Minorities continue to reel under love-hate rel'ship with Modi regime

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/1/2018 1:10:46 PM

New Delhi, Jan 1 : Religious minorities in India -- especially Muslims and Christians -- continue to reel under love-hate relationship with the BJP-led Narendra Modi Government even as the bygone year 2017 was marred by heated debate on issues like Triple Talaq, Love Jihad and conversion row.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Sunday, December 24, urged the central government to withhold and withdraw its Bill to outlaw instant Triple Talaq, stating that it was against the principles of Shariah and an interference in Muslim personal law.
On December 15, the Union Cabinet approved the much talked about Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 that seeks to provide punishment for instant Triple Talaq and gives victims the right to seek maintenance from their former spouses.
The Supreme Court in a 3:2 judgement in August had banned Triple Talaq, saying it violated the fundamental rights of Muslim women.
'Triple Talaq' is oral divorce given in one go, a practice which has been much in public debate for quite sometime.
The draft law is understood to have provided punishment, including jail term for violators. The proposed law would be applicable only in case on instant triple talaq or 'talaq-e-biddat'.
While in many quarters, the anxiety of the religious minorities saw an increase because of alleged "lack of confidence" in the administration in BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand, in some Christian-dominated northeastern states -- BJP sprang surprise by making deeper penetration electorally during the calendar year 2017.
In northeastern state of Manipur, the Naga Christians voted overwhelmingly in assembly elections early this year and BJP nominees could register victories in typical constituencies with sizeable Christians like Thanlon, Henglep and Churachandpur.
BJP's ally Nagaland People's Front could also win important seats in constituencies with considerable Christians.
On one hand, while such electoral victories have encouraged BJP to make determined efforts to wrest power in another Christian-stronghold Meghalaya in next year's polls, the overall impression of Christians against BJP in rest of India were lost in controversies during the year.
Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told journalists on December 20 in Delhi that Hindu activists lately attacked two Catholic priests and 30 seminarians in Madhya Pradesh accusing them of attempting religious conversion.
The Christians were allegedly attacked when they were singing Christmas carols. Instead of acting against the perpetrators of crime, it has been alleged that police in Madhya Pradesh only acted under pressure from Hindu groups.
Issues of conversion row and attacks on Christians during the year came from Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP or BJP-led NDA at present run government(s) in 19 of 29 Indian states, including Madhya Pradesh, where Christian leaders say their trust in administration or the rule of law has become "shaky" in the wake of increased attacks.
However, there are other versions too. A newly inducted Christian Union Minister K J Alphons recently blamed media for often highlighting some of the events in wrong light. Because of the "breaking news" culture of television channels, he said, "We live in post-truth".
"After being in power for three-and-half years (for BJP), tell me whether a stone has been thrown at a church? Has a Christian been attacked anywhere?" he asked at a television programme.
It is also notable that former bureaucrat KJ Alphons (64) is a Syro-Malabar Catholic from Kerala, where Christians play an important role in electoral politics as they form about 20 per cent of the state's 33 million population.
There have been also issues related to beef eating and in states like Kerala and Meghalaya, the saffron party
seemed to be on back foot with BJP leaders often clarifying that the government has no intent to influence or regulate people's choice of eating.

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