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July 11, 2000
VHP demands inquiry into source of Christian funds
D Jose in Thiruvananthapuram
National Minority Commission member John Joseph's statement that fundamentalists in the Christian community want the current tension to continue for ensuring the flow of foreign funds has apparently triggered a demand from the Sangh Parivar for an inquiry into the source of funds.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad secretary Manohar Joshi said that conversions were part of an international conspiracy. Demanding a judicial inquiry into the flow of foreign funds into the country, Joshi said that 'Christian terrorism' was the root cause of troubles in the north-eastern region of India.
At a press conference in Kozhikode, he alleged that the Catholic Church was supporting 'Christian terrorism' with the help of funds from abroad. "They have been spreading lies about Hindus to cover up their anti-national activities," he said. Joshi said that the VHP would continue to oppose special privileges to the minority communities.
Meanwhile, various Christian organisations in Kerala have questioned the moral authority of John Joseph to make such a charge against the community, which he represented in the NMC. Coming in the wake of the NMC chairman's alleged attempt to portray the recent attacks on Christians as isolated incidents, questions have been raised about the impartiality of the panel.
Christian organisations have termed the statement as most outrageous and called for Joseph's expulsion from the NMC.
The All India Catholic Congress said it was shocked that a member of their own community was making such irresponsible statements. The state secretary of the Catholic Congress Jose Vithaythil warned that the Christian community would react violently against the NMC if it was not ready to ensure impartiality in its functioning.
He wondered whether John Joseph, who had become a member of the commission during the Congress regime, was speaking the language of the Sangh Parivar to retain his position, which carry perks available to a minister.
"One who entered the NMC as a representative of the Christian community cannot do this," Vithaythil said. "The commission, which should ensure freedom for all Indians to live without fear, should not stand for just one section," he pleaded.
The statement came at a time when Christian leaders were trying to open a dialogue with Hindu leaders to put an end to the attacks on minorities. "Saying that the attacks against Christians were isolated incidents was like pronouncing the verdict before collecting evidence or listening to arguments and cross examination," he added.
The Catholic Congress has also taken strong exception to John Joseph's charge that there was 'Christian terrorism' in Kerala as well as Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Catholic Bishops Conference of India president and Thiruvananthapuram Arch Bishop Dr Cyril Mar Baselius has also expressed surprise over Joseph's statement.
He said that the charge that certain Christian groups were trying to torpedo the commission's efforts to check the attacks on Christians was serious. He wanted Joseph to reveal the names of these organisations.
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