Christian leader calls on Karnataka to stop Hindu radicals, who are dangerous to minorities
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "The government must prevent Hindu leader Praveen Togadia from coming to Udupi district. At least 19 accusations of hate speech, in dozens of states, hang over him. His presence will cause public disturbances," said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).
Through AsiaNews, he issued an appeal to Karnataka authorities to stop the national president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an ultranationalist Hindu association that plans to hold a Hindu Samajotsava next Monday, to mark the organisation's 50th anniversary. More than 100,000 people are expected.
"Provocative speeches by rightwing Hindu politicians are a serious concern," Sajan George told AsiaNews, "because they fuel a climate of suspicion and lead to religiously motivated violence. The celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the VHP are just an exercise in saffronisation." Saffron is the symbolic colour of Hindu rightwing nationalism.
The climate has been very tense for several weeks. The latest example is a rally in Mangaluru District (also in Karnataka) by Sadhvi Balika Saraswati, a militant Hindu ultranationalist.
The radical leader called on his followers to fight against the slaughter of cows and urged the Hindu community to rebuild the Ram Mandir (temple dedicated to the god Ram) in Ayodhya. "A court should not to decide on the temple, we should decide," he said. "The Ram Mandir is the pride of Hindus."
The reference here is to an old dispute between Hindus and Muslims over land in Ayodhya, which culminated in the demolition of the ancient Babri Masjidh (mosque) on 6 December 1992 by about 150,000 Hindu extremists from the VHP.
The latter claims that the Islamic place of worship was built on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Ram. Sadhvi Balika Saraswati took part in the demolition.
Following the demolition, violent clashes broke out across the country in which more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, died.
In 2010, the High Court in Allahabad ruled that the site be divided into three parts and shared between Hindus and Muslims.
During the rally in Mangaluru, Saraswati also mentioned the issue of Ghar Wapsi, which is the practice of bringing "former" Hindus home (i.e. back to Hinduism).
"We're not doing conversions but Ghar Wapsi," he said. "We are not giving roti or packs of paracetamol like Christians do. Today the Hindu population of 1 billion. We will continue to celebrate them [Ghar Wapsi] until they become 1.25 billion."
According to Saraswati, India's Muslims are "Pakistanis" and "use the love jihad to impose Islam. Our sisters' honour is violated. We give young Hindu women a sword, and if a Muslim just looks at them, they will cut off his head."
The expression love jihad refers to the alleged practice of forced conversions of young Hindu and Christian women by Muslim men who first offer to marry them and then force them to convert to Islam.