All India Christian Council
|Vice-President, All India Catholic Union|
|President, All India Catholic Union|
|Preceded by||Maria Emilia Menezes|
|Succeeded by||Remy Denis|
2 October 1948 |
New Delhi, India
John Dayal (born 2 October 1948) is an Indian journalist and civil rights activist who supports minorities such as Christians and Dalits. He is a member of the National Integration Council (NIC) of India, Secretary-General of the All India Christian Council and a past president of the All India Catholic Union. He has been outspoken in opposition to Hindu nationalist groups, in protest against attacks on Christians, in defence of church property and in support of Dalit rights. His activist approach has drawn criticism.
John Dayal was born in New Delhi on 2 October 1948 of Christian parents from South India. He studied Physics at St. Stephen's College, Delhi before deciding to become a journalist. He served as War Correspondent or Foreign Correspondent in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Europe. He became editor and CEO of the Delhi Mid Day, a small afternoon newspaper, and treasurer of the Editors' Guild of India. In June 1998 Dayal was one of the signatories of a statement by a group of journalists calling on India to return to the global nuclear disarmament agenda. He continues to provide commentary and analysis in print and on national TV and Radio. Dayal has headed the governing boards of several colleges of Delhi University, and has taught as a visiting teacher at several universities in north India.
John Dayal became a human rights activist in the early 1970s. In this role he has worked on such issues as displacement of tribal people, Dalit Christians, opposition to nuclear weapons, forced disappearances and impunity. During more than forty years he has investigated a great many cases of human rights abuse aimed at minority groups such as Dalits, Muslims and Christians. His influence now extends far beyond India. Dayal has more than once received death threats from Hindu extremist groups, who see his defence of conversion of Dalits to Christianity as a threat to their power base.
Dayal was one of the founders of the ecumenical All India Christian Council (AICC) and the United Christian Forum for Human Rights. Dayal was National Secretary for Public affairs of the All India Catholic Union (AICU) during the presidency of Norbert D'Souza (1996–2000). In 2000 he was elected vice-president of the AICU and on 20 September 2004 he was elected AICU president, succeeding Dr Maria Emelia Menezes. He held that position until 2008 when he was succeeded by Dr. Remy Denis. In March 2005 Dayal was a member of a delegation led by Vincent Conçessao that presented a memorandum on minorities to the prime minister. The delegation was assured that the government would issue a White Paper on minority communities.
The National Integration Council (NIC) of India was reconstituted in August 2005, and Dayal was appointed a member. The inaugural meeting of the NIC was attended by prime minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi. The twelve Chief Ministers and twelve Union Ministers attended, as did leaders of all the main political parties. John Dayal and the Reverend Valson Thampu presented a statement signed by Archbishop Vincent Conçessao calling for equal rights for Christian Dalits and for an end to violence inspired by ethnic and religious divisions.
Dayal has been appointed to many fact finding committees and tribunals. In December 2007 he was one of a five member Fact Finding Team that went Phulbani area of Kandhamal district in Orissa to investigate recent violence against Christians. According to his account, he was forcibly expelled by the police. In September 2008 Dayal won the Maanav Adhikaar Paaritaushik (Human Dignity Award) in memory of Professor M. M. Guptara. In 2010 Dayal was again nominated as a member of the National Integration Council. As of March 2012 Dayal was Secretary General of the All India Christian Council, founded in 1999. Dayal is married and has a son and a daughter.
In January 2002 the AICC issued a statement signed by Joseph D'souza and John Dayal asking State governments and the national government to prevent efforts by the Sangh Parivar to stir up communal violence in the Adivasi tribal belt in Northern India. It talked of a "vicious Hindutva communal rhetoric .. targeting Christians in the region". It said RSS cadres were running schools that "follow a curricula and textual material, which is outside the pale of any academic and public scrutiny, blatantly rewrites history, and poisons young minds". In 2005 Dayal again expressed concern that Ekal Vidyalaya ("single teacher") schools run by the RSS Hindu nationalist organisation in tribal districts were spreading hatred towards members of the Christian minority.
