Year 2000


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South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch #2 10 May 2000 _________________________________________ ATROCITIES ON MINORITIES IN INDIA IN YEAR 2000. _________________________________________ Anti-minoritism: The Hindutwa strategy for political power by Saby Vempeny The following are the summery of attack against the Christian institutions in India by Hindu fundamentalist since January 2000 as reported from different parts of India in the national dailies and in the Christian periodicals. January 1st. 2000, Orissa While demanding an immediate judicial inquiry in to the ghastly police firing on Christian triabals in the Majhiguda village of Gajapathi district in Orissa on Dec. 30, 1999, the All India Christian council and the All India catholic Union strongly deplored the incident as part of a systematic communalisation of the tribal belt of Orissa by vested interests. January 1st, Panipat The priest of the Catholic Church at Panipat in Hariyana, under the model town police station area, Fr. Vikas Alves IMS, who is the manager of the St. Mary's Convent School, was severely beaten up with sticks and stones and received serious head injuries and fractured hands by unidentified men on Saturday who escaped, leaving Fr. Vikas unconscious as the Father's other companion Fr. Ashwin raised alarm. The police when contacted by Fr. Ashwin while the attackers were still beating up the priest reportedly told him to come to the police station and register a complaint instead of coming to their rescue immediately. For the last couple of years the mission school had been receiving threats, troubles and cases of intimidation. January 19th, Assam The principal of St. Joseph's School, Sonari in Sivasagar district of Assam, Fr. Lazar Kakkacherry, is accused of causing the death of the student Damayanti Nag (12) who died of anemia on 19th January 2000 by the Sonari Town Mandal Committee of the BJP and have filed a case against the Principal. The student of class V , Damayanti had vomited once in the school corridor in the morning on that day but she continued attending classes in a normal condition. However, at 2,00 p.m., when the school was closed for the day, she walked to board the school bus stationed outside the school compound and there she collapsed suddenly. On being informed about the girl the principal sent his assistant, Fr. Ambrose Ekka, with a jeep and reached the student to her home around 3,pm. At about 8.p.m. as her parents were rushing her to the medical college at Dibrugarh, 75 kms from the place she breathed her last. The principal later said "The allegation is merely to turn the people against the School. Parents have no complaint. In fact they appreciated our gesture of care and concern for the child. We declared the day of the funeral a holiday and went for her burial". January 20th, Ahmedabad (Times Of India report) The state government has roped in a private charitable trust to find out, among other things whether its scheduled caste and scheduled tribe officials have adopted other religions. In a circular sent to all departments, the government has asked its employees Class II and above to fill up a personal form, which includes a query "... when have you converted to Buddhism/Christianity/ Islam"? Another sensitive information demanded in the survey is regarding inter-caste, inter state marriages in the family of the employee concerned. The survey, being carried out by three Guru Dattatray Charitable Trust's managing trustee Dalpatbhai Shrimali, who himself is a scheduled caste, has set the cat among the pigeons with officials questioning the credentials of the trust and the future use of the information. January 22nd, New Delhi The United Christian Forum for Human Rights which held a memorial service for Graham Staines and his two sons today, in a statement mentioned that while killers still eluded the police forces, the official machinery was working overtime and issued several notices to Christian Organizations in Orissa telling them to obey the nefarious Anti-Conversion Act of the Orissa government which violated the freedom of religion- enshrined in the constitution. The statement further said that the Central Government through the Department of Posts and Telegraph canceled postal facilities for scores of Christian magazines and newspapers in many states. February 2nd, Ambala The Convent of Jesus and Mary School in Ambala was threatened with demolition because it failed to admit the grandchild of the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Among the application for admissions for the new academic year in the school, one was of Apparichita, the granddaughter of Governor Suraj Bhan of UP. The child was over-age (over 4 years and six months according to the schools prescribed criteria for joining the kinder garden), and was therefore not considered for the interviews. According to the school principal Sister Tara RJM, "on the 2nd of February 2000, the school received a telephone call from the District Collector R.B. Verma, IAS leaving a message to contact him in return. The School tried to contact him but he was not available. On 7th February 2000, the DC again got in touch and told the principal, "you are too busy to contact the DC, are you?" In the morning of the 8th of February, 2000, the principal got a message form the Executive office of the Municipal body saying he was coming to the School to inspect the sanctioned plans of 1995 for the school building. The Officer reached the school in five minutes of the telephone call and asked for the sanctioned