Correspondence of Roman Catholics with the Committee, the state government and the Central Government
CORRESPONDENCE OF ROMAN CATHOLICS WITH THE COMMITTEE, THE STATE GOVERNMENT AND THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur. the 23rd April 1954, from Shri P. Lobo. Advocate, Supreme Court, Civil Lines, Nagpur. to Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary to Government of Madhya Pradesh. Nagpur
A Government Communique, dated the 16th April 1954, has announced a Six-man Inquiry Committee to probe into Christian Missionary Activities in this State and you are to be its Secretary.
Under instructions from and on behalf of the Catholic Regional Conference, I am to kindly inquire from you as to the following details with regard to this Committee :-
(a) its term of reference,
(b) its procedure,
(c) whether lawyers will be permitted and if cross-examination of wit. nesses allowed,
(d) whether Christian organizations in the State would be able to make depositions,
(e) whether the charges levelled against Tribal Christians by the Government of Madhya Pradesh would be inquired into, and
(f) under what provisions of law it has been constituted and its jurisdiction.
Kindly give me this information at an early date as I am going to Pachmarhi.
Trusting this finds you well.
Copy of D.-O. No. 2-S-CMEC. dated Nagpur, the 30th April 1954, from Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh, to Shri P. Lobo, Advocate, Pachmarhi (M. P.)
With reference to your letter, dated the 23rd April 1954, I am desired by the Committee to inform you that your letter has been forwarded to the Government of Madhya Pradesh in the Political and Military Department for disposal. It is hoped that the Government will reply to you concerning the various, points raised in your letter under reference.
2. The terms of reference are already contained in the Resolution of Government, which has been referred to in your letter. Regarding the procedure, the Committee have not yet taken a decision, and I am desired to inform you that when the question of procedure is settled, due intimation to the public will be given.
Copy of D.-O. No. 2/S-CMEC, dated Nagpur, the 30th April 1954, from Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Christian Missionaries Activity Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh, to Shri K. B. L. Seth, I.C.S., Chief Secretary to Government, Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur
I am desired by the Committee to forward herewith in original a letter received by the Committee from Shri P. Lobo, Advocate, Supreme Court, Nagpur, for such action as Government may consider necessary. A copy of my reply to Shri Lobo is also enclosed for information. It is requested that a copy of the reply, which Government may send to Shri Lobo, may also be sent to the Committee in due course.
Copy of D.-O. No. 1 874-815-V. dated Nagpur, the 14th May 1954, from Shri B. N. Kunte, Additional Secretary, Political and Military Department, Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur, to Shri P. Lobo, Advocate, Pachmarhi
I am desired to refer to your letter, dated the 23rd April 1954, addressed to Shri Pathak and to give below seriatim the details asked for in paragraph 2 thereof with regard to the Committee appointed by Government to enquire into the activities of Christian Missionaries:-
(a) and (b) The terms of reference are already contained in this department resolution No. 318-716-V-Con, dated the 14th April 1954. As regards the procedure as Shri Pathak has already informed you, due intimation to the public will be given as soon as the question of procedure is settled by the Committee.
(c) The question whether lawyers will be permitted to appear and cross-examine witnesses is one of procedure, within the discretion of the Committed, and appropriate orders will be passed by it, if the question arises before it with due regard to the circumstances and requirements of the enquiry.
(d) Christian organisations in the State will certainly be allowed to make deposition.
(e) It is not clear to what charges reference has been made in this. So far as Government are concerned, they have appointed the Committee on the basis of representations received to enquire into and report the facts.
(f) Government have inherent powers to appoint a Committee to make enquiries on any matter to ascertain the factual position with a view to determine the action to be taken. Persons in the know of facts relevant to the enquiry and willing to place such evidence before it will be free to do so.
No. 1875-815-V, dated Nagpur, the 14th May 1954.
Copy forwarded to Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, The Christian Missionaries Activity Enquiry Committee. Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur, for information with reference to his demi-official letter No. 2-S-S-CMEC, dated the 30th April 1954.
