By Shamsul Islam*
No ruling elite on this earth can beat Hindutva rulers of India in hypocrisy and demagogue. Under the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 the persecuted Christians in the neighbouring countries would be awarded Indian citizenship; a fine gesture. This love for persecuted Christians in the neighbourhood is to be evaluated not with a pinch of salt but a fistful of salt.
The Indian Christians have suffered maximum violence after Muslims at the hands of RSS goons. The most prominent ideologue of RSS declared Indian Christians as ‘Internal threat number 2’ after Muslims who were declared as ‘Internal threat number 1’ [MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu, Bangalore, 1996, p. 193.]
Golwalkar’s venom against Christians of India went to the extent of declaring that “Christian gentlemen residing in our land today [are], out to demolish not only the religious and social fabric of our life but also to establish political domination in various pockets and if possible all over the land.” [Bunch of Thoughts, p. 193.]
Modi started his first term as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. One of the first decisions he made was about celebrating December 25, (X-MAS) as ‘good-governance day’ every year. It continues till date. What fate awaited Christians in India was made clear by one of the most decorated police officers of India, Julio Ribeiro, on completion of almost nine months of Modi’s government, in the following words:
“Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country. The same category of citizens who had put their trust in me to rescue them from a force they could not comprehend have now come out of the woodwork to condemn me for practising a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra.
“Is it coincidence or a well-thought-out plan that the systematic targeting of a small and peaceful community should begin only after the BJP government of Narendra Modi came to power last May? “Ghar wapsi”, the declaration of Christmas as “Good Governance Day”, the attack on Christian churches and schools in Delhi, all added to a sense of siege that now afflicts these peaceful people.”
Soon Indian Parliament will pass the Constitution (126th Amendment) Bill which will do away with the nomination of Anglo-Indian members to the Lok Sabha and state legislatures from January 25, 2020. Nomination to Anglo-Indians was provisioned in the Constitution in order to give representation to a section of Christians who were incapable of getting elected any member of their community due to small number. In fact, despite this provision in force, since the 17th Lok Sabha was constituted (more than six month back), the Modi government did not nominate any member from the Anglo-Indian community to the House.
As if it was not enough, in a latest decision of the defence ministry of India, the singing of ‘Abide with Me’, a traditional Christian hymn has been dropped from the list of songs to be presented during ‘Beating Retreat’ ceremony. This ceremony held every year at Vijay Chowk in Raisina Hill complex is a popular ceremony where bands from all the three wings of Indian armed forces play tunes.
Till 2019, the ceremony used to end with the Christian hymn ‘Abide With Me’, said to be a favourite of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and written by a Scottish Anglican preacher named Henry Francis Lyte. A defence ministry official justified this decision by declaring it as a ‘routine change’. It has been replaced by ‘Vande Mataram’.
Thus while Indian Christians continue to lose their rights in India, persecuted Christians in the neighbourhood by getting Indian citizenship will have equal rights like Hindus of India is a million dollar question. They are welcome to join ranks of the 2nd class citizens!
*Veteran political scientist, formerly with the Delhi University, link for some of Prof Islam’s writings video interviews/debates can be accessed here. http://du-in.academia.edu/ShamsulIslam. Twitter: @shamsforjustice. Blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/. Contact: [email protected]