Dayal has claimed that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has spent millions of dollars in an attempt to convert tribal people in central India into Hindu nationalists. On 17 October 2004 a ceremony was organised by the World Hindu Council (Vishva Hindu Parishad – VHP) in Orissa at which about 300 tribal Christians were "reconverted" to Hinduism. Dayal said the event was part of a vicious and hostile hate campaign. In a 2004 interview following the defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the return to power of the Congress Party, Dayal said that the change was because "People have rejected the ideology of hate, consisting of xenophobia, narrow nationalism and a sustained persecution of Muslims and Christians". He went on to compare Hindutva to neo-Nazism and Apartheid.
Attacks on Christians
Dayal has said that militant Hindutva groups exploit economically backward people in attacks on Christians and Muslims: "Dalits and tribals are used as instruments. They are paid, drugged, alcoholized, they are in a stupor". Speaking after the Bharatiya Janata Party had made gains in riot-affected parts of Gujarat, Dayal said "[Christians] have never been more afraid ... I have been expecting the very worst since the B.J.P. came to power, and the worst, I think, may still be in the future. With levels of violence in Gujarat rising, on 1 October 1998 Dayal remarked "The AICU is surprised that Union Government and members of the ruling coalition, including the BJP, have not come out categorically in denouncing the violence against Christians".
In February 2002 after a renewed series of attacks on Christians Dayal said "Physically, many of the incidents are now less obvious, but there is a 24-hour reign of terror, which occasionally bursts into violence". In May 2002 Dayal urged General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, to stop cross-border terrorism. He said this was giving fundamentalist forces ammunition in hate campaigns against minorities.
Dayal represents the conservatives in the AICU. At a seminar in Goa in August 2009, former Union minister Eduardo Faleiro said that church property should be brought under the ambit of state laws, as was the case with other religions. This was endorsed by Remy Denis and other liberals. However, Dayal opposed any change. He said that the "Christian situation" was radically and materially different from that of the Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religions, and existing laws were sufficient.
In March 2012 two Baptist churches in Imphal, Manipur were ordered to vacate within 15 days. The authorities threatened to use force if the churches were not dismantled on schedule. The All India Christian Council took up the issue with the national and state minority commissions. According to Dayal "Christians in Manipur are facing increasing threats from the public as well as the state government". The same month, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia said that it is "necessary to destroy all the churches of the region". As AICC Secretary General, John Dayal asked that India and other countries help assure the safety of churches in other countries of the Arabian peninsula. The AICC pointed out that destruction of churches would be counter to the United Nations Charter and to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance And of Discrimination Based on Religion Or Belief.
A survey by the NGO Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan found that the "Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers" was being abused. Apart from encouraging Dalits to remain in menial jobs, in many cases some or all of the money was embezzled. In March 2012 Dayal said "There is a massive scandal of graft between bank officials, politicians and middle men to fleece ignorant people who are given 50 per cent of the loan only but made liable for the full amount even as rest of the money is taken away by crooks. Collectors in villages must crack down on such miscreants and wherever such cases are found, government must waive off the loans or it would be condoning cheating and criminal actions".
John Dayal has spoken out against bills that prevent or penalise conversion to Christianity passed in various states in India. A deeply religious person, Dayal has written "How a community treats its poor is, for the Bible, the acid test of its life. And the way a community will be changed is through the poor".
Rediff.com columnist Varsha Bhosle wrote in 2002 that "John Dayal and his Catholic cohorts are the worst act I've ever seen! ... Christian activists ... aggressively seek to weaken Hindu society in terms of numbers as well as space". Noting that Dayal had objected that on the 2001 Census form a scheduled caste, or Dalit, could chose only between the Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist faiths she said "If conversion to Christianity certifies social equality, why would there be a 'Dalit Christian'? As for guaranteeing economic freedom, don't make me laugh".
Discussing Dayal's 2005 letter to the prime minister about attacks on Christians including the rape of nuns, murder of priests and destruction of churches, P.N Benjamin, coordinator of the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue, said Dayal "opens his mouth and wields his pen only to spew venom on the Hindu community". Benjamin said most of the attacks on Christians had been in response to aggressive evangelising. In 2008 the journalist François Gautier described Dayal as a fanatic who was "radicalizing" his flock. The assertion was made in an op-ed in The Indian Express that accused Sonia Gandhi of responsibility for the 2006 Mumbai train bombings.
