Congress MLA Aslam Shaikh on Wednesday strongly condemned the verbal attack (Read Here) by BJP MP Gopal Shetty against Indian Christians.
Shaikh who is known to be loved by people of all communities and religions, in his constituency Malad, said he was equally shocked when told about Shetty’s comments against the Christian community.
In a strongly worded statement released to the media, MLA Aslam Shaikh said, “Though the Christian community is small in number its contribution to nation-building through its numerous social, theological, academic and educational institutions has been immense. The institutions of the Church ushered in modernity in India. The institutions of the Church were so organised that they did succeed where others had failed in modernizing those who studied in them. The central contribution of Christians was not so much to make converts to religion but instead converts to modernity. The community surely has its role in the creation of “true ‘modern’ Indians”, the builders of the new India with an outlook of rationality and humanism.”
“Besides serving the country in various capacities and services — armed forces and civil services, education and police, science and administration, sports and medicine, social service and politics, there is no field where Christians have not made their presence felt. The community has been actively involved in several grassroots movements, civil society and non-governmental organisations. Nobody can accuse the Church in India of being a foreign entity. No doubt foreign grants and aid has been received by groups in the Church to serve the poor constructively and to empower marginalised communities, but that social service aspect of the Church in India needs to be appreciated, than found fault with.”
While prior to independence most of the Christian social initiatives were pioneered by foreign missionaries, Indian Christians have carried on and even multiplied the legacy handed down to them after independence.
Thus patriotism continues to be a Christian virtue. The Indian Christians have in the past identified themselves with the Indian national movement and demonstrated their deepest concern for the cause. In fact, they were among the prominent persons who pioneered and shaped the goals of Indian nationalism. After independence the community has been equally active in educating the young with the ideas of secularism, universalism and egalitarianism.
Those who oppose the Church in India are primarily those who are opposed to the idea of India, of the framers of the Constitution. While the egalitarian ideas of Christianity are in consonance with the Constitution of India, they are not in harmony with the values of India’s Hindu caste-order.
The Church has contributed indirectly in producing elites and the ordinary who have challenged the domination of the dominant castes in social and political system. It is precisely because of this legacy that the community has been under attack by the forces of feudalism and tradition,” MLA Aslam Shaikh said.
On, Wednesday evening, Shetty issued a clarification stating that he was misquoted by the media and he didn’t intend to offend any community. His quotes were reported out of context, he said.
However, in a video clip doing the rounds on Facebook, Shetty is clearly heard saying that the Christian community did not contribute to the Freedom struggle in India. His words are clear and audible and there is no doubt about what he said.
His clarification came only as an afterthought, after Christians raised a hue and cry on social media. Shetty refused to answer questions seeking answers to his statement which has been recorded on video. The media statement issued by him sounds hollow and there is no tone of an apology, a prominent Catholic social worker from Malad opined.
Shetty refused to take calls from this reporter. Published below is Gopal Shetty’s written clarification: