DELHI, India – Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde says his nation faces an increasing terrorism threat from self-proclaimed “right-wing” Hindu groups, and that’s bad news for Christians here.
In a report on India television network NDTV Shinde said ultra-nationalist Hindu groups have formed camps to train operatives to carry out attacks.
“Groups like RSS are a threat to India,” he said.
That would be Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which states on its website: “Sangh is not a mere reaction to one or another social or political aberration. It represents a corpus of thought and action firmly rooted in genuine nationalism.”
The group states its movement is a response to colonialism and any anti-nationalist movement in India, including religious movements.
“Attacks are common in India. Hindu radicals, generally linked with the group RSS, attack pastors and other Christians for converting to Christianity,” Stark said.
Stark added that one of the tragedies of the growing terrorist threat is that many of the attacks are covered up by the government.
“Often these attacks go uninvestigated by the police. In most cases the police go through the motions of an investigation, but really don’t want to uncover any evidence,” Stark said.
Animesh Roul, an India-based terrorism analyst who directs the Society for the Study of Peace and Conflict, disputes the home minister’s opinion, claiming RSS isn’t really violent.
“RSS is a right-wing Hindu group, but neither violent nor covert. Again, it’s not transnational in nature, but, yes, over the years it sympathizes with Hindu-related issues elsewhere,” Roul said.
“They do some moral policing and of course raise their voice against any misuse/abuse of Hindu gods or goddesses, in Indian culture abroad,” Roul said.
He said RSS mostly is volunteers working for the idea of a Hindu nation.
“The other groups with Hindu angle are Bajrang Dal … and it’s a little vocal,” he said. “However, it shouldn’t be tagged as violent group or terror group.
“There were couple of cases where the right-wing Hindu groups targeted Christians, like in Orissa and the Graham Staines murder case, but it’s rather localized,” Roul said. “When religious conversion or any kind of rivalry is involved, especially if the conversions are to Islam or Christianity, this is when they react.”
But a former navy intelligence analyst-turned-Christian human rights activist disagrees, explaining the RSS is a danger, extending even beyond India’s borders.
He asked not to be named for security reasons.
“RSS even has cells operating in the United States and other countries. They watch the Indian community in the U. S. and see if there is any Christian influence coming from them,” the human rights activist said.
“When they see anything in print or on the Internet that reveals Christian activity in India, they notify their groups in India so RSS can act against the Christian activity,” he said.