Christian lay leader and rights activist John Dayal said he has been threatened online after making comments on a social media network linking an arrested school principal to the country’s ruling political party.
Dayal, who is a member of the National Integration Council of India, said he was threatened after posting online comments on his Twitter account about the arrest of a school principal who had been accused of molesting one of his students in Mumbai.
Dayal wrote that the owners of the school were known to be associated with the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian people’s party. In one response to his tweet, Dayal said he was compared to pedophiles and potential rapists. The writer used the hashtag #ShameOnJohnDayal. In another, he was accused of selling his mother. Dayal said some responses tweeted to him included death threats.
“I feel threatened and coerced but not frightened,” said Dayal, who is also a member of ucanews.com‘s board of directors and an occasional op-ed contributor. “I mourn the strangulation of dissent in India, the attempt to foist religious nationalism, to relate and equate patriotism with religion,” added Dayal, who is secretary general of the All India Christian Council and a former president of the All India Catholic Union.
In a complaint filed to police in New Delhi, Dayal stated that he has frequently been the subject of online abuse. “I regularly receive threats to my life and liberty and live under constant fear,” he said in his statement. “Previously I made complaints to the concerned authorities, however, no action has been taken.”
Dayal said this campaign of abuse has been directed at the broader Christian community. “There appears to be a deliberate and concerted attempt to prejudice religious harmony and hurt the sentiments of the Christian community and other Indians as well,” he said. A delegation including the spokesman of the Archdiocese of Delhi was scheduled to meet with the Delhi police commissioner Sept. 14.