plans of the building and the ownership papers of the property which the sisters did not have ready at that moment. The municipal building inspector who had come with the Executive officer wanted to measure the building and structures while the school was in session and did as he wished though it disturbed the students and the younger ones among them started crying. Half an hour later the Municipal authorities told the sisters that they would demolish major portions of the building as they had violated the rules, though they were told clearly that no rules had been violated. The Municipal authorities accused the school of encroachment on public property and of unauthorized construction when there was none of such violations. February 3rd, Rajgarh A catholic priest Fr. Abraham of a School at Rajgarh district of M.P was accused of forcible conversion and attempts to torture young boys between the age group of 10 to 12 who belong to the SC/STs. This allegation was raised by the former BJP MLA form Rajgarh, Mr. Raghunandan Sharma. The case as soon came to be evident was an attempt to harm the Priest and the School as part of a well-planned allegation raising the boggy of 'forcible conversion'. February 18th, Dindigul Anti-social elements, armed with deadly weapons, entered the Damian Leprosy Hospital complex run by Catholic nuns for the past 31 years, some 2 kms south of Nilakottai near Dindigul. The hospital complex includes leprosy prevention centre, Sophia General Hospital, Lillion Middle School for the Handicapped, Polio-Surgery Centre, free Handicraft School for poor Girls, Lillion school for the Mentally Challenged, T.B centre, free eye hospital, a home for street children and a retreat centre. Of course they had no programme for converting anyone to Christianity but the church within the campus used by the nuns have been completely ransacked. The looters caused extensive damage to two jeeps and many of the hospital equipments. The total destruction caused is more than Rs. 12 lakhs. The district administration who rushed to the spot and camping in the place ever since do not rule out the involvement of the RSS in the event as the churches and holy places in the complex have been their main target of attack. February 25th, Gujarat The Gujarat BJP has temporarily postponed the introduction of the controversial Bill that seeks to prohibit religious conversions in the stake. The Bill ironically named 'the Freedom of Religion Bill, 1999 was widely seen as a move against the Christian minorities in the state. . March: 2000, Bulandshar A school run by nuns at Bulandshar was attacked, around the same time when two Catholic priests of Agra were illegally detained by police at Hariparbat Police station after a former teacher, who left St. Paul's School Agra without tendering a notice 8 years ago and wanted to be reinstated this year, registered a case against the priests on a "trumped-up" charge of trying to tear the clothes of her at a busy road crossing on the morning of march 31. The priests were arrested when the local police officer discovered that his child had failed in his exams on the same day in the missionaries' school.. March: 2000, Gujarat Three months after the death of a Jesuit Priest, the Gujarat state tried to serve him a court notice for his involvement in rehabilitating people who were displaced by the US$4 billion Sardar Sarovar Project. Fr. Idiakunnel had launched a people's movement against the project some 20 years ago and had later withdrawn from the movement as other leaders took over. Social activist Girish Patel who teamed up with Father Idiakunnel and Medha Patkar in leading the Narmada Bachao Andolan said the priest's initiative had helped to unite tribals. March 2000, Orissa The VHP alleged that Christian volunteers under the guise of relief-work for the Orissa cyclone-victims had converted 25,000 people. When many of the Hindu individuals have praised the stupendous and selfless service done by Christian volunteer groups who never mixed relief work with religious work. Not even one Hindu organization has given recognition to this dedicated service rendered by the church organizations but indulged in spreading lies against their good works. March 8th, Mysore An organization describing itself as Jai Hanuman Bajrang Samit is a cause for fear and threat for the Mysore Christians ever since the self-styled Hindu organization in a letter to the Mysore Bishop Joseph Ray has demanded that the church authorities donate 30 by 45 feet site inside the world-renowned St. Philomena's Church for the construction of a temple of the sacred bull Nandi. Among other demands by the Hanuman samiti are that they will be installing an idol of god Ganesha in St. Anne's church in Gandhinagar, 40 km form Mysore, and to hand over an acre of land at Mysore's Dorannahalli village in KR Nagar, on the right side of the St. Antony's church to construct a grand Ram temple. Three years ago a temple had already come up behind the St. Philomena's College, around the same area on the land belonging to the church institution. The church authorities had kept silent then and simply erected a wall to maintain peace. March 8th, Basara On March 8th 2000, some men broke down the rear wall of the Ish Mata Church of Basara Parish and took 60,000 rupees. The priest Fr. Aseem Raj, saved himself from the attackers by locking himself in the bathroom. "Police say the looting is economically motivated but I wonder why only Catholic churches are singled out for attacks" asks Fr. T.R. Thomas the diocesan administrator. March 12th, Ghaziabad The computer centre sponsored by the Government, and