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The Rediff Special/ Vishnu Hari Dalmia
'We want to protect our religion, we want to protect our culture'
Vishnu Hari Dalmia, international president, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, spoke to Chindu Sreedharan at his office in New Delhi.
How do you view the attacks on Christians?
It is a normal law and order problem. The law and order situation in India is not good. So everywhere people are getting attacked. Even Hindus, everybody is attacked. What's special about the Christians? If law and order is not good then every member of society is in danger.
Do you consider Christians a threat to the country or to Hinduism?
Well, they are. In the sense that they are indulging in conversion in a big way, especially in the remote areas. And this is the danger the Vishwa Hindu Parishad feels will change the character of the country, the basic fundamental principles will also be affected. There is no reason why Christians should indulge in converting people. [Why can't they function] on the theory of live and let live?
But even your organisation indulges in conversion.
Only those people who were previously Hindus and had converted, are being reconverted. We have not converted any person who was basically a Christian in the beginning.
Do you condemn the attacks on Christians?
We condemn all acts of violence. It is not because it is [on a] Christian. We don't believe in violent methods.
Is it conversion per se you are against or forcible conversion?
Forcible conversion. [Conversion] by allurement, by threat. There was a judicial commission appointed by the government of Madhya Pradesh in 1954. They came to the same conclusion: there were many instances where Christians had indulged in unhealthy ways of converting people.
You say Christians are into conversion in a "big way." The Christians argue that if it indeed is the truth, they would be numerically stronger today. They, in fact, say their strength has reduced: earlier they formed 2.8 per cent of the population, now it is only 2.3 per cent.
Don't go by the total population. Go by the areas where they are working. See what it was 10 years ago, what it is today. They are working mostly in the tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. You will find that in certain areas their population has gone up very much.
Can you specify some areas?
Say, tribal areas in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and the northeast. We have statistics.
Why is it that many, not only just Christians, hold you responsible for the recent attacks all over India?
It is a calculated attempt to malign our organisation. Any incident happens we are being involved in it. [That's because] they feel that by maligning our organisation they will be able to throw out this government. The ultimate objective is political.
Who do you accuse of being behind such a move?
Those who are in the Opposition, the Congress or the Janata Dal, people who have tasted power in the past and who can't live without it. Anything goes wrong in India, we are responsible.
They hold you responsible for the attacks. They say Christian bashing is your way of uniting the Hindus. That it is purely vote bank politics.
We are not indulging in vote bank politics. We are not a political party. Ours is a socio-religious organisation. We want to protect our religion, we want to protect our culture.
What would you say is the Bajrang Dal's agenda?
The agenda is to protect our religion and culture.
Without resorting to violent means?
Of course, we are not for violent means. But if somebody attacks us then we are not going to show him the other cheek. No. We don't believe in that theory. If somebody attacks us, we will retaliate.
There's a lot of mistrust between your organisation and the Church. How do you propose to remedy this?
Well, I understand the Minorities Commission will convene a meeting. We will sit down, we have no objection to that at all. What we have said is, please get it [the attacks] investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation or somebody... and decide whether we are involved or not. We have been cleared in past incidents.
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