According to media reports a hard-line Hindu group has called on Christians to be thrown out of India and stamped on images of Pope Francis while accusing him of promoting terrorism in a video being circulated on social media since May 25.
The video shows controversial Hindu leader Om Swami Maharaj with a group of about 20 people carrying placards and banners with pictures of Pope Francis not far from Sacred Heart Cathedral in New Delhi.
Last year Sadhvi Saraswati made a controversial statement at a Hindu Conclave in Goa saying Goans must either stop eating beef in Goa or go to Portugal.
Om Maharaj made a speech before members of the group began stamping on the Pope’s image. During his speech, he accused Indian Christians of promoting terrorism and Maoism in the country and demanded they should leave India, according to a report by ucanews.com.
If Christians don’t leave India, Maharaj said, they will use force to expel them. “We have our own ways to expel them if they don’t fall in line,” he said, adding that Christians must stop eating beef and pork if they want to continue living in India. This is not the first time, Swami Om has brought up this issue. The small-time thief and TV reality show participant who can go to any extent for publicity and self-promotion, had on two earlier occasions claimed that Christians must stop eating beef and pork and even called on Muslims in India to completely give up beef from their diet or go to Pakistan.
Maharaj spread a banner featuring a picture of the Pope on the road and then, with several others, stamped on it. Slogans of “Pope Francis murdabad” (Down with Pope Francis) were shouted. It is not known if the police intervened or if any police case has been filed yet.
The media has otherwise been very mum on this issue, possibly because Swami Om is a known attention-seeker and trouble maker.
Also Read: Who is Swami Om?
The video has caught the attention of Christian groups in central India, prompting them to approach the police to stop the video’s circulation. At the time of writing this report, the police are looking into the complaints.
Richard James, spokesman for the Rashtriya Isai Mahasangh, the ecumenical national Christian forum based in Madhya Pradesh, said the police have been alerted to the video.
“This kind of public display of hate toward any religious group or leader would not be allowed in a civilized society,” James told ucanews.com.
Jaideep Prasad, inspector general of Police in state capital Bhopal, told ucanews.com that his officers “will not allow anyone to spread discord among people with such videos.”
Madhya Pradesh is among states governed by the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“I have already instructed officials to do what is necessary to ensure peace,” said Prasad on May 29.
Not just Swami Om, several other BJP leaders have upped the ante against Christians over the last one year. Subramanian Swami, a BJP parliamentarian, moved a bill last year seeking capital punishment for cow slaughter since the animal is revered by a section of Hindus. He has continued to argue that cow slaughter should be tried as murder.
In a May 23 Twitter message, he urged Modi to cease all diplomatic relations with the Vatican. He also said the Vatican embassy in New Delhi should be sealed as the Delhi archbishop is “a formal nominee of the Vatican.”