run by the Capuchin Priests at Suryanagar, Ghaziabad, was attacked, and the attackers took away 23 computers after locking the priests and the inmates inside their rooms. March 12th, Kadi. A group of 20armed men allegedly broke into St. Anne's Convent and Sandya Visharam- old people's home, after beating up the guard, at Unteshwari on the outskirts of Kadi town, some 55 kms from Ahmedabad. The attackers who came during the early morning hours on 12th, before leaving the place with cash worth RS. 8.000 and a camera, threatened the sisters and had asked them to leave the place, failing in which they will have to face severe consequences. March 13th, Orissa The amendment in the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 (made during the time when Mr. Giridhar Gamang was the state CM.)is clearly anti-Christian and infringes upon religious freedom of the Christians and others. Church leaders met the present CM, Mr. Navin Patnaik and warned him of the possibility of police officers and others misusing their powers, delay matters and cause problems to the Christians due to the amended version of the Act which had stated that religious heads conducting conversions should inform the district magistrate a fortnight ahead. Then the magistrate on being informed, will ask police to ascertain whether there is any objection to the conversion and submit a report. The Christian delegation that met Mr. Patnaik raised also the issue regarding a letter received by some Church authorities asking them to furnish names and addresses of people who have been converted during the last five years through their respective churches. The Christian bodies in the state pointed out that the state government, , and the magistrates, and collectors, as a way of discrimination had selectively issued notices (notification No. 63286 of 26. 11. 99) only to the heads of churches and not to any other religious organizations asking them to furnish details immediately on conversions in the last five years. April 1st, Ghaziabad "A group of around 10 men armed with sticks, knives and iron roads barged into the Capuchin missionaries-run Christ Vihar Hindu medium primary school in the Dasna-Masuri area and ransacked rooms after beating up the Priest Fr. Skylark (27) George in the early hours" of April first. They took away cash amounting to more than 40 thousand, which was meant to pay salaries to the staff. April 2000, Lucknow The Bajrang Dal in UP has declared war against St. Paul's school, Lucknow after accusing its Principal, Fr. Simon Fernandes, of 'harassing the girl students'. A teacher at St. Paul's School, Mr. Bhagwan Singh who claims to be the spokesperson for the VHP in UP has initiated the controversy by leveling charges against the principal. The Bajrang Dal promptly staged a dharna, demanding the ouster of the Principal and an enquiry into the affairs of the school. Mr. Bhagwan Singh had started targeting the principal after the principal complained to the school's managing committee that the teacher was inciting communal passions. This principal had done this on receiving complaints from the parents stating that Mr. Bhagawan Singh had started using his Moral Science classes in the school to spread the VHP ideology in the school. However the Bajrang Dal activists refused to identify or produce the girls who had reportedly been "harassed" by the principal, saying that this would cause embarrassment to the students and their parents. In this context of a possible attack by the Bajarang Dal goons alleging "harassment" of students, the principal said, "We have been provided with some security, but I would like a thorough investigation, so that the truth could be exposed". The UP government officials or the VHP officials refused to comment on the issue. April 6th, Mathura A mob of about 150 people, mainly parents and relatives of the Children detained from promotion due to poor performances attacked the Sacred Heart Convent school and resorted to stone throwing, and threatened to burn down the school library and also to attack the school in future. April 7th, Bihar The killing of a convent watchman Shakir Hussein (40) of the Holy Cross Convent in Belatanr, Giridih district on 7th and stoning of a Jesuit Social service Centre have caused alarm among Christians in Bihar. Unidentified gunmen shot Shakir and two days later in West Champran district nearly 600 kms north, some 50 children allegedly instigated by Hindu fanatic groups threw stones at the Rural Education and Development Centre of the Jesuits. According the report in the Indian currents weekly (7 May), the trouble at the Jesuit centre started after some local Hindus attempted to build a temple at the entrance to a housing community in which the families of 23 READ volunteers live. A group of more than 200 people including children met at the proposed temple site, where construction was foiled by the police as it was illegal, raised slogans against Catholic Priests and threatened to liquidate the construction. As reported in the Indian Currents, a police officer of the West Champaran district headquarters of Bettiah, described the incident as "a game plan to create a Hindu-Christian divide" to score publicity. April 9th, Mathura The principal of St. Dominic Convent School in Mathura Cantonment, Fr. Joseph Dabre was roughed up by a group of persons armed with iron roads and sticks. April 10-11 midnight: Around 20 armed men attacked the sr. Mary and sr. Gloria in the premises of St. Teresa School on Nandgaon road, near Mathura and beat them up with sticks. The attackers broke into the residence of Fr. K.K Thomas, the principal