This is not quite the spirit of peace and joy that usually pervades this season. While the shops are full of Santa Clauses, Indianised and otherwise, and gaily festooned Christmas trees abound, the fact that security around many churches, especially in the Capital, has had to be beefed up is a worrisome development. Now the police may explain this away as being due to the size of the crowds, but there is no getting away from the fact there have been increasing threats to Christians across the country from extreme Right-wing Hindu groups. Some of them have been engaged in reconverting Christians to Hinduism on the grounds that this has been done without coercion. But, this is a spurious claim as there is definitely an element of threat and fear involved.
A Delhi church was burnt down though no one has owned up responsibility for this. In many states, there have been attacks on preachers to whom people flock for faith healing. Now faith healing may have no scientific basis, but to go in for such a course of treatment is entirely an individual choice. Add to this the strident noises made by many of these groups, the RSS included, that India is a Hindu rashtra. It is nothing of the sort and can never be under the Constitution. We can dismiss this ugly behaviour as being undertaken by fringe groups. But that is not enough. The reason they have become so emboldened is the fact that they feel that they have some sort of official sanction because the BJP is in power. The BJP’s top leaders have distanced themselves publicly from these shenanigans but that is also not enough. These miscreants must be told in no uncertain terms by the highest quarter like the home minister that if they continue with their intimidation tactics against the minorities, they will feel the full power of the law.
Such a message ought to stop them in their tracks. No one has the right to undermine the secular, plural nature of our society and impose some sort of cookie cutter culture. Culture is not the prerogative of these groups. So, let not the few spoil the joy of the many. We wish all our readers a merry and safe Christmas.