RSS leader’s remarks at Nagaland House provokes strong reactions
NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 18: RSS leader Indresh Kumar’s remarks on ‘conversion’ at Nagaland House pre-Christmas meet on December 16 has provoked angry reactions from the United Christian Forum.
The occasion was a pre-Christmas gathering and it was billed as an ‘outreach’ effort towards Nagas from the pro-Hindu ruling dispensation in the Centre and its associates.
Fourteen Naga Christians were killed recently in remote Mon district by army personnel in a botched up counter-insurgency operation.
However, in his speech at the function organised by Bharatiya Christian Manch, senior RSS leader Indresh Kumar ended up criticising ‘Conversion” generating strong reactions from Christians.
AC Michael of United Christian Forum told this Journalist: “I think he (Indresh Kumar) is in effect confessing to have interfered in others’ faith and worship because after all it is the people of his group who barge into peacefully praying communities physically assaulting and criminally threatening them”.
“As for changing one’s faith, it is an individual’s choice. No one can ever force or allure anyone into another faith unless one is deep into that faith and is getting the much needed solace”, he said.
Addressing the function organised by Bharatiya Christian Manch, Indresh Kumar said: “When we are respecting every other religion, then there is no need for conversion. Conversion causes differences. It causes hatred, it creates conflict… so if we are to make the world conflict-free, then there is a need to respect all other religions”.
The evening gathering included a large number of Naga Christians as well members of diplomatic corps from countries such as the United States, Russia, Syria and Korea and also Union Power Minister RK Singh. At the function, Singh also said he had education in Christian institutes both at the school and college levels.
Indresh Kumar had also said, “Doosre ke religion mein interfere karna, criticise karna, yeh azadi nahi hae (To interfere in other people’s religion and to criticise them, is not freedom)”.
At times he used English phrases such as: “It (Conversion) is immoral, unethical and also it is unconstitutional and inhuman”.
He emphasised, “Follow your own religion, respect all other religions. If we follow this path, then we can avoid a big problem and conflict. This conflict may be political, social and also religious. That is conversion”.
Michael, a former member of Delhi Minorities Commission, countered him stating: “By accusing the people of fraudulent means of conversion he is only finding fault with peoples’ intelligence. He is questioning citizens’ choice of God or Faith”.
The vexed conversion issue is a major bone of contention between Hindu hardliners and organizations such as the RSS and various Christian organistions and church leaders.
Even Missionaries of Charity ~ founded and once run by Mother Teresa ~ comes at the receiving end from time to time.
Not long ago RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said in Rajasthan at Bharatpur: “The service may be good, but there’s a motive behind it. The idea is to make the person feel obligated, so that they become Christians.”
Even last week, an FIR was lodged against an organization run by Missionaries of Charity in Gujarat.
Police in Vadodara city launched an investigation into the Nirmala Shishu Bhavan shelter home on December 13 after a complaint was registered alleging violation of the “anti-conversion law”.
The Congress, India’s principal opposition party, is headed by Sonia Gandhi, a Catholoic born to Italian parents. She was married to Rajiv Gandhi, now deceased, who was grandson of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Their son Rahul Gandhi recently said, “I am a Hindu” and of course he said he is against gross communal Hinduism as pushed by the RSS or the BJP hardliners.
During the time of first BJP Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Pope John Paul II’s second visit to India became controversial when Hindutva groups and Sangh Parivar outfits staged noisy protests at Delhi and in various parts of the country.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his recent visit to the Vatican, invited Pope Francis to visit India.
In his speech at the Nagaland House, Indresh Kumar, however, said: “Christmas is the greatest message of peace, brotherhood and love, for tolerance”.