India’s former supercop Julio Riberio’s sudden outbursts in the media about his being ‘stranger in his own country’ have sent shockwaves amongst all those who held him in a very high esteem not because he is following Christian faith, but because of his patriotism, integrity and expertise in dealing with terrorism in Punjab in the 80s.
He was sent to Punjab in the heydays of militancy by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the Hindus (including RSS cadre) of Punjab “breathed more freely and rejoiced” with the announcement of his appointment as Punjab DGP.
However, Riberio, who was then ‘welcomed’ feel today not only ‘threatened’ and ‘not wanted’ but also ‘reduced to a stranger’ in ‘my own country’. And he blames the rising tide of Hindutva for this feeling! He does not hesitate to put the blame on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat for ‘putting him back on the hit list’!!
These observations of the former police officer, whose integrity and patriotism earned him accolades from all sections of the society including the Hindus and RSS cadre, came as rude shock to many. What has happened in the past few months that forced him to take this extreme line? As I read his article in the Indian Express over and again, I could hardly find any argument he had mentioned deserved serious merit.
Riberio agrues “because he is a Christian, he suddenly finds himself a stranger in his own country”. And in another paragraph in the same article he cites how a group of Hindus at Lonavala ventured to know him and admire him and took photographs with him. Now these two are contradictory statements. If he were a stranger in his own land, how come these Hindus know of him and even wanted to have photographs with him?
His contradicting claims that average Hindus admired and held a Christian like him in high esteem yet at the same time he is a ‘stranger in his own country’ do not make any sense.
Does he want to tell the countrymen that he was chosen to deal with militancy in Punjab by Rajiv Gandhi because of his Christian faith? Or was he entrusted this important mission because of his integrity, nationalist attitude and commitment? And considering that he got this responsibility as a Christian that only shows how this country of majority Hindus offers top positions to Indians without discriminating against them on the basis of religion? Does this happen in any other country in the world? Even in the US, which is looked at as a role model by countries including India, no such instance is available. Then what makes Julio Riberio think that he is a ‘stranger in his own land’?
“Today at the age of 86 I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country…for practising a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra.”
This is what precisely Riberio had said in his article. But there is no evidence to support his claim. Who threatened him? Why? How can his being Christian reduces him to a stranger in his own land? How the proponents of Hindu Rashtra consider him as not Indian?
All these questions that came to mind immediately after reading the article do not have any supporting evidence but for blaming RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat for his remarks on Mother Teresa and quoting a few instances of alleged attacks on churches. But that does not provide logically strong argument in his favour.
And what did Bhagwat say? He raised doubts on the motives behind the service offered by Mother Theresa which was not far from truth. The very motive of service activities conducted by the missionaries has been converting them to Christianity and they did not hide this at any point of time. They run schools, hospitals, and orphanages everywhere in India, especially in the remote, tribal dominated areas. Per se there is nothing objectionable in these activities and the masses are overwhelmed by such “humanitarian” activities of these missionaries only because they are ignorant of their ulterior motive of conversion.
With conversion their culture is changed, loyalty is shifted and when a particular number of such converts is reached these messengers of peace, love, service and human salvation, instigate and encourage them to fight for preserving and protecting their ‘Christian cultural identity’ which is different from the rest of the countrymen. There are innumerable glaring examples from the north eastern region to justify this claim. RSS Chief has only reminded the people of the fallacy in this argument of service to humanity advocated by the missionaries.
Now when Riberio says as a Christian he finds himself ‘stranger in his own land’ does he subscribe to this ideology of the Christian missionaries?
One would like to remind him the history of Christian missionaries in India. Converting the Hindus was their single point agenda with of course the ulterior political motive. Providing humanitarian services was their ploy to achieve this. They did not hesitate to use all means fair and foul and foul more, to accomplish their target. So when the Portuguese came in the 15th century they introduced the Holy Inquisition in Goa. When the British came they used the converts to strengthen the Empire. I quote from Lord Halifax, the then British Secretary of State, who said: “Every additional Christian is an additional bond of union with this country (England) and an additional source of strength to the Empire”.
When the Baptist Missionaries came they started fuelling separatist movements in the tribal areas. The Naga rebellion of A Z Phizo, the Mizo insurgency under Lal Denga, the Adivasisthan demand in Central India were all carried out under the overt and covert guidance and funding by the missionary organizations.
Leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, had opposed these proselytising activities of the missionaries while they welcome their attitude of serving the people.
When the Pope John Paul II came to India in 1999, he called for reaping rich harvest of faith from Asian lands in the Third millennium. How the Church had Christianized the Americas and the Africa and planted the Cross in Europe is a well documented history. The sudden spurt in conversion activities of missionaries and the church sponsored organizations caused a serious concern and churning in the Hindu society.
Riberio also blamed the incidents of ‘ghar vapasi’, declaring ‘good governance day on December 25 and attacks on churches have forced him to believe that he is being discriminated against because of his Christian identity. Here again he traces back his Indian roots to 5000 years. I would ask him this question: Does he, after being a Christian, believe in his Hindu ancestors honestly? Does he pray for their eternal peace as he does for his recent Christian ancestors? Does he subscribe to the culture of this land which is the only inclusive culture in the world? If so, then he would not have felt threatened, unwanted and stranger in his own land.
‘Ghar Vapasi’ or reconversion of those Hindus who had embraced other religion and who wanted to come back to their ancestral religion is not a practice started by RSS and HIndutva organizations. It has a long history and even before the Christian conversion, it was in vogue as numerous Hindus who were forced to accept Islam were brought back to their original faith. It is a natural response to the practice of conversion adopted by the people of alien religions in India. This practice had politico-religious motives and hence called for definite counter strategy. If converting a people either by force or by allurement or by deceit was wrong, then that wrong has to be corrected. The usual logic ‘two wrongs cannot make one right’ does not apply here in this case. And I feel Riberio knows this well.
As regards the attacks on the churches the incidents were condemned by all. No one can justify these attacks. Hindus just can’t as it is against their very blood. The police are investigating into the incidents and according to Delhi police record there were incidents of theft in 206 temples, 30 gurudwaras and just three churches! The recent incidents of theft and rape of an old nun in Ranaghat in West Bengal were condemned by all.
However, there is no pattern in these attacks on churches as claimed by some Christians and secular leaders. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured that no discrimination would be tolerated in the name of religion. He gave this assurance while speaking at a function organized in a church in Delhi. Should we not believe in words of Prime Minister who talks of 125 crore Indians?
People like Julio Riberio have every right to dislike BJP, RSS and their leaders. But that does not give them wholesale rights to attribute any nonsense to their actions and words. Opinions like this coming from a person of Julio Reberio’s stature certainly damage the social fabric of the Indian society. There is absolutely no need for him to feel threatened or unwanted or stranger in his own land simply because the Congress party was thrown out of the power. My sincere request to Rebeiro is: Please, do not play Brutus to Modi. Here is a man we Indians have elected as our Prime Minster who is determined to do something good to the people and motherland.
Let us believe in his words, his honesty and help him in his endeavour. If not, at least do not confuse the masses by spreading falsehood and unfounded information. Not from you, Mr Julio Riberio, Sir
By: Virag Pachpore
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