Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pastors arrested in Greater Noida under pressure from Hindu groups



While pastors were questioned at Surajpur police station, various Hindu groups protested outside on Saturday. (Source: Express photo by Gajendra yadav) 

At least 10 Christian pastors were brought in for questioning to Surajpur Police station in Greater Noida on Saturday over allegations that they were “forcefully converting Hindus to Christianity”. Soon after their detention, the police station was surrounded by protesters from various Hindu groups.

Christian community leaders in Greater Noida said allegations of forced conversion had been trumped up and were aimed at creating mistrust in the district.
The Gautam Buddh Nagar police said the 10 pastors were allegedly participating in a fasting ritual, which was not connected to religious conversion, at Kulesra village.

But, SP (Rural) Brijesh Kumar Singh said since they had received complaints from villagers, the matter would be investigated. Police said no FIR had been filed yet.
Meanwhile, protests outside the police station reflected the growing communal tension in the area.

Reverend Wilson Joseph, president of the Calvary Ashram Seva Sangh, has been working in Uttar Pradesh since 1992 and has been in Greater Noida for the past 12 years.
“I have never seen this kind of communal tension. We are not even being able to get close to Surajpur police station. Some members of our church, who went there, were beaten up. We will file a complaint once the mob clears,” he alleged.

Joseph alleged that members of the RSS had incited villagers at Kulesra village through false allegations of forced conversions.
 
Sources indicated that police initially intended to let the pastors go after questioning, but the protests outside the police station made that difficult.

Police denied that the incident had sparked off communal tension in the area. “There were allegations made that these Christian pastors were forcing people to convert. Police brought them in for questioning. We will be investigating the matter,” Singh said.

Police sources said tension had been brewing in the area for the past few months, with rumours doing the rounds that Hindus, especially
Dalits, were being converted forcibly. But, police said they had no evidence to corroborate the rumours.

“The allegations of conversions are primarily regarding the Dalit community, which is the poorest. Many convert because they think that they will be able to escape caste-based biases. Others think that there will be financial benefits of such a conversion,” Singh said.

However, minority activists alleged that rumours of “forced conversions” were being spread with the intent of spreading communal tension to reap political dividends. “Hindu organisations connected to the RSS and VHP are spreading tension based on the propagation of their ideology that Christianity is inherently alien,” John Dayal, civil rights activist, alleged.

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‘Didn’t get minority status, so embraced Hinduism’


 The Asroi church, which was converted to a temple, has been locked up by the officials.

