The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was not perturbed with Barack Obama’s prod to uphold religious freedom. It said on Wednesday US President's sharp parting shot was aimed at Christian missionaries and Islamic clerics.
Obama on Tuesday cited Article 25 of the Constitution to gently nudge India to uphold the promise of religious freedom.
“Nowhere is that more important than India, nowhere is it going to be more necessary for that foundational value to be upheld. India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along lines of religious faith, along lines of anything, and is unified as one nation,” he said.
A senior functionary of the VHP – an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – said Obama’s concern about religious freedom was unfounded because Article 25 of the Constitution gives the right to profess, practise and propagate religion in India.
The VHP has been accused of organising a sustained campaign to convert people of other faiths into Hinduism, calling them “ghar wapsi” or homecoming programmes.
“We do not feel there was any sermon to India on religious freedom. If at all, it was for the Christian missionaries and Islamic leaders who are trying to create tension in society through forceful conversion,” VHP joint general secretary Surendra Jain said.
He said said Article 25 also mentions the freedom to practice and profess religion was subject to public order, morality and health.
“No one is questioning your right to worship Shiva at home, but what if somebody goes and installs a statue of Shiva in a mosque? Would it be right? Similarly, is it right to have churches in Tirupati and a mosque at Katra (Vaishno Devi) having no Muslim population. Obama reflected these concerns,” Jain said.