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Responses exposed

26 May. 2018 1:04 AM IST

After Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto wrote a letter to community members on May 8, over the “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country, union minister Giriraj Singh , in response tweeted, “The church receives an order from Italy whereas pseudo-seculars get their support from fatwa Pakistan. The day will soon come when the Hindus understand this and smash both to save India”. While it is quite expected for Giriraj Singh or the BJP to feel resentment, uneasy, embarrassed or even laden with self-guilt over the letter ; it was quite another matter for a well known television anchorperson to have responded by holding a kangaroo court in his studio where he accused, judged, condemned and hanged the Archbishop and hauled him over the coals. What that particular television channel did in accusing, prosecuting and hanging the Archbishop was actually not unexpected. The infamous kangaroo court was conducted in such as way as to ridicule an Archbishop. One can criticise the contents with objectivity but to paint the entire Christian community as traitors was unacceptable and totally condemnable.In fact, the way in which the Kangaroo court was conducted had probably excelled the expectations of even the ruling party in power at the Centre. The anchorperson who suffers from narcissism has basked on the self-acclaimed tag as the sole messiah of patriotism. He also loves to give certificates for either nationalism or treachery on all and sundry. Apart from distracting attention from real issues, ‘nationalism’is also used as a stick to berate and beat the targeted victims especially those who find themselves at the opposite side of the anchorperson and those with similar ideology. Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto had defended the letter that he wrote to all Catholic churches in the national capital calling for prayers ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, saying his request had nothing to do with the Narendra Modi government. In his letter, Couto had called for a prayer campaign beginning May 13 in the face of “turbulent political atmosphere threatening democracy and secularism” before general elections next year. The letter also contained a prayer to be read at Sunday masses. There can be more than two opinions about Archbishop Couto’s letter to the Catholic churches within Delhi. The concerns as contained in the letter was open and clear. It was based on several incidents that have been highlighted in the media regarding atrocities meted out to minorities and the almost unresponsive action by the government. The letter was based on facts and it was only to take the concerns through prayer. The issues plaguing India today are not unknown but are in the form of open assaults carried out against the members of religious minorities. The narrative of nationalism versus terrorism has been cleverly juxtaposed against the longstanding issue of secularism versus communalism. The attack on the letter was made worse by the inability of the church to defend it as being a deep concern for the nation. The same concern of intolerance to minorities was raised by then US president Barack Obama to his Indian host prime minister Narendra Modi in 2015. If there are those who think that the concern was “politically motivated”, they probably think that only godmen, mahagurus and mandir priests have the freedom to support a political ideology that suppresses minorities.

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