HYDERABAD, India — Most Rev. Joseph D’Souza releases the following statement condemning the reenactment by right-wing extremists of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on the 71st anniversary of his death.
“To those who believe Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle for a free, united and democratic India is over, this brazen act of symbolic terror should serve as a reminder that the forces of hatred and intolerance are still very much alive within our borders.
“The reenactment of Gandhi’s murder on the 71st anniversary of his death, to the sound of loud cheers, is an affront to every Indian. Its condemnation should ring louder across India than its celebration.
“Gandhi was the apostle of nonviolence. His tolerance toward all was the hallmark of his character. Without his intervention at the time of partition, India would have descended into a long, bloody period of religious violence. It was Gandhi who stood by our constitution, which gives every Indian the right to become full citizens of India. More than anyone else, he contributed to the idea of Indian nationhood, which is built on citizenship and not on religious affiliation.
“In light of the recent violence that has erupted against Dalits, Muslims and even secular Hindus, this is a foreboding development, especially since many politicians have remained too passive to stop extremists from persecuting those who disagree with them.
“Right-wing extremists have never accepted the partition of India. They see it as a national sacrilege. But what they fail to realize is that it’s precisely this kind of religious extremism on both sides — by Hindus and Muslims — that led to the dismemberment of India. This extremism is still alive today, and if it gets out of control, it has the potential to cause the disintegration of present-day India.
“Those of us who love India must work all the more harder to protect Gandhi’s vision for our democracy. But we must do this not with violence or hatred, as those who wish to tear India apart do, but with love and tolerance, as the Father of our Nation taught us.”
Most Rev. Joseph D’Souza is the moderator bishop — or archbishop in Anglican tradition — of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the president of the All India Christian Council and is the founder and international president of Dignity Freedom Network. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a civil rights activist. Additional biographical information is available here.