04/11/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Conversions and missionaries: our society's greatest threat, says Hindu leader

by Nirmala Carvalho

Speaking in the heart of the newly set up diocese of Jashpur, the BJP chairman launched an umpteenth attack against missionaries, "corrupters of the poor". The Indian Church countered: "It's easy to put the blame for all society's ills on a small, defenceless community."

Jashpur (AsiaNews) – Rajnath Singh, chairman of the Bharatiya Janata Party – BJP, India's largest political party with nationalist leanings – has launched a new violent attack against the Christian community.

Addressing an electoral committee in Jashpur, in the central-eastern state of Chhattisgarh, the politician said: "Christian missionaries convert people in the name of their social service. But there can be no crueller joke than using money or service to deceive the poor."

He continued: "Conversions comprise the greatest danger to our society: we cannot allow the demographic profile of the country to be changed. We will not let Hindus become a minority, as somebody has said they would be by 2060. As long as the BJP is on the political scene, it will fight such attempts tooth and nail".

Singh said: "As soon as I became chairman of the party, I asked all leaders to ensure anti-conversion laws were adopted in all our states, to destroy the plans of Christian missionaries. The government of Jharkhand is ready with a resolution for such a law and I invite Raman Singh, prime minister of Chhattisgarh, to follow the same path."

Madhya Pradesh already has an anti-conversion law but it too needs "a stricter decree".

Singh's choice to use Jashpur as a base to launch his anti-Christian attack is strategic. The area has a high percentage of Christians; the large cathedral of Raigarh soared high in the background of the meeting, close to where the stage was set up. The diocese of Jashpur is "newborn", in that it was created by Benedict XVI on 23 March.

Fr Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India told AsiaNews: "The tirade of abuses against missionaries by Singh was not totally unexpected, given his tendency to mix with ultra organizations. Ironically, it is supposed that he is said to be on Bharat Suraksha Yatra [a Hindu national prayer for harmony, lasting three days], and so he is supposed to spread a message of national unity and security.

"More than anybody else, Rajnath Singh should know what is happening on the security front of this country. It is not the declining number of Christians that really poses a danger, but the unruly elements nursed by his people who are wreaking national destruction. It is easier to heap abuses to a defenseless community for all the ills of the country.

"In this way, Rajnath is not showing signs of valour or of patriotism, but his own personal hatred towards a section of Indian society."

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