The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Saturday, July 15, 2000

ISI twin plan: Attack Christians, defame Hindu

Author: Bharti Jain
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: July 15, 2000

DEENDAR Anjuman, the organisation that masterminded the recent blasts in the churches of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Goa and distributed pamphlets designed to turn the attention to Hindu outfits, is headed by a Pakistani national.

Zia ul Hassan - chief of the little-known sect called Deendar Anjuman with bases in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra - is the son of Hazrat Maulana Siddique Deendar alias Chinna Basaveswar who founded the outfit in 1936, according to sources in the Union home ministry.

Hassan is known to visit the country once a year for the Urs of his father. In Pakistan, he has set up the Jamaat Hizbollah Mujahideen with offices in Mardan, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi and Sargodha.

That the Anjuman could be working as part of an ISI-sponsored conspiracy to cause destabilisation is further corroborated by the involvement of its members in incidents of desecration of B R Ambedkar's statues in Maharashtra in 1995. Defiling of the statues had led to tension between Dalits and caste Hindus in the state.

Another worrisome feature of the Anjuman is its suspected links with the Lashkar-e-Toiba, one of the most dreaded terrorist organisations operating in Jammu and Kashmir. LeT is known for its faith in low-powered explosives, the types of which were used by Anjuman in the church blasts.

Made of potassium chlorate or gelatin, the explosives are designed to create terror without causing heavy casualties which could invite swift retribution from the authorities.

The LeT, suspected by the MHA of supplying the crude bombs used in the church blasts, is a Sunni Wahabi organisation wedded to the doctrine of Jehad. It was all set to be put on the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations but escaped due to reasons which baffled the MHA no end.

Joint investigations by the Intelligence Bureau and the police in Karnataka, Goa and Andhra Pradesh into the church blasts first achieved a breakthrough with the arrest of Ibrahim following a van blast outside the St Paul and Peter Church in Bangalore.

The other two occupants of the Maruti van, Mohammed Fida alias Rehaman Siddique and Zakir, died on the spot. Zakir had earlier been arrested in August 1995 by the Maharashtra police for attempting to create caste tension by defiling the statue of Dr Ambedkar.

Zakir had visited Pakistan in September 1992 along with seven other Anjuman members. They were given six weeks' extension of visa in Pakistan and visited Karachi and other places for which they did not initially have permission.

Confessions by the lone survivor of the van blast, Ibrahim, revealed that he had visited Goa in March and May 2000 to purchase the van.

Pamphlets warning the Christian missionaries to quit India and other anti-Christian literature was seized from inside the van, the Bangalore residence of Ibrahim and from the Vijaywada office of Deendar Anjuman.

Interestingly, of the anti-Christian literature recovered from the Anjuman, a booklet was never circulated. The booklet denounces Christianity as paganism and defames Jesus Christ and the Bible.

It has been published by the Saudi Arabia-based World Assembly of Muslim Youth. This, however, was kept out of circulation. The accused instead chose to distribute two pamphlets bearing the inscription `Om'.

The investigators are convinced that the motive of the Islamic outfit was to turn the attention to Hindu outfits which have campaigned against conversion by missionaries. Both the `Om-marked' pamphlets warn that missionaries would be forced to quit the country if they did not stop converting people to Christianity.

The clear signs of involvement of a Muslim fundamentalist organisation in the recent church blasts would come as a respite for the BJP government.

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