B. N. KUNTE,
Addl. Secy. to Govt., Madhya Pradesh,
Political and Military Department.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur, the 24th May 1954, from Shri G. X. Francis, President, Christian Association, Nagpur, to the Secretary, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh Secretariat, Nagpur
With reference to your D. O. No. 1/S-CMEC, dated the 30th April 1954, to my legal adviser Shri P. Lobo and D. O. No. 1874-815-V, dated the 14th May 1954, from Mr. B. N. Kunte. Secretary in the Political and Military Department, Government of Madhya Pradesh, I will be grateful if you will kindly let me know whether you have received any written complaints against Christian Missionaries and Christian Tribals into which enquiries would be, instituted and whether copies thereof could be made available to me,
I will be prepared to bring my own typist to copy these records, if permitted to do so. Kindly also let me know whether any charges are payable for taking out these copies or whether any lump deposit has to be made for this purpose. I would be very grateful for the favour of a reply at the earliest possible date, say, at least a week before the Committee proceeds on its projected tour.
D.-O. No. 14/S-CMEC, dated Nagpur, the 29th May 1954, from Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Christian Missionaries Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur, to Shri G. X. Francis, President, Christian Association, Nagpur
Kindly refer to your letter, dated the 24th May 1954.
2. Numerous representations from several individuals and organizations have been received by the Committee. There appears to be no objection in granting copies thereof to you, but as the (2o-mmittee do not have an independent office, it may not be possible to get copies of all such documents ready in a short time. In these circumstances there is no objection if a legal adviser or other representative is deputed by your Committee to inspect those documents and to take down notes. In due course copies of documents to be specified by you will be supplied. At present it is not possible to intimate whether any charges would be payable because the matter would be for Government to decide and a reference to them is being made. Your representative may inspect the records in my office in the Secretariat at any time between 6-30 a.m. and 11-30 a.m. on any working day.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur, the 1st June 1954, from Shri G. X. Francis, President, Christian Association, Nagpur, to Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Secretariat, Nagpur
This is to thank you for your courtesy in allowing me today to examine the allegations made against Christian Missionaries.
I and Mr. Polycarp Lobo will be accompanying the Enquiry Committee as observers of the Catholic Regional Committee.
With kind regards.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Camp, Dharamjaigarh, the 6th June 1954, from Shri G. X. Francis, President, Catholic Regional Committee, Camp, Dharamjaigarh, to Dr. Bhavani Shankar Niyogi, Chairman, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Camp, Dharamjaigarh
It has been represented to this Committee that any representations made by the Christian Tribals to the local or higher authorities, disclosing their difficulties or grievances, invariably exposes the signatories, to further harassments and persecutions by the executive officers. I have quoted an instance of the kind in my 10-point Memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister of India through the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, dated the 14th February 1954, and have adduced the correspondence which has passed between me and Mr. Sunderlal Verma, then Deputy Commissioner of Raigarh. The Catholic Regional Committee is convinced of the genuineness of these apprehensions.
2. The Christian Tribals of Jashpur desire to, bring to your notice and to the notice of your colleagues, all their complaints of the harassments and persecutions, and the story of the discrimination practised against them. They are, however, afraid of doing so, for fear of being exposed to worse and immediate dangers.
3. In the circumstances, I request that an assurance may kindly be given that Christian men and women who will tender written or oral evidence before your Committee will be protected from the effects of executive vengeance and wrath.
Copy of D.-O. letter No. Ref. BC-112-54, from the Members of the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India, 20, Miller�s Road, Bangalore-1, to Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla, Chief Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur
Since representations addressed to you by the Bishops and the people of Madhya Pradesh have not had the desired effect, we are addressing you the enclosed Memorandum on behalf of the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India in the fervent hope that it will receive the earnest and urgent attention which we feel it deserves; and that it may help you to realise how gravely disturbed the Christian community is over these recent events.
All over the country, we have been asked by our own people and well-wishers, drawn from every rank and creed, why no action is taken by us to offset the campaign conducted against us and the disaffection promoted between the communities by interested agencies. We have always stood for constitutional representation and have all along felt that in a country, in which the Constitution guarantees justice to all communities, a community like ours would receive due protection at the hands of our own national Government, particularly when they have no representation in the Legislature.
