22 June 2000
The Times of India
Bajrang Dal leaders say they want Christians out
By Siddharth Varadarajan
The Times of India News Service
MATHURA: The Bharatiya Janata Party high command in Delhi may insist the Sangh Parivar has no anti-Christian agenda and that recent incidents of violence against church institutions in Uttar Pradesh are the handiwork of Pakistan, but their foot soldiers in the state make no bones about their intention to drive away Christians.
While denying any involvement in the murder of Brother George of Mathura or the attack on Father Thomas of Kosikalan, local Bajrang Dal leaders said Christians were now bigger enemies than Muslims. Dharmendra Sharma, the Bajrang Dal's sah-sahayojak for the Braj region, declared that his organisation was ready to fight wherever church institutions were active. ``Maar-peet to kya, hum sab kuchch karne ke liye taiyar hain (We are prepared to use violence. There is no limit).'' When this reporter suggested such talk lent credence to the theory of a possible Bajrang Dal link to the murder of Brother George, he replied: ``So what? We feel that every time there is a crime like this, the Bajrang Dal's name should be taken. Hindus will respect us more and Christians will fear us.''
``When people blame us,'' said Rajesh Choudhary, district convener of the Bajrang Dal in Mathura, ``it helps spread the word that we have extreme views and that we use violence. This strengthens our movement.'' He claimed Christians were involved in the murder of Brother George. ``The padre was a bad man and he must have had enemies.'' Asked to elaborate, he said, somewhat sheepishly, ``He used to roam around with nuns.''
Choudhary said the Bajrang Dal was not the sort of organisation to dabble in random violence. ``The Christians want to take over the country. What is the point of us targeting one or two? Our aim is to drive them all away,'' he said. ``Jis samay hum bhagana shuru karenge, yeh nahin bach payenge (The day we start chasing them away, they won't be able to save themselves). Even the administration won't be able to help them.'' Sharma, on his part, freely recounted incidents where he and his associates have attacked Christian preachers around Agra for trying to convert Dalits.
Both leaders lamented the fact that the Sangh Parivar had not reacted earlier to the ``dangers'' posed by Christians. But at a national convention of the Bajrang Dal in Brindavan in March this year, the matter was discussed and a decision taken to launch a campaign against church institutions, Sharma revealed. However, he dismissed as mere coincidence the fact that there has been a spate of anti-Christian violence around Brindavan ever since.
Asked about the murder of Graham Staines and his sons, Sharma denied the Bajrang Dal was involved. Another Dal activist narrated how Hindus in Orissa worship Staines' killer, Dara Singh, as a hero. Asked whether that was a good or bad thing, the activist laughed. ``Very good,'' he replied. Sharma was embarrassed. ``The two boys should not have been killed. And the way Staines was killed was not good.'' He then paused for a moment and thought deeply. ``We should be prepared for any eventuality,'' he said.