the previous week.
We should now address the area of
"conversion" outside matrimony. This is another non-issue made
much of by the Parivaar. The allegation is that Christians and
Muslims are waxing in numbers at the cost of Hindus by resorting to methods
that are at the least, unfair and immoral if not downright criminal. The
Hindus are therefore justified in reacting, retaliating and responding with
whatever means available to them. The tactics they have adopted include
raping nuns, burning missionaries along with their Bibles, crosses, churches
and whatever smacks of Christianity.
The most spectacular and brutal outrage saw a missionary
working with lepers, Graham Staines, burnt alive along with his two sons
aged nine and seven in January 1999.
People responded in various ways. The chief executive of
India, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s response was to offer a
debate on conversions. As if to allege that Staines was killed most brutally
along with his tender sons, for being in the business of conversions.
The media under the Parivaar’s influence and
control, strengthened by government pressure printed the alleged views of
Gandhi as if to show that in the matter of opposing conversions they were
Gandhians or that the Mahatma was in tune with them.
Historian Sumit Sarkar has investigated the matter and we
are indebted to him for what follows. Mahatma Gandhi’s Collected Works,
Volume XLVI [pages 27-28] gives the details.
"In an interview given to The Hindu, Gandhi
apparently stated that if in self-governing India, missionaries kept on
"proselytising by means of medical aid, education etc, I would
certainly ask them to withdraw. Every nation’s religion is as good as any
other. Certainly, India’s religions are adequate for her people. We need
no converting spiritually’."
Sumit Sarkar goes on to quote from the original article
which appeared in Young India on April 23, 1923. Here Gandhi begins with the
passage quoted above and used or abused by the Parivaar but goes on
to add "This is what a reporter has put into my mouth — all I can say
is that it is a travesty of what I have always said and held."
Even more remarkable is the elaboration and enumeration
of India’s "great" and "all-sufficing" faiths which
obviate the necessity for other nation’s faiths to be propagated here.
Gandhi lists "Apart from Christianity and Judaism, Hinduism and its
offshoots, Islam and Zoroastrianism are living faiths’ as Indian
religions." Gandhi ends the article with a plea for "living
friendly contact among the great religions of the world and not a clash
Thus it can be seen that the killers of Gandhi cannot get
support for their murder of Staines by quoting his works. The perpetrator of
this outrage has protection and until the time of going to press he has been
able to evade arrest.
Readers will remember that Subramanian Swamy was
"underground" during the 1975-1977 Emergency. He came to the Lok
Sabha while still on the "most wanted" list, raised a "point
of order" and disappeared without trace. He was under the protection of
the RSS and this helped him evade apprehension and arrest.
The killer of Staines and sons must have powerful
protectors. But what about the rule of law? When will the police arrest the
killers? Or will this be like the earlier Babri Masjid story where the
perpetrators not only went away scot-free but are in power and flourishing.