At the outset, we would like to point out that this Conference, established in 1945, is composed of the Catholic Bishops of the whole of India and heads of a few ecclesiastical units, the former, numbering 56, and the letter 9. Of the 59 Archbishops and Bishops of India, 40 are Indians. These ecclesiastical authorities represent the entire Catholic Church and the Catholic community of India in all matters affecting religious and social interests.
One of the main objects of the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India is to defend and promote the rights and interests of the Catholic Church.
We shall be grateful if you will kindly communicate to the General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India, His Grace Most Rev. Tomas Pothacamury, Archbishop of Bangalore, the views of Government on the memorandum.
Copy of D.-O. letter No. Ref. BC-111-54, dated the 15th June 1954, from the members of the Standing Committee of the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India, 20, Miller�s Road, Bangalore-1, to Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla, Chief Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur
It is with deep concern that we have been watching the development of events in the State of Madhya Pradesh. Ever since the appointment of the six-man Niyogi Committee, there has been an air of uneasiness all over the land, and what pains us most is that the Christian community has so suddenly become suspect and is being subjected to harassment which goes ill with India�s traditional spirit of tolerance.
2. From the terms of reference of the Niyogi Committee, we understand that offence seems to be taken at the conversion work that is being carried on by Christian Missionaries, particularly in certain parts of the State. We fall to understand, Sir, why a special committee should have been constituted for the purpose of investigating into the activities of the Christian Missionaries in this connection.
3. It is not only Christians who are engaged in conversion work, but also Hindu organisations, and other religious denominations. There are instances of even old converts being induced to renounce Christianity and become Hindus. The work of the Christian Missionaries has never been, and is riot, a source of offence to non-Christians. The Christians do not constitute a political unit, but are part and parcel of the general population and have always evinced a deep interest in the welfare, culture and progress of their country.
4. We understand that the intention of the Government is to arrive at the truth through an impartial committee. We are not averse to any impartial and objective investigation, for we have nothing to fear and nothing to hide. But, with regard to this Committee, it looks as if the complaining party has all the weightage of representation on the Inquiry Committee, which is composed of five Hindus who may not understand the aims and objectives of Christian Missionaries. The only Christian member who has been nominated has no representative status in the Christian community. We expected equal representation would be given to Christians on the committee.
Viewed in its proper perspective, the present situation, particularly in the Raigarh and Surguja districts, has deteriorated into a purely communal affair. Things being such, it is very unfortunate that the Government should have appointed on the panel of the Committee a majority of personnel belonging to the communal party.
5. There have been no reports of any disturbance, discontent and antagonism between the Christian minority and the major elements of tile population, except some misleading and unverified statements and reports in the press why should the acceptance of Christianity by the aboriginals offend the religious susceptibilities of non-Christians? Reference has often been made to the system of mutual-aid societies that has been built up in the tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. Rut what is not commonly known is that these mutual-aid societies are the outcome of the sacrifices of the people themselves under the wise inspiration and guidance of the Christian Missionaries. What has thus contributed to the economic uplift of these poor Tribals is now being misconstrued as a deliberate attempt to entice the ignorant Tribals into the Christian fold by monetary inducements: when it ought to be realised that such a practice is an effective measure of implementing the directives given in the Constitution.
It is surely not unknown to you that the history of the Adivasi people bears out clearly how they were exploited by the merciless hordes of intruders who literally invade of their territories and endeavoured to deprive them of all their land and belongings. Under the British Regime too, the Government, in order not to offend or antagonise the local Rajas, did nothing for the amelioration of these down-trodden people. It was here that the Missionaries stepped in. They championed the cause of these unwanted sections, often at the risk of their lives. It is this spirit of devotedness and charity on their part that has endeared them to the tribal peoples.
CATHOLIC BISHOPS� CONFERENCE OF INDIA
6. The Congress has been well-known for its anxiety to settle minority problems with the consent of the minorities concerned. We do not know why this policy was not followed when the Inquiry Committee was constituted. The policy of the Government has been clearly laid down in the Constitution which guarantees liberty of thought, expression, faith and worship, and also freedom to profess, practise and propagate religion. This constitutional liberty should not be considered as an abstract declaration, but a concrete reality, inspiring confidence in religious minorities like Christians. Freedom to, propagate religions confers a right not only on the preacher, but also a corresponding personal right on the listener to accept any religion he deems fit or right. If the Missionary cannot propagate his religion, the logical inference is the denial to every person in India of the right to believe, accept and profess the religion of the truth of which he is convinced. The liberty guaranteed by the Constitution, namely, of thought, speech and action, would be futile, were the preacher prevented from spreading the faith he believes in, and the community or an individual denied she right and freedom to accept the Christian faith or any other creed. It is obvious, therefore, that obstacles should not be placed in the presentation of Christian truths. Any such restriction would naturally rouse resentment and discontent in a body of people who have been taught to respect authority and love and esteem their national leaders, and would be a violation of Fundamental Rights. In the light of these considerations, we fail to understand why any community should take offence at the exercise of our Constitutional Rights.
The right to preach and propagate religion cannot be denied to any Missionary. In their judgment on the appeals against the Bombay Public Trusts Act, the Supreme Court declared emphatically that �Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees to every person and not merely to the citizens of India, the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion�.
7. The argument is often brought forward that the tribal is too �illiterate� and �ignorant� to think and act for himself. If this argument has any force in the case of a tribal who wishes to embrace Christianity, we fail to see why it should not have equal force in the case of the hundreds who are daily being drawn towards other creeds.
Again, Sir, you are aware, that the Constitution has enfranchised all these sections of the people: the inference is self-evident, viz., that these tribals are capable of thinking for themselves and making their choice in matters of national importance.
8. In the present stage of India�s cultural development, while efforts are being made to increase the percentage of literacy among our people, it is very distressing to note that our Catholic Schools intended to meet this national need among our tribals are being deprived of recognition and help.
9. With regard to the allegation that our Missionaries have participated in political activities, our defence is that so far no proofs have been adduced to show that they have failed to conform to the instructions of the Holy See, which clearly forbid such participation. It is a matter of common knowledge that the work of the Missionaries among Harijans and Adivasis has exercised a profound influence for the better, transformed their minds and outlook, making of them worthy citizens of India, ever loyal to their country.
10. We, therefore, beg to submit that-
(i) the Inquiry Committee should comprise of not only representatives of the major elements, but also of religious minorities, such as, Christians, Muslims and Parsis, and that the terms of reference be so widened as to include enquiry into the harassment of Christians;
(ii) that the inquiry be conducted according to the Commissions of Enquiry Act of 1952;
(iii) that every opportunity be given to the Missionaries concerned to answer the charges levelled against them; and
(iv) that the Catholic Bishops� Conference of India be kept informed of the activities of the Inquiry Committee and their findings, as submitted to Government.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur, the 14th June 1953, from the Secretary to the Most. Rev. Dr. Eugene D�Souza, Archbishop of Nagpur, to Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Niyogi Commission, Nagpur
I have the honour of forwarding you this enclosed letter at the request of the Most Rev Dr. Engene D�Souza, Archbishop of Nagpur, for your kind perusal.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur, the 12th June 1954, from the Most Rev. Dr. E. D�Souza, Archbishop of Nagpur, to Pandit Ravi Shankar Shukla, Chief Minister, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur.
At the outset I cannot but express my disappointment at your reply to my memorandum of 7th May. In spite of repeated attempts to present our case and our point of view we are sorry to say that Government has always turned a deaf car to our requests. The impression has somehow grown that Government has its mind made up about Christians and Christian Missionaries, and has therefore shut its doors to all further representations on the matter.
From your letter of 14th May I gather that impartiality has been the basis of Government�s selection of the six-man Niyogi-Commission. �We do not want any particular member to be on the Committee who would advocate one cause or the other and instead of being a real judge would become an advocate for a particular section of the people.� I feel it my bounden duty, Sir, to inform you that on the basis of this very principle which you have stated the Commission that has been appointed by Government can hardly be classed as impartial.
