Christians and Muslims are a threat to Hindus and so “have to be forced to undergo sterilisation,” said Sadhvi Deva Thakur, vice president of the right-wing Hindu Mahasabha party, speaking to reporters last Saturday, Asia News reports.
Ms Thakur also noted that Hindus should have more children to increase their population to counter the rise of Christians and Muslims.
Fr Felix Anthony, spokesman for the Catholic Church in northeastern India, slammed the statement. Speaking to AsiaNews, he said that there is a “new generation of motormouth politicians who enjoy a certain amount of patronage from the present-day government. We shouldn’t be wasting our time discussing this”.
For “the soldiers of the Sangh Parivar [Hindu nationalist organisations] and the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, literally National Volunteer Organisation or National Patriotic Organisation, a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation] words such as sterilisation of Muslims and Christians, their disenfranchisement or diluting their presence in the North East and Kashmir through changes in residency rules, are each a metaphor for annihilation, wiping out, erasing from the landscape,” said John Dayal, general secretary of the All India Christian Council.
The Hindu Mahasabha party backs a Hindu sectarian state and is not new to controversy. On 30 January, its national secretary, Puja Shakun Pandey, caused outrage when she posted a video in which she re-enacted the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, on the anniversary of his murder.
For Thakur, the “population of Muslims and Christians is growing day by day. To rein in this, the Centre (India’s Union government) will have to impose emergency [measures], and Muslims and Christians will have to be forced to undergo sterilisation so that they can’t increase their numbers”.
The Hindu leader’s words seem to point a real threat, but in fact India’s Christians and Muslims are minorities. Out of a total population of 1.4 billion, Christians number 27.8 million or 2.3 per cent; Muslims are 172.2 million or 14.2 per cent. Hinduism is the dominant religion with more than 966.3 million people or 79.8 per cent of the population.
John Dayal remembers that the Sangh Parivar “raised a racket when the 2016 census showed the Hindu population [. . .] under the 80 per cent mark.” The drop was less than 1 per cent, but it was enough to fuel fears that Muslims and Christians would overtake Hindus within a few years if no action was taken.
“Xenophobia of this nature cannot but end in tragedy if the people of this country do not challenge” it, Dayal explained.
Lastly, Fr Felix notes that a woman accused of terrorism is a candidate in Bhopal as the fourth stage in India’s general election gets underway.
Pragya Singh Thakur is out on bail for health reasons, but she was arrested in connection with 2008 Malegaon bombings (Maharashtra). A spiritual guru, she has made “untenable statements,” according to the Catholic clergyman.