Press statement by Insaaf and Punjab PUCL
13 Jun 2000

Sharp escalation in violence against Christians

The increase in violence against Christians, religious activities in government machinery, influencing the history syllabus of the educational institutions, provocation of communal violence, promotion of Hindutva agenda, since 1997- 98 has forced us to broach once again, the issue of a secret circular purported to be of RSS.

We received a document in October 1998 with heading "Secret Circular of RSS. It has 34 points, addressed to the "local leaders" as "Instructions to the RSS- officials to harass the origins among the oppressed - Adivasis, OBCs, Muslims, and Christians". It contains highly provocative matter. We immediately sent letters to the Prime Minister,
Home Minister, Punjab Chief Minister, and CBI demanding immediate inquiry into the said circular and source of its origin. We also sent representation to the leader of opposition to pursue this matter of serious implications. Till date we have not heard from any one of them. The non-reaction from any of the government agencies has cast a shadow of doubt on the role and stand of government in dealing with the menace of communal violence.

The total absence of effective measures to stop these actions against minority community and to punish the guilty has pulled down the mask of secularism from the ruling political party. In last more than two years since we reported the matter of secret circular; the happenings all over in India are resonant of what is written in the circular.

There is sharp escalation in violence against minority community. In 1996 there were seven cases of anti-Christian violence, 24 in 1997, and 120 in 1998. In last six months, there have been at least 35 attacks on Christian institutions and individuals. There have been several acts of burning of religious literature, attacks on missionary institutions,
Priests, and nuns. Yesterday a priest was killed in Jullandhar. Four bomb blasts targeting churches took place in various parts of the country in a day. It is certainly not `isolated criminal incidents' as the government has tried to project, but a well thought out plan against a minority community.

Literature promoting religious fanaticism and intolerance, hatred among different communities and violence on name of religion, is being openly circulated in various parts of India by fundamentalist organizations without any fear of the government.

Fundamental rights of Freedom of religion and right to life guaranteed by the Constitution are being denied to the citizens of our country. It is a very dangerous development. Today a Secular, Democratic and United India is being put to the test by communal and fundamentalist forces.

We strongly condemn the failure of the government to provide protection to its citizens and ensure their freedom of religion. We also protest against the patronizing of the criminal element involved in such acts by the government officials and ministers.

We call upon all the political leaders, democratic, and secular organizations, and right thinking people to fight collectively to defeat the nefarious element spreading hatred and killing innocent people in the name of religion. If strong steps are not taken immediately to combat this hate war, it will weigh heavy on secularity, sovereignty, and unity of our Country.

-- Ved Prakash Gupta, General secretary, PUCL (Punjab State Branch); Dr. Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary, Insaaf International;


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(PUCL Bulletin, July 2000)