BANGALORE: With many of their brethren facing persecution in Iran and Egypt, the Bahai community in Karnataka has appealed for the release of seven Bahai leaders and hundreds of others in Iran who have been imprisoned for the last six years. The Local Spiritual Assembly, which recently met in the city, urged the Indian Government to live up to its international human rights obligations. Speaking to Express, representatives of the Bahai community, with more than two and half million followers in India, questioned why the Iranian government was worried about the minority group of defenseless and educated people when they did not carry guns or grenades. There are millions of Indian Bahais and they are worried about their brethren who are being systematically wiped out over the years. The community members also said they can’t close their eyes to such inhuman treatment meted out to their people. For six generations, his family members have been followers of this faith and Dr A J Ansari, a dermatologist who had settled down in Bangalore from Dubai said in the country of its origin, Iran and now in Egypt, they were being targeted, identified, slapped and spat upon in schools while being barred from college education and ultimately arrested for no reason. “Our graveyards have been flattened and temples destroyed. They want to keep us as weak as possible,” he said. Recently, the Spiritual Assembly of Bahais elected nine members in Bangalore and one of them, Charan Appacha said: “We have appealed to the United Nations and launched a countrywide campaign on the incarceration of our leaders for the past six years. In many districts of Karnataka including Mandya, Mysore, Belgaum, Hubli and Dakshina Kannada where we have large followers, mass gatherings and special prayer services were held in many villages and towns.” On the other hand, Nandita, a graphic designer who adopted the faith at the age of 15, said: “I grew up as a Bahai. However, there was no blind following of the faith. I studied the religion, explored it and finally made my own decision to follow it. I have never faced any discrimination, however, people are curious about our faith and try to elicit more information.” The Bahai faith was first introduced in Karnataka as far back as 1942. Today, the faith has grown leaps and bounds, as many communities (like the Vokkaligas and Lingayats) in the heartland of the Cauvery, especially in Mandya and Mysore region, have adopted this faith. Apart from prayer meetings, classes on Bahai studies, group discussions on the teachings of Bahai faith on a regular basis, youth empowerment camps and medical camps have been held in Mandya, Ramanagaram, Anekal, Chandapura and other places.
WHAT IS BAHAI FAITH?
Stressing on the spiritual unity of the human race, the Bahai faith was founded by Baha’ullah in 19th-century Persia. With humanity still in the process of evolution, the religion believes in the need for a gradual establishment of peace, justice and unity on a global scale, however, suiting the present times.