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21. There has been violence against Christians in Gujarat. What are the reasons for it?

      Much of this violence has been due to the provocation by the Christians. It is, of course, not a justification for the violence, which has to be condemned. However, unless one understands the reasons behind it, a sane society will not be able to prevent the future occurrences of the violence. If the violence is wanton, then there is one set of solution. But if there is a provocation, then, unless the provocation is removed, the violence will continue.
     We will deal with three cases here. The first is the desecration of the Bible in Rajkot. The provocation was the distribution of a Gujarati (the local language) translation of the book. In addition, a pledge was taken from each student that he/she is a sinner, and that Christ is his/her saviour. This is a clear sign of arrogance on part of the authorities of the school with more than 95% Hindu students. When the parents protested, the school agreed to take the book back. Some parents, in their anger, did tear up the book and burn some copies. It is pertinent to note that the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has immediately condemned the incident of the desecration. While the school authorities admitted their mistake, other churches have not condemned the distribution of the Bible. Even when the provocation has come out in the open, this incident is still listed as an attack on Christianity in India.
     The second is the alleged exhuming of a dead body of a tribal Christian. In Kaparvanj town of Kheda district of the state, next to a temple there is an open plot of land which was used by the Hindus for religious, cultural and social functions. The converted Christians claimed that this has been allotted to them for burial purposes, and the dispute has been going on for a long time. On July 19, 1998, all of a sudden a dead body of a Christian was brought, and an attempt was made to bury it. This was resisted by the Hindus, and there was a tussle. The Christians left, leaving the body behind. When it was returned to them by the Hindus, a cry was raised that it was exhumed and then brought. No burial had taken place at all.
     The third is the violence that has happened in South Gujarat in the last week of December 98. It has been the practice of the Christian missionaries for the last five years to hold what are called Christmas mass on December 25. However, this event was also used to lure Hindus to attend the programme and an attempt was made to convert them. For the last three years, the Hindu Jagran Manch has been holding a function for Hindus, to prevent them from going to these public masses. In 1998, the missionaries instigated the Christians to throw stones at the Hindu rally, and even made a physical assault on the participants. This was the provocation for the subsequent violence.
    It has to be remembered that in all the violence that took place in Gujarat, there has not been a single death, and very few injuries. In fact, the one time there was private firing, it was indulged by a Christian, when nine Hindus got injured. Even in the late December violence, the estimated damage has been less than Rs 5 lakhs. The whole event has been blown out of proportion.

See also (Q. 26) & (Q. 27)


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