For 10 years, 29-year-old Ram Pal was a practising Christian, but three days ago he converted and become a Hindu. The change in faith, however, has not tangibly altered his life as the struggle to make ends meet and the worry about the future of his children continue unabated.
Despite converting to Christianity in 2001, seven Valmiki families in Asroi village were not accorded minority status. Instead, the village register – maintained by the district administration – continued to identify them as Scheduled Caste. This continued for over a decade, but Ram Pal said that over the past few years, this ambiguous identity of being neither a Christian nor a Dalit was becoming increasingly difficult.
Ram Pal, who like others in his community raises pigs, said, “We still used our SC identity to get our children admission in schools and avail to various government schemes. We celebrated Holi and Diwali along with Christimas. But people were asking questions. If you’re a Christian, how can you be a Dalit?”
Another such Dalit, 44-year-old Ram Chandra, said, “Our children go to school, on the basis of their SC certificates. But most drop out in their teens and look for work in Hathras and Aligarh. Now that we’re Hindu, at least no can doubt that we’re Dalits.”
On Wednesday, a church belonging to the 7th Day Adventists that functioned from a small room in the village was “converted” into a temple through a “shuddhikaran” (purification) ceremony that saw the “ghar wapsi” (reconversion) of 72 Dalit Valmikis in the seven families by various Hindu groups, including the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Arya Samaj, said villagers.
Ram Pal said that the Dalit community did not want the puja to take place within the church. “But, they said it was the only way for us to become Hindus again,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khem Chandra, the Sangh pracharak and pramukh of Dharam Jagaran Vivad in Aligarh asserted that the conversion was a “conscious choice made by the Dalit Valimiki community”. However, the news of the appropriation of the church spread tension in the area.
Fearing an outbreak of violence, the district administration locked the room on Thursday. The Shiva poster, which was put up in the place where a framed-photograph of Jesus Christ used to hang, has been taken off  “and kept in a safe place”.
The belongings of the church – a cupboard, Christmas-lights and a single copy of the Bible – has also been kept in a locker.
The Christian community has alleged that such conversions were a part of an RSS conspiracy, aimed at reaping electoral benefit. Seeking immediate action against the perpetrators, civil rights activist John Dayal said, “It is the right of an individual to convert to any religion of his choice. But such mass conversions imply political, social and physical coercion and the threat of violence.  I condemn the coercion and conspiracy of the Sangh Parivar which is using it to polarise the religious environment in the state with an eye on the elections.”
Father  Dominic Emmanuel, community leader and the editor of a Christian magazine in Delhi said, “With the BJP in power, these groups have become aggressive.”
The village pradhan also pointed out that the BJP, for the first time, had received an overwhelming majority of the votes in the village. “Usually, the votes go for RLD. This time the elections was about Hindus and Muslims and every one voted for Modi. That has been reflected here,” said Vikas Choudhury, pradhan of Asroi.
But, while the RSS and the VHP have been making in-roads into the village by working with the Dalit-Christian community, villagers said that it was not simply a matter of faith, but also economics.
“Over the years, the activities of the Church here have receded. We were promised schools, health care and better lives, but nothing came of it. We haven’t been accorded minority status and soon, we feared, our Dalit status would also be taken away from us,” said 54-year-old Guji Lal, who added that Hindu groups in the past months had been increasingly active in the village, convincing people to ‘reconvert’ to Hinduism.
Asroi village, with its pucca roads and expansive houses, has become obviously prosperous. But the cluster of 10 cramped single-storey structures – away from the rest of the village – belonging to Dalit Valmikis has not been touched by this prosperity. While the backbone of the village economy is farming of cash-intensive crops, the Dalit families almost exclusively rear pigs, selling meat only to other Dalits from nearby villages.

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Fearing more ‘takeovers’, Christians to lock Aligarh church after reconversion

ALIGARH: A day after the "re-conversion" of 72 Valmikis in an Asroi (Aligarh) church, the pastor at the headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mumbai, Habil Gyan, said members of the denomination will soon lock up the church. A Shiva poster had been put up inside the church soon after the re-conversion. But it was taken away as news of the incident spread and threatened to turn into a communal fracas.

"We have sent our boys to take control of the church building and lock it," Gyan told TOI over phone from Mumbai. "I was told that there was no harm done to the church, and the 'shuddhi karan (purification ceremony)' took place a km away from the church building."

In Aligarh, meanwhile, Christians said they feared more such takeovers of their churches. "Seeing that the district administration has done little to protect the church in Asroi village, which was turned into a temple, we fear for the safety of our other properties," a Christian teacher in Aligarh, requesting anonymity, said.
Advocate Osmond Charles added, "The havan took place inside the church. Christians don't feel safe regarding their properties. Tomorrow, another church may see a 'shuddhi karan' exercise. The issue is not about leaving a faith, but about maintaining the sanctity of a place of worship."

Christians in other parts of Uttar Pradesh joined in the protest and said they would send delegations to the UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. Vincent Joel, treasurer of Christian organization Rashtriya Isai Maha Sabha, said, "This is slow poisoning. This kind of act can create larger problems. We call it communalism. Leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav present themselves as secular. Have they nothing to say about this? I smell in this preparations for the 2017 state assembly elections."

Nikhil Jatin Kumar, who leads the youth wing of the same organization, said, "If the state government were sensitive to our sentiments, it would have sent representatives to repair the damage done by communal elements. This would then have been a case between the communal elements and the government. But it is clearly not that. We are not going into action-reaction mode, and will not take recourse to arson. Our pastors and priests will assemble in Aligarh and a course of action will be planned."

Christians of Aligarh have prepared a memorandum to be presented to the district administration, too, asking for support in this matter. They have also asked the head of the Seventh Day Adventist Church to meet them in Aligarh, and visit the minority commission in Delhi.

But while the Christians have reacted with hurt and outrage at the conversion of the church into a temple, members of the Dharam Jagran Vivad, Aligarh, who conducted the re-conversion ceremony of the Valmikis, said nothing will stop them from having a temple in the area.

