Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) has written to the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) over widespread reports of right-wing vigilante mobs that have been out on the streets in Mau, Uttar Pradesh, allegedly disturbing peaceful prayers and mistreating nuns by handing them over to the police, after falsely accusing them of carrying out religious conversions.
On October 10, goons who claimed to be activists of Bajrang Dal as well as Hindu Yuva Vahini reportedly disturbed a prayer meeting and took the worshippers to the police station including the pastor. In another incident, two nuns were taken to the police station on similar false allegations of ‘religious conversion’.
The complaint reads, “The allegations moreover appear to be completely baseless, never mind that Article 25 of the Indian Constitution gives every Indian citizen the right to freely profess and practice he/his faith. Our interviews with many of those religious persons, women, reveal a disturbing pattern of vigilantism that clearly enjoys high degrees of immunity from the authorities.”
Incidents mentioned in the complaint
On October 10, a school principal Sister Gracy Monteiro, her colleague Sister Roshni Minj and their driver were attacked by some people in Mau, Uttar Pradesh. Sister Monteiro spoke to CJP’s sister organisation, SabrangIndia and said that a mob of Hindutva radicals, accosted her along with sister Roshni Minj, roughed up their driver and forcibly took the three to the police station where there were kept till 6 P.M.
Sister Monetrio said she kept asking the mobs who they were, and kept trying to prevent them from hitting the driver, a non-Christian, even as the mob continued verbally and physically abusing them, accusing the three of religious conversion. She further alleged, “There were just the three of us. I was accompanying Sister Minj who was going home to Ranchi to visit her dying father. As we did not get the direct bus, we went to the Mau bus stand and Sr Minj went to ask about the bus, while the driver and I stayed in the car. Then a mob came and attacked the driver, dragged him out, and forced us nuns to walk to the police station.”
On the same day, October 10, a regular Christian prayer service was attacked by a mob some of whom claimed to be activists of Bajrang Dal as well as Hindu Yuva Vahini. The group then forced the Christian worshipers, including the priest to the police station. According to the First Information Report (FIR) filed by one Radheshyam Singh the worshipers have been accused of forcing people to convert to Christianity through allurements, as well as “violating Covid-19 protocol, using musical instruments, consuming narcotics and other intoxicants.”
CJP’s complaint states that this is not an isolated incident and that there is an attempt by some goons to create fear psychosis to carry out such attacks every few days targeting common people belonging to one particular faith and dissuading them from worshipping their gods. A few days ago, CJP wrote to the National Commission for Minorities over various instances of attacks on churches, allegedly by right-wing outfits in Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh between October 2 and 3.
“This instance has gone a step ahead and the mob has attacked nuns who were simply waiting in a car at a bus stand. It was their clothes that gave away their religious identity and they were targeted only on the basis of their religious identity and false allegations of religious conversion were made. Clearly, these attacks had a motive of intimidating the members of the minority Christian community and creating an environment of fear psychosis on communal lines,” reads the complaint.
The complaint has also quoted Mahatma Gandhi who had said, “There are many religions as there are individuals; but those who are conscious of the spirit of nationality do not interfere with one another religion. If Hindus believe that India should be populated only by Hindus, they are living in a dreamland. The Hindus, the Mahomedans, the Parsees and the Christians who have made their country are fellow countrymen and they will have to live in unity if only for their own interest. In no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms; nor has it ever been so in India”.
In a shocking display of unaccountability –and what amounts to making the victim pay as perpetrator, CJP has alleged that in one of these incidents the pastor and other members of the prayer congregation have been put behind bars by Mau Police on false allegations while they were merely offering prayers. This is against the basic values enshrined in our Constitution through Article 25 that gives everyone the right to freely practice their own religion.
Accordingly, we have urged the commission to conduct a full-fledged inquiry/investigation into these brutal and targeted attacks and publish a comprehensive report on it for widespread distribution in the country. Referring to the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, CJP has also urged the commission to undertake studies into the various problems arising out of such discrimination against minorities and take up such matters with appropriate authorities and also seek information on the case registered against the Pastor and others by Mau Police.
We have also requested NCM to ensure physical protection to members of the religious minorities in a state like Uttar Pradesh where a culture of violence-driven immunity appears to prevail, and issue an immediate statement –pending the deeper investigation/inquiry –condemning these attacks, urging police to take stringent action to ensure the immediate release of those innocent in custody. If necessary, we have also urged the commission to approach our courts for relief.
The entire complaints may be read here: