INDIA: TWO MILLION (EST.) HINDUS AND TRIBALS AT SOCIAL 'KUMBH'
Christians described as blood-sucking bed bugs that must be killed.
By Elizabeth Kendal
The Sangh Parivar (combined Hindu nationalist forces) held their second 'Samajik Kumbh' (social gathering) on the banks of the Narmada River in Mandla, Madhya Pradesh, on 10-12 February 2011. In the preceding two weeks some 28,000 volunteers from the RSS (a Hindu nationalist paramilitary) distributed literature to some 80,000 families across all 19 districts of
the neighbouring Mahakoshal region, home to Madhya Pradesh's largest city, Jabalpur. According to one priest, many Christians were forced to sign forms declaring their intention to accept Hinduism. Alarmed by the abundance of the virulent anti-Christian propaganda, Christian leaders in Mandla petitioned the High Court for protection and the weekend church services were held under police guard.
An estimated two million tribals and Hindu devotees drawn from all over Mahdya Pradesh and central India attended the event. According to Christian eye-witnesses, speeches delivered on the final day particularly vilified Christianity and Christian 'missionaries'. Using familiar language, one speaker raged: 'Christians are like bed bugs, who hide under the guise of so called missionary work, and drink the blood of the innocent vulnerable people and bed bugs should be killed or else they will continue drinking blood.' (AsiaNews, 14 February 2011)
The social Kumbh is a key element in the Sangh's strategy to advance Hindutva (fascist Hindu nationalism) through the tribal belt for political gain. According to the Sangh's propaganda, India's national security, territorial integrity and sovereignty are under threat from foreign forces seeking to divide and weaken India. The only solution, according to the Sangh, is national unity through Hindu solidarity. To this end the Sangh tells the indigenous, non-Aryan, non-Hindu, traditionally Congress Party-voting tribals that the only reason they do not know they are Hindus is because secular governments have neglected to educate them. Fortunately (so the propaganda goes) the Sangh is there to 'inform' and 'enlighten' the tribals so they can 'return' to their Hindu roots, join the Hindu mainstream and (literally) fight for mother India.
The first social Kumbh was held in February 2006 in the tribal district of Dangs, Gujarat, a long-time Congress stronghold known for its sizable Christian minority. According to the Sangh it was a great success because, they claim, the pace of 'reconversion' of Christians to Hinduism subsequently gathered momentum in the area. According to local RSS chief, Sharad Dhole, about15,000 Dangs Christians 'returned to the Hindu fold'. Also some 70 pastors are said to have embraced Hinduism and are now active in the service of the Sangh, holding reconversion ceremonies every 25th December (Indian Express 12 February 2011). Furthermore the BJP (Hindu nationalist) candidate Vijay Patel won the Dangs seat in the December 2007 Assembly elections by more than 11,000 votes, defeating Madhu Bhoya of the Congress. Then, in Gujarat's October 2010 municipal polls, the BJP fielded five Christian candidates on its Dangs ticket and swept the district. According to Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, Christians in Dangs support the BJP because of its 'development politics'. However, this is a Sangh deception. The equity, liberty and national salvation the Sangh holds out as sweet-smelling bait to the hungry, poor and marginalised will never materialise under Hindutva.
The next social Kumbh will be held in Chhattisgarh, drawing in tribals and Hindu devotees from across Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa. According to the Sangh's website this social Kumbh 'will accelerate the work of Sri Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati', who, it falsely claims, 'was brutaly (sic) murdered in 2008 by Christian missionaries.' (The Sangh used the August 2008 Maoist assassination of Swami Laxmanananda as an excuse to launch a massive communal pogrom against Christians. Hundreds died and some 500,000 were displaced, many of whom still languish in camps. The Sangh lumps Christians and Maoists together because they both seek an end to the inequities of the Hindu caste system.)
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD WILL --
- work powerfully in all Christians who are being pressured, threatened or seduced by the Sangh Parivar, enabling them to discern between truth and lies and to remember the awesome greatness and faithfulness of their Lord, looking to him and trusting him with steadfast hearts.
- defuse the communal reaction potentially ignited by the Sangh through the recent Mahdya Pradesh social Kumbh; may tribals and Hindus reject all provocation to hatred, intolerance and violence, and may they too be given discernment.
- use the Kumbh's focus on Christianity to achieve the exact opposite of what the Sangh intended: may the Kumbh ignite mass curiosity for the gospel along with an appreciation of the ministry and witness of believers in Mahdya Pradesh.