Church groups have condemned the inflammatory speech of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Pravin Togadia who Monday goaded Hindus to "behead anyone" who converts people from the majority community.
At the three day Akhil Bhartiya Dharmaprasar Karyakarta Sammelan-2011 event at Ahmedabad, the secretary general of the right-wing outfit, Togadia, called for a new Constitution that allows for "anyone who converts Hindus to be beheaded".
The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) condemned the "hate campaign" of Togadia and said the inciting speech was against the values preached by the Constitution of India, especially the Right to Freedom of Religion.
Stating that the VHP leader's speech disturbed peace and harmony, NCCI demanded the government to take stern action and prevent such events in the future.
The All India Christian Council and the Global Council of Indian Christians as well condemned the Monday's inflammatory statements made by Togadia.
GCIC said it perceived this as an attempt to 'Talibanise' India to "perpetuate graded inequality".
"Will Togadia endorse the same beheading for conversion by Hindu new-age god-men and women, people from other faiths?" asked GCIC President Sajan George.
"These irresponsible illogical statements in a country like ours, with their own implications deserve to be condemned by all citizens of India who believe in social harmony and stability and success of our democracy and an overall development of our country," he said.
In his fiery speech, Togadia reportedly questioned the past of Muslims and Christians, and further gave a call to Hindus to capture the Islamic holy places in Arab and Vatican of Europe.
Besides Muslims and Christians, Togadia also attacked the UPA Government saying it was targeting Hindus through its draft Bill of Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence Bill, 2011.
Stating that the Centre had knelt down before Muslims and Christians, Togadia said it is time that Hindus will have to come on roads once again to demonstrate their strength.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based advocacy group, today expressed concern over Togadia's speech and said such statements previously led to worsening attitudes and increasing violence against religious minority communities.
"India's pluralist pedigree is once again under concerted fire. Inflammatory remarks such as Togadia's can be a spur for prejudice and violence against Muslims and Christians: for example, communal attacks against Christians in India are often linked to unsubstantiated accusations about conversions. Any activities which lead to religious conversions should of course be carried out with the utmost respect and sensitivity," said CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston.
"We encourage the Government of India to be vigilant against any rise in communal violence that may be ignited by these statements. We welcomed Home Minister P Chidambaram's letter to chief ministers in October urging them to guard against communal violence, and we continue to applaud the Government's ongoing commitment to pass an effective law to prevent, control and deal with the aftermath of communal violence," he added.
Togadia spoke on the last day of the VHP conference at Pirana village that saw the participation of hundreds of VHP workers from across the country.
Church groups condemn VHP leader Togadia's hate speech
Published 11 November 2011 | John Malhotra