11/02/2005, 00.00
INDIA
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Indian Christians accused of favouring Kashmiri separatism

by Nirmala Carvalho
The head of the RSS condemns the New Delhi attacks but also blames the government's for being "soft" on separatism in the country's North-East. For John Dayal, it is all part of a campaign to discredit Christians. In his view, the RSS and Islamic fundamentalism feed on each other.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The India government is too "soft" on the threats separatism poses to the country, said K S Sudharshan, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organisation that has also strongly criticised the latest attacks in New Delhi.

According to Christian activist John Dayal however, such views are part of wider campaign by Hindu fundamentalists to discredit Indian Christians. In his opinion, they show that the RSS and Islamic fundamentalism are closely connected insofar as they feed on each other.

"Kashmir is a living example of the ruling UPA's soft policies," Sudharshan said at a meeting in Kochi on October 30. Topping the agenda of the meeting was Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, followed by the issue of Jammu e Kashmir", which is prey to secessionist agitation and violence.

"Forces within and outside the country are working to weaken and destabilise India," the RSS chief said. Concerted moves are being made even at the international level against India, he added.

According to Sudharshan, demands for a "greater Nagaland" are another sign of the deadly sickness that is affecting the country's North-East region.  

Ethnic Nagas, who are mostly Christian, are accused of trying to annex areas from Manipur state in order to set up an independent Nagaland. In Manipur people are opposed.

For decades the main separatist party in the state, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) was outlawed. This came to an end in 1997 when it accepted a ceasefire with the Indian army. Since then rebels have held talks with the authorities to find a solution to the situation.

In his speech, the RSS chief praised the reaction of the people of New Delhi following the October 29 blasts.

"The country is capable of meeting such challenges. The people, instead of fearfully sitting inside their homes, rushed to various spots to conduct relief operations," he said, By contrast, when there was a terrorist attack on September 11 in the USA, the whole population went numb with fear.

In an interview with AsiaNews, the president of the All India Catholic Union John Dayal said that there was "nothing new in Sudharshan's words. The entire world denounces terrorism in all its forms. The IRA of Northern Ireland as well as India's own groups in several states, including those in Assam, have shown they can give up violence, when the goodwill is there. The Naga truce is a case in point."

The Christian activist added that "all major Christian organisations and other religious groups have condemned the New Delhi bombings. Christians are involved in many peace processes around the country, including in the North-East, but Hindu fundamentalist groups continue their campaigns of victimisation at the expense of Christians."

In Dayal's view, the RSS is as much a terrorist organisation as many international Islamic groups. "Its members deliberately kill, pushed by hatred," he suggested. "In India terrorism and violence will not stop as long as the RSS will exist. Islamic terrorism and the RSS feed on each, and it is impossible to eliminate one without eradicating the other."

He hopes that "one day, the RSS will come under close scrutiny and be investigated in the same way as al-Qaeda and other fundamentalist groups are".

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