the BJP is well entrenched in government and the RSS network is powerful in the state. Here the wholesale intimidation and terror tactics can be freely used with active complicity of the state administration. The way a small and defenceless minority is being systematically suppressed in Gujarat is a warning of what is in store if the Hindutva forces gain ground in the rest of the country.

(Source: People’s Democracy, February 28, 1999)


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Last updated: February 23, 2000 .