In the nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's India, religious minorities are tolerated, provided they remain discreet. This was the message sent by protesters from Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu movement affiliated with power, during a rally in Karnataka state on Monday, January 13.
The object of their wrath: the construction of a white granite Christ almost 35 meters high on the top of a hill in the small town of Harobele, some 100 km from Bangalore.
The foundation stone was laid on November 25, 2019, in the presence of Congressman D.K. Shivakumar. This opponent to power of the Indian People's Party (BJP) had graciously ceded the land to Catholics in the region, after having previously bought it from the state with his own money.
Accused of patronage by his political rivals, the man said he had responded to the requests of the Christian faithful who took the habit, every Good Friday, of meditating themselves at the foot of the hill intended to host the monument.
The construction site, for the time being stopped, very quickly sparked the ire of the Hindu nationalists. Hundreds of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) activists marched through the streets of Harobele on Monday, January 13, shouting: "We don't want a statue of Christ".
Some have said that the mountain in question was the home of a Hindu deity whose presence had never been attested to before. An organization official mainly denounced a project "Which goes against the spirit of harmony and encourages the religious conversions which are carried out in the shadows by Christian missionaries. "
The growing influence of the RSS ideology
The ideologists of the RSS defend the idea that the majority Hindu would be threatened by the missionaries and their work of evangelization, in spite of the very small proportion of Christians among the population (approximately 2%). According to the RSS, Indian identity comes down to Hindu culture and minorities must recognize the supremacy of Hinduism in the public sphere. Under its influence, the BJP also passed a series of laws specifically aimed at defending Hinduism, such as those criminalizing the consumption of beef.
Launched in 1925, RSS has been patiently weaving its web in tens of thousands of cities and towns for almost a century. Today it includes a political party, the current ruling BJP, a workers' union, a student party, a cultural police through local vigilantist groups … RSS activists are accused of being the perpetrators of violence against the premises of worship and the Muslim or Christian faithful, who are rarely prosecuted.
In its latest report on religious freedom in the world, the United States, although allies of India, were concerned "A campaign of violence, intimidation and harassment against non-Hindus and lower-caste Hindus. " Conclusions rejected by the government of Narendra Modi.
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