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.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Missionaries target Himalayan culture

Publication: Organiser
Date: October 5, 2003

Parents of students in different schools and colleges of Uttaranchal were recently shocked to see objectionable religious literature in the hands of their children. The literature criticizing Hindu deities and glorifying Christian saints was freely distributed in all the schools of the state capital Dehradun and adjoining areas. Every school was provided with the literature as per the number of students in the school and interestingly the schools' authorities without going through the contents of the literature, allowed its distribution among their students that created a controversy in the State. Interestingly the literature, which is in a multi-colour book form called-Asha ki pustak (Book of hope) and meant only for adults, was being distributed among the school children who are just 15 to 16 years old. Protesting strongly against the move, various Hindu organisations have termed it as the conspiracy of Christian Missionaries to turn Uttaranchal into a Christian land. Several BJP and Arya Samaj workers collected the bundles of the booklets from schools and colleges and reportedly burnt them. The booklet has been published by the Book of the Hope International, USA.

According to reports received from different parts of the State the distribution of the books continued. On the other hand, protest has spread in all nook and corner of the State. Workers of RSS, VEP, Arya Samaj, BJP and Bajrang Dal went to schools and colleges and protested against the distribution of this hatred literature by Christian Missionaries. They alleged that the schools and colleges were being made centres for propagating Christianity. Ten to fifteen bundles of books, each bundle has more than one thousand books, have been given to each school and college for distribution. Having seen the protest, several principals of the schools and colleges have stopped the distribution of the books.

The book has disturbed the communal harmony of the State and if not banned immediately it will strike the note of discordance in the State. Investigation by this correspondent found that the books were distributed in a pre-planned manner. Several pro-Christian schools were first taken into confidence and then the books were distributed. It is to be mentioned here that Uttaranchal has internationally known educational institutions and the number of schools in the State is more than in other states. Children from all over the country come for education here. By targeting the educational institutions the Missionaries have hit the brains of the small children. Investigations are on whether the school authorities were paid any amount before handing over them such objectionable literature. The literature casts aspersions and damaging remarks against other religions. This literature, kept in big ten boxes was found being circulated in Doiwala block, Public Inter Colleges, Government Inter Colleges, Majra and Ranipokhri. Ten such boxes containing the literature were recovered from the Public Inter College, Majra, by the persons who were reacting to the remarks contained in these boxes.

People of the State want immediate enquiry into such activities as to who published this literature and what is the motive behind it? People feel it an international conspiracy aimed to create ill feelings and disturbances in the State to break its solidarity. It needs to be curbed with an iron hand.

The State BJP unit has termed it as an act of corrupting the culture of the