August 2008 Anti-Christian Pogrom in India Saw “Rivers of Blood on the Road”

John Dayal on religious nationalism, massacres of minorities, and freedom of faith

New Delhi, India: August 25, 2015 — Indian journalist Dr. John Dayal, who recently visited Orissa to discover the current situation after the state was wracked in 2008 by a pogrom against Christians, discusses how ideology, legislation, and complicity contribute to a pattern of violence against India’s religious minorities.

Explaining that minorities have been repeatedly targeted by “a militant religious nationalism which preaches hate,” Dayal describes violence in 2008 Orissa, 2002 Gujarat, and 1984 Delhi “as landmark acts of violence,” warning: “There have been dozens, if not hundreds of other ones which do not get the sort of media attention these three or four currently just get.” One of those incidents which he discusses is the 1999 murder of Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two young sons.

Dayal warns that anti conversion laws in six Indian states, which require one must “inform the local government that you want to change your faith,” encourage violence against new or potential converts. Such laws deny human rights and presume, he says, “that I have no reason, that I’m not a human being, that I have no free will.” Meanwhile, he points out that so-called Untouchables “don’t have freedom of faith” because they cannot declare any religion except Hinduism without losing State assistance.

In this interview with OFMI’s Pieter Friedrich, Dayal, a professional journalist who is also former president of the All Indian Catholic Union and co-founder of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights, announces plans to commemorate the anniversary of the Kandhamal, Orissa Pogrom with a Remembrance and Justice Day, stating:

“The 25th there will be prayers, but we are expecting in the first fifteen days of September to organize a bigger meeting to release a book on justice in Kandhamal. It is in the final act of being published. We will formally release our current assessment of where is justice in Kandhamal eight years after the worst violence Christians have faced in three centuries.”

FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT —
PF: Hi, this is Pieter Friedrich with Organization for Minorities of India. And today we are once again speaking with a special guest, Mr. John Dayal, who is a journalist, a human rights advocate, and a prominent leader in India’s Christian community.

Now, Mr. Dayal, we want to speak with you specifically about some of these large-scale massacres that have gone on in India in the past, and especially about Orissa, which had a pogrom against Christians in 2008. Now, the seven year anniversary is coming up, and you’ve told me that you’re planning a Remembrance and Justice Day. Can you begin by telling me a little bit about that?

JD: We do it every year, as a matter of fact. August 24 and 25 was when this huge violence against Christians took place in Kandhamal, in Orissa. A total, as you will recall, of 56,000 to 60,000 people were rendered homeless. About 6,000 houses and 300 churches were burned. 120 or so people were killed. Seven women were raped, including a Catholic nun. And we would like to ask what is the status of justice for these victims?

This is a question we ask the Government of India, this is a question we ask in the Supreme Court, and this is a question we ask of the people of India: why is justice not being given? Why are killers roaming free? Why are rapists beyond the reach of the police? Why are witnesses being coerced? Why are police not investigating cases as they should?

There are a host of questions that surround the kernel, the basic question, of what is justice for victims of religious persecution and religious violence?

And here in Delhi, there has been no justice done for the massacre of the Sikhs, and the massacre was not by anybody else but by the local majority population. Three thousand, five hundred people were burned alive in Delhi, the national capital.

PF: Yes.

JD: There was violence in Gujarat in 2002. There was violence in…. But these are landmark acts of violence. There have been dozens, if not hundreds of other ones which do not get the sort of media attention these three or four currently just get. And we want to ask why does India not have an ethos of truth and reconciliation? Why is justice not routine? Why is justice done in an isolated case, but in large-scale cases, where politicians are concerned, where powerful people are concerned, where political forces are concerned, where religious nationalism is concerned, there seems to be almost absolutely a state of impunity. A state of denial.

PF: Now, you say where religious nationalism is concerned, where these powerful forces are concerned, so can you explain to me a little bit — you said that 120 people were killed in this violence in 2008 in Orissa…

JD: At least 120.

PF: Pardon?

JD: At least 120.

PF: At least 120. That’s that are actually accounted for. And certainly with such large-scale violence — I think you said up to 60,000 people displaced, is that correct?

JD: 60,000 people had to flee that place, and if the forests were not there, if the hills were not there, the deaths would have been much higher. Much higher.

PF: Yes, yes.

JD: These people fled into the forests.

