Catholics in Goa worry about increasing extremist actions

June 29, 2017 by  
Filed under India, newsletter-india

Panaji, June 28, 2017: Catholic leaders have accused the pro-Hindu state government in Goa, western India, of inciting terrorist activities and the promotion of Hindu fundamentalist ideologies across the country.

The accusation follows a three-day conclave, involving some 130 pro-Hindu organizations, that called on followers to hang beef eaters and initiate violence against Hindus who believe in secular ideologies.

Goa and Daman Archdiocese’s Council for Social Justice and Peace questioned the government’s inaction over “conventions that propagate divisive, anti-national and terrorist ideologies,” in the Christian-stronghold state.

A Hindu nun, Sadhvi Saraswati, who addressed the assembly reportedly declared that Hindu groups would establish a Hindu-only nation in India within a decade.

Stressing the sacredness with which orthodox Hindus see the cow, she said, “Whoever harms the cow or abuses our values can only be described as our enemy… protection of the cow is our duty.”

“We should apply the same laws which are applied for homicide cases against people butchering cattle,” she said.

Saraswati is also reported to have advocated for Hindus to store arms in their homes to fight non-Hindus.

Father Savio Fernandes, executive secretary of the Council for Social Justice and Peace told that attempts to “foist a theocratic state are an open rejection of the secular and democratic ideals of the Indian Constitution.”

“The plea to Hindus to store arms in their houses is tantamount to a call to violence and terrorism,” Father Fernandes added.

The Catholic Association of Goa said in a press note that Saraswati was attempting to create fear among religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims. Some “fringe elements are indulging in creating a hostile atmosphere,” the association said.

Certain conventions and meetings such as this “are deliberately held in Goa to disturb the peace of the state and promote disharmony, enmity, hatred or ill-will between communities,” the association said.

Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, a Goa legislator called for the state government to initiate legal action against the organizers of the conclave, and to arrest Saraswati for inciting violence and speaking out against the values of equality, secularism and socialism enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Father Eremito Rebelo, parish priest of Our Lady of Snows, told that the government’s silence “is shocking, considering that blatantly provocative and anti-minority statements were made.”

Strategically, leading Hindu organizations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (world Hindu council) and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, the political wing of Hindu groups, have distanced themselves from the Goa conclave, describing it as a meeting between smaller and regional groups.

The conclave, which concluded June 17, was the sixth annual program to be held in Goa.

The resolutions passed at the meeting included the declaration of India as a Hindu Rashtra (nation) by 2023, a ban on cattle slaughter, and the declaration of the cow as the national animal.

The assembly also promoted the construction of a temple on a disputed site at Ayodhya in northern India, where Hindu nationalists demolished a mosque triggering nation-wide riots.

Goa was a Portuguese colony for 451 years until it was taken over by India in 1961. Of the 1.8 million people, some 25 percent are Christian, almost all Catholics. Hindus make up 66 percent of the population.

– ucan

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