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The Praveenbhai Togadia Chat

'Nobody has the right to convert anybody in India'

Vishwa Hindu Parishad general secretary Praveenbhai Togadia joins the debate on the anti-Christian attacks.

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:30 IST)
Namaste everybody, I am ready for your questions.

vinay (Tue Jan 19 1999 17:27 IST)
Obviously, Hindus are in a minority in the world. I believe a GLOBAL Minority Council in the United Nations is needed to overlook the problems and atrocities on them. Your comments please?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:33 IST)
Vinay: The concept of minorities is alien to India because we don't believe in discriminating on the basis of caste, creed or religion. As such, after Jews, Hindus have suffered a lot in the world to save their culture and motherland. Almost five million of our forefathers and foremothers have been killed in the last 1,000 years. Yet we don't need such type of protection because we have faith in the humanity spread all over the world that it will take care of all communities that are peace loving.

JJ (Wed Jan 20 1999 4:45 IST)
Hi, Mr Togadia, all these years the Hindus neglected the minorities and didn't give them equal status and standing, which the Christian missionaries did. NOW YOU SAY THAT IS BAD?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:39 IST)
JJ: We believe that each and every individual is a God, so there is no question of neglecting anybody. But due to the last 1,000 years slavery and foreign rule in this country, we have had to continuously fight to save our culture and motherland. So we couldn't reform our society in the way in which it should have been done. But in the last 400 to 500 years from Ramanandacharya to Swami Vivekananda have tried a lot and at present, the maximum work among the so-called downtrodden is not by the church but by the different Hindu organisations.

More than 25,000 social service projects are going on among the downtrodden people. It is wrong to say that the church is serving the downtrodden. It is an end to the means of conversion. On the contrary, from 1871, the first census of India, to rule for prolonged time, the British tried to divide Indian society by a census. By converting, the church has given the scheduled tribe people a different identity and tried to destroy indigenous culture, ethos, behaviour rather than serving them.

Maran (Wed Jan 20 1999 6:50 IST)
Togadia: Why has the VHP embarked on a campaign to harass and attack Christians in India? Isn't it because you have become bold under the Vajpayee government?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:46 IST)
Maran: It is wrong that we have started to attack and harass Christians. The fact is something different: 24 Hindu temples have been destroyed by Christians in Dangs district, Gujarat, such as the Hanumanji temple at Barkhed, and Nadakhadi, urinating on idols, desecration of Waghdev and Panduri mother idols and so on. On December 25, in Dang, there was a religious congregation on the private premises with the permission of the authorities. Chanting of Ram dhun (God's name) when all of a sudden, 150 Christians attacked the religious ceremony. 30 Vanvasi Hindus were injured.

The Christians damaged the residence of one worker, desecrated one temple. By a private gun, seven Vanvasi were shot at. So the attack was started by the Christians. Hindu Vanvasis were the ones who suffered. So the question of attacking Christians by Hindus does not arise at all. Not a single Christian was injured, killed, or admitted to hospital. It is a campaign to defame Hindu society. On the other hand, Hindus have been seriously injured and admitted to hospital.

Radha Iyer (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:32 IST)
Mr Togadia: Do you seriously believe that Christians bribe poor adivasis to convert?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:56 IST)
Radha Iyer: It is not a question of belief, it is a reality. For illegal activities of a church, in 1954, the Madhya Pradesh Congress government had appointed a commission under the chairmanship of retired high court judge. This Niyogi Commission submitted its report in 1956. In the report, they have said that the Church was giving loans to only those Hindus who were chopping their hair tufts, giving money to only persons who became Christians, they were giving medical treatment only if they accept Jesus Christ as their saviour. I am quoting a part of the Niyogi Commission: "School celebrations were used for showing the victory of the Cross over all the symbols; hospitals were used for putting pressure on poor class patients to embrace Christianity; orphanages that collected orphans during the famine as a rich harvest, most conversions have been doubtless insincere admittedly brought about of social services benefit and other material considerations." (from page no 113, Niyogi Commission Report).