PF: And especially in such a confusing situation, God only knows how many people actually died. So, can you explain how did this violence begin? What prompted it? Was it just a spontaneous occurrence?

JD: Not really. It has been building up for quite a while. There has been a campaign of hate in that area, turning Hindus against Christians, painting all sorts of macabre images of the Christian as an outsider, the Christian as somebody who separates from local culture. Essentially, stigmatizing the Christian. And this built up, and then there was a murder of a political religious leader, and then all havoc broke loose. All of suspect it was organized violence. Violence of this scale doesn’t take place spontaneously.

PF: Yes. Yes. To have this happen on such a large-scale and, as you said, with so much impunity. Now, has anybody been arrested for this violence? Has anybody been prosecuted?

JD: People have been arrested. People have been prosecuted. People have been sentenced. But not in the sort of manner that justice demands. There were thousands of complaints. Only a few of them were converted into investigation cases. Of the few that were converted into cases of investigation, not all were brought to court. Of the cases that were brought to court, many were just dismissed for no evidence. Why should there be evidence when a man is murdered in a forest? It’s for the police to find out evidence, it’s for the police to chase the witnesses. And the police forensic investigation was extremely shoddy. It was almost as if they did not want to find out.

PF: I see, and that’s very interesting. You say it’s almost as though they did not want to find out. You mentioned this nun who was raped in the course of this violence. Now, I’m familiar with a nun named…

JD: No, no, no. Do not name her. Under Indian law, we do not name the victims of rape to protect their dignity and identity. Although everybody knows it, but still I will not name the person in this TV interview.

PF: I see. I see. I will respect that.

JD: We also don’t show their faces.

PF: I will respect that. This nun, however, her accounts that she’s given of the atrocity that she suffered is that she was attacked, and then she was taken and she was paraded in a state of undress, by her attackers, past a group of approximately a dozen police officers who then, according to the victim, proceeded to laugh and joke with her captors. Is this an accurate account of the incident?

JD: It goes beyond impunity. It would almost have seemed that the police, not that they could not act, but that they didn’t want to act. That they wanted this to happen. I would say, in a fair society, in an issue of justice, the police would have been tried for complicity. For a dereliction of duty, certainly.

PF: Yes, yes, very much so. And so, you say it’s almost as though they did not want to act. That reminds of reports from this other major incident in 2002 in Gujarat, where victims reported that they were told by police officers that, “We have no orders to save you.” As though they needed to have orders in order to act on behalf of innocent victims.

JD: Indeed.

PF: Now, you mentioned in your previous interview that Christians were attacked in Gujarat. We commonly hear about how this violence in 2002 in Gujarat was targeted against Muslims. Can you tell me a little bit about the attacks that were suffered by Christians in Gujarat?

JD: I will maybe put it this way. The political forces involved in 2002 Gujarat and 2008 Kandhamal, Orissa were the same political thesis, the same political ideology.

PF: I see. And what is that political ideology?

JD: It is what we call the Sangh Parivar. Hindutva, which is a militant religious nationalism which preaches hate. Which says Christians and Moslems are not nationalists, they’re not patriots, they’re aliens. It’s the same thing that sort of propagates and teaches young people to hate others. It teaches them you’re required to kill.

PF: Yes, yes, and this Sangh Parivar, and as you mentioned in your previous interview, the most prominent organization is the Rashtriya Swayamsavek Sangh (the RSS) — it’s a multi-million member, it’s all male, if I’m not mistaken, it’s uniformed. They wear brown shorts. Now, they’re in some ways a paramilitary organization and, as you said, they appear to be the perpetrators of both this violence in Kandhamal and…

JD: It was the ideology. It’s very difficult, because this is a secret sort of organization although it parades openly, but it would be difficult for us to produce their membership list. I cannot summon the membership registrar of the Sangh Parivar…. They’ll say no, it’s a voluntary force, we have no registrar.

PF: Very true.

JD: The shorts can always be taken off and thrown away.

PF: Very true, very true. So then, in both Kandhamal, Orissa and in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, they perpetrated….

JD: And many other places. And many other places.

PF: And many other places. Now, what exactly did they do to Christians here in Gujarat?

JD: They burned their houses, they chased them into the forest, they caught them, raped them, they hacked them, they burned them alive, they put an axe through their head. Just about any brutal method of killing another human being was used.

PF: Yes, so the most brutal methods imaginable.