"We have found a place near the chabootra (verandah). That is where we will set up the temple. I don't have anything to say for the church. We have done the shuddhi karan in the building, whether they want to uproot the church or raze it to the ground is their headache. We will not let another church come up because there is no Christian left," said the pramukh of the Dharam Jagran Vivad, Rajeshwar Singh, who had arrived in Aligarh from Uttarakhand for the re-conversion.

Khem Chandra, a local member of the Vivad group, added, "We will think about the church building. It belongs to the missionaries, but the ground on which it stands belongs to Hindustan. We will not compromise on our dharti (earth). We will meet the villagers and decide about the temple (coming up)."

A local policeman, wishing not to be named, said, "No FIR has been filed. People appear to have willingly embraced a certain religion. There is little for the police to do in such a situation." 

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hindu groups convert Church into a Mandir, claim that 72 Christians converted to Hinduism

Click here for video by headlines today. Another video here

Tension prevailed in Asroi area of the district following reports of reconversion of some Christians to Hinduism.
Around 72 christians were reconverted into Valmikis even as Christians alleged foul play by the Hindu organisations, which are raking up 'Love Jihad' and other issues to make the country a 'Hindu Rashtra'.
Not just the 72 Valmikis were reconverted into Hindus from Christians at Asroi village, about 25 km from the Aligarh district headquarters but a 7th Day Adventist church was also converted into a Shiv temple, where these Valmikis used to pray, the report said.
According to reports, these Valmikis converted to Christianity in 1995 and now they have again embraced Hinduism.
The rituals for re-conversion were held inside the church on Tuesday last and all the 72 people were accepted in the Hindu community. a picture of Lord Shiva has been installed inside the church while the Cross was placed outside the boundary wall of the premises. But later as tension rose, the Shiva portrait was removed by the local people following objection by the pastor.
Bajrang Dal leaders of the district claim that this the "home coming" of the Valmikis and not re-conversion as claimed by the media.
"The decision to return to their own faith was appreciable and they were not forced to take such decision. But we had convinced them to reconvert to their religion and met the family members several times before their decision," the leader said.
Several Valmikis also claim that they were forced to reconvert to their original religion, as they were "neglected" by Christianity.
But Father Jonanthan Lal, pastor at City Methodist Church, denied such reconversion claims and alleged it was a conspiracy against the religion.
He also blamed the Hindu organisation for spreading malicious propaganda against the religion.
Meanwhile district officials claimed that the situation was tense in the area after the report of re-conversion but under control.
The people who were involved in re-conversion were also keeping mum on the issue.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Christian arrested in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh

August 22, 2014: According to reports received from Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, a Christian named Rakesh was arrested by the police while he was on his way to a Christian meeting. 

Rakesh was going to a meeting in the Mahadwani area in Mandla when the police apprehended him, took him to the Mahadwani police station and arrested him under Indian Penal Code sections 295 (A) and 298. 

After two days, he was  taken to Dindori jail which is near Mandla and was scheduled to be presented before the magistrate on August 26, 2014.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tehelka Exposes the Brains behind Modi Sarkar and the biases they carry

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The Brains Behind Modi Sarkar

How did a little-known think-tank end up supplying so many bureaucrats to the NDA government? Brijesh Singh reports

