Muslims, Christians & Buddhists join hands in MP to fight BJP Government misrule. By Pervez Bari

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Bhopal, Aug 10: In a major development Muslim, Christian and Buddhist communities in Madhya Pradesh have come together on a common platform under the banner of "M.P. Minorities Council" to unitedly fight out the rightist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ruled Madhya Pradesh Government`s strong-arm and brow-beating tactics against the State`s minorities and its patronage to saffron outfits harassing them.
The representatives of Muslims, Christians and Buddhists in a joint Press conference here today announced the formation of "M.P. Minorities Council". They said that the growing atrocities on minorities in the State and BJP Government`s saffronising mentality have forced different religious minorities to come on one stage. The constitution of the new organization by the people of these religious denominations has been done to stop their persecution in the State, they added.
Maulana Mufti Abdul Razzaq Khan, who is the president of MP unit of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind, will head the M.P. Minorities Council, (MPMC), with B.S. Sagar, a Buddhist, being its secretary. Mrs. Indira Iyengar, who is president of M.P. Christian Forum, will be the treasurer of the new body.
Addressing the Press conference MPMC`s president Mufti Abdul Razzaq said that the BJP Government in Madhya Pradesh, in the last two-and-a-half year of its rule, on the pretext of religious conversion and anti-terrorism measures, has physically and mentally tortured the minorities crossing all limits of humanity. The State Government instead of taking effective measures against some communal organizations engaged in committing atrocities on minorities has shielded them from the arms of law, he added.
Mufti Abdul Razzaq recalled that during the Indian freedom struggle two million Muslims and another 55,000 Ulemas laid down their lives to make India independent. However, after India attained freedom Muslims hope of a plural society living in peace and tranquility was belied. The fascist forces indulged in engineering communal riots targeting Muslims` lives and property to cripple them physically and economically. The series of riots all over the country in the last five decades, and mostly under the Congress rule, resulted in huge loss of lives and properties which are open evidence of this brutality. Now, such inimical forces spreading their tentacles have engulfed Christians and Buddhists also, he added.
Accusing the BJP Government of helping the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity, he reminded the nature`s law that those governments` tenure are short-lived which shield the accused. He cited examples from history when the governments of the day indulging in such acts fell by the side well before they could settle down properly.
He said that in the pre-independence era all the communities lived in peace and harmony. He pointed out that Nawab Hameedullah Khan of Bhopal had sponsored late Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, who later adorned the chair of President of India, for studies abroad. Similarly, Nizam of Hyderabad had sent late PV Narsimha Rao, who later became the Prime Minister of India, to take a foreign degree. These examples amply prove of communal harmony and patronage of Muslim rulers to the followers of other religions existed before India got freedom.
Criticizing the Madhya Pradesh Government`s amendment to the Freedom of Religion Act 1968, Mufti Abdul Razzaq said in the United States and European countries Islam is the fastest growing religion with large number of Christians embracing Islam daily but the governments have not tinkered with the religious freedom of the people there. Quoting history again he said not only common people but even the rulers in olden days came into the Islamic fold of their own free will. He cited the examples of Raja Bhoj of Malwa region and Raja of Rajgarh Moti Singh Thakur embraced Islam in Madhya Pradesh.
However, he charged that the BJP Government in the State has knelt down to the pressures of the communal forces.
BS Sagar, secretary of MPMC, said the minorities have been deprived of their fundamental rights and they are being given step-motherly treatment by the BJP Government. Starting new schemes for the minorities is a far cry, while they are not even fully benefited by the schemes initiated by the previous government. The State BJP Government is hell-bent to destroy the institutions of the minorities, he alleged.
Replying to a question Sagar said that MPMC would formulate its strategy and protest vehemently against the anti-conversion amendment bill. "If we do not get our rights then we will come on the roads to press our demands", he thundered.
The State government instead of curbing the religious freedom should contemplate on the reasons behind conversion and take appropriate steps to stem the rot. The atrocities on Harijans and Dalits committed in Hindu society is the main cause of people coming out of its fold, he opined.
Mrs. Indira Iyengar grimacing painfully told newsmen that since Christians do not retaliate they have become a soft target for hoodlums of saffron forces who flex their muscles and issue life threats while the State BJP Government is a mute spectator.
"We have become second-class citizens of India. Continuously targetting Christians the community has been pushed to a corner", Mrs. Iyengar moaned.
Regaining composure she challenged:"Quote one single case of allurement employed in conversion to Christianity that was registered in last 38 years since the M.P. Freedom of Religion Act was enacted in 1968.
She exuded confidence that with the forging of alliance between Muslims, Christians and Buddhists the minorities would get strengthened to put much required pressure on the BJP Government and it will have to listen to its woes.
"The more you suppress anything the more it grows. Jesus Christ was crucified but still Christianity is flourishing", she remarked.
Mrs. Iyengar warned that if the government goes on persecuting the minorities then it could not live in peace.
It may be pointed out here that the absurd notion of Christian population multiplying through conversions is negated by the Indian census figures of the last four decades. The Christian population as per 1971 was 2.60 per cent, in 1981 it became 2.44 per cent, in 1991 it was 2.32 per cent and in 2001 it stands at 2.18 per cent. The share of Christians in total population is continuously declining and we tend to believe that forcible conversions into Christianity are on. Christianity arrived in India in the year 52 A.D. and is 1950 years old here. (pervezbari@eth.net)

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