JD: Oh, beyond imaginable. Even in the few cases that police have been able to take the case through court, I mean, just hearing the narrative will not only send shivers down your spine, it will make you puke. Make me puke.

PF: It’s certainly stomach-churning.

JD: And I am a hardened reporter who has covered wars and acts of mass violence.

PF: Now, as far as these acts of mass violence, has the situation in Orissa presently returned to quote unquote normal? Has the tension dissipated? As you said, there’s impunity. The perpetrators have not been properly prosecuted. But are Christians in Orissa safe today in the current situation?

JD: There is no violence, but can you call a situation normal if one part of the population fears, if neighbor cannot trust neighbor, if criminals walk free, if coercion is implied? That is not a normal situation. That is an abnormal situation. The abnormality has to be recorded, it has to be addressed, it has to be vanquished. Man must live in peace with his neighbor.

PF: And, as far as people living in peace with their neighbors, I have here a recent news report from Kandhamal that appears to illustrate how that is not actually occurring. Tragically. The headline of the report is: “Christians in India Fear Pastor and Wife Murdered by Local Police Force.” Now, you just returned from Orissa, is that correct?

JD: This is a very unique case because civil society groups have sent fact-finding teams to find out that there is something very, very suspicious in the death of these two persons. They’re not very sure if it is an extrajudicial killing, they’re not really sure if it is a killing by religious nationalists, or if it is a combination of the two.

PF: And in this climate of fear, it’s understandable that there would be a large amount of confusion when such violence occurs. Orissa…

JD: We are not policemen. We are not trained investigators. And it is not our job. We are in a democracy, we are in a republic, we have a government. Assuring peace and investigating crime is the job of the government. It’s the job of a police force.

PF: Yes, and yet unfortunately, as you’ve pointed out, the police force tragically often seems so unwilling to act. How can we, as concerned citizens, then respond to that unwillingness to act?

JD: As concerned citizens, we disseminate information. As concerned citizens, we go to the human rights commissions of the states and the union — the federal — human rights commission. As concerned citizens, we would, when the time is right, go to the supreme court of India, as we have done in the past.

PF: Yes, yes, and that does seem to be a very commendable strategy and approach.

JD: We are peaceful people. What else can we do?

PF: Well, we’re peaceful people, and also, in responding to these acts of violence, the only way to end them is to continue to respond peacefully because it’s the violence we object to.

JD: Yes, and even peaceful response invites hate. Human rights activists and defenders are targeted. They’re targeted by hate mongers, they’re targeted by the same political forces, and then they’re targeted by the government of India and by other state governments.

PF: Yes, yes, and you’ve mentioned that these human rights activists are targeted. These peaceful people are targeted. Of course, these Christians that were targeted in 2008, they were living there peacefully, they were just minding their own business. Now, we also have other accounts in Orissa all the way back to 1999. There was this pastor, Graham Staines. Are you familiar with his case and can you tell us a little bit about what happened to him?

JD: His widow is a friend of mine. I not only know the case, but we — our bishop, Alan de Lastic, and I — really put it on the international focus.

PF: Ok.

JD: Yeah, I know the case, yes. It was some distance away from Kandhamal but within the state of Orissa.

PF: And what happened there?

JD: Oh, in a manner of speaking, that was precursor to what happened in Kandhamal because a huge hate campaign had been going on in that area that is towards Bengal. A hate campaign had been going on against Christians accusing every Christian and every mission work — hospitals, schools — of trying to convert Hindus into Christians. As if Hindus have no human rights to change their faith if they want to.

But this person, Graham Stuart Staines, his wife Gladys, his daughter Carolyn, and his two sons Timothy and Phillip, who were very young. He was a worker with Hansen’s Diseased people, who the world derisively calls lepers. He was working with them. He ran a clinic for them and a hospital for them. He was not your pastor preaching every Sunday and doing Eucharist. He was a health-worker. A humanist.

And, one day, when he was in the forest talking to a few of his people, sleeping in the middle of the night in his jeep, they burnt him alive with his sons. It caused the most scandalous, the most shocking incident even in a country which is so used to casual violence. It shook the conscience of India. The president of India called it a black mark. The prime minister expressed shock. It shook us all. It really shook us all. And the fact that he was an Australian made us feel ashamed.

PF: And were his attackers arrested? Were they prosecuted? Was there any justice dealt?