of the school and priest of the local church, beat him up on the head and left the bleeding and unconscious man thinking him to be dead. The domestic help Ms. Mary Murmo, was also beaten and was critically wounded on the head. The escaped after robbing the valuables and rupees amounting to nearly 1 lakh from the almaras April 11th, Howrah St. Thomas Church School at Howrah, one of the largest and oldest English medium schools in the town was forced to shutdown after the trouble and protests by some senior students and parents started on 11th over the tuition fee hike form RS. 275 per month to RS. 475. The school authorities said that they were compelled to raise the fees in order to pay the teacher's salaries in keeping with the recommendation of the Forth Pay Commission. The School authorities pointed out the fact saying, "We are the only English medium institution in both Calcutta and Howrah which has not increased the fees for two years", while most of the other schools of this category have hiked the fees twice since the past three years. April 16th, Bijnor A group of 15 persons carrying fire arms and sharp edged weapons on 16 night attacked the Saint John's Convent Hostel in Timerpur village, situated two km form Bijnor Kotwali police station area. The group also tried to enter the convent where 10 nuns were sleeping. April 22nd, Agra A group of Christians from Hyderabad was attacked by around 20 to 30 Dajrang Dal activists and their bible burnt, after beating up the Christians and their van was attempted to set on fire, in Jagdishpur on the outskirts of Agra at Nagla Ajita, under the pretext of their objection to the 'forced conversion' by the group. April 22nd, Rewari Three Christian nuns at the Deepti Ashram who have been actively involved with the empowerment of women to fight against social evils, Sisters Anandi, Pramila, and Gertrude, were attacked by an unidentified man on a scooter (number DL-2CK-5604), on their way to Easter-eve midnight Mass in Rewari in Hariyana. Since a few days prior to the incident there had been, a few local publications threatening to get rid of the sisters, and through anonymous calls the nuns where threatened of dire consequences if they do not leave the place. The condition of one of the victim sister Anandi was serious and had been admitted to the intensive care unit at the Holy Family hospital, Delhi. April 26th, Kottayam Three Christian Pastors were attacked by around 6 assailants and a tent put up for a convention was razed to the ground while a prayer was going on in the pandalon April 26th Wednesday at Kaduvakulam near Kottayam in Kerala. The attackers destroyed loud speakers, generator sets and chairs before fleeing the place. May 2nd, Jhansi Six unidentified masked men assaulted and beat up the nuns and looted their convent, desecrated their residential sacred Chapel in the house, and robbed money and valuables on the night of may 2nd at Paricha in Jhansi, "even as the BJP commended the National Commission for Minorities on Thursday for its 'prompt and factual' report on the recent attacks on Christian institutions in UP". May 3rd, Dangs 'A group of Christians were beaten up when its members were engaged in a sound-and light programme at Subir, 33 km from Ahwa in Dangs district of Gujarat April 3rd'. It was the same area where Bajarang Dal activists had attacked and burnt the prayer halls, churches, houses and vehicles two yeas ago. May 4th, Patna There was tension in the prestigious St. Xavier's School of Patna on may 4th when the brother with political connections of a boy who fainted in the remedial class, managed to create trouble. The Jesuit principal Fr. Peter was accused of 'harassment' and misbehavior with the students in the counseling cessions. The incident occurred because Fr. Peter seeing some of the students very poor in Physics organized remedial classes for them so that those weak students who cannot manage can pass in the exams. When the boys returned for the tuition class which the principal conducted freely on his own initiative, one of the boys felt dizziness and fell down and recovered later and continued attending the class. It happened because it was too hot and the boy had been playing earlier. But later the brother of the boy managed to organize the disgruntled elements in the school, especially those who were denied promotion and admission in the school. Police had to be called up for the security of the school, and the school decided to call a parent-teachers meeting the next day to explain the situation and to sort out the tension. May 6th, Ahmedabad. Fresh attack on Christians by Bajarang Dal activists on Friday, in Ahmedabad was reported in the national newspapers. The Miscreants attacked Christian activists with lathis and sharp-edged weapons. The incident reportedly occurred when people from the Bible house were distributing handouts. Copies of the Bible were also burnt. The Delhi edition of the Hindustan Times reports that booklet on how to implicate the minorities in court with false allegations had been circulated in the state for about three months now. The booklet without author's or publisher's name on it, titled Hinduno Bachao, (Save Hindus, Attacks and Laws). Inside the booklet it is written sentences like "now that we have our own government, we should take proper advantage of it and get our work done by it", "In the complaints we file to take revenge, we should implicate the top authorities of the mission and if possible, foreign missionaries also". "They may not be convicted in the court in the end, but they should be made to go up and down the court for months on