NEW DELHI—Prominent Christian leader and human rights activist John Dayal proposed a national helpline to report and stop hate crimes against minorities in India.
Participating in Indialogue Foundation’s webinar `Future of Religious Minorities in India’, Prof Dayal said the helpline would be an excellent idea for reporting and stopping hate crimes in the country.
“During my stint as a member of the National Integration Council, I picked up some suggestions and implemented them in the Christian Community. I started a helpline to report hate crimes when I was secretary general of All India Christian Council from 1999 to 2014. Any violence against Christians can be reported on the helpline. Any pastor can call and a lawyer will pick up the phone and try to reach him. We also have it for women in the northeastern communities. We want government should also set up such a helpline. There is a lifeline for women though it’s not very successful. We did something for our community,” he said.
Dayal also voiced concern over using bulldozers (against people). “We wanted to have a modern law for reparations. You can’t put a bulldozer through a colony. You can’t arrest people for two years. Then their medical and food bills mount,” he said.
He lamented over the death of the institution of dialogue. “I think the cultural and social aspect of dialogue is almost dead… I was an honoured member of the National Integration Council. There were chief ministers, union ministers and 30 individuals who were members. Narendra Modi as chief minister was an ex-officio member. You didn’t worry about the Congress position or BJP position. You wanted to discuss an issue without being bound by party lines and things. Things would come out of it. It ended terribly. One of the things that came out of it was a law against hate crimes. You can imagine it was almost 20 years ago. We were discussing a law against hate crimes,” he said.
Dayal regretted that they are faced with the conundrum that a law that defends Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Dalits, and Advasis is deemed by a section to be anti-Hindu.
“In my life, I would say despite the number of communal violence that was taking place right from 1947 to, let’s say, the turn of the century. The first 50 years of Independence was comparatively heavy because if you are beaten up, you could complain to the police,” he said.
Dayal pitched for the peaceful coexistence of all communities as enshrined in the Constitution. “…A dialogue for peaceful existence for coexistence for democracy,” he said.