The Light of Life Magazine
A ministry of Christian writing


P. Ramanathan

Christian Priest murdered in Andhra Pradesh: Tortured and disfigured body of Fr. Rev. Thomas Pandippallyil, a Catholic Priest, was found in Yellareddy area in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh on August 16, 2008." The body of Fr. Rev. Thomas Pandippallyil, a member of Carmelite of Mary Immaculate (CMI), was found when people waiting for Sunday Mass in a village began a search after the priest failed to turn up. His body was found in a deserted area in Balampilly village with the legs and hands crushed with severe beatings and eyes gouged out. He is believed to be killed on Saturday night. His motorbike was also found abandoned at a distance of one kilometer. On Saturday, he reportedly offered a Mass in Burgida village, where he stayed and started for another village for the Sunday Mass. The priest was actively involved in educational field. He joined the Chanda Mission of the CMI on 24 June, 1987. He was ordained a priest in 2002. He was the Rector for the Chanda Mission province of the CMI, and also worked as hospital administrator, school manager and mission centre director."

Attacks In Orissa

I received this email. Last four days of The Hindu (August 26-29, 2008) reported that there was a planned attack on Christians and destruction of numerous churches, Christian institutions, and Christian houses all over Orissa for no reason. Fourteen Christian workers were killed and thousands of Christians were physically injured. Poor tribal and dalit Christians' hard earned properties were destroyed all over Orissa. There is total chaos and turmoil in the State machinery. The Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government has failed totally to protect its citizens of innocent dalit and tribal Christians and fall short to maintain the law and order. Numerous hired crews of fanatics from neighbouring States took law in their hands, attacked innocent dalits and tribal Christians, destroyed their properties, and even killed a pregnant woman. There is no security for ordinary people and many Christians fled and are hiding in the forest. The Sangh Parivar first came for the Muslims. Then they came for the Christians. We never thought that things would come to such a pass in our life time, did we? Why the Sangh Parivar targets Christians, after all these years?

Reasons For Attack

It is evident that the Sangh Parivar entertains a unitive vision, "One nation, one people, one religion, one language, one culture, and one executive." This vision of a unitary culture and nation is essentially absolutistic and totalitarian. For a while, it may unite Hindus of all castes and persuasions, but it does so only in opposition to the Muslims and Christians who are treated as enemies and obstacles to be removed.

The Sangh Parivar provides the foundation for religious or cultural nationalism: India is Hinduism and Hinduism is India. The land and the religion are identified with each other. Nation is deified and nationalism is made the religion, and religion is politicised. Obviously, the Sangh Parivar has narrowed down the frontiers of nationality only to the followers of Hinduism. Muslims and Christians are painted black with the stigma of disloyalty and treason simply because of their non-Hindu identity. They are labelled "uninvited guests, infiltrators, aggressors, traitors, enemies, internal threats, fifth columnists," etc. A theocratic nation with a communal constitution is envisaged.

Consequently, Muslim and Christian missions are viewed as anti-national enterprises. Missionary activities are perceived as subversive actions and treason designed to make "true nationals" or "the sons of the soil" into "enemies and anti- nationals" and destroy the nation.

Hate Campaign

After conducting a hate campaign against the Muslims all these years and portraying them as the enemies of the nation, they have now turned to Christians because of sheer political calculations. They have realised that, however hard they may try, they will never win enough seats in the Parliament, to run the country on their own. They cannot afford any longer to lose the votes of Muslims, who form about 14% of the country's population.

Christians are merely around 2.33% and most of us are not united. We are indifferent to politics and we do not retaliate. We are, therefore, politically a safe target. We are a soft target, in another sense. Muslims, after suffering for years by the efforts of Sangh Parivar's vicious war against them, have learnt to retaliate. Bomb blasts and recent threats are, in the view of some of the angry Muslims, merely attempts at retaliation. Christians are not known to retaliate and are taught, "to show the other cheek."

Another explanation centres on the rise of Sonia Gandhi in the political horizon. After the Congress party suffered its worst electoral defeat, thanks to the commissions and omissions of the past, everyone thought the party would take a long time to recover. Even after Sonia Gandhi became the Congress chief, the Sangh Parivar thought, she does not have the charisma of Indira Gandhi and they could exploit the foreign label against her. Sonia proved them wrong. They were shell-shocked by her innovative and courageous political decisions that resurrected the image of the Congress party. In addition, the youth wing of Congress party is revitalised by Rahulís grassroots level involvements, identifying with ordinary people, attracting huge crowds. Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh's gentle and incorruptible political dealings won many friends, even from opposition parties. Consequently, the Sangh Parivar fears that Congress, with Sonia as its head, might come back to power in the forthcoming Assembly and Lok Saba elections by consolidating national and regional secular forces. How to tarnish her image? By attacking Christians and provoking her and her party into a strong reaction, so that they can malign her as a foreign Christian. After she decided to visit the Dangs district in Gujarat, which witnessed anti-Christian violence, promptly came the expected reactions.

Present UPA Government, headed by Congress, guarantees 27% reservation to backward class communities. Reservation for minority communities irked the Sangh Parivar that mainly constitutes upper castes.

The strategy in many rural areas seems to be to do everything necessary to scare missionaries and Christians and drive them away from their land and properties.

Socio-economic Status

Some others feel that the real threat for the Sangh Parivar whose main support base is upper castes and traders is something else. It is the prospect of radical changes in the socio-economic status quo and the well-cultivated caste hierarchy because of the work of Christians among dalits, tribals and the poor. Having suppressed these sections shrewdly and cruelly for centuries, the vested interests fear the missionary's religion; what he offers the poor besides religion-literacy, health care and employment opportunities-powerfully strikes at the structures of oppression.

Ministry Focus

A few say that in recent days, the Indian Church has altered radically her priorities towards poor, marginalised, dalits, tribes, and women and their struggles for liberation actively. Thanks to liberation theology, the ministerial focus of the Christian educational institutions has also changed. The Sangh Parivar fears that they will lose their power over their permanent slaves.

Truly, the Sangh Parivar are cowards and intellectually naÔve. Every media and police official in Orissa reported that the VHP leader was attacked by Maoists. The Sangh Parivar, even with the State Government support and well networked family all over the country, has no guts to face a few hundred Maoists, but they unfortunately equated peaceful Christians with criminals. Hindutva forces have the history of attacking innocent orphan children and women by hiring anti-socials, for no reason. Past sixty years the protagonists of Hindutva are maligning that the Christian workers are converting people with force and allurement. However, nobody is able to prove the accusation with facts and figures, even after the promulgation of anti-conversion law in six States. However, each supporter of the heinous Hindutva ideology is parroting continuously their leaders' allegations without sense.

Steep Rise In Riots

From the nineties, there is a steep rise of well planned and executed riots and violence against minorities by the Sangh Parivar. It is pitiable that in spite of having adequate evidence to severely punish the Hindutva leaders and followers, the judicial system and government did not penalise any one.

The concept of conscience is unknown in their way of life. As a result, their unkind and heinous acts are justified as Dharmayudh or valour act for their religion by their heartless leaders.

Unmistakably, the Sangh Parivar is fascist. Fascists always need an enemy to camouflage their hate agenda. If there is no enemy in sight, they will create one, through repeated lies. After exhausting their venom on the Muslims, they seem to have decided to demonise Christians.

What Shall Christians Do?

The Scripture reveals that Jesus Christ served ordinary people with His compassionate actions and challenged the religious leaders as well by sacrificing His life. His death and resurrection empower us His disciples "to be with Him and do His work." Hence, we must share their pains and sufferings meaningfully with our fellow brethren in Orissa by at least meeting their basic needs. At the same time, we must expose the fanatics' misdeeds to the community at large through facts and figures and bring self-awareness among Indians.

Suffering for Christ is the glorious vocation for Christians on the earth. Hence, we must trust firmly that Jesus Christ suffers with us and His presence is always with us. We must affirm that Christian life is full of hope and trust in Him. Therefore, we must pray earnestly, "Father, forgive them, (the Sangh Parivar) for they do not know what they are doing?" and wait patiently for His intervention and judgment.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:10).

©2010 Light of Life