end.... harassment is also a type of punishment". May 7th, Almora The social service centre called Social, Educational and Village Animation (SEVA) doing women's empowerment works through Self Help groups, Health programme on Hygiene, training of Dais for safer delivery, and assisting all government immunization programes like polio vaccination, conducted by local women animators themselves, under the directorship of the Jesuit Social worker, is facing threats from various elements who do no appreciate the good works done by the women in more than 300 hundred villages in the Almora area of UP state. The SEVA group is fearing an attack on them anytime as part of a follow up of the local group's protests against the report on AIDS in the region prepared by the NGO called Sahayog. The people identify the SAHAYOG organization with SEVA as both are referred as sanstha in the local language. The SEVA is involved in imparting informal Education for Women and dropout children by local village instructors, Environmental programes by mobilizing people to plant trees, to conserve trees and also helping farmers to acquire high yield variety seeds from Governmental agencies. The present agitated mood of some of the people in the area especially in Barechena village, 16 kms away from Almora is creating uncertainties in the minds of SEVA women animators and the beneficiaries in the SEVA programes who are mostly women. Comment: In his April 25th speech in the Lock Sabha the Prime Minister, A.B Vajpayee, pointed out that the recent attacks on Christian missionaries in UP were 'unfortunate' and he said that the home ministry had asked the state government to investigate and punish the guilty. In this matter the P.M had recently cautioned the U.P Chief Minister R.P.Gupta against the recurrence of communal flare -ups in the state. On April 24th the Lok Sabha members condemned the continuing attacks on Christians in different parts of the country and the Sabha owned up its 'Constitutional obligation' to protect the minorities. The opposition in the Lok Sabha pointed out a pattern in the attacks on Christians. Many members including Jaipal Reddy (Congress-I) pointed out the conspicuous pattern characteristics of the Bajarang Dal in all the anti-Christian campaigns in Hariyana and U.P. The Parliamentary affairs minister Pramod Mahajan promised in the Lok Sabha on 24th April that the Centre would extend all help to state government in dealing with such incidents and stressed on his governments priority to protect the minorities wherever they are. All hopes of justice and peace that the Christian community entertained were shattered when the Indian Government's Minorities commission who visited the effected area and declared all the incidents as locally motivated acts of robbery and that there was no communal side to it. The Minority commission in its hastily prepared statement gave a clean chit to the communalists who created fear among the minorities and termed the incidents as unrelated and non-communal. Earlier in the case of Rewari incident in spite of , even the BJP government outwardly sensing a real hate campaign against the Christians the police and local government authorities got the church leaders to say the incident as an isolated accident. Thanks to such positions of the church members that On 24th the BJP government could defend itself from the opposition's allegation regarding the matter when Mr. Venkaiah Naidu read out a newspaper report that quoted the local Chief of the Church as having said it might be an accident. But the newspaper had failed to mention who is the local church leader. It is evident for all, beyond doubt, that after the bad reputation the Hindutwa's Militant outfits and the political party patronizing them, the BJP, have received following ant-Christian violence in Orissa and Gujarat, they have shifted their strategies. But they have not stopped the hate campaign, instead attacks against the Christians have only increased. Now it is in the form of organized, group robberies, 'hit and run' style attacks on Church personal and by attempting to tarnish the image of the missionary or the institution by alleging "cheating", "sexual harassment" or "attempted molestation", etc,. Thus any outward sign of the communal design of the attackers are kept hidden while succeeding to inflict damage and fear among the Christians. But the unfortunate element is that in spite of such persistent and planned atrocities perpetuated against Christians and Christian institutions especially on priests and nuns the Church authorities are dragging behind in grasping the magnitude and danger that lies in these hate campaigns. Secular organizations see the dangerous growth of fascism in the country. Secular organizations like 'insaani ekta muhim' sees that 'Fascism is seeking to increase its mobilization of the majority community through lies and false propaganda against the vulnerable sections, particularly the minorities. It is painting a picture of "persecution" of the majority community by the minorities. The attacks on Muslims and Christians are only devices on the part of the Sangh Parivar to capture total political power. Secular citizens see the attacks on books, films, and art as part the strategy to strengthen the traditional manusmrit culture based on caste and gender oppression. The attempt to change the civil service rules in Gujarat, introduction of the Religious and places of worship bill in U.P and reintroducing a far more draconian TADA through the criminal amendment Bill and the attempt to change the basic nature of the constitution through a review attack the