What do Ajit Doval, Nripendra Misra and PK Misra have in common? Of course, they are top bureaucrats whom Narendra Modi handpicked to run his team. There is another common factor. They all hail from New Delhi-based think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF).
FormerIB director Ajit Doval was steering the ship at VIF as founder-director before he was appointed as Modi’s National Security Adviser. He was advising Modi even before the government was formed. In fact, it was Doval who came up with the idea of inviting South Asian leaders to Modi’s oath-taking ceremony.
After his stint as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman was over, Nripendra Misra became a member of the VIF’s executive council. Now, he is Modi’s principal secretary. There was a legal hitch in his appointment as TRAI law bars former chairmen from holding government positions. But Modi wanted him so bad that he tabled an ordinance to amend the law.
Former Union agriculture secretary PK Misra was associated with the VIF as a Senior Fellow. Now, he is the additional principal secretary to the prime minister.
Other VIF members whom the Modi regime has tapped for inputs include former RAW chief CD Sahay, former urban development secretary Anil Baijal, former ambassador to Russia Prabhat Shukla, former IAF chief SG Inamdar and former BSF chief Prakash Singh.
Former army chief Gen (retd) NC Vij has replaced Doval as VIF director. Sources claim that many other VIF members are likely to be enrolled in the government at significant posts soon. There are reports that former DRDO director general VK Saraswat, who is currently the dean of the Centre for Scientific and Technological Studies at VIF, might replace Chief Scientific Adviser R Chidambaram.
Interestingly, the first book that Modi released after assuming office was Getting India Back on Track. Its editor is none other than Bibek Debroy, who is the dean of VIF’s Centre for Economic Studies.
So, what is the VIF? Who are the people associated with it? When and how did the think-tank become a breeding ground of candidates to fill Modi’s bureaucracy?
VIF is Doval’s brainchild. After his retirement from the IB in 2005, he focussed his energies in creating the think-tank. On 10 December 2009, Mata Amritanandamayi and Justice MN Venkatachaliah inaugurated the foundation.
The VIF is affiliated to the Kanyakumari- based Vivekananda Kendra, which was established by RSS organiser Eknath Ranade in 1970. In 1993, the Narasimha Rao government allotted land to the Vivekanada Kendra in Chanakyapuri. And VIF was founded at the same spot.
The think-tank’s website introduces the organisation in the following words, “The VIF is a New Delhi-based think-tank set up with the collaborative efforts of India’s leading security experts, diplomats, industrialists and philanthropists under the aegis of the Vivekananda Kendra. The VIF’s objective is to become a centre of excellence to kick-start innovative ideas and thoughts that can lead to a stronger, secure and prosperous India playing its destined role in global affairs.”
About its vision and mission, the website adds, “The VIF is an independent, non-partisan institution that promotes quality research and in-depth studies and is a platform for dialogue and conflict resolution. It strives to bring together the best minds in India to ideate on key national and international issues; promote initiatives that further the cause of peace and global harmony; monitor social, economic and political trends that have a bearing on India’s unity and integrity.”
The VIF has many scholars as members of its advisory and executive councils, besides former army chiefs, former ambassadors, foreign secretaries, retired RAW and IB officials, bureaucrats as well as other key officials who have held top posts at the Centre (see box).
The VIF chiefly works in eight different areas: national security and strategic studies, international relations and diplomacy, neighbourhood studies, governance and political studies, economic studies, historical and civilisational studies, technological and scientific studies, and media studies.
The VIF invites scholars and experts from all over the world for conferences and lectures. It presents India’s outlook before the New Delhi-based diplomatic community and takes their inputs to further the country’s political, strategic, economic and cultural interests. It also holds dialogues with policymakers on current affairs. It gives policy advice to government representatives, MPs, members of the judiciary and civil society. It also carries out exchange of ideas with academic institutes and research centres.
“The foundation has done commendable work in the past 5-6 years,” says former RAW chief Anand Verma, who is now a member of the VIF advisory board. “Top-level research has been conducted in various fields. Numerous seminars of national and international significance have been organised. It has held dialogues with various global think-tanks. Senior officials, including government and nongovernmental ones, from all over the world are invited for interactions. Since the think-tank has its own rules, many of its discussions are not made public.”
Modi has had a long association with the VIF. Sources reveal that he constantly took counsel from this institute regarding economic and security issues when he was the Gujarat chief minister. In fact, the VIF core team helped Modi draft the blueprint of his election campaign.
