Communist minster accuses Hindu group of misusing temples

September 1, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Kochi, September 1, 2016: A minister from India’s communist ruled Kerala state’s has accused the country’s most powerful Hindu socio-religious group of using temples to store weapons.

Kadakampally Surendran, the minister overseeing trusts that manage Hindu temples in the state, said he received complaints “on a daily basis” about the Rahstriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) using temples for paramilitary activities.

Surendran has threatened to take action against the group and its right-wing Hindu ultra-nationalist ideology that has moved from the fringes to center stage of Indian discourse after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election win in May two years ago.

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is unabashed about its links with the RSS as Modi is himself a former RSS leader, as are several of his federal cabinet colleagues.

In the Kerala state minister’s statement on his official Facebook page, written in the local Malayalam language, he accused the RSS of conducting arms training in temple vicinities.

“We must end people’s anxieties about RSS’ activities in temples,” he wrote in his Aug. 29 post.

The Kerala government will not allow temples to be used for activities that destroy the peaceful atmosphere and secular character of the nation, the minister said and promised to take swift action.

Hindu leaders have dismissed Surendran’s comments as politically motivated and untruthful.

“The minister should name the temples where RSS are storing weapons and conducting arms training,” said Kummanam Rajasekharan, president of the state unit of the BJP.

While the RSS made no official statement, Rajasekharan told media that the communist government of Kerala was against Hindu traditions and culture.

He said communist ministers have been looking to ban prayer songs and religious lamps at government functions indicating their “cultural fascism.”

The RSS and BJP units work closely with temples. RSS conducts training drills for villagers near temple grounds and sometimes they store equipment in the vicinity or in offices located nearby.

The communists and RSS are traditional rivals in Kerala. The recent growth of the BJP has worried the communists and resulted in clashes and politically motivated murders, especially in northern part of Kerala state.

Despite the BJP’s best efforts, it only won a single seat in the state legislative house during this year’s state election. Despite their landslide win in the national election two years ago, the BJP has yet to win any the 20 parliamentary seats from Kerala.

Although RSS and its affiliated groups are accused of anti-Christian activities in several parts of northern India, in Kerala they co-exist peacefully.

However, the socially powerful Catholic Church in Kerala has chosen to distance itself from the minister’s comments.

“We neither support nor oppose the minister’s statement,” said Father Jimmy Pochakkatt.

We have always reiterated that religions and places of worship should never become breeding grounds for hate and violence,” he said.

“If a place of worship, be it a church, mosque or temple, becomes the supporting ground for violence against anyone, the state should intervene and stop such activities. That is our stand,” said Father Pochakkatt.

– ucan

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