JD: Eventually. The lower court sentenced Mr. Dara Singh, his killer, to death, which the high court then commuted to life. And we said no, we aren’t happy with life terms. I personally, John Dayal, I am opposed to capital punishment. Man should not take man’s life. Governments should kill nobody.

PF: Agreed.

JD: Gladys also did not want him to be hanged. But purely in obedience to the law, the government of the state went to the supreme court asking that he be given the death penalty, and then the supreme court upheld a life term. But the judges made very funny comments. The judges said his death was a response to the issue of conversion of people to Christianity. We protested like mad, I can assure you that, and the judge was forced to delete his words.

PF: So then the judge was trying to justify the attack as a legitimate response?

JD: Even if he didn’t want to justify, he seemed to have bought into the argument, and we resented that. And we resented the pure spite and the shame and the obscenity of that remark.

PF: And in that situation, if I’m not mistaken, again the perpetrators were part of the Sangh Parivar. Were they VHP, I believe? Vishwa Hindu Parishad?

JD: No, they were part of the overall family. They were specifically members of the Bajrang Dal. Which is tweedle-dumb and tweedle-dee.

PF: Yes, yes, one difference is the same as the other. So, it was the Bajrang Dal then that was behind this, and yet only one man was sentenced for the attack?

JD: No, no. I think three were. One of them was a juvenile, so he wasn’t given the full punishment. More than one was punished, but many were lot off without evidence.

PF: Alright, then. So, now, this Sangh Parivar, you say it has this culture of hate that it spreads. That it treats Christians and Muslims and really anybody who’s not Hindu as alien or foreign to India. Is this encouraged? In this social organization, are they encouraged in this behavior and in this attitude by legislation? By laws in India? For instance, we’ve heard about these anti conversion laws.

JD: No, the law is very clear. These are crimes. Speaking, spewing hate isn’t right. You may have noticed that in all my interviews, I never speak against Hinduism. It’s a great religion followed by a billion people. I never speak against it.

PF: And there are many very honorable people who are Hindus.

JD: I’m a Christian by choice. I’m a Catholic. I like being one. But that is not to denigrate Islam, or Sikhism, or Hinduism, or Zoroastrianism, or Bahá’ís, or any other…. I don’t denigrate Communists. I’m happy with my religion. I think Jesus is my savior. Those are my beliefs. But religious nationalsm is not religion. It is not faith. It is a doctrine of hate. Its roots, its inspiration, is out there between the world wars in Germany.

PF: Yes, yes, and this RSS actually, the historical accounts indicate that it was directly inspired both by contact with Germany and contact with fascist Italy. In fact, it’s the Brown Shorts and Hitler had his Brown Shirts.

JD: It’s a matter of record, it’s a matter of history, there are not two ways about it. All too much evidence.

PF: Evidence that it was founded as a fascist organization?

JD: The founding literature of these organizations and the statements and the writings of its founders make it very clear who their enemies are or who are considered to be enemies. Moslems, Christians, and Communists. The order changes sometimes, but there it is. Muslims, Christians, Communists are the enemies of India, say the founders of this group.

PF: I see, and it seems that in some ways they’ve enshrined this religious nationalism, this fascism, into a legislative, a legal denial of freedom of choice in these so-called anti conversion laws. They’re actually, on the face of them, they’re often called freedom of religion acts, but it seems that they do the exact opposite. That they deny freedom of religion.

JD: Purely in terms of historical developments, the mindset rather than the organizations are behind India’s anti conversion laws. In the laws, the first law that was made against religious freedom was called Article 341 part 3, which said, for former Untouchables of the Hindu religion, if they wanted any affirmative action, they had to remain Hindus. If they became Moslems, if they became anything else, those things would be taken away from them. So it was closing the stable doors of religious freedom in India.

And then came, after 1956, a series of law in several states, six or more, which sort of considered that any conversion, any change of faith was either because the man was a fool and had been duped or that he had a gun to his head and therefore became a Moslem or a Christian or somebody else.

PF: And they frame this in the language of force or fraud.

JD: Force or fraud.

PF: And they say that in order to prevent forcible or fraudulent conversions, that conversions have to be approved by the government. Is that correct?

JD: In some states, you have to take prior permission. In some states, you have to inform the local government that you want to change your faith. Now, tell me. You are living in a village surrounded by hostile people. What will happen if you go to the magistrate and say, “I want to change my faith”? Your neighbors will kill you in the night! Your neighbors will just do you in.