“We were confident that Modi would be elected as prime minister,” says a VIF member. “That’s why we had been working on developing foreign, security and economic policies, etc. During the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, he was provided all the necessary inputs on various issues by the VIF. In fact, the major intellectual inputs for his political campaign in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu was organised by the foundation.”
Sources in the foundation confirm Modi’s affinity towards VIF, which prominent BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders approach for inputs on governance issues.
The links between Modi and the VIF became apparent last year. When Congress leaders attacked Modi in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, Doval jumped to his defence. The then VIF director argued that Ishrat was a member of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Congress-led UPA government was politicising the whole matter.
In the run-up to the General Election, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal alleged that under Modi’s watch, industrialists made huge profits in Gujarat, while no actual development had taken place in the state.
Following the accusation, a group named Concerned Citizens sprang to life and came out with a statement that AAP was making unsubstantiated allegations in a bid to help the Congress in the General Election. The members included Doval, author MV Kamath, journalist MJ Akbar, former Jammu & Kashmir governor SK Sinha, former bureaucrat MN Buch and economist Bibek Debroy. It was clearly part of the foundation’s strategy.
The VIF’s major achievement has been the building up of an anti-UPA (read anti- Congress) atmosphere in the past few years. Sources close to the foundation claim that VIF members played a significant role in mobilising the anti-corruption movement across the country in 2011.
“In April 2011, the decision to create an anti-corruption forum under Baba Ramdev was taken here,” reveals a VIF member on the condition of anonymity. “It had been planned for almost a year.In collaboration with KN Govindacharya’s Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan, the foundation organised a two-day seminar on black money and corruption on 1 April 2011. Baba Ramdev, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi attended the programme. At the end of the seminar, an anti-corruption front was formed with Baba Ramdev as patron and Govindacharya as organiser. The members included Ajit Doval, Bhishm Agnihotri (ambassador-at-large to the US when the NDA was in power), Prof R Vaidyanathan from IIM Bangalore, Ved Pratap Vaidik, journalist and Baba Ramdev’s close aide, and (author and financial expert) S Gurumurthy.”
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Meanwhile, Govindacharya organised a meeting between Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. VIF members devised a strategy that both of them will push the anti-corruption movement forward. Three days after the seminar, Hazare began a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar. By the end of April, Ramdev had also announced an anti-UPA protest on 4 June at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi.
Rumour has it that the plan to corner the Congress was allegedly drafted by VIF at the behest of the BJP and the RSS. On one hand, Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev were raking up the corruption issue and protesting against the government. On the other hand, the BJP was adding fuel to fire. This is why senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh kept referring to the anti-corruption movement as an RSS conspiracy. But as the movement reached its peak and the UPA government came up with absurd steps to tackle the situation, nobody paid him any heed.
The VIF’s alleged links with the RSS has come in handy for Modi’s critics. Sangh leaders regularly visit the VIF, while RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and BJP leader LK Advani actively engage with it. Recently, Bhagwat was at the VIF to release former diplomat OP Gupta’s book Defining Hindutva. Since the VIF emerged out of the Vivekananda Kendra, critics believe it would be a mistake to consider the VIF separate from the RSS.
“VIF is an RSS project,” says a critic. “The first thing you notice when you enter the building is a photograph of Eknath Ranade. VIF is filled with right-wing officials. As they were marginalised intellectually, they created their own think-tank. It is a desperate attempt to get acknowledged in the intellectual world. If it is not so, then why does the RSS chief keep visiting the VIF?”
The critic provides some examples of the VIF’s alleged right-wing bias. “When the controversy over Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History erupted, Senior Fellow Makkhan Lal wrote that the incident has provided pseudo-secularists and anti-Hindus an opportunity to play their old trick where, in the name of freedom of speech, they bitterly criticise the Hindus,” he says. “While analysing the Lok Sabha election mandate, joint-director Prabhat Shukla wrote that the results were the outcome of the exploitation of Hindus, which has been going on for decades. Another fellow, Anirban Ganguly, wrote in his research paper titled Man and Environment in India: Past Traditions and Present Challenges about how Hinduism is intrinsically aware of the natural surroundings and that the tradition finds mention in the Vedas and Arthashastra. If it is not right-wing ideology, then what is?”
