After U.S. President Barack Obama raised the issue of religious intolerance in India, The New York Times published a very strong editorial criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for what it calls his “dangerous silence” on a series of communal events in the country.The editorial, by the NYT editorial board, lists recent attacks on churches and reports of Ghar Vapsi or conversion and marks out the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) for its proposed conversions programme in Ayodhya in March this year, saying the group “was playing with fire.” “Mr. Modi’s continued silence before such troubling intolerance increasingly gives the impression that he either cannot or does not wish to control the fringe elements of the Hindu nationalist right,” the NYT editorial surmised.Full text of the Editorial published in the New York Times on February 6, 2015:What will it take for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out about the mounting violence against India’s religious minorities? Attacks at Christian places of worship have prompted no response from the man elected to represent and to protect all of India’s citizens. Nor has he addressed the mass conversion to Hinduism of Christians and Muslims who have been coerced or promised money. Mr. Modi’s continued silence before such troubling intolerance increasingly gives the impression that he either cannot or does not wish to control the fringe elements of the Hindu nationalist right.Recently, a number of Christian churches in India have been burned and ransacked. Last December, St. Sebastian’s Church in East Delhi was engulfed in fire. Its pastor reported a strong smell of kerosene after the blaze was put out. On Monday, St. Alphonsa’s Church in New Delhi was vandalised. Ceremonial vessels were taken, yet collection boxes full of cash were untouched. Alarmed by the attacks, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India has urged the government to uphold the secular nature of India and to assure its Christians they are “protected and secure” in their own country.There is also concern about the mass conversions. Last December, about 200 Muslims were converted to Hinduism in Agra. In January, up to 100 Christians in West Bengal “reconverted” to Hinduism. Hard-line Hindu nationalist groups, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), make no secret of their support for a “homecoming” campaign designed to “return” non-Hindus to the fold. More than 80 per cent of Indians are Hindu, but Pravin Togadia of the VHP says his organisation’s goal is a country that is 100 per cent Hindu. The only way to achieve that is to deny religious minorities their faith.The VHP is reportedly planning a mass conversion of 3,000 Muslims in Ayodhya this month. The destruction of the Babri Mosque there in 1992 by Hindu militants touched off riots between Hindus and Muslims across India that left more than 2,000 people dead. The VHP knows it is playing with fire.Mr. Modi has promised an ambitious agenda for India’s development. But, as President Obama observed in a speech in New Delhi last month: “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith.” Mr. Modi needs to break his deafening silence on religious intolerance.
Expressing his gratitude to the people of Jharkhand for reposing their faith in him during the Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged the voters here to ensure the same results in the assembly elections.
“When I came during the Lok Sabha polls at the same venue, this ground was half-empty, today no empty space is to be seen. Why did you do this to me? Even with half-filled ground, we got absolute majority due to your support. This time the venue is full, we hope for the same results,” Prime Minister Modi said at an election rally here.
“The love that you have showered on me, I will definitely return it with interest. I have also come to thank you all. Jamshedpur and Jharkhand reposed faith in us,” he added.
The Prime Minister also pitched for a developed and prosperous Jharkhand, and asked the voters to choose the right people to lead the state.
“The parents, who have children between 13-18 age group, take extra care of their children, their habits, cultural values. Similarly, Jharkhand is also at 13-18 age, you have to choose right people for the state; these polls will choose the state’s future for the next 100 years,” he added.
Prime Minister Modi also pointed out that the policies framed by his government would not allow anyone to loot coal anymore.
“If Jamshedpur doesn’t have coal, iron-ore, can Jamshedpur survive? Shouldn’t policies be framed for making it available? I am doing this. The policies that we have framed will not allow anyone to loot coal anymore,” he said.
Jharkhand recorded an impressive 62 percent voter turnout in the first phase of assembly elections earlier this week.
The state is scheduled to enter the second phase of its five-phase assembly polls on December 2, with 13 assemblies voting on that day. The counting of votes will take place on December 23.