PF: They’ll treat you like an alien.

JD: No, they will think you are a traitor, they will think you are a whatever, or they will just presume that you’ve been given a lot of money and they will want to have a share in that money. Whatever is the reason. But does it stand to reason that you have to take prior permission of the government and that the priest who is doing the baptism has to take permission or else he will be sent to jail? Baptism is just a ceremony.

PF: Well, it seems to be a presumption that nobody does anything with sincerity.

JD: Let me get the law and the theology very correct. No priest, no pastor of any religion can convert anyone. It is the individual who exercises his human right to have a faith or not to have a faith. I can tomorrow become a Hindu, or a Communist, or not become a Communist. Why am I being denied that right? And why is the presumption that I have no reason, that I’m not a human being, that I have no free will? That I can only be bought or coerced? No.

There’s very little a man can change. I can’t change my skin color, I can’t change my parents, I can only change my nationality or my freedom of faith. I can change my faith. Many Indians are changing their nationality.

PF: So, then, as far as this freedom of faith is concerned, it does very much seem that these anti conversion laws deny freedom of faith. That they’re actually a denial of religious liberty. And, in Gujarat…

JD: The point I really want to make is they are not denying John Dayal, the Christian, freedom of faith. They’re denying it to the Hindus.

PF: Ok, yes.

JD: It is the poor Hindu who is being told he cannot become anything else. That he has to remain where he was born forever and ever. He is being denied his free choice. If he does not want to change, who can force him? I can’t force him. I am a small group of people here.

PF: And that directly impacts the freedom of choice of the people in Hinduism who are so-called Untouchables or outcastes, low-castes, who are treated as the lower rung of the caste system.

JD: Even the upper-caste is being denied this freedom.

PF: Yeah, it is across the board. I agree with you.

JD: Because the minute he becomes a Christian or a Moslem, he becomes an enemy of the state, he becomes an alien. This should not be. This is not what the constitution says. It says freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, freedom to profess, preach, propagate doctrine. So it is written.

PF: And that is very true and it’s written well. And yet you mentioned previously that there is what you called an underground church in India which you said is at par with the underground church in China. Now, expounding on that a little bit, would you say then that Christians have the freedom to practice and propagate their faith publicly in India?

JD: All of them have have the freedom of faith, barring the former Untouchables who convert to Christianity. They can’t confess to being Christians because they will lose their jobs, they will lose the scholarships in universities and in colleges, they will lose their citizenship rights to this extent. They will not lose their passport, but they will lose anything that the government has given them because they were former Untouchables. That is not fair.

So, to be able to get those things, they don’t want to announce what faith they are, whether they are Moslems, or Communists, or Christians. So that makes their faith underearth.

PF: So they have to keep their identity a secret. It makes their faith underground, and it means that they have to be insincere about who they are as a person. They have to keep their identity a secret.

JD: In Latin, it would be called im practoris. They have to be Christians of the heart, or Moslems in their heart. Unlike me, they cannot carry a cross on their neck. Unlike me, they cannot go to the church. Unlike me, they cannot say boldly: “I am a Christian, I follow Jesus Christ.”

PF: So, then, it sounds like they really don’t have religious liberty. Getting back briefly to these issues of the anti conversion laws…

JD: In any other grammar, they don’t have freedom of faith.

PF: Yes, yes, they don’t, they don’t. And these anti conversion laws — you mentioned they’re in six Indian states. I believe Orissa has one, but Gujarat, I know for certain, also has one.

JD: Orissa. Let me count them for you. Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh. Six states. Tamil Nadu passed the law, but they rescinded it.

PF: And, we’ve seen in Gujarat, which has an anti conversion law, there was this massive violence, this genocide against Muslims and Christians. And Orissa, which has this anti conversion law, again there was a pogrom against Christians. And now…

JD: And you know why, and you know why, because this law stigmatizes religion. This law, in a way, strengthens those who do not like Moslems and who do not Christians. It, in a way, strengthens their belief.

PF: It gives them moral and legal support.

JD: And, second negative aspect, the second most dangerous aspect is, that even in states which do not have a law, the common folk — the police tend to behave as if there was a law in those states. It is a presumption.

PF: I see, so even if people want to convert in a state where there is no law, the police might interfere?

JD: Or they will be beaten up. They are likely to be beaten, most often than not.