However, KG Suresh, editor of the foundation’s magazine Patrika, rubbishes such allegations. “I don’t understand why there is so much negative reporting,” he says. “A picture is being projected as if everyone in the foundation is roaming around in khakis. It is wrong to link the foundation with the RSS. We are totally apolitical. Neither the BJP nor the RSS is funding us.
“We are neither pro-BJP nor anti- Congress. When the UPA was in power, we backed the government on the Devyani Khobragade issue. Similarly, we supported the UPA in the land swap deal with Bangladesh, while the Opposition raised a furore. Hence, it is wrong to call us anti- Congress. It is true that the top leadership of the BJP and the RSS take inputs from us on various issues, but even Congress leaders participate in our seminars.”
Verma is also at pains to emphasise that the VIF has no political leanings. “The think-tank is absolutely non-political and secular,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the RSS. The sole objective of the foundation is to find solutions to the various challenges before the country.
“I don’t look at the RSS the same way as the Congress does. What wrong is the RSS doing? It is only trying to restore the esteem of the Hindu community. Those who don’t understand it, abuse the Sangh. It is establishing the ancient sanskritik principles. It’s doing good work.
“When Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech in Chicago in 1893, it caught the world’s attention. But he was criticised for giving rise to a new Hinduism. If even Vivekananda is not considered secular, then who can be considered so?”
Agrees Maroof Raza, a consultant and strategic affairs expert with Times Now, who regularly participates in various programmes organised by the foundation. “Although there are rumours about VIF’s association with the RSS, no right-wing bias has come to light,” he says. “In fact, the foundation is doing excellent work.”
To buttress his point, Verma adds, “Recently, we organised a conference on the Kashmir issue and members from the PDP, Congress and National Conference took part in the discussion. (Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief ) Maulana Mahmood Madani also visited the foundation recently. So has the head of Pakistan’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Even the Dalai Lama has attended several programmes here.”
Adds another VIF member, “When the UPA was in power, many PMO officials attended our seminars. In fact, minister Kumari Selja came here to release a book.”
Shedding light on the VIF’s objectives, Verma says, “Among significant issues taken up by the foundation, one is to present the correct cultural, traditional and spiritual aspects of India. We have studied from books that offered a distorted version of our history. Today, we learn history from books prepared by the British and (Thomas) Macaulay. Their objective was to make us feel inferior and destroy our fundamental Indian values. We need to know our actual history and the foundation is working towards it. The history of India is being rewritten in 10-11 volumes, of which half are ready.
“It was necessary to establish VIF. The situation was such that whenever someone talked about Indian culture, Leftist intellectuals would dismiss him or her. They felt he or she was preaching Hinduism. The Leftist historians see RSS conspiracy in anything that involves culture.”
Adds Suresh, “Indian history must be nationalised. The Left has already been marginalised politically. Now, it will be marginalised intellectually. We had been on the margins so far, now it is their turn.”
Another VIF member echoes the sentiment. “Most of the think-tanks are governed by Leftists,” he says. “Ours is a platform for non-Leftists and nationalists who were considered untouchables in the intellectual world.”
On the subject of funding, Verma says, “This institute is funded by people from all over the world. It is not funded by any government organisation. People like you and me fund it.” In 2013, VIF reportedly received donations worth 1.5 crore.
Verma rubbishes allegations that the Sangh Parivar played a part in the appointment of Doval and Misra, saying that their elevation was made purely on merit. “I know the bureaucracy inside out,” says Verma. “I can declare with conviction that they have no match in the entire civil services. Just as they say about Modi, there is nobody like Doval.”
But are they not close to the Sangh Parivar? “Doval is a completely apolitical person,” he replies. “Yes, personally he may have cultural preferences, but in public life, he is very professional.”
As VIF basks in the newfound limelight, foreign dignitaries are making a beeline to the think-tank. Just days after Doval’s elevation, two Chinese delegations came calling. The same day, a 17-member British team, including Royal College of Defence Studies commandant David Bill, visited the place. Later, a delegation from the US Army War College held discussions with VIF’s security experts on nuclear weapons. Experts from the French Atomic Energy Agency and diplomats also paid a visit to discuss various matters, including security issues.
As more and more VIF members join the Narendra Modi sarkar, it is a no-brainer that the think-tank will play a key role in formulating the country’s foreign, economic and security policies.
Translated from Tehelka Hindi by Naushin Rehman
(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 11 Issue 31, Dated 2 August 2014)


