Ahead of Christmas, Archbishop of Bhopal Father Leo Cornelio today said intolerance has grown since BJP came to power at the Centre, citing the examples of the Aamir Khan episode and the alleged attack on a group of Christians reciting the Bible in Jabalpur.
He urged people to show respect to different views irrespective of the issue and not resort to violence.
“I think intolerance has grown in the recent times, especially after the new government came at the Centre. Take an example of actor Aamir Khan, who had shared concerns of his wife on the issue, but the way it was protested by those associated with politics was not fair,” the Archbishop said addressing a press conference here ahead of Christmas.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of speech in the country and we should not oppose it just for the sake of opposition,” he said.
When asked if as head of the Christian community he had encountered any kind of intolerance in the BJP-ruled state, Cornelio highlighted the incident at Jabalpur where some members of the community reciting Bible were allegedly attacked by right wing forces in March this year.
“It was an avoidable incident. If you are not happy with something like loud voice on speaker or getting disturbed by anything, then you can always request them to lower it. You are not supposed to resort to violent means,” he said.
Expressing anguish over delay in action to rein in such elements, he said, “The government has not taken any prompt action in the matter. Some people were arrested but still a number of them are not yet apprehended.”
On the release of a juvenile offender in the December 16 Delhi gangrape case, Cornelio said, “If a minor is involved in a heinous crime, then he is a threat to the society. Government must take corrective measures in such issues.”
Asked about his plans for spreading education in the state, he said, “Sometime back we had given a proposal to the government to handover few government primary-level schools to the missionaries to improve the education standard, as it is very poor at present. By doing so we will demonstrate how things can be improved. Though Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had agreed to it, nothing happened afterwards.”
On the MP government’s plan to introduce lessons from the ‘Gita’ in the curriculum, he said, “Gita does have many good things in it. But other religious texts also have many good things, therefore efforts should be made to incorporate best of all religions in the school syllabus.”
Condemning violence in the name of religion in Syria, Iraq and Libya, he said no religion has any place for violence in it.
On the charges that Christians were involved in religious conversions, he said, “We have never intended to convert anyone. If someone embraces Christianity by getting impressed with our services, then it is his/her individual choice. We never forced anyone.