Modi’s cleanliness drive call stirs hornet’s nest in Nagaland
Respect religious diversity — Nagaland Theological Colleges Association
DIMAPUR — The call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a nation-wide cleanliness drive on October 1, which falls on a Sunday, has stirred up a hornet’s nest in Nagaland, with the Nagaland Baptist Church Council and other organisations outrightly turning down the call.
Sunday not just holiday but day of worship — NBCC
The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) has affirmed that since October 1 falls on a Sunday, a day of worship for the Christians, the church in Nagaland will have to politely turn down the call.
“For Christians, Sunday is not just a holiday, it is not only ceasing from work but it is a day of worship,” the NBCC said in a press release.
While appreciating the Prime Minister for coming up with a nationwide cleanliness drive and a creative way to unite the country, the council however put on record that any good initiative must take the diverse religious communities into consideration.
“This is important in a country like India because we are not just culturally diverse nation but more importantly diverse in our faith and beliefs. Our sacred days, our worship and our festivals are different. Respecting the sentiments of each other and knowing how to deal with the diversities which exist is, ‘wisdom,’” the NBCC said.
Maintaining that the Church is neither against the sanitation day nor anything with good intention to unify the nation, the council went on to say that “It is just that, October 1 falls on our worship day! We are much aware that it is our civic duty and we will cooperate.”
“However, since this time the fixation falls on our worship day, the Christians in Nagaland will choose to go to church on October 1 (Sunday). We will sacrifice another day at our convenience to show our cooperation and solidarity to the nation,” it stated.
According, the NBCC has given directive to its constituent churches to observe the cleanliness drive either on Saturday or on Monday, the council added.
NSF calls for boycott across Naga homeland
The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) has termed the call for a nationwide event on a Sunday as deeply insensitive to the religious sentiments of the Christian community and outrightly detrimental to the very essence of secularism.
The federation in a pres note said that it firmly believes in the importance of unity and mutual respect among citizens of all faiths, maintaining the fabric of secularism in the Indian sub-continent. The NSF also acknowledged cleanliness as an ideal that everyone should advocate, regardless of one’s religious beliefs.
“However, the Federation expresses our dismay over what we perceive as a communal attitude of the Centre, which appears to target Christian faith and other minority communities intentionally,” it said.
Calling upon all church associations and local churches across the Naga homeland to boycott the proposed social work, the NSF urged the churches to instruct their members to abstain from participating in the drive as a sign of resentment against the “repeated attempts by the Government of India to disrupt Christian faith and practices in the country.”
“The Naga Students’ Federation remains committed to protecting the rights and religious freedom of all communities in the Naga homeland and in the wider Indian society,” the federation said.
Nagas cannot ‘simply abide’ by Modi’s call, says NSCN (IM)
The NSCN (IM) on Tuesday asserted that Nagas, as Christians, cannot “simply abide” by the call of the Prime Minister, no matter how noble the cleanliness drive is.
“For any such nationwide drive for cleanliness, the sentiment attached with the spirit of secularism must be rightfully respected. Naga people will stand as one Christian family to resist such cleanliness initiative that defies the mutual respect for different faiths that reflects the secular character of India,” the NSCN (IM) said.
The group maintained that it cannot remain as mere spectator to any policy or initiative that obstructs and undermine Christian faith.
The NSCN (IM) also lauded the “bold step” taken by Chakhesang Baptist Church Council, which declared that, “We must obey God rather human beings.”
“It is to stress the importance of Naga people’s attachment to God, because no matter the challenge of life, no matter the weight of problem we face, it is God who sustains us. The Christian’s Holy Bible teaches that God not only created the universe but He upholds and sustains it day by day, hour by hour.
“All said done, the Nagas cannot deny God by obeying the call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the NSCN (IM) said.
Respect religious diversity — NTCA
The Nagaland Theological Colleges Association (NTCA), representing the theological colleges in Nagaland, has also voiced its concerns on the upcoming nation-wide cleanliness drive.
“Sunday holds deep religious significance for the Christian community as a day of worship and rest. By scheduling this national event on a Sunday, it inadvertently clashes with the holy day for millions of Christians across the country,” the association said in a press release.
The NTCA stressed on the importance of respecting religious diversity and called for a reconsideration of the date for the mega cleanliness drive to ensure that it t does not disrupt the religious observances of any community.