No matter how indulgent a view one may take of the matter under consideration one cannot escape the conclusion that it is at the moment a communal affair and a communal dispute, between Hindus on one side and Christians on the other. Things being such I think you will agree with me, Sir, that if a Commission appointed to inquire into this subject under dispute be composed of personnel belonging predominantly to one communal party it cannot but be labelled as partial and one-sided and consequently can hardly be said to inspire the confidence of all concerned. This is actually the fundamental drawback of the composition of the present Commission.
In a Government D.-O. No. 1874-815-V, dated the 14th May 1954, reference is made to �inherent powers� which Government has �to appoint a Committee to make inquiries on any matter to ascertain the factual position with a view to determine the action to be taken.� May I be allowed, Sir, to express my humble opinion on the matter. There are many things permissible for a man to do but all may not be expedient. I personally feel that of all unwise things this is the most unwise step on the part of the Government. It is the propriety and political expediency of the appointment of the Commission that I am here referring to. The question of the legality of the Commission is a delicate and most disputed affair: the consensus of opinion I may incidentally inform you is that Government has overstepped itself in this matter. Government has contravened all rules of democratic procedure, the more so that its action infringes certain fundamental rights granted to us by the Constitution.
However, this may be it is not this matter that I wish to touch on here. What I wish to bring home to you, Sir, is that the appointment of the Commission particularly at this juncture is hardly �meet and just�. The Commission can work no good, on the contrary it is bound to cause a lot of harm and the sequence of events go but to corroborate this our apprehension in the matter.
What Government and the public is interested in finding out is the truth. There has been as the Gazette Notification of 14th May affirms, a series of accusations against Christian Missionaries. We, Sir, are equally interested that the public come to know the truth. We are not afraid of it but what I wish to say is that the appointment of the commission particularly on the lines in which it is now constituted is hardly the correct way of going about things. As the terms of reference now stand they are, we must say, one-sided. An enquiry is to be made into things that have a religious import and bearing. Consequently, we feel that the only competent authority to investigate into such matters is a set-up and machinery belonging to the religious community in question. And have we not repeatedly informed Government that we, in she Catholic Church, have the adequate machinery to investigate into such matters, and also adequately in our Code of Law to levy the necessary sanctions. This Government is surely aware that the Vatican has its representative in the country, accredited to deal with all affairs concerning the Catholics in the country. And you yourself, Sir, have met personally the most Rev. Dr. Martin Lucas, Apostolic Internuncio for India, when he visited this State on 26th March.
Then is Government not aware of the existence of the Catholic Bishop�s Conference of India, an organisation that is deeply interested in maintaining the cordial relations that have always existed between the Government and the Catholic Community. We fail to understand why reference cannot be made in this matter to one or other of these channels. We give Government the assurance that any reference made to them will be dealt with expeditiously and in a manner befitting the dignity of our status as a progressive democratic country.
In a democratic set-up a country�s prosperity depends on the harmonious union and working together of all the members that constitute the State. Are you aware, Sir, that this is just what the appointment of the Commission is undermining? Needless to say it has shattered the confidence chat was placed in the Government by us. If at the outset of things we sacrificed the privileges that were ours as a minority community it was solely because we wished to throw in our lot with the rest of our fellow-men and make common cause with them in the efforts to build up the prosperity of our country. Contrary to all our expectations we find ourselves Literally thrown out on the high seas, compelled to face alone and unarmed the fury of a rising tempest.
I am just returning, Sir, from a protracted tour of various sectors in the State and I must admit frankly that what I have seen and heard has pained me very much. A commission is being appointed to investigate into matters and is to make the Raigarh-Surguja district, the field of its inquiries. Is Government aware of the fact that in every sector of our State the Christians are being harassed in every department of life? In the field of education we feel sorry to say that our institutions are being discriminated against. Inspectors and other officials make no secret of their definite antagonism and bias against our schools. Why even a Minister of this State has been outspoken in the matter in my own presence by his slashing criticism which I felt it my bounden duty to question. Christian students further are suffering from many handicaps, particularly those belonging to scheduled castes and tribes. In every walk of life to be a Christian now means a definite handicap to the individual and he is made to feel this by the officials with whom he comes in contact.
