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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 15, April 13, 2024

Impunity in UP / Hindutva propaganda via Kerala Church | Humra Quraishi

Friday 12 April 2024, by Humra Quraishi


How did Mukhtar Ansari die? It is a matter of concern because the reasons given for a jailed inmate’s death ought to be made public and there ought to be an accompanying rationale. If several well-known politicians and Mukhtar Ansari’s own immediate family have raised serious doubts over the government’s given ‘heart attack’ theory, then the concern only compounds.

Today a sense of fear prevails. Such is the scare of the government machinery that no citizen can dare to cry out in revolt. Or dare query and question. Because of the fear of the aftermath, in these communally charged poisonous times.

In fact, what baffles the political commentators is the fact that though there are criminal cases against the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, yet no questions ever raised.

Last summer Association For Democratic Reforms (ADR) report brought to the fore this grim fact - Almost half of the newly appointed ministers in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet faced criminal cases, some of a serious nature. Not to be missed is the fact that there are criminal cases against the deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh – Keshav Prasad Maurya. Yet he continues to hold that deputy chief minister’s portfolio!

Also, a few years back, news reports stated that Yogi Adityanath’s government sought information and opinion from the district magistrate and also the superintendent of police of Muzaffarnagar, on the possibility of withdrawing nine cases against the accused BJP men who were booked in the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013. To quote from one of the news reports –“ In the January 5 letter to the district magistrate, Uttar Pradesh Department of Justice Special Secretary Raj Singh has sought information on 13 points, including whether the cases could be withdrawn in public interest. The letter also sought the opinion of the Senior Superintendent of Police …Though the leaders have not been named in the letter, the file numbers pertaining to the cases against them have been mentioned in it.”

The cases were filed against U.P. Minister Suresh Rana, former Union Minister Sanjiv Balyan, Bijnor MP Bhartendu Singh, Budhana MLA Umesh Malik and party leader Sadhvi Prachi.

This blatant step, when the accused were facing charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for violating prohibitory orders, deterring public servants from discharging their duties and wrongful restraint! Also the vital fact, these accused had participated in a “mahapanchayat” and incited violence through their speeches in the last week of August 2013. The communal clashes in Muzaffarnagar and adjoining areas in August and September 2013 claimed more than 60 lives while over 40,000 people were displaced. In the two riot cases, 22 activists, including Mr Rana, are facing trial in which a special investigation team (SIT) has filed charge sheets.

Statement of concerned Catholics regarding the screening of ‘The Kerala Story’ …

Jesuit priest, Father Cedric Prakash, just sent this detailed ‘Statement of Concerned Catholics’ regarding the screening of ‘The Kerala Story’ by the Diocese of Idukki…

Quoting from it- “On Thursday 4 April 2024, Pope Francis in a very incisive message to the participants in the First Colloquium between the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, held in the Vatican said, ‘We need to support each other in fostering harmony between religions, ethnic groups and cultures. In particular, I want to emphasize three aspects...: respect for diversity, commitment to our common home and the promotion of peace.’
Unfortunately, on that very day, in Kerala, the Idukki Diocese, of the Syro-Malabar Church screened a controversial film ‘The Kerala Story’. The film was shown to students of Stds. X to XII, as part of the Annual Summer Catechism programme. On 8 April, several English and vernacular media both in Kerala and elsewhere, detailed this event under the title, ‘Idukki Diocese screens ’The Kerala Story’ for Catechism Students’. A spokesperson of the Diocese has gone on record saying that the film was ‘shown to Christian students to raise awareness about the issue of ’Love Jihad’…That a Catholic Diocese has screened this film, defies logic! First of all, the movie is clearly a propaganda film created to further the Hindutva narrative that is trying to destroy the secular nature of our country. Secondly, it is replete with lies, factual inaccuracies and half-truths; so much so, that the director of the movie, publicly admitted falsehood and had to correct the figures given in the original curtain-raiser from “32,000 girls embracing Islam to just THREE!”; besides ten obnoxious scenes, had to be deleted before the Censor Board gave its certification! Thirdly, and far more importantly, this is a film which goes against the teachings of the Church and the person and message of Jesus.”

The statement goes on to state: “The decision by the Church authorities to screen the film, is deeply concerning because it actively sows seeds of hatred, intolerance and prejudice, among children, instead of promoting peace, compassion, and acceptance, which are the core values of Christianity.

By screening such a propaganda film that is filled with lies, the Idukki Church is instilling negative emotions and discriminatory attitudes towards people of other faiths and failing to teach children about love and respect for all religions and cultures. Such actions can have adverse effects on the future generation and society at large, particularly in the present politically charged context where hate is being weaponised to destroy the country…Besides, the film has been given an ‘A’ certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). How could this film be ever shown to children? Will the Diocese of Idukki now be prosecuted for screening the film to children?...The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has emphasized the importance of strengthening and building good relations between Christians and Muslims during this Holy month of Ramadan; the Diocese of Idukki, on the other hand, seems to have chosen to promote conflict and tension between the two communities. Like in the time of Hitler, there are always those in authority in the Churches who wish to kowtow those who have political power in order to keep their own ‘little empires’ safe…A contextual adaptation of Mathew 23:15 could serve as a reminder to all of us, “woe to you bishops and religious authorities, pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land, to try to ensure that your flock does not desert you, but in the bargain, you make the members of your flock twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” ( end of the statement)

The statement of the concerned Catholics ends with this crucial message: “We the undersigned, whilst strongly condemning this insensitive and unchristian act of the Diocese of Idukki, earnestly urge all Church authorities to do all they can to promote inter-religious, dialogue, reconciliation, fraternity, harmony and peace, remembering that our future as a country, is at stake!”

Oo This Eid ...My Heart and Soul is with the Palestinians!

I’m filing this column just hours before Eid is to be observed here in our country, on Thursday, 11 April… On this Eid my heart and soul is with the Palestinians who are going through the severest pain and torture. Perhaps, the darkest phase ever witnessed in the recent history of the world. Like mute-helpless spectators, we are witnessing it all, as Israeli forces continue to inflict severe tyranny cum brutality on the Palestinians.

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