While there is no doubt that the ghastly murder of Graham Stewart Staines, the Australian missionary and his two innocent sons, should be universally condemned and that the culprits should be severely punished, the massive outcry it has evoked in the Indian Press (let us forget for a moment the politicians, whose cynical opportunism is now known to all), raises several important questions, which can only be answered by a Westerner, as any Indian who would dare utter the below statements would immediately be assimilated with the Sangh Parivar :
1) Is the life of a White Man infinitely more important and dear to the Indian Media than the lives of a hundred Indians ? Or to put it differently : is the life of a Christian more sacred than the lives of many Hindus ?
It would seem so. Because we all remember not so long ago, whether in Pendjab or in Kashmir, how militants would stop buses and kill all the Hindus – men, women and children. It even happened recently, when a few of the last courageous Hindus to dare remain in Kashmir, were savagely slaughtered in a village, as were the labourers in Himachal Pradesh. Yet, very few voices were raised in the Indian Press condemning it – at least there never was such an outrage as provoked by the murder of Staines. When Hindus are killed in pogroms in Pakistan or Bangladesh (please read again Taslima Nasreen’s book “Lajja”), we never witness in the Indian Media the like of yesterday’s tear jerking, posthumous “interview” of Mr Staines in Star News. Does this really mean, as many of the early colonialists and missionaries thought, that the life of a hundred Hindus is not worth a tear ?
2) This massive outcry on the “atrocities against the minorities” raises also doubts about the quality and integrity of Indian journalism. Take for instance the rape of the four nuns in Jhabua. Today the Indian Press (and the foreign corespondents – witness Tony Clifton’s piece in the last issue of Newseek) are still reporting that it was a “religious” rape. Yet I went to Jhabua and met the four adorable nuns, who themselves admitted, along with their bishop George Anatil, that it had nothing to do with religion – it was the doing of a gang of Bhil tribals, known to perpetrate this kind of hateful acts on their own women. Yet today, the Indian Press, the Christian hierarchy and the politicians, continue to include the Jhabua rape in the list of the atrocities against the Christians. Take the Wayanad incident in Northern Kerala. It was reported that a priest and four women were beaten up and a Bible stolen by “fanatical” Hindus. A FIR was lodged, the communists took out processions all over Kerala to protest against the “atrocities” and the Press went gaga. Yet as an intrepid reporter from the Calicut office of the Indian Express found out, nobody was beaten up and the Bible was safe. Too late : the damage was done and it still is being made use of by the enemies of India. Finally, even if Dara Singh does belong to the Bajrang Dal, it is doubtful if the 100 others accused do. What is more probable, is that like in Wayanad, it is a case of converted tribals versus non-converted tribals, of pent-up jealousies, of old village feuds and land disputes. It is also an outcome of what – it should be said – are the aggressive methods of the Pentecost and seventh Adventists missionaries, known for their muscular ways of converting.
3) And this raises the most important question : why does the Indian press always reflect a westernised point of view ? Why does India’s intellectual “elite”, the majority of which happens to be Hindu, always come down so hard on their own culture, their own religion, their own brothers and sisters ? Is it because of an eternal feeling of inferiority, which itself is a legacy of British colonisation ? Is it because they considers Hindus to be inferior beings – remember the words of Claudius Buccchanan, a chaplain attached to the East India Company : “…Neither truth, nor honesty, honour, gratitude, nor charity, is to be found in the breast of a Hindoo”! Is it because the Indian Press is still deeply influenced by Marxist and communist thoughts planted by Nehruvianism, like it is in Kerala, where the communists have shamelessly and dangerously exploited the Christians issue for their own selfish purpose ?
Whatever it is, the harm is done. Because even though it is not the truth which has been reported from Jhabua, from Wayanad or from the Keonjhar district in Orissa, it has been passed-off as the truth and it has been believed to be so by the masses. And the result is that it has split India a little more along religious and castes lines, as the communist and those who want to see India divided, diminished, humiliated, have always wished. How sad that such a beautiful country, with such a wonderful tradition of tolerance, spirituality and greatness, is slowly sinking into self-destruction… And the best is that the Hindus – they who were colonised, beaten-up, converted by force or guile, their temples destroyed, their women raped, are blamed – and not those who raped, converted, destroyed, colonised…
And finally, Christianity has always striven on martyrdom, on being persecuted. It was so in Rome, it was so in Africa, it is so in India. Before the murder of Mr Staines, the Christian story was slowly dying; the culprits of the Jhabua rape would have been condemned and the Wayanad fraud exposed. In one stroke the burning of Graham Stewart Staines has revived the controversy and insured that it does not die for a long time. Was the joy of martyrdom for the cause he fought for 34 years his last thought before dying ?
* The author, who has published ” Rewriting Indian History ” (Vikas), is a French journalist, correspondent in South Asia for ” Le Figaro “, France’s largest circulation newspaper.