01/11/2022, 16.49
INDIA
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Indian Supreme Court to vet swami’s call to arms against Muslims

by Nirmala Carvalho

Hindu religious extremist Swami Prabodhanand Giri twice urged followers to arm themselves to cleanse India of Jihadis. Meanwhile, the High Court in Madhya Pradesh stopped the removal of children from a Catholic orphanage targeted by the Child Welfare Committee on the basis of phoney arguments. “By the Grace of God, we got a stay order from the High Court,” said the Syro-Malabar bishop of Sagar. “However, this is not a permanent solution.”

 

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Supreme Court of India agreed to hear a public interest litigation case seeking action against Hindu nationalists who during a Dharam Sansad (religious leaders’ meeting) shouted slogans calling for buying weapons to cleanse India of its Muslims.

The incident took place in Haridwar, Uttarakhand, where the meeting was held between 17 and 19 December. Remarks on that occasion by Swami Prabodhanand Giri were so controversial that they prompted the Supreme Court on Monday to accept a complaint lodged by lawyer Kapil Sibal.

The Hindu cleric reiterated anti-Muslim incitement at another event held in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, on 2 January. “There are a few who read the Quran,” and “the ones who understand it become Jihadis,” he said. “We will stand up against every jihadi in India and cleanse the country of their presence”.

Going further, he added: “If you keep weapons to fight irreligion as Ram did in Mahabharat, you will be blessed by Lord Ram and Krishna. Weapons are essential, to fight with Jihadis and there is no other way.” This “is an old tradition to keep weapons that we had forgotten”.

Both Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are states governed by the Hindu nationalists Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In both states assembly elections are scheduled in February and early March. Indian elections have often led to religious tensions.

Meanwhile, Catholic organisations continue to be harassed by government agencies. In Madhya Pradesh, the High Court stayed the removal of 44 physically and mentally disabled tribal children from the St Francis Orphanage, also known as Sewadham Ashram, in the Diocese of Sagar.

The decision to transfer the children to another shelter was based on an order from the Child Welfare Committee’s (CWC) in Sagar, and was supposed to be executed last Thursday, amid the winter cold.

The CWC claims that the orphanage’s licence had expired in 2020, but the diocese explained that all the papers needed to renew the permit had been submitted. The CWC now has two weeks to submit a report to the court before the latter rules in the matter.

“The action by CWC is pure expression of malice and taken under pressure from local political leaders,” said Fr Thomas Philip, director of Social Work Development, speaking to AsiaNews.

“Granting registration renewal is the work of the government. Agencies purposely delay doing so in order to close facilities.” The orphanage was “accused of converting children and serving them beef. Both charges are false.”

“CWC officials tried to take the children from the orphanage by force,” lamented Bishop Mar James Athikalam of the Syro-Malabar eparchy of Sagar.

“By the Grace of God, we got a stay order from the High Court,” he explained. “The court has asked for their explanation. However, this is not a permanent solution.”

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