An independent commission investigating recent attacks on Christians in Gujarat state has found that right-wing Hindu groups were responsible, and in some cases organised the outrages.
    The London Tablet reports the investigation was carried out by the National Alliance of Women, which released its report on "Violence in Gujarat" earlier this month in New Delhi. They counted 116 attacks on Christians in India since January last year, more than 90 of which took place in Gujarat.
    The commission accused Hindu groups of "conceiving and planning" the violence, especially in the Dangs area of Gujarat in December 1998. It could find no evidence of forcible conversions to Christianity, as Hindu groups had claimed, whereas there had been cases of Christians being forced to convert to Hinduism.
    The investigating commission was headed by Hosbet Suresh, a former judge of the Bombay High Court, who investigated the Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay in 1993. Right-wing Hindu leaders at a meeting in Gorakhpur, in north-east India, have accused Christian missionaries of converting tribals and low castes, and of inciting instability in the country. The state general secretary of the BJP (Indian People's Party), Hriday Nath Singh, alleged that there was a conspiracy to bring about conversions "in a systematic manner". He warned that the Indian constitution had "provisions to deal with such a situation".
    A BJP member of Parliament, Swami Chinmayanand, described the Congress Party leader, Sonia Gandhi, who is now trying to form a government after the defeat of the BJP on a vote of confidence on 19 April, as "the patron of Christians in India". He alleged that the number of Christian missionaries had increased from 400 in 1971 to 11,000 today. Rajnath Singh, the BJP state president of Gujarat, said that "Hindustan is for Hindus, and the need of the hour is to establish a Hindu nation". He accused Christian missionaries of being CIA agents.

10:58am 27/4/99 / The Tablet


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