How the Sangh Parivar manufacturers a lie
Since the change in the national government in May 2014, there has been a staple in the armoury of the various spokesmen of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party, and its mother force, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, when they have to face criticism that their cadres are attacking churches, or molesting pastors and Nuns. “This is the work of Christians, as was found in the gang rapes of the Nuns in Jhabua when Mr. Digvijay Singh was the chief minister,” RSS spokesman Dr. Rakesh Sinha has said on many Television new Channels in the past ten months or so.
uns and looting of a remote convent near Jhabua in central Madhya Pradesh state.
This writer has some personal knowledge about the Jhabua gang-rape case, and how this lie was born, and then manipulated and used by the BJP leadership and the Sangh over the years in a process that would have done Herr Joseph Goebbels proud.
As journalists at that time reported, at about 2:00 a.m. on September 23, 1998, four nuns who operated a medical clinic in Preetisharan Ashram in Nawapura village in the Tribal-dominated Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, were gang raped by more than a dozen men. According to Father Lucas, who was then secretary of Indore Diocese, a group of about 20 or so armed men tried to enter the convent by pretending to be the relatives of a sick boy who needed medical attention. When the nuns refused to open the gate, the men forced their way in and looted cash and valuables. They then proceeded to gang rape the four nuns who had taken refuge in the chapel.
The gang rape shocked the nation, and the world. The Congress government in the state first tried to shrug it off as just another incident. A woman functionary of a national commission in fact remarked “Why do you send Nuns to forests; don’t you know Tribals are rapists.” The BJP first condemned the crime, but Vishwa Hindu Parishad secretary Baikunth Lal Sharma Prem, who later became a BJP Member of the Lok Sabha and now goes around dressed as a Sikh, claimed that the incident reflected the “anger of patriotic Hindu youth against the anti-national forces. Kanchan Gupta, the editor of BJP Today and a BJP spokesperson said, “It’s only a rape.”
We were able to get an FIR registered. Eventually, 24 men were identified, but not all could be arrested, and escaped punishment. The criminal trial itself was traumatic for the nuns, and the public prosecutor was accused of doing a shoddy job. Eventually, only 10 of the 24 were sentenced to various terms in prison. While six were acquitted, the rest were never brought to book.
But meanwhile rumours had began that 12 of the accused were Christians. Home Minister L. K. Advani immediately made a statement in Parliament that 12 of the 24 accused rapists belonged to the Christian community. Sadhvi Uma Bharati [and her honorific is the equivalent of a Nun], a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh who is now a minister in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, repeated the insinuation.
We followed up the allegation that Christians were involved in the rape. In fact, when the first 17 men were arrested, and identified by the victims, the Superintendent of police had categorically said there were no Christians among them. Bishop George Anathil of Indore diocese, in which Jhabua is located, wrote to the newspapers which had printed the erroneous reports, saying a detailed investigation had been done in every church in the area and not one of the accused had been found to be a Christian. We asked the newspapers to print the rejoinder. The editors failed to do so.
The lie has been repeated by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar ever since. The Congress lost power in the state to the BJP soon thereafter. The BJP is still ruling the state.
The younger generation of media persons, and the common people, knows only the lie; they have neither the patience nor the inclination to establish the truth, even though some of them are not faithful to the ideology of the Sangh and the BJP.