//Missionary Blood on their Hands :A Gujarat Model in Kerala

Missionary Blood on their Hands :A Gujarat Model in Kerala

This article deals with viscious attack on the American missonary by activists of the Hindu right

I have no ill will or hatred against my attackers. I would be glad to invite them for a lunch, instead. Of course, initially I was angry. But, later I realized that whatever had happened was according to God’s will”, said Pennsylvania-based U.S. missionary, Bishop Joseph W. Cooper (67), while convalescing at Kerala Institute of Medical Science (KIMS) hospital in Thiruvananthapuram, a day after he was attacked reportedly by RSS activists on January 13 night at Koppam near Kilimannor in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. He had gone there to attend a Gospel Convention at Friends of Bible Church.

His right hand, nearly chopped off, was rejoined in an operation. There were other minor injuries and he was still writhing in pain when he talked to the stream of people who made a beeline to the hospital this past week-end. Among the visitors were top leaders of both the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF). According to KIMS doctors, who operated upon him, he was out of danger but may have to remain in hospital for another fortnight or so.

There was wide condemnation of the dastardly attack from within and outside Kerala and India. All right-thinking people opined in unison that this should not have ever happened in Kerala. Not because 45 percent of the State population belong to the minority Muslim and Christian communities. Not because Christian and Muslim parties are ruling UDF partners. But because Kerala has a proud and exemplary history of communal amity, to where both Christianity and Islam reached at the same time it spread respectively in Europe 2000 years ago and in Arab peninsula 1,400 years ago. Also, because, Kerala is not Orissa, where the Australian missionary Graham Steins and his two kids were brutally burnt alive by Hindutva forces three years ago, and surely not Gujarat which witnessed the ethnic cleansing of Muslims last year under the aegis of ruling Moditva forces. Keralites also co-existed with Jews, Arabs, Portuguese, Dutch, and the British, which is an unenviable and unparallel history from rest of India. Malayalees also maintain the exceptional inborn nature of going anywhere in the world and settling there by easily getting mingled with the local populace.

Notably, the January 13 attack on Cooper and other missionaries came within weeks after President Dr. A. P. J. Kalam inaugurated the 1950th anniversary of the arrival of St. Thomas to Kerala at massive convention of Christians at Kochi last month. The attack took place five days before the Kerala Government’s prestigious Global Investment Meet (GIM) to be held at Kochi on January 18-19, which was to be attended by major foreign investor delegates from USA, Europe and Middle-East region. It also came a week before the International Pentecostal Convention to be held at Kumbanad near Thiruvalla in which around 100,000 believers and 3,000 pastors from various countries are scheduled to attend. And, more significantly, the Sangh Parivar onslaught was carried out when top RSS functionaries like RSS Sarsanghchalak, K. S. Sudarshan, and Akhil Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram president, Jagadev Ram Orone, was in Kerala making wanton statements on conversions and foreign missionaries. The attack took place amidst the Sangh Parivar leaders taking strong exceptions to President Dr. Kalam accepting the invitation to attend a jubilee function of Jesuits to be held at Calcutta soon. The incident, therefore, cannot be treated either as a coincidence or isolated case, although Chief Minister A. K. Antony wanted the world to believe so in an apparent attempt to dilute its seriousness on the eve of the GIM.

In the post-Cabinet meet press briefing on January 15, Mr. Antony termed the attack as an “isolated incident” and said : “Such incidents are very unfortunate and should not take place”. He pleaded ignorance as to who the attackers were. “I directed the police to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident. I am following this up and at the moment I have nothing more to say”, he added. Antony’s ignorance should be read along with his holding charge of police (Home) portfolio and that the police have already arrested one known RSS local leader, Raju, and took into custody four others (Shaji, his brother Shan and Shaiju) for questioning. The Kilimanoor police registered a case under IPC 307 (attempt to murder) and other counts under Explosives Act and Rioting, since the attack took place after throwing of bombs. “Although it is known to all that the attack was carried out by the RSS, why Antony is scared of uttering these three letters”, questioned CPI-M State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan. According to CPI State Secretary, Veliyam Bhargavan, “the Sangh Parivar is trying to repeat in Kerala their agenda of intimidating and attacking Christian missionaries in Gujarat and Orissa”.