Former Mumbai Police Commissioner, Julio Ribeiro finds himself in a flurry of controversy after his commentary on the status of minorities in India. Speaking at a book launch event in Goa on December 26, Ribeiro voiced concerns about the treatment of Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, suggesting a potential parallel situation unfolding in India.
“Hindus and Christians in Pakistan are living in fear as second-class citizens… that may happen here (in India). This is what I fear,” Ribeiro was reported as saying.
The retired IPS officer's remarks at the book launch did not escape the notice of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which promptly came back and accused him of exhibiting “deep political bias.”
During his speech, Ribeiro also weighed in on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent engagement with the Christian community in Delhi during Christmas and said that he was “trying to woo a big Christian community in Kerala.”
He also questioned the sincerity of Modi's Christmas message, implying that certain statements were made solely for political gain, especially in the context of garnering support from the Christian community in Kerala.
“One of the bishops has fallen for it. I feel because one has fallen, others perhaps may also fall… Even among our friends, they have started understanding that many of the things he said were only for votes. It is hoped that his Christmas message is probably a change of heart. If it is, it will be a good thing. But I doubt it, since the whole intention is to have a sanforized Pakistan,” Ribeiro is reported to have said.
Responding swiftly to Ribeiro's comments, the Goa BJP's state unit released a statement expressing "profound disappointment and concern." Giriraj Pai Vernekar, the Goa BJP spokesperson, criticised Ribeiro's comparisons between India and Pakistan as "unfounded" and "deeply offensive to the ethos and achievements of our great nation."
Vernekar accused Ribeiro of harbouring “deep-seated animosity and frustration at having a government in power that seemingly does not align with his ideology.” He emphasised that denigrating the country to criticise the government is unbecoming of a former law enforcement official.
Despite numerous attempts by the media to seek a response through calls and messages, Ribeiro has remained silent. His illustrious career in Indian law enforcement, including stints as the Commissioner of Mumbai Police, Director General of Central Reserve Police Force and Director General Police of Gujarat, coupled with his diplomatic service as the Indian Ambassador to Romania from 1989 to 1993, adds a layered perspective to this controversy.