Rizwan Sheikh (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:39 IST)
Togadiaji: Can you tell me who is supreme, the Hindu dharam or the Indian Constitution?

ben (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:46 IST)
Praveenbhai, Rizwan has a point...the Constitution of India is supreme...we are still a democracy...where you have definite cases of forcible conversions and illegal activities... why don't you bring them up in court and in the open? and why don't you bring a case for the Constitution and the law to be the same for all ..irrespective of their religion ?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:10 IST)
Rizwan and Ben: As far as we are concerned with the State and the citizens, the Constitution is supreme. The Indian Constitution under Article 25(1) has given freedom of religion to each and every citizen. The Article tells that everybody has a right to practise, profess, and propagate their own religion but this right is not absolute. It is subject to public order, morality and health. I want to say that that church has misused this Article by violating public order, morality and health. It has been established by the Niyogi Commission.

Two state governments of India -- Madhya Pradesh and Orissa -- have passed legislations against conversions by immoral acts. The church has challenged this act in the Supreme Court. In 1977, the Supreme Court gave a judgment and contention of the Christian community were rejected in toto. The Supreme Court said the right to propagate in Article 25(1) gives to each member of every religion the right to spread his religion but it would not include the right to convert another. And the Supreme Court told that this will be applicable in each court of India. So nobody has the right to convert anybody in India.

I want to say that the church is trying, in India before AD 2000, to establish as per the mission mandate, to train 100,000 missionaries; as per the AD 2000 Organisation, they want to distribute literature to 100 million people in India. Every person in every city in every language in every district. Almost 119,250 missionaries with 90,000 nuns, one per cent of the total Christian population, is working right and left and centre to convert India and to damage the indigenous culture of India. So we have demanded recently that the State should implement the law of the land and anybody engaged in the act of conversion should be prosecuted.

ben (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:57 IST)
Praveenbhai, if what you say the Christian missionaries incited, shouldn't they been prosecuted in a court of law and that publicised?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:12 IST)
ben: In the Dang incident, for attacking the Hindu religious programme, 10 Christians have been arrested. One Christian who fired from his gun and injured seven Hindus was also arrested and his trial is going on.

James (Wed Jan 20 1999 7:48 IST)
Mr Togadia: Christian missionaries are doing social work in the villages of India. The VHP has never bothered to do these things. You tell me how many lepers have you and Ashok Singhal embraced like Mother Teresa? So first empathise with the poor and downtrodden and only then talk about your religion?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:16 IST)
James: We the VHP and allied Hindu organisations are running 7 leper centres in India, 25,000 different social services projects. Our point is if somebody is serving the poor, they don't have the right to convert, because if they convert it is not service but a trade.

xyd (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:2 IST)
Mr Togadia: When was the VHP formed and what were its objectives?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:22 IST)
xyd: The VHP was formed in 1964 on the birthday of Lord Krishna. The VHP was formed to propagate eternal Hindu values in Bharat and all over the world, and to reform Hindu society so that it can work for Humanity.

Nigel (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:15 IST)
Mr Togadia: Do you think India has remained a secular country because 90 per cent of Hindus are secular by their nature and culture?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:25 IST)
nigel: India is secular because there are 90 per cent Hindus. By conversion of Hindus to Muslims, today's Pakistan and Bangladesh were formed. Both are theocratic Muslim states. In Goa, there was Portuguese rule by the Goa inquisition. Hundreds of Hindus were killed, temples destroyed and theocracy of Christianity on Hindus was established. Even after the division of India, Hindus have not preferred theocracy because we are basically secular for the last thousands of years.

varun (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:24 IST)
Why do you hate Christianity?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:27 IST)
Varun: A Hindu cannot hate any religion. He believes that to pray to God is the same, so we can't hate Christianity. But we are against the conversion activity of the Church. We love Christianity but we oppose Churchanity as it was opposed by Europe.

sdf (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:10 IST)
Mr Togadia: Why do Hindus convert then? Is money the only reason?

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:33 IST)
sdf: Forty per cent of the Hindus are living below the poverty line, 40 per cent are illiterate, 13 per cent live in the forests... Christians have billions of dollars from so many rich countries, they exploit illiteracy and poverty and they are forcing poor Indians to accept Christianity if they want to take advantage of their service projects. So with the help of foreign money, they are running hospitals and schools and with force, fraud and inducement, they are converting the poor Hindus.

Mr Praveen Togadia (Wed Jan 20 1999 8:36 IST)
To All: Thank you very much from me and the land of peace and love. I wanted to answer all of you but could not due to paucity of time. In case of queries, please contact the VHP office, Sanket Mochan Hanuman Mandir, RK Puram Sector 6, New Delhi 110022. Fax (91-11)6195527. The VHP website is Dhanyavad.