PF: And there has been a proposal that was in the news last year by Amit Shah and other prominent members of the ruling party at the moment have proposed making a national anti conversion law. Do you think that’s a possibility?

JD: Many leaders. Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, has said there should be a law. This conversion law. A minister has said that. And rhetorically — but these are ministers. Can they have such a law? It’s a constitutional amendment. It requires vast majorities in the two house of parliament. The BJP does not have a majority. So, for the moment, they cannot bring this law.

But, the talk of this law bolsters, strengthens these forces of hate.

PF: So, the sentiment is behind passing such a law, in practicality it might be unlikely, but simply the talk of it bolsters this anti-minority sentiment.

JD: The talk is itself very poisonous. The talk is hateful.

PF: Now, speaking of talk, and we’re trying ourselves to abide by talking peacefully by especially speaking on behalf peacefully of people who are innocent victims of unwarranted aggression, in India, do you feel that you have a protection to demand redress of grievances from the government, or to protest? I know that many peaceful activists like Irom Sharmila, a hunger-striker from Manipur, and Surat Singh Khalsa, also a hunger-striker from Punjab, that they’ve faced arrest and even prosecution for their protests. You personally, have you ever faced…?

JD: Protest…

PF: Please.

JD: The police have arrested me twice for violating the law because I was protesting. My bishop was arrested. Nuns were arrested and so on and so forth. It isn’t an arrest. It is a hate. It is the abuse, the threat, that I and other defenders get. At the state level, people like Teesta Setalvad who are defending other people — the Muslims of Gujarat — the State is harassing them. The State is persecuting them. It is chasing them.

Now, a lot of hate mail I get and people like me get. I get mail saying that somebody says we’re going to kill you. Everyone wants me to be exterminated, or jailed, or something else. So, it is designed to coercion and to silence dissent by human rights defenders and all those seeking justice.

PF: Yes.

JD: But we will not be cowed. We are not afraid. We know how to fight. We will not be silenced.

PF: And we must stand together with that refusal to give in to fear. And, so, in wrapping this up, what sort of changes do you think are necessary in India or do you hope will occur to alleviate these problems we’ve been discussing?

JD: India has been at her greatest times a very civilized nation. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, had a vision of an India where everybody was free was free, held his head high, had citizenship, ownership. Let India have that time.

There are no rivers of blood on the roads, but there have been rivers of blood on the road. The struggle now is to see that India does not degenerate into that cemetery and India remains a peaceful, democratic, modern, civilized republic with the rule of law.

PF: And many people say that, well, these issues, they’re in the past, they’re not going on right now. What must happen is just forgive and forget. Pretend like it never happened. But do you think that there can be a hopeful and peaceful future without justice and reconciliation? Has there been justice?

JD: These are not the days of Jesus. We don’t expect the government of India to resuscitate, to resurrect the dead. But killers, we don’t want them hanged, but killers must be held to a law. Law must be implemented. The rule of law is the foundation of a modern state. Is it asking for too much?

PF: I wouldn’t think so. I would not think it’s asking for too much. And so, you have a Remembrance and a Justice Day for the violence in Orissa, which happened seven years ago, scheduled on August 24th. Is that correct?

JD: Well, the 25th there will be prayers, but we are expecting in the first 15 days of September to organize a bigger meeting to release a book on justice in Kandhamal. It is in the final act of being published. We will formally release our current assessment of where is justice in Kandhamal eight years after the worst violence Christians have faced in three centuries.

PF: Well, we certainly very much look forward to seeing that book and to helping you to propagate it. And, in conclusion, I would just ask you — what do you think? Are you hopeful? Are you optimistic for the future?

JD: Otherwise, I wouldn’t be talking to you. Otherwise, I would not be fighting in India. I would have become, like many other people… asylum. I’m content to struggle in India and so are the rest of my colleagues fighting for justice for the Sikhs, for the Muslims, for the Christians, for the Hindus, for the Dalits. It is my land. I was born here. And my forefathers before me. It’s my country.

PF: Well, John, that’s encouraging to hear. It’s been a real pleasure speaking with you today, and I look forward to staying in touch and hearing more about the situation over there. And hopefully hearing about improvements. And I wish you the best.

JD: Thank you very much. Goodnight and good morning as whatever the case may be.

PF: Thank you, sir.

JD: Thank you. God bless.

PF: And you as well.