Tuesday, May 8, 2012

RLPB 158. India: Hindu nationalism fuels violence & injustice

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 158 | Wed 09 May 2012

INDIA: HINDU NATIONALISM FUELS VIOLENCE & INJUSTICE

By Elizabeth Kendal

Hindu nationalism -- the idea that India should be a Hindu State -- is the political construct of India's high caste Hindu powerbrokers who pursue political power for the purpose of perpetuating their own power and privilege.

Hindu nationalism works to dragnet the votes of India's Hindu majority (74 percent), primarily through promoting Hindu supremacy and to effect religious conversions for political gain through fear-mongering amongst India's indigenous tribal peoples who are traditionally non-Hindu. The Hindu nationalists tell the indigenous tribals that their nation is under threat from seditious elements (Muslims and Christians) who they say are in the pay of foreign enemies like Pakistan and the CIA. The only way to protect India from separatism and colonialism is for the tribals to join the Hindu mainstream and fight politically and physically. This Hindutva propaganda goes largely unchallenged and is responsible for the dramatic escalation in dangerous communal violence right across India, a situation that is further fuelled by the impunity with which attackers are rewarded.

On 12 April Hindu militants went to the home of Pastor Ratnababu in Kakinada, East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh. They seized Pastor Ratnababu's son, Madhu, whose mouth they stuffed with cloth before tying his hands and legs, sprinkling chilli power in his eyes and stabbing him repeatedly. Pastor Ratnababu and his wife were also savagely beaten. The militants had come with a gas cylinder intending to set fire to the house when neighbours, hearing the commotion, came to the family's aid and forced the attackers to flee -- praise God! Despite the militants being identified by name, the police filed the complaint as being against 'unknown persons', thereby guaranteeing their impunity. Pastor Ratnababum, who has served the Christu Asinadu Prarthana Mandir church for 15 years, has received numerous death threats and survived three attempts to burn his church. The Evangelical Fellowship of India reports that the 500-strong congregation is traumatised.

Not only is basic law ignored but one very bad law is continually exploited. Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code criminalises 'deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs'. This law, which is essentially an anti-blasphemy or anti-defamation law, is constantly exploited to silence religious dialogue and persecute religious believers,  supposedly in the name of communal harmony, but usually for religious or political gain. Truth is not a defence. Suresh Bhat, a member of the People's Union for Civil Liberties in Mangalore, has authored several books on communalism. Speaking by phone to Tehelka in late April, he accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, the Hindu nationalist political party) of running a nationwide campaign to file cases against Christian workers. According to Bhat the police department in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh has issued a circular directing police to keep an eye on Christian missionaries.

On Thursday morning 10 April Pastor Victor Babu (45) was driving 23 children in a bus from Kundanhalli village to the Hebron Pentecostal Church in Marathahalli, an eastern suburb of Bangalore in BJP-ruled Karnataka. All but a couple of the children were from church families and all 23 had enrolled to attend the church's Vacation Bible School. However, the bus was stopped en route by a group of villagers led by local BJP leader Rajshekhar Reddy, who accused Babu of 'forcible conversion of children' and had him arrested. Babu was subsequently charged under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code for 'outraging religious feelings', and remanded to judicial custody. Whilst Reddy claimed to have acted because he 'could not bear to watch innocent children being brain washed', he was in reality inciting religious tensions purely for political and personal gain: to make himself politically powerful so he can perpetuate his own caste privilege.

For more examples of persecution in India, see Compass Direct News / India

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT GOD WILL --

* awaken India's long-downtrodden tribals and Scheduled Castes to the truth that radical transformation, justice and equity are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and not in perpetuating the obscenely racist Hindu caste system.

* bless all courageous gospel witness with the Holy Spirit's effectual power so that multitudes might be liberated from darkness and come to know the Saviour.

* motivate the federal government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to confront the Hindu nationalist propaganda that is fuelling dangerous communalism and anti-Christian violence across India.

* watch over and guard his Church, preserving his precious faithful ones and revealing his power and glory to all those watching. May the Lord 'bring forth justice to the nations' and 'open the eyes that are blind'. (Isaiah 42:1d and 7a)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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HINDU NATIONALISM FUELS VIOLENCE & INJUSTICE IN INDIA

Hindu nationalism -- the idea that India should be a Hindu State -- is the political construct of India's high caste Hindu powerbrokers who pursue political power for the purpose of perpetuating their own power and privilege. Hindu propaganda promotes Hindu supremacy and demonises Christianity as a threat to national security. Not only does Hindu nationalist propaganda go unchallenged, but the impunity with which violent attackers are rewarded is fuelling the escalation in violence against Christians. Pastors, Christian workers and even humble worshippers are routinely charged and imprisoned under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code that criminalises their so-called 'deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs'. Please pray for India's persecuted Church.