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Shameless and sham secularism
Issue Date - 08/12/2011
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If there was a ranking of nations, its intellectuals and its media, based on hypocrisy and double standards, I have no doubt whatsoever that India would surely find a place in the top 10, if not the top 5. Many of you might have read recently about an intriguing development in Kashmir. I am not talking about protests and stone pelting; nor am I talking about the latest lament against human rights violations. I am talking about the arrest of a Christian pastor Rev. Chana Manni Khanna of the All Saints Church for the alleged crime of converting seven young Kashmiri Muslims to Christianity by offering inducements. The seven young Kashmiri Muslims, who have allegedly embraced Jesus Christ, have also been arrested. Interestingly enough, Jammu & Kashmir, unlike many other states in India, does not have any anti-conversion laws.

Nothing new, you would say. It happens so often in India where evangelists are attacked, arrested or thrown out of the country for trying to convince the natives to embrace Christ. But there is a difference, and that indicates how deeply rotten and hypocritical we are when it comes to dealing with such controversial situations. What I find revolting is that not a single flag bearer and champion of India's vaunted secular legacy has uttered even a polite word in protest. Just imagine if the same incident had occurred in a state ruled by the BJP. Secular warriors would have heaped scorn and abuse at saffron fundamentalism in television debates; perhaps Arundhati Roy would have written yet another masterpiece declaring that she is seceding from the Indian Republic. But in this instance, all we have got is thunderous silence. My point is simple: if the secular ethos of India is endangered (and I do believe it is) when Hindu radicals persecute Christian missionaries, is it also not endangered when Muslim radicals persecute Christian missionaries? I know many secular warriors will take solace by branding me a closet RSS roadie. But frankly, it is time you and I started exposing the nauseating double standards of these secular warriors.

Even more shocking things have happened before the arrest of the Anglican pastor. The Grand Mufti of a Sharia Court in Srinagar Bashir ud Din summoned Rev. Khanna for a 'hearing'. Having found the pastor's explanations unsatisfactory, the Grand Mufti pronounced: "Having failed in what I had asked, we will be forced to take action under Sharia." And so the pastor and the seven young Kashmiris were arrested. The question you and I need to loudly ask is: Since when has the Republic of India given official sanction to Sharia courts? Now just imagine this: what would have been the reaction of our secular warriors if a Shankaracharya (God forbid) had summoned a Christian priest for a 'hearing'? Come, be honest with yourself and answer the question. All hell would have broken loose, isn't it? And let me say justifiably so. For the simple reason that the Indian Constitution does not give any religious any authority to act as the judiciary or a prosecuting agency. If we come down like a ton of bricks on a Shankaracharya or a Bajrang Dal goon for having the audacity to do so, should we also not come down like a ton of bricks on the Grand Mufti for having the audacity to say that Sharia is applicable inside the Indian Republic? What hypocrisy and what double standards!

Many secular warriors argue that it is the responsibility of the majority community to ensure through their words and deeds that minorities do not feel insecure. I am completely in agreement with that logic. No matter what many nut cases in Bajrang Dal and VHP say, I do believe that Hindus must walk that extra mile to make minorities feel secure. But then Kashmir is an overwhelmingly Muslim majority part of the state of J&K. So is it not the responsibility of intellectuals, the political class and the media in Kashmir to ensure that minorities there feel secure? And if they fail to do so, is it not the duty of our secular warriors in the drawing rooms of Delhi to at least say so? But then, India would no longer top the charts in a ranking of most hypocritical nations!!!
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