Days after Gandhinagar Archbishop Thomas Macwan warned against “nationalist forces” and urged Christians to pray for the victory of those who “respect every human being”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that “manavata” (humanity) was the “sanskaar” (values) of “rashtravaadee” (nationalists), and cited instances of how his government had rescued people of other faiths,including Christians.
“Manavata apni rago ma chhe, apna sanskaar ma chhe (Humanity is in our veins, in our values). Unfortunately, it comes so naturally to us that we do not publicise it, and the world remains in the dark (about it)… I was shocked when a religious person issued a fatwa asking for rashtrapremio (patriots) to be ousted,” said Modi, addressing a public meeting after dedicating a Swaminarayan Gurukul Vishvavidya Pratisthanam (SGVP) hospital, on the Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway in Ahmedabad.
While he did not name Macwan, Modi added: “To help people without considering their religion, caste or nationality is the basic essence of our sanskaar… and there cannot be a more worrisome matter than this, that people have objection to it.”
Modi then cited the examples of Nepal and Yemen, saying Indian agencies rescued a number of foreign nationals along with Indians. He also mentioned External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s efforts in granting visas to those in need in Pakistan. “These are matters related to humanity. Today, some people have challenged our humanity. Therefore, I want to say this to the people of India, from this pious land,” he said.
Modi also listed seven instances when his government rescued Indian citizens, including Christians, abroad. He cited the case of Indian nurses in Iraq. “We took help and got them back safely,” he said. He also mentioned the cases of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, who was rescued from Yemen, Father Alexis Prem Kumar, who was rescued from Afghanistan, and Judith D’Souza, who was also rescued from Afghanistan, pointing out that they were all Christians and children of India.
He said his government had also negotiated the release of five people from Tamil Nadu who had been handed the death sentence in Sri Lanka, and about 3,400 Indian fishermen in the jails of Pakistan and Sri Lanka. “All this was possible because of rashtrabhakti (patriotism)… We are following the principles of Sarvajan Hitay, Sarvajan Sukhay, Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas,” he said.
In an official communique dated November 21, Archbishop Thomas Macwan had urged churches in Gujarat to hold prayers for election of those “who would remain faithful to our Indian Constitution and respect every human being without any discrimination”. Stating that “the secular and democratic fabric of our country is at stake”, he had said, “Human rights are being violated. The constitutional rights are being trampled. Not a single day goes without an attack on our churches, church personnel, faithful or institutions. There is a growing sense of insecurity among the minorities, OBCs, BCs, poor and so on. Nationalist forces are on the verge of taking over the country. The election results of Gujarat state assembly can make a difference.”