A partial bibliography:
- John Dayal. The Indian Emergency (1975–77).
- John Dayal. Human Rights: A Close Look. p. 79. ISBN 81-7495-105-9.
- John Dayal, Ajoy Bose (1977). Delhi under emergency. Ess Ess Publications. p. 239.
- John Dayal, Ajoy Bose, India. Shah Commission (1978). The Shah Commission begins. Orient Longman. p. 351.
- Justice & Peace Commission, All India Christian Council (2002). John Dayal, ed. Gujarat 2002: untold and re-told stories of Hindutva lab. Justice & Peace Commission and All India Christian Council. ISBN 81-7495-114-8.
- John Dayal (2007). A matter of equity: freedom of faith in secular India. Anamika Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 81-7975-177-5.
- "John Dayal". The International Council of Evengelical Churches. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
- "Profile of NCM: Dr. John Dayal". Minorities. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
- Smitu Kothari, Zia Mian (2001). Out of the Nuclear Shadow. Zed Books. p. 374. ISBN 1842770594.
- Carl A. Moeller, David W. Hegg, Craig Hodgkins (2011). The Privilege of Persecution: (And Other Things the Global Church Knows That We Don't). Moody Publishers. p. 117. ISBN 0802454178.
- John Dayal (18 August 2008). "A Salute to the laity in India". Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- "Catholic Union concerned over Modi's remarks.". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 13 September 2002. Retrieved 2012-04-15.
- "John Dayal elected All India Catholic Union National president". 1-15 Oct 2004. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "Office Bearers". All India Catholic Union. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
- Nirmala Carvalho (09/01/2005). "After 13 years, the National Integration Council is back in business in India". Asia News. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "John Dayal expelled from Phulbani, Orissa.". 31 December 2007. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "Geneva-based Indian Human Rights Award for John Dayal". Sulekha.com. 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "FAQ". All India Christian Council. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
- "More Indian Repression of Tribal and Christian Minorities". Congressional Record, V. 148, Pt. 1, January 23, 2002 to February 13, 2002. Government Printing Office. 5 February 2002. p. 616.
- Jacob Chaterjee (19 July 2005). "AICU president suspects Hindu charitable trust of forming anti–Christian schools for Indian tribals". Christian Today. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- Giorgio Baravalle (2004). Rethink: Cause and Consequences of September 11. design.Method of Operation. p. 476-477. ISBN 0970576862.
- Praveen Kumar (2011). Communal Crimes and National Integration: A Socio-Legal Study. Readworthy Publications. p. 98-99. ISBN 9350180405.
- "John Dayal: "People have rejected the ideology of hate"". The Milli Gazette. 1-15 June 2004. Retrieved 2012-03-14.
- Abdul Gafoor Abdul Majeed Noorani (2000). The RSS and the BJP: A Division of Labour. LeftWord Books. p. 91. ISBN 8187496134.
- Julian West (25 February 2002). "New Spate of Attacks Targets Christians". Washington Times. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
- Devika Sequeira (5 August 2009). "Conservatives oppose call for Church assets reforms". Deccan Herald. Retrieved 2012-04-08.
- "Two Manipur churches served eviction notice". Christian Today. 3 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
- Pervez Bari (31 March 2012). "Christian Council condemns Saudi cleric's call for destruction of Churches in West Asia". TwoCircles. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
- DIVYA TRIVEDI (30 March 2012). "A blot upon the nation". The Hindu. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
- Joshua Newton (1 June 2003). "Fending off Hindutva". Christianity Today. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- Varsha Bhosle (2 September 2002). "Towards Balkanisation, IV: Catholics". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- P.N. BENJAMIN (13 September 2005). "When Intolerance Begets the Loss of Reason". Retrieved 2012-04-14.
- Francois Gautier (8 December 2008). "Sonia's presence in Delhi is costing India dearly". Expressbuzz. Retrieved 2012-04-14.