BHOPAL (India), August 26: Dr. John Dayal, Member: National Integration Council, Government of India, has expressed his deep concerns over the developments in the Tirupati Hills in Andhra Pradesh with respect to Christians and other minorities.
Quoting from newspapers Dr. Dayal said the Congress Party-led Andhra Pradesh Government of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh has decided to enact a law banning preaching of any religion other than Hinduism in Tirupati, a "temple town" in large measure under the administration of its shrines.
The national daily The Hindustan Times reported on August 21 that the state government had made the decision under pressure from Hindu groups that had "expressed resentment over missionaries preaching Christianity near the shrine."
Dr. Dayal in a letter to Mohammad Hamid Ansari, Chairman National Commission for Minorities, (NCM), pointed out his earlier letter of July 6, 2006 wherein he had expressed apprehensions of the conspiracy in the matter of banning Christians and other minorities from the seven hills of the Tirumala range in the Tirupati Hills and the assault on the Mother Teresa Sisters (Nuns) as well as on other Christian workers with the connivance of the local police and civil administration.
The letter said: "the developments in the Tirupati Hills in Andhra Pradesh pose a serious challenge to the Constitution of India, national integrity and the common human rights that accrue to Christians as citizens of free, democratic and secular India".
Dr. Dayal has requested NCM Chairman to enquire of the Government of Andhra Pradesh its intentions, and to ask the Ministry of Law, the Advocate and Solicitor Generals of India, and if needed, Supreme Court of India, if such a travesty of the law is to be allowed in the matter of Fundamental rights and Constitutional guarantees.
"This is a duty of the Commission, and I am sure under your chairmanship, the Commission will not be found wanting in its
commitment to India`s religious minorities," he hoped.
Dr. Dayal said his community`s apprehensions have been aggravated and our alarm accentuated, by developments in recent weeks, culminating in a statement attributed to a Minister of the State of Andhra Pradesh, Endowments Minister J .C. Diwakar Reddy, which makes it seem the State government wants to misuse the law, and enact fresh legislation towards this sectarian end.
He pointed out that the media has quoted the minister as saying "legislation banning propagation of any religion other than Hinduism at Tirumala would be adopted in the Assembly by this month-end. A new GO, bringing all the seven hills within a radius of 332 sq. km. under the purview of the temple of Lord Venkateswara, was under consideration. The law would include punitive action of imprisonment beside a fine up to Rs. 2,000 in case of violation."
He included copies of newspaper clippings and printouts from relevant websites to corroborate his statement.
Dr. Dayal said if these reports be correct and true, this is a matter of alarm for all citizens of India. A part of India is being barred to its own citizens! This will snowball into a monster that will divide this blessed country. Even the Vatican, important to Catholics, Jerusalem, important to Jews, Muslims and Christians, and Amritsar, housing the Holy Golden Temple of the Sikhs, are not banned to people of other faiths and their religious work, including preaching and propagating of faith. Such is the greatness of faith and the rule of international law of human rights, he opined.
He said Christians have the highest respect for the reverence each community has for its gods and holy places. Even the most pugnacious preacher of any religion will never insult another person`s holy place. "We also have supreme respect and faith in the Constitution of India and its promise of freedom and human rights in a civilized society of modern India", Dr. Dayal concluded. (email@example.com)