Friday, July 25, 2014

India is a Hindu nation, I'm a 'Hindu Christian': Goa Deputy Chief Minister

Panaji: In comments that may trigger a controversy, senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Goa Francis D'Souza, Friday, said that India is Hindu nation and he considers himself a 'Christian Hindu'. 

D'Souza made the remark while defending his cabinet colleague Deepak Dhavalikar who said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could make the country a 'Hindu nation'. 

"It was always a Hindu nation and will always be a Hindu nation. You don't have to create a Hindu nation," D'Souza said. 

The Mapusa MLA, who is considered number two-man in the Parrikar cabinet, went on to assert that he considered himself a "Christian Hindu". 
 
"India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I - I am a Christian Hindu," D'Souza said.  
 
D'Souza insisted that Dhavalikar had no "clarity in his mind" because India was already a Hindu nation.  
 
Cooperation minister Pandurang 'Deepak' Dhavalikar courted controversy when he said that India would become a 'Hindu Rashtra' under the leadership of Modi. 
 
Belonging to the Maharashtrawadi Goamntak Party (MGP), an alliance partner of Bharatiya Janata Party government, Dhavlikar made the statement while speaking on a motion in the Goa assembly congratulating Modi for becoming the PM.

"If we all support it and we stand by Narendra Modi systematically, then I feel a Hindu Rashtra will be established," Dhavalikar said.

His elder brother Ramkrishna Dhavlikar, who is also a minister, had recently courted controversy by opposing pub culture and tourists wearing bikinis in Goa.
 
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Update of the situation in Chhattisgarh

The collector Mr. Ankit Anand called a meeting of various Christian leaders on July 23, 2014 on the recent issue of resolutions being taken by Gram Sabhas in Bastar and Jagdalpur districts outlawing non-Hindu religions from villages in these districts.

While the media reports that more than 50 villages have passed these resolutions, Anand admitted to only three gram panchayats passing these resolutions while speaking to Times of India earlier. The resolutions have been backed by VHP and Mr. Suresh Yadav the local VHP leader has openly acknowledged this.

Mr. Anand reportedly told the Christians that while he cannot challenge the resolutions he is initiating peace committees in which Christians will be included to resolve the issue in an amicable manner. He had earlier told the media, "any resolution by village council banning people from any particular religion or community from the village is legally null and void." But now Mr. Anand seems to be following the well-designed VHP strategy of creating a conflict and then thriving on it.

Peace committees are needed when there are two or more opposing parties of equal or comparable strengthen and when both have worked towards creation of a conflict. The issue in this case is not this.

Christians and other non-Hindu religions have been banned using an existing provision of legislature which has been misinterpreted and the tribal identity has been reduced to that of a Hindu according to the narrow definition of the Hindutva brigade, ignoring the rich religious and cultural history of Tribals. This has been achieved thanks to the nefarious designs of the VHP supported ably by the BJP and others. Christians mainly are the one non-Hindu group that have suffered exclusion and violence as a result of VHP works intensifying in the area.

It is a classic case of aggression by one party and then making the situation to look like both parties have been aggressive on similar scale. Christians are victims; they do not need peace committees but protection. They are not aggressors quite unlike the VHP that need pacifying via peace committees. Christians are already committed to peace in an area where peace if threatened by the VHP and the official machinery propelled by the BJP.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another village in Chhattisgarh outlaws ‘Non-Hindu’ religions

Despite the outcry by Christian organizations over the misuse of the Chhattisgarh Panchayati Raj Act section 129 (G) and despite assurances from the administration that these resolutions that are basically against the spirit of the constitution, will be revoked, the Gram Sabha of Parapur yesterday passed a resolution under the same section to outlaw any non-Hindu presence or worship from the village. Parapur lies in the Lohandiguda block of Bastar District.

What is notable that in all these meetings where these resolutions are passed people from the Vishawa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the BJP are also present who then make the usual allegations of conversions against Christians. So it is not hard to see who is behind these community resolutions.

Suresh Yadav of the VHP has been quoted in the past as well that he and his organization are behind this exercise in order to counter Christian missionaries.

However last Sunday i.e. 13th July 2014 people from the VHP had visited Christians in Parapur and Gadiya village and had threatened the Christian families living in these villages to leave the village i.e. make it Christian free, by 20th July 2014 or face the consequences.

Because this matter was taken up by some Christian organizations with the administration, the Churches in Gadiya and Parapur received police protection on Sunday the 20th July 2014. Suresh Yadav of the VHP called this protection of Churches unnecessary and raised questions on the security forces provided for by the administration.

So far more than 60 Gram Sabhas have taken this decision and the state government has not moved to intervene in the matter in a major way.

Christian organizations like EFI and Chhattisgarh Christian Forum have said that they will approach the court if need be.

What is also worthy of mention is that the VHP itself has taken a huge conversion project and are busy converting the Tribals to Hinduism. The tribals are not Hindus but animists originally worshipping ancestors (bada dev and budha dev) but the huge flow of money along with administrative support to the VHP and Bajrang Dal has resulted in many old tribal worship places being deserted and the coming up of hanuman, ram and durga temples. Tribals are being given money to celebrate Ganesh Utsav and other functions. Historically there is no record of tribals celebrating either these festivals or identifying themselves as Hindus.