Official harassment still continues unabated, police investigations which we feel are unwarranted are being continued. All manner of things are being done to intimidate the Christian community and I must frankly say it is driving us to a sense of frustration and desperation. Are these things, Sir, befitting a progressive State like ours? Will the commission be in a position to stem this growing tide of bitterness and hatred and discrimination against the Christian Community? Perhaps, I feel, Sir, it will accentuate the problem. One can hardly close one�s eyes to the alarming proportions that the reaction against Christians and Christian Missionaries is taking not only in this State but in the whole country. If the Christian Community feels� alarmed, the general public too, I may inform you, Sir, is also apprehensive of the good that can accrue from the appointment of the Commission.
Government, I feel would be failing in its duty to this minority community if it continues to thus turn a deaf ear to our representations in this matter.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur, the 4th July 1954, from Shri G. X. Francis, President, Christian Association, Nagpur, to Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, the Civil Secretariat, Nagpur
It has been brought to my notice that Government has printed for private circulation a booklet entitled �Belgian Jesuits in Udaipur�, and has given a copy of it to each Member of the Enquiry Committee. As we are preparing the defence, this would be relevant material for us, and I shall be grateful, if you will kindly let me have a copy of the publication.
Copy of D.-O. No. 1236-XXX, dated Nagpur, the 8th July 1954, from Shri M. S. Pandharkame, MA., LL.B., Assistant Secretary, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Nagpur, to the President, Catholic Regional Committee, Mohan Nagar, Nagpur
I am directed to refer to your letter, dated the 4th July 1954, requesting a copy of booklet entitled �Belgian Jesuits in Udaipur� and to say that no such book has been got printed or circulated by Government.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Camp Mungeli, the 20th July 1954, from Shri G. X. Francis, President, Catholic Regional Committee, Camp Mungeli, to the Chairman, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Nagpur
This is the first time in the course of your exploratory tours, that I have been compelled to write to you about the unfortunate trend of the enquiry.
Heretofore, you have been calling people to tell the committee what they knew about Missionary activities. You will appreciate that Christian organisations and the Christian people have fully co-operated with you in your efforts to ascertain the truth behind the allegations and counter-allegations.
On this tour, however, you have diverted from the procedure you followed on the last tour and have permitted certain factional leaders to make inflammatory political speeches against the Christian people. This has happened at Jagdishpur, at Mahasumund, at Bilaspur and at Takhatpur. This is most unfortunate, where there are restraining influences at work. I expect that the relations of the people will not, as the result of these provocations, be very much affected. But there is a limit to patience and forbearance.
This morning, you allowed 43 minutes to Mr. Uttalwar, to make a speech which had the effect of rousing the Hindus and Sathnamis against the Christians of Takhatpur, on the ground that Christians had become so denationalised and depraved that they would not fight for India in the event of a war with America, and that by allowing conversions to Christianity, the State was allowing the growth of traitors and fifth columnists as had happened in Kashmir.
I have to record the protest of the Catholic Regional Committee, against this new trend in the enquiry and as it is likely to have unfortunate consequences in the peaceful relations now existing between Christians and non-Christians, I feel it my duty to request you to kindly see your way to check the tendency.
As this is a matter of urgent public importance, I am sending a copy to the Government for information.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Camp Pendra Road. the 21st July 1954, from Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, to Shri G. X. Francis, President, Catholic Regional Committee, Camp Pendra Road
I am directed to refer to your letter, dated 20th July 1954, presented to us at Camp Chandkhuri, district Bilaspur, and to observe as follows:
It has been repeatedly made clear by the Committee through press statements, remarks by the Chairman at various meetings, and other means that the Committee will conduct its enquiries �openly, impartially and in a manner fair to all concerned�. In our first tour of Raigarh and Surguja districts, we followed the procedure of eliciting information from all concerned, whether Christians or non-Christians, and we have not departed from this procedure in our present tour. In the terms of reference one of the allegations which finds place is that the mission institutions are utilised for extra-religious activities. Representations have been made to the Committee in which it has been alleged that some of the mission institutions are being utilised for political propaganda against the Government, the State and a spirit of disloyalty to the country is being created. It was on these points that some of the speakers mentioned in your letter under reply, made statements and cited instances. As you know the mission workers were also allowed to controvert them. Speeches which were considered highly inflammatory and objectionable by the non-Christian section of the people present were, as you will, perhaps, remember, made even by Christian speakers. Although the Chairman as well as individual members of the Committee have tried their level best to stop lectures being delivered and they have repeatedly requested the speakers to confine themselves to giving information relevant to the enquiry, it is not clear on what basis you have made the allegation that the committee have allowed sectional leaders to make inflammatory speeches of a political nature. The allegation appears to be without any foundation and I have been requested to assure all concerned that the intention of the Committee is not to create any sort of disruption or ill-feelings amongst various sections of the people for which purpose the Chairman makes it a point to advise the audience both at the commencement as well as at the conclusion of the proceedings.
