Concerned Group of Ex-Civil Servants Urge PM Modi to Reassure Christians in Face of Increasing Attacks
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Delhi: A group of 93 former civil servants of the All India and Central Services has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising serious concerns over increasing hate crimes and speeches against minority communities, especially Christians.
In the letter, the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG), which claims to be nonpartisan with a commitment to raising Constitutional accountability, said that it was disturbed by the continued harassment of minority groups in the country by “persons associated with your [PM Modi’s] government, your party, organisations connected to it, and by mischief makers from amongst the public.” The signatories of the letter include former Ambassadors, IAS, IPS, and IFS officers who have worked in the central and state governments.
The CCG letter urged the Modi government to reassure the minority community in the backdrop of rising incidents of church vandalism, defiling of statues, assault on worshippers, bogey of conversions, and public calls for genocide, among others. “These together with the various anti-conversion laws intimidate and create a climate of fear among Christians and marginalize them,” the group said, adding that the violence can be stopped in no time with just a word from the top leaders of the BJP, the Union government and state governments.
The signatories of the letter said, “While we are concerned about the hate crimes and speeches against all minorities, we write to you today about the steadily increasing ugly words and actions against a small religious minority, the Christians.” Saying that there was a recent rise in discrimination against Christians, it reminded the government that the Constitution of India clearly ensures equal rights to all citizens, irrespective of religion.
“Christians constitute but 2.3 per cent of India’s population, and this percentage has remained more or less the same since the census of 1951. Yet, in the minds of some, this minuscule number poses a threat to the 80% of the population that is Hindu! The principal allegation against Christians is one of forcible conversions, and because of this accusation, they have been subjected to attacks - verbal, physical, and psychological, against both their persons and against their institutions.”
Outlining that Christian churches have long been contributing to the nation in terms of education, healthcare and social reforms, and Christian individuals have been part of the Indian Army and nursing sector, it said, “Christians have consistently punched above their weight in every field. But today they are being accused of using these very institutions and services as instruments for conversion.”
The letter asked if the alleged forced conversion is actually taking place, then how the percentage of Christians has remained static over many decades.
Speaking about violence against and persecution of Christians, the CCG said that late Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy “was virtually driven to his death by no less than the State” because he was closely working with the Adivasis, Dalits and other underprivileged people in Jharkhand.
The group said that churches and homes of tribal and Dalit Christians have been destroyed, graveyards have been vandalised, and educational, health institutions and prayer gatherings have been attacked mostly in Chhattisgarh, Assam, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. It cited figures from the United Christian Forum saying attacks on Christians have increased from 279 in 2020 to 505 in 2021, and to 511 in 2022 (till October).
Among recent incidents of violence against Christians, the CCG letter cited that on January 2, 2023, a mob of around fifty people vandalised a church in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district and even attacked SP and other police officers there. A BJP leader was among those arrested with regard to this incident. It also mentioned a ‘dharma sansad’ in February at Jantar Mantar, located on Parliament Street in New Delhi, where a sadhu called the audience to slaughter Muslims and Christians.
Urging active assurance from the PM to the community, the CCG said, “As Prime Minister of our country, and all of its people including Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities, and as a leading member of the BJP, we ask you to speak out against these outrageous acts, and to ensure that the police and other officials prevent such incidents from recurring. Christians, today, and, all other minorities, need to be reassured that they are no less citizens of India than their Hindu brethren.”
Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.