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June 29, 2000
The Rediff Interview/Dr Pravin Togadia
'Churches are running hate campaigns'
Dr Pravin Togadia is one of the most vocal proponents of Hindutva. The surgeon is the international general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. He is upset because he believes churches in India are running hate campaigns against Hindu society. He believes incidents of attacks on Christians have been blown out of proportion to blame Hindu organisations. He spoke to Dilip Gohil in Ahmedabad
The increasing incidents of attacks on Christians have unnerved the community. Even the prime minister was defensive when he met the Pope recently. Why have things reached such a stage?
As the prime minister stated, these are sporadic incidents. It is more of a law and order problem. A criminal does not have a community or caste. If a Hindu is killed, do we blame the church? When there is an attack on Christians or Muslims, why blame the Hindus?
Every time there is a small incident, they cry persecution. Not a single member of any Hindu organisation is involved in these attacks.
But there have been a series of incidents where Christians have been clearly targeted.
Ordinary criminal cases have been blown out of proportion and Hindu organisations are blamed. In Jabua, when a nurse was raped, Hindus were blamed. An inquiry revealed that eleven Christians were among the culprits.
In the Dr Graham Staines case, the Wadhwa Commission has said that no Hindu organisation is involved. Dara Singh's arrest proved it. In Baripada in Orissa, there were allegations that a nun was raped and Hindu organisations were blamed. Investigations revealed that no one was raped. The doctor's report mentioned that the wounds were self-inflicted.
There are many cases like these.
Why blame Hindu organisations?
The church, a few political parties and journalists are out to disgrace Hindu society and India by fabricating incidents. Last year, when Gujarati newspapers reported that the peaceful Shobha Yatra of Hindus was attacked (in Dangs, during Christmas), some English newspapers reported that Christians were attacked. Recently in Hyderabad, three temples were ransacked. Did we raise a hue and cry? Should we blame the church? Churches are running hate campaigns against us.
What will the church gain by this campaign?
That's part of their agenda. They want to build 900,000 churches in India. They distribute 100 million Bibles every year and convert 10,000 Hindus.
Some Hindus believe missionaries provide genuine services, hence the conversions.
Service means you serve and do not expect anything in return. The church provides services expecting many things in return. They are purchasing faith.
Also, it is a misconception that only the church is doing service. Take educational institutions, Christians run 12,000 schools in the country while various Hindu organisations run around 60,000 schools. The Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj and other organisations manage another 50,000 schools.
Dalits and adivasis who converted did so because they did not find their rightful place in Hindu society. Isn't it true that the trouble began since re-conversion began?
No. Those who converted are disillusioned and are coming back because they did not get what they expected. Their status has not changed. Even the Catholic Bishops Conference of India accepted this in 1994. They said dalits and adivasis have been disappointed twice.
They are discriminated in appointments within the church, and even at the cemetery.
It is alleged that when Sonia Gandhi became the Congress president, Christians were targeted to highlight conversion activities and consolidate Hindu votes. Is there more politics here, than religion?
When Sonia Gandhi became Congress president, it emboldened the church. They thought they would get political patronage. When there was trouble in Dangs, Sonia visited the area and met only Christians. Her behaviour ruined her credibility.
Politically, Christians cannot make an impact, like the Muslims. Then why are you against the church?
There is no politics here, and numbers are not important. The important thing is the activities of the church. There are 1,900 non-government organisations run by the church or Christians. They get Rs 20 billion from abroad every year. The Christians in India are controlled by foreign powers.
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