Religion and Public Space

Rohit Dhankar

Religion and Public Space

The Hindu reported encroachment on a public park land by erecting religious structure. We all are too familiar with the temples and mosques (more temples than mosques) in the middle of roads, parks and odd nook sand corners in cities and towns, particularly in the North India. The Hindu report does not clarify which kind of religious structures they are, through it uses the word “shrine”, one may be inclined to think that most probably it is some kind of makeshift temple. This is blatant hoodwinking of people by some landgrabbers in the name of religion. In our beloved country religions can do what they want with impunity. The Hindu report also says that in spite of repeated complaints to the Residents Association which maintains the park, the police and other government bodies no response is received, no action is taken.

This is the usual response from the bodies supposed to be responsible for looking after public land and other spaces. Perhaps a combined effect of religion and briberies. Religions which are a solace to many believers and important part of their lives also have a very ugly public face; well, mostly an ugly public face. Unless all citizens, believer and non-believers, unanimously oppose the ugly public face of religion this scourge of Indian society and politics is likely to haunt us for long. The believers should understand that the land grab attempts in the name of religion violate the basic honesty of their own faith.

Another ugly public face of religion which no one wants to talk about is aggressive conversion attempts. Of course, our constitution gives freedom to preach one’s religion; and everyone should be committed to that ideal. But one should also understand that ‘conversion’ basically is a personal emotional, cognitive and spiritual (a vague concept used when one abandons reason) experience. That cannot be affected through fraud and material enticement. All conversion through fraud, superstitious preaching and enticement violates the right of citizens to make free choice. It is inherently violent, and a deliberate attack on the religious community from which fraudulent conversions are sought.

Public silence on encroachment on land under the garb of religion and on fraudulent aggressive conversions do not bode well for India. One will snatch our rights gradually, and the second is a ticking bomb that will aid to further fragmentation of Indian society.

Do I still retain citizen rights if I abandon my country and actively participate in foreign terrorist group planning to attach it?

“The Kerala High Court on Monday asked the Centre to respond to a petition by the mother of Nimisha Fathima, a Keralite woman languishing in a prison in Afghanistan, for the repatriation of her daughter and granddaughter.” Says a report in The Hindu. Another website reports: “The petition filed by Nimisha’s mother Bindu K alleged, “Not repatriating Nimisha and her child amounts to a violation of the fundamental right to life and denial of the right to education to the kid”.”

Nimisha Fatima made a choice of marrying an ISIS fighter, left the country and worked for establishing Islamic caliphate. The ISIS had dreams of establishing Islamic Rule in India under the same caliphate. Thus, Fatima not only sympathised with the nefarious dream of destroying India as we know it, but she actively contributed to make that a reality.

I have not checked the citizenship laws in this case (will do so when get some more time) but do have a few of question:

  1. If someone abandons one’s country to be part of a foreign terror group as heinous as ISIS; does that person still retain citizenship rights India?
  2. If yes; should such a person retain the citizenship rights?
  3. If should retain, supported by what democratic and/or humanitarian principles?


27th July 2021

2 Responses to Religion and Public Space

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn’t there be legal answers to those questions?


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