Copy of D.-O. letter, dated Nagpur, the 4th August 1954, from Shri G. X, Francis, President, Christian Association, Nagpur, to Shri B. P. Pathak, Secretary, Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, the Secretary Nagpur
Kindly refer to your demi-official letter, dated 21st July 1954, handed over at Pendra Road, while the enquiry committee was on tour.
I should not have lodged my complaint, dated 20th July but for the alarm experienced by all sections of the Christian people over the consequences of fiery speeches made by communal leaders at the meetings convened by the Enquiry Committee on, its second tour, and after giving you specific instances, I had requested you to �kindly see your way to check the tendency�.
The incredible tone of your side-tracking reply, apart from the assurances it contains, hardly encourages the hope that the continued co-operation of the Christian people in the labours of the enquiry committee, will not expose them to the fury of communal passions. This is evident from your queer argument over an admitted fact.
You say -
�Although the Chairman and individual members of the committee have tried their level best to stop lectures being delivered, and have repeatedly requested the speakers to confine themselves to giving information relevant to the enquiry, it is not clear on what basis you have made the allegation that the committee have allowed sectional leaders to make inflammatory speeches of a political nature. The allegation appears to be without any foundation.�
Reading this paragraph, one would fancy that nothing had happened on the second tour and the complaint lodged of the incident which took place at Takhatpur, was false. I am compelled to recapitulate the following facts which I had brought to your notice :-
(a) That in the second tour, communal leaders, with the implicit or explicit permission of the committee made violent speeches which could have no other effect than that of rousing inter-communal passions.
(b) That as a specific instance which took place at Takhatpur, on the 20th July, one man alone (his name being Uttalwar) made an inflammatory speech which lasted 43 minutes.
(c) That in the course of the speech, Uttalwar had said that:
�Christians had become so depraved and denationalised that they would not fight for India in the event of a war with America, and that by allowing conversions to Christianity, the State was allowing the growth of traitors and fifth columnists as had happened in Kashmir�.
From your argument reproduced above I could only deduce that you are disowning the suggestion that the committee had explicitly allowed such inflammatory speeches to be made. Such a suggestion was far from my mind, although a very legitimate criticism could have been levelled that the committee helplessly heard lectures when it should have heard oral evidence.
Two aspects of this very serious matter to which I solicit the earnest consideration of the enquiry committee and the Government are-
(a) whether Uttalwar did or did not make an inflammatory speech at Takhatpur, and
(b) whether the subject-matter complained of was relevant to the enquiry.
You have not denied the fact that such a speech was made. It is for the enquiry committee and the Government to consider the propriety of such speeches being made in the meetings of the enquiry committee.
As regards the relevance of the subject-matter to which I have taken exception, you justify it on the ground that you had received representations that �some of the mission institutions are being utilised for political propaganda against the Government, the State, and a spirit of disloyalty !o the country is being created�. Here again, I am afraid that you are outstripping the terms of reference given by Government which requires you to enquire whether �the missions are utilised directly or indirectly for the purposes of political or extra-religious objectives�.
