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A Christian responds to a Christian who felt “he was a stranger in his own country”

Mr Julio Ribeiro was one of my few role models whom I held in high esteem. To see him cry the way he did in his letter in the Indian express, was a rude shock and surprise to me. As I began reading the article I thought there must be something that hurt this man very deeply, and I wanted to know the details, but as I continued reading I found no serious merit in his remark that “As a Christian, suddenly I am a stranger in my own country”

In his letter he said:

“there are those of the predominant Hindu faith who still remember my small contribution to the welfare of the country of our birth. During a recent trip to Rajgurunagar in the Khed taluka of Pune district to visit schools that my NGO, The Bombay Mothers and Children Welfare Society, had adopted, I stopped at Lonavla for idli and tea. A group of middle-aged Maharashtrians sitting on the next table recognised me and stopped to greet and talk. A Brahmin couple returning from Kuwait (as I later learnt) also came up to inquire if I was who I was and then took a photograph with me”

I was astounded after reading this. On the one hand he claims the average Indian, be it from the majority community, respects and adores a Christian like him, yet his conclusion from the entire article is that “he is a stranger in his own country”!

Further Mr Ribeiro said:

“The Indian army was headed by a Christian general, the navy more than once, and same with the air force. The country’s defence forces have countless men and women in uniform who are Christians”

This would lead to only one conclusion:  in spite of being such a small minority we could reach the top posts in the Indian Armed Forces! This only shows that merit alone matters and not religion! And this can’t be seen anywhere in the world including our “role models” like US and UK ! And still we curse our mother land and its inclusiveness!

He also said:

“Today, in my 86th year, I feel threatened, not wanted, reduced to a stranger in my own country.  The same category of citizens who had put their trust in me to rescue them from a force they could not comprehend have now come out of the woodwork to condemn me for practising a religion that is different from theirs. I am not an Indian anymore, at least in the eyes of the proponents of the Hindu Rashtra”

I tried hard to find evidence in his own article in support of this remark and conclusion,  but to no avail. I am surprised! what is going on? How can a man of his calibre conclude things with out first hand experience? How can he place reliance on (paid) media reports, of so called attacks? The same media which has lost all their credibility (at least after Radia tapes).  And the super cop of yesteryears is fully dependent on such storys to make so serious comments and draw conclusions as he did in his article!

Mr Ribeiro also remarks:

“ But the outburst of Mohan Bhagwat against Mother Teresa, an acknowledged saint — acknowledged by all communities and peoples — has put me back on the hit list. Even more so because BJP leaders, like Meenakshi Lekhi, chose to justify their chief’s remarks.”

What was the outburst of Mohan Bhagwat?  I learnt that he said “Mother Theresa intended to convert and service was the face of it”. Is this an “outburst”?  Even if there is,  the way to counter it, is to issue a counter statement and close the matter, because in democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right, if one disagrees with any statement it should be countered by another statement. There is no scope for hue and cry as if the heaven has fallen unless one has a hidden agenda. So Bhagwat’s statement need not have received the kind of reaction that it received unless there was a hidden agenda to polarise people by playing victim. More over in a democracy no one is above criticism, whether mother Theresa or Mahatma Gandhi.

Next, my “hero” chooses to wilfully mix diverse issues:

“Ghar wapsi”, the declaration of Christmas as “Good Governance Day”, the attack on Christian churches and schools in Delhi, all added to a sense of siege that now afflicts these peaceful people

‘Ghar wapsi’ is related to religious conversion and needs to be debated separately at length. A B Vajpayee’s birthday is celebrated as Good Governance Day, if it falls on Christmas day blame the creator, blaming the government is unfair. The next issue mentioned is “attack on Christian schools and churches in Delhi” – I have a serious objection here, after all what exactly is “attack on Christians”? How do you define “attack”?  Any case of robbery or theft becomes attack on community? Or is it a deliberate attempt to defame my mother land before the world community?

He then laments:

“What should I do? What can I do to restore my confidence? I was born in this country. So were my ancestors, some 5,000 or more years ago. If my DNA is tested, it will not differ markedly from Bhagwat’s. It will certainly be the same as the country’s defence minister’s as our ancestors arrived in Goa with the sage Parshuram at the same time. Perhaps we share a common ancestor somewhere down the line. It is an accident of history that my forefathers converted and his did not. I do not and never shall know the circumstances that made it so”

This is an important observation, he admits the same DNA but stops short of analysing why he is a Christian today and cleverly calls it “an accident”, because going into depth will expose him. It is true that not only his and defence minster’s but even my ancestors are same, though I have born in a place 350 km to the South of Goa. Here it was incumbent upon him to check what exactly made his ancestors embrace Christianity? ( And my ancestors to flee Goa) Is it love of God /Jesus Christ or the force or torture from criminal saint Francis Xavier and his cruel gang? An IPS officer can’t be so ignorant about his own history unless he deliberately chooses to do so! He ought to know the History of Inquisition and its horrifying impact on Indian society.

Then why did Mr Ribeiro conclude such dreary views of my mother land called  Bharat? Obviously to understand this one has to understand the depth and impact “religious teachings” have on young minds during their childhood, that even after serving the full term of eminent service in Indian bureaucracy, this “fear” of Christians being “unsafe” in this country remains unchanged deep in a corner of the sub conscious mind! Which lead to remarks of the kind we saw!

It is not for the first time that I am confronting a senior learned man from my own community, whom the entire society held in high respect. I have seen IPS officers who served with integrity during service but after retirement show these leanings to victimhood of Christians. One retired joint commissioner of Delhi police having roots in Mangalore outraging on a English channel during 2008 church attack made news. A retired high court judge, with whom I had to differ on his findings on the infamous so called Mangalore church attacks of 2008, was also an eminent jurist and known for integrity honesty and impartial judgements, but after retirement when it comes to analysing “church attacks” the prejudice of the indoctrinated minds was clearly visible! So how poisonous could have been the teachings at young age which have this life time impact on the minds!

It is not today I am seeing such utterances for the first time but observing since 1977, the year Congress lost power at the centre for the first time! We the Christians were never bothered when the whole country was fighting emergency,  but felt ‘very unsafe’ the moment Congress was thrown out of power! And we took to streets protesting and spreading panic! And it continued whenever Congress lost at centre, in 1989-90 during V P Singh rule at centre and Mulayam singh (today’s secular champions) at UP we took to street protesting ‘rape’ of nuns in UP  and shouted slogans condemning V P Singh and Mulayam! And so on & so forth to this day!

Robert Rosario , a social and political activist, Mangalore.

(The author had sent his letter to Indian Express, who had originally published Mr Ribeiro’s letter, but Indian Express refused to publish the response)

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