Nun rape and church vandalism: The fringe is now mainstream
The attack on the nun is an attack on the entire community that refuses to be cowed down by the diktat of this bunch of terrorists.
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Writing this piece took me a good 18 hours. I wrote, erased, saw the discussion in Parliament on Sharad Yadav's sexist comments on women and complexion, came back to Twitter. Read a heart wrenching piece by former top cop Julio Ribeiro on feeling like an outsider in his own country. All this while I tried to come to terms with the news of the gang rape of a 74-year-old nun in West Bengal. Old enough to be mine or your grandmother, a woman who gave her life to the teachings of God, never hurt a soul. This was beyond gruesome.
Coming as it was soon after the Sangh accusation that the BBC documentary India's Daughter was a CIA conspiracy. As I tried to write this my Twitter feed kept on churning the disgust, one after the other. Sample some tweets ?
1) Subramaniam Swamy, BJP leader commenting that mosques and churches are mere buildings, the presence of God is only in temples. (To be read as no harm demolishing them.)
2) In Haryana a church was vandalised, the cross replaced by a Hanuman statue
3) Haryana CM gives a statement - church in Hisar was built in an illegal colony (Read desecration is justified. Think Ayodhya.)
4) Couple visiting beach in Mangalore handed over to police. Reason the boy was a Muslim, the girl was Hindu (Read "Love Jihad".)
5) VHP defends Haryana church attack. Counters by saying, "Would the Vatican allow a Hanuman temple to be built there?"
It's a long list, the feed won't stop, the filth that we all dreaded is now part of our daily life. Within days of his assurance to the Christian community, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was mocked by his ideological head Mohan Bhagwat who tried to placate those "hurt" with Modi's reconciliatory tone.
Mother Teresa could have been a saint but her real aim was conversion stated Bhagwat. Does the statement ring a bell? Graham Staines was a CIA agent said the Sangh when he and his family of four were charred to death in Orissa. Mother Teresa and those of her ilk, the BBC filmmaker, all CIA agents... Will Bhagwat distance himself from the attack on the nun in Kolkata, yes the Kolkata which was once home to Rabindranath Tagore, quoted by Modi on many occasions . The Tagore who said:
- Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
- Where knowledge is free
- Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
- By narrow domestic walls
Prime Minister Modi had repeated these lines while addressing the Christian community in Delhi last month assuring them that strict action would be taken against the perpetrators of the attacks on churches in India. Ironic isn't it that in Tagore's land, his promise would be so brazenly broken. PM Modi in his victory posters held the mother, sister, daughter responsible for his victory. What justice is this?
CCTV images of the assailants show that they could have been in the late 30s. They attacked the church, stole money, vandalised the chapel, broke open the tabernacle and took away the ciborium - the sacred vessel used during the mass, not before they had mentally and physically violated a woman who was old enough to be their mother. It was not sheer robbery or vandalism. An act like this required an inherent hatred of a faith and its believers. This was an act of communalism, an act of terrorism.
An act which was emboldened by the support of the likes of the RSS chief who remote controls the Indian government. A man who addressed the nation on Doordarshan, the national television channel that is televised across villages in the country.
There was commotion in Parliament the other day over Sharad Yadav's statement on women's complexion, where our HRD minister Smriti Irani, the youngest MP stated emphatically that such statements would not be tolerated. I kept on waiting for Irani to invoke all MPs in Parliament to not just condemn the attack on the nun in Kolkata but the mindset which led to this horrific slap on the face of women across the country. I waited for the feminist in Irani in shaming Yodi Adityanath when his men asked to rape dead Muslim women in the country.
When this article is published, we the intelligentsia will argue on the fringe being emboldened. And I would want to steer clear of this argument. My apologies but neither is Mohan Bhagwat the fringe nor is Subramanian Swamy or Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar who recently justified the vandalism of a church in Haryana and the placing of the Hanuman idol over the cross by suggesting that the Church was built in an illegal colony.
Do also pay heed to the context and place of Swamy's statement on mosques and churches. The statement was made at a public meeting in Guwahati where a molotov cocktail of ethnic violence, mythmaking about immigrants and communalism has led to many a communal attacks and deaths. In neighbouring Nagaland an innocent was lynched to death by labelling him a rapist and a Bangladeshi.
It would be ironic to point out here that none but Swamy himself had pointed out to us the RSS game plan of alienating and attacking the Christian community way back in February 2000. In an editorial for Frontline, Swamy wrote: "The human resource development minister has elevated an RSS activist to the post of a selector of teachers in the National Council for Educational Research and Training, a person who defends his credentials of valour by recording that he once had shot dead a young Muslim girl to protect her honour and to end her misery while she was being gang-raped by Hindu youth during Partition. That, of course, is Hindutva justice: that is, the minorities can best look forward to liberation through mercy killing. Christians are being targeted by the front organisations of the RSS in order to terrorise and ghettoise all minorities. Since Osama bin Laden is stalking the Hindustan peninsula with his millions of dollars and narcotics, for the wily and cautious RSS. Christians are an easy target because there are no Christian terrorists to retaliate. As the period of the Emergency clearly demonstrated, the RSS is astute enough to know when to hunt with the hounds and when to run with the hares. They are smarter than the German fascists in this respect..."
Swamy today is a part of the same BJP and RSS which is now more active and aggressive than before in uniting the ramzaadas. Should it not shame the RSS and its affiliates who I refuse to call the "fringe" when they force a man of the stature of Julio Ribeiro to feel unwanted in his own country? The same man who by his own confession countered the separatists who wanted to pin down Hindus, the RSS included. Does it not shame us as a country when Ribeiro states emphatically in his column, "Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country. The same category of citizens who had put their trust in me to rescue them from a force they could not comprehend have now come out of the woodwork to condemn me for practising a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra."
The attack on the nun is an attack on the entire community who refuses to be cowed down by the diktat of this bunch of terrorists. No, Mohan Bhagwat these terrorists have not infiltrated from neighbouring Bangladesh. They are our very own demons indoctrinated by the hate for the haraamzadas.
(Editor's note: This column was written before the alleged rapists in the nun case were held.)