The Majority

( [email protected] ) Feb 17, 2004 05:35 PM EST

The majority community should take note of the small faction of militants who take the name of Hinduism to harass and threaten the minorities for selfish ends. They could be as dangerous to peace and security here as the terrorists who trouble our land taking the name of Islam.

The latest Jhabua incidents show that miscreants are waiting for excuses to terrorise and threaten the minorities under any pretext. It has become a habit with those in power to invoke the charge of "conversion" against Christians as the cause of any law and order problem created by fanatical elements. Details of the shameless attack on school, churches and houses in Jhabua must disturb anyone wanting to live in peace. The fanatics simply provide the right opportunity for anti-social elements to loot property of the victims. There is little help from those who ought to be maintaining law and order.

Recently six missionaries were badly beaten up in Orissa for preaching the Gospel. News of attacks on prayer meetings, belabouring pastors and new converts keep coming now and then from different regions. There is a pattern in all these. The motive behind such attack is to threaten and silence Christian workers. And the law enforcing authorities do not take sufficient care to ensure that these law breakers are brought to book. Instead, they seek to blame the Christian workers for the "provocation." This kind of use of muscle power to overawe those engaged in genuine religious activities will have its consequences on society. Preachers of Christian love are not expected to retaliate, but the continued success of law breakers over the innocent might slowly encourage these musclemen to use muscle power for other nefarious activities. In the resulting anarchy, no one, regardless of his or her religion will be safe.

Further genuine Hindu leaders must be concerned with the activity of the fanatical fringe which bring a bad name to them. The civil society should be mobilized to oppose `belligerence?by extremist groups. Hinduism stands to get discredited by the acts of a few villains in the same way the fair name of Islam is sullied by the few who are willing to die in the cause of widespread destruction and deaths.

Census figures for the past fifty years prove that allegations of mass conversion are false. There is equally no truth in the oft-repeated charge that Christians are engaged in forcible conversion using various allurements. Despite the anti-conversion laws being in force in various states, not a single case of forcible conversion has been brought to the notice of the law courts. Though the hollowness of the allegations is public knowledge, vested interests keep repeating the charges just to keep the issue burning. The intention is to spread the poison of hatred in society so that Christians dare not preach their religion. Such a clandestine attempt to rob the minority of its freedom to practise their religion in a democracy is deplorable, to say the least.

Many cultures and ideologies and people of varying origins have contributed to the greatness of this nation. The British, the Mughals, the Portughese the Parsees, the Jews, the Aryans and the Dravidians have all contributed to the greatness of this nation.

There is a growing tendency now to question the nationalism or patriotism of the minorities and often this is indulged in by those hollow elements whose loud mouthed proclamations of patriotism is a mask to hide their hatred for those who do not dance to their tune or share their narrow ideology.

In a pluralistic society, it is unbecoming on the part of anyone who loves this country and its people to talk of the superiority of one culture over the other. India must be deemed great not because of its geographical identity but for the values it uphold-values of justice, equality and freedom. of justice, equality and freedom.

The BJP has been proclaiming that 'development?would be its slogan this time; it has been maintaining that the "feel good" factor in the light of the buoyancy in the economy will work in its favour. Though many doubt its claim, at least the willingness to prioritize development is welcome. But development is possible only when the environment is congenial. So long as there is communal disharmony, the path of economic growth will prove to be bumpy and full of hurdles.

The promising development in Indo-Pakistan relations is another silver lining in the clouds. To an extent, the civil society has succeeded in dinning into the government that the five-decade-old hostility does not do any good to the two nations. There had been several exchange visits to the two countries by MPs, lawyers, judges, army veterans, journalists, writers, artists and businessmen for promoting good will. All these had created a favourable climate. Prime Minister Vajpayee has come to believe that for the welfare of the people of India and Pakistan, it is necessary to pursue a path of reconciliation and dialogue. Gen Musharraf has also taken steps to contain terrorist outfits giving rise to hopes of a breakthrough in Indo-Pakistan relations. If the political leaders on both sides had yielded ground supporting the peace move, part of the credit should go to the civil society building up pressure for ending hatred.

The civil society here, the human rights activists and others who believe in freedom and secularism must also mobilize public opinion against communal elements stirring up trouble.

Former chief election commissioner J M Lyngdoh rightly observed that politicians are not interested in democracy. He also averred that lawless elements had taken over vast parts of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. Responsible citizens can not remain indifferent to such a drift towards chaos .

When politicians are reluctant to act or are motivated by self interests and not the interests of the nation, the civil society.