roots of a democratic and secular polity. The CPI in its national council meeting in Delhi condemned the repeated attacks on educational institutions run by Christians and pointed out that the "police collaborated with the frontal organizations of RSS in organizing anti-minority violence". All the attacks on Christians that happened in U.P, or Hariyana are termed either as robbery or as isolated incidents by the Police. While to anyone aware of the frequency and background to these attack cannot escape but see a well designed plan in these attacks most often mooted from outside the area of the incident. To prove the theory of the police or the politicians the best thing to do is to catch the culprits and prove the case. But then this is precisely what the administration has failed to do. The Rewari attack is not unexpected as there were threatening calls earlier to the Nuns. The attack on Fr. Skylark and the institution at Ghaziabad too is altogether not strange as there was a similar attempt a couple of months back in the same place. The same way the attackers at Sacred Hear School had warned that the Christians will have to pay heavily, and within a couple of days the brutal attack on Fr. K.K Thomas at Kosi Kalan happened. And all these recent attacks in Mathura against Christian missionaries happened less than a month after the Bajarang Dal called for an awakening against "the conspiracy of conversion". Interestingly, in all the places the police are informed in time but in none of the cases the police are able to apprehend the culprits although all these Christian institutions are not situated very far from the Police Posts. Almost all the cases of attacks included a large number of attackers. Normally a case of robbery does not have more than half a dozen men sufficient for the operation. But in the incidents at U.P we see that it was not few but a crowed of armed men numbering perhaps more than 20 to 25 who have attacked the nuns and priests. Also these robbers are not satisfied with the loot but they made their intention of murdering and harming the inmates as the inmates are left bleeding profusely expecting them to die, when the looters left the place. It is high time for the Church leaders to seriously understand the present trend and take appropriate prevention against such attacks. The church leaders are often found defending their positions and crying foul whenever injustice is done to them. They are also projected sometimes as passive and naive who are tying to get out of the unfortunate individual incidents that have occurred. Thus they fail to see a national and widespread design in all these incidents due to which a national strategy to face such undemocratic and anti-minority attacks are nor arrived at. The church is always trying to cope with each incidents but before they even grasp the damage of the attack, fresh attacks take place and church leaders are found to be at loss then. Most of these institutions attacked are run by the missionaries using the privileges meant for the members of the minority community so that the minority community is given opportunities to be equal to others, to preserve their identity, culture and religion and also their particularity as a separate group. But we see that these institutions instead of catering to the minority community are often catering to the non-minority and Upper cast Hindu sections of the Society. For example, take the case of the Sacred Heart School at Mathura: Out of 1500 students only five belong to the Christian minority community and out of the 60 staff only three belong to the minority and though the School is functioning in the similar way for more than 40 years there have been no case of any one becoming a Christian or even becoming partners in the good work of the missionaries. In the case of the JMJ Convent School at Ambala only 3 of the 55 teachers are Christian and only 75 of the 1500 students are from the Christian community. The same is the case in most of the Christian run schools in U.P and Hariyana. The Christians in India, a vulnerable and non-violent community, it appears are still grouping in the dark as to what to make out of these communalists attacks on them. They are often found to be fighting their own battles only in places wherever such incidents occur. They are easily lured into compromises to settle the matter often at the cost of justice, by the local authorities who only wish to get over with the incident. Similar atrocities all over the country with frightening frequency and particularly targeting Christian missionaries and their institutions are not considered as part of a nation wide modus operandi of the Hindutva forces. Therefore the sufferers are forced to see the event only as a local incident. Besides they are often helpless and accept the police version of the events as isolated and accidental. It is time that the Church leaders pose an aggressive stand rather than, just mearly fighting for their rights whenever they are violated. It is time to fight the forces of fascism, communalism, majoritarianism and the forces of lies and untruth with whatever non-violent means that are at its disposal. The church should not wait for attacks on it to counter it, but must begin a campaign against forces that persecute the minorities, the Dalits, the poor and the disadvantaged in the name of 'Swadeshi' and 'nationalism' and also must fight not for themselves alone but for all of India so that our democracy and secularism can survive. __________________________________________

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Last updated: October 28, 2000 .