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The attacks on church in Delhi are obviously communal. The Delhi police theory of ‘burglary’ does not hold any water. Had it been so, items bearing utmost religious significance and no great monetary value would not have been touched. The selective damages caused to such structures inside the church shows the attacks were ‘guided’, yet to be known by whom. Hand of any political party is yet to be established. But political hand is obvious given the history of communal clashes before every election in many north Indian states. Such tension serves the ‘purpose’ – polarising votes. The orchestrators, however, do not necessarily belong to the party seen as radical and non-secular.

Apparently, the attacks on Christian establishments have dented BJP’s image the party managed to build since taking up the country’s reins last May. The party’s effort to downplay its Hindutva identity by ‘Bikash’ (development) slogan has gone for a toss. But, such attacks have a reverse effect too. There is a huge chance of reverse polarisation of non-Christian votes. In such case, BJP will benefit from its pro-Hindu image. Polarisation and reverse polarisation of votes on religious lines take place mostly among lower income groups, who constitute a major part of Delhi’s population. Communally sensitive rumours may influence voters living in slums and unauthorised colonies of Delhi very fast and in a big way. After all, Delhi is not unfamiliar to communal riots. Trilokpuri area of East Delhi witnessed clashes between Hindus and Muslims just four months ago during Diwali festival.

US President Barack Obama’s ‘concern’ over religious intolerance in India has come at a crucial time. Though he did not mention about the attacks on church the remark is taken in that context only. His ‘Gandhi-would-have-been-shocked’ statement ignores the fact that Gandhi had seen bigger communal riots in his country than we do now. Gandhi, of course, was saddened by the riots that took thousands of lives, but was helpless too. Obama’s statement only expresses solidarity with the Christians and no other victims of religious intolerance. Religious or racial intolerance is a global concern including in India. People will remain victims of this menace until they understand the design orchestrated by political parties and other vested interested groups.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on February 9, 2015)

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