The much maligned yet important Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 mandates that Christians along with Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsi immigrants from Islamic States of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who are residing in Bharat illegally are to be given legal citizenship of our nation. In our opinion, Pakistani Christians are a group who are the odd one out here and we as a nation don’t owe them refuge, despite the serious persecution they face in that Islamic nation. Why are we of this opinion in spite of our support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is three-fold:
- Christian support to the Pakistan Movement
- Abundance of rich Christian nations that can offer refuge
- The similarity in the proselytising Abrahamic faiths of Islam and Christianity
Role of Christians in the Partition of Bharat
Upon carefully examining the history of the freedom movement of Bharat, we found much evidence that supports our argument that many Indian and British Christians supported Muhammed Ali Jinnah and the Muslim League at a time when there was a lot of opposition to the idea of creating a separate Muslim state. All India Christian Association assured unconditional support to M. A. Jinnah and the crucial contribution of the Christian community was recognised by Jinnah and All India Muslim League at all levels.
The leaders of All India Muslim League promised to give privileges to the Christian community in the newly established Muslim state. The Christian vote before Boundary Commission was a very crucial step towards the formation of Pakistan. Christian leaders voted for Pakistan because they believed that Jinnah would be the real protector of their rights and interests.
How the hopes of the Christians turned to dust is none of our business. Why should Bharat be held responsible for any action taken by third-persons against their own interests?
Examples of Individual Christians who supported the Pakistan Movement
For those who may be unfamiliar with the name of Dewan Bahadur S.P. Singha, he was a prominent Christian leader of pre-Partition Punjab. Hailing from Pasrur, near Sialkot, Singha moved to Lahore. He was the Registrar of Punjab University before entering politics. He was then elected to the Punjab Assembly in 1937. Singha emerged as a staunch supporter of the Pakistan Movement. He forcefully used his position as Speaker of the Punjab Assembly to further the cause of Pakistan. The leaders of the Church in Punjab strongly endorsed the concept of Pakistan and advised their brethren to move to Pakistan when it would come into existence.
Well known Christian leader Joshua Fazluddin wrote in the daily “Inqilab“ that Pakistan, with its connection to Central Asia and its own distinctive history, was a separate country from the rest of Bharat. Fazluddin supported Chaudhry Rehmat Ali (who devised the name Pakistan) regarding the separation of this territory from Bharat “as it was in accordance with the Voice of God”.
Voting on the fate of the Punjab province
A meeting of the Punjab Legislative Assembly was held on the 23rd of June, 1947, to decide whether the Province, still undivided at the time, should be part of Pakistan or Bharat. The votes were 88 for remaining with India and 91 for joining Pakistan. The four votes which were required for created the majority were the three votes of Christian members Dewan Bahadur Singha, Cecil Gibbon and Fazal Elahi, plus Singha’s additional vote as Assembly Speaker. Thus, it was decided that Punjab province was to join Pakistan.
When the proceedings of the Boundary Commission took place, the Christian leaders, led by Singha, recorded their statement that for the demarcation of the Boundaries, the Christian populations should be included with, and in fact termed as, Muslim populations.
Rich Western nations aggressively protect Christian interests
The West might be the progenitor of the idea of secularism, i.e. separation of Church and State – something necessitated by the brutal hold of the Roman Catholic Church over Europe till the Middle Ages, the rise of Protestantism and subsequent religious wars between different Christian sects which ravaged Europe in 16th & 17th centuries.
But even in the modern era, the West openly identifies with its Christian roots – 41 countries in the world recognise a branch of Christianity as the official state or preferred religion. This list includes ‘liberal’, developed Western nations like United Kingdom (Great Britain), Denmark, Italy, Spain, Iceland, Greece, Norway, Finland, Poland. Even Russia comes in this list.
And though USA doesn’t officially have a state religion, Christianity plays a major role in its politics, and the superpower is host to some of the most virulent and extremist evangelical sects – Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses etc. – in the Christian world who target countries like Bharat for conversion.
The persecution of Christians in Pakistan is real, unlike the fabricated claims of persecution the missionaries and evangelicals invent in a tolerant country like Bharat. But those persecuted Christians have powerful backers in the West. How Aisa Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who received the death sentence for ‘blasphemy’ against Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, became a global cause célèbre for the Western world and finally managed to escape and settle in Canada due to intense Western pressure on Pakistan, is proof enough.
But other non-Muslims, similarly accused of ‘blasphemy’, like Notan Das, Ramesh Kumar, Prakash Kumar, are all but forgotten – they are literally children of a lesser God. If Bharat won’t stand for them, who will?
Similarities between the faiths of Islam and Christianity
We have seen the support of the Christian community leaders for the creation of Pakistan. Deep down, we all know that this support stemmed from the fact that the Christians identified more closely with the Muslims along religious lines than with Hindus. Both the religions are collectively termed as “Abrahamic religions” (along with Judaism), as they have the same cultural origins (Mosaic Law).
Barring a few theological disagreements between the two folds, there are a lot of concepts which are common to both, including same prophets and same bloodlines in their legends. As it is, fundamentalist Christians haven’t been the most friendly groups to Hindus historically and in contemporary times, and have practised rampant evangelisation and hate-fuelled missionary activities all over Bharat, eradicating several indigenous belief systems and disrupting social harmony.
Placing the Christians together with Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains has no rationale behind it, as Hindus and Christians have no shared legends, culture, theology between them and hence are immiscible from a civilisational point of view.
Christians, having supported the creation of Pakistan back in the day and having many rich Christian nations to seek refuge in, should have no place under the CAA. We see it as one of the flaws in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and would like to make a plea to the government to reconsider this move.
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