Now, Uttalwar�s references were to the denationalised character of the Christian people whom he called �traitors and fifth columnists�. This has nothing to do with �political propaganda against the Government� or with the utilisation of missions for �political or extra religious objectives�. I need not dwell on the platitude that ever citizen in a democracy has a right to disagree with the Government, and that this is a Fundamental Right under our Constitution. Although Christians, by and large, are of the Congress persuasion, still the right is there. Unless you agree with Uttalwar to deprive Christians of their rights of Citizenship in a Free India, I must respectfully disagree with you in admitting the relevance of his disparaging references to the Indian-Christian people. Traitors and Fifth Columnists, I humbly submit, are not required to be discovered by you under the present terms, of reference, nor is it possible for any enquiry committee to discover them. You will agree that their lives and fates are to be determined by summary trials according to martial laws.
Finally, I am at a loss to understand your statement that highly inflammatory speeches were made by Christians also. I was with your committee throughout your tours and took detailed notes, but never found a single Christian making a speech, inflammatory or otherwise, even remotely hurting the Hindus. I shall be glad if you will let me know the name of the speaker as I am anxious that on the part of the Christians there should be absolutely no provocation.
As on the previous occasion, I am sending copies of our correspondence to Government. I am also sending a copy of my letter to Dr. Niyogi.
I should gladly bear testimony to the gallant efforts made by the Chair man, yourself and some other members of the committee to restrain the speakers as you have said, but my complaint is that in spite of your best efforts, the speakers held the field. The burden of my complaint is that the procedure of �allowing� fiery speeches is calculated to create a situation which is fraught with grave danger to the Christian minority.
Copy of D.-O. No. 1494-33-XXX-MR, dated Nagpur, the 4th August 1954, from Shri K. B. L. Seth, Chief Secretary to Government, Madhya Pradesh, Nagpur, to his Grace the most Rev. Thomas Pothacamury, Archbishop of Bangalore, General Secretary, Catholic Bishops� Conference of India, Archbishops House, 20, Miller�s Road, Bangalore.
I am desired to refer to your letters Nos. BC-,111-54 and No. BC-112-54, dated the 15th June 1954, to the Chief Minister, Madhya Pradesh Government, on the subject of appointment of a committee to enquire into Missionary activities, presided over by Dr. Bhawanishankar Niyogi, and to make following observations:-
2. The committee was appointed on the 14th April 1954, under Resolution No. 318-716-V-Con, dated the 14th April 1954. The object of appointing the committee and the terms of reference were made clear in the resolution itself. Briefly, it may be 'Stated that it was found necessary to appoint the Committee in consequence of complaints which were received from non-Christians against the activities of certain Missionaries and from Missionaries alleging harassment of Christians. These, complaints became so numerous that to ascertain the real facts in an authoritative manner, it was considered necessary to appoint a committee to go into the whole question, and to make a thorough enquiry. Subsequently, on the 3rd May 1954, a Press Note was issued in consequence of certain criticism levelled against the composition of the committee. The object of this was to allay any genuine misapprehensions that may have existed in the minds of certain persons. I have no doubt that have seen the Government resolution and the Press Note referred to above. Copies thereof, are, however; enclosed for your information and ready reference. It also be stated that certain representatives of the Christian Community, including the Archbishop of Nagpur and some other authoritative members of the Church, have seen the Chief Secretary to the Government of Madhya Pradesh, from time to time when the position was fully explained by the Chief Secretary to these gentlemen. Certain communications were addressed to the Chief Minister also by Rev. D�Souza, Archbishop of Nagpur, Shri G. X. Francis, President, Regional Catholic Council, Shri C. S. Kirkby, Founder President of the Centenary Christian Association, Bombay, and others and replies were duly sent to Rev. D�Souza and Shri Kirkby. All this should have dispelled the apprehensions, if any, regarding the constitution of the committee or the attitude and policy of Government.
3. Many of the statements made in your letter, under reply, refer to matters which are the subject-matter of the enquiry, and you will appreciate that it would neither be proper nor possible for Government to say anything about them at this stage. To act otherwise would be tantamount to prejudicing a fair and objective enquiry. I presume that those matters would be raised before the committee by your representatives and duly enquired into.
4. In your letter you have raised again the question of personnel of the committee which was dealt with in the Press Note of the 3rd May 1954. Without going into the matter over again, it may be stated that in selecting the personnel, Government�s sole purpose was to appoint men of experience and standing in public life who would be expected to approach the question in an impartial and objective manner and in short, to act as judge