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|September 29, 1998||
Advani promises inquiry into attacks on missionaries
Union Home Minister Lal Kishinchand Advani today promised a high-level inquiry into the recent attacks on Christian missionaries and institutions, including the rape of three nuns in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh.
Advani gave this assurance at a meeting with the archbishop of Delhi and other senior bishops in New Delhi.
Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi Vincent Concessao told a press conference that Advani expressed sympathy with the community and promised to do something about the recurrent attacks on its institutions.
John Dayal of the All-India Catholic Union, who was part of the delegation, said Advani told Home Secretary B P Singh to liase with the state governments concerned and conduct an inquiry into the incidents listed in the memorandum presented by Bishop Alain de Lastic, archbishop of Delhi and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India.
Apart from the rape at Naupara Bhandaria village in Jhabua on the night of September 22, the other incidents to be investigated are the looting of a building in Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, on the night of September 23, the burning of religious books in Rajkot, Gujarat, and the exhumation of a coffin in Kapadwanj, also in Gujarat.
While not directly blaming any particular group for the attacks, Bishop Concessao said these were "an outcome of fundamentalist thinking which considers those different as outsiders".
In reply to a query, he said the incidents in Gujarat indicated "a little bit of collusion between the state government and the elements behind the attacks".
Expressing outrage at the reported statement of Vishwa Hindu Parishad central secretary B L Sharma justifying the attacks, Bishop Concessao said, "The rape of religious workers who are consecrated to vows of chastity and service is a particularly terrible thing to happen."
The Congress has also criticised Sharma's statement and accused the VHP and the Bajrang Dal of launching organised attacks on Christian institutions.
The party said these so-called Hindu organisations were engaged in patently un-Hindu activities.
Congress spokespersons Girija Vyas and Ajit Jogi said in New Delhi that they were shocked to read the VHP office-bearer's statement justifying the rape of the nuns in Jhabua by describing it as "an expression of anger against anti-national forces".
They pointed out that the Hindu religion taught religious tolerance and brotherhood, but the acts of the outfits affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were completely contrary to these teachings.
They said it was a shame to call the nuns anti-national when they were engaged in selfless service to the less privileged people in the areas of education and medical care.
They demanded that the central and state governments take action against these elements.
They said RSS elements were engaged in organised attacks on Christian institutions in several states, besides Madhya Pradesh. They appreciated the quick action taken by Chief Minister Digvijay Singh and the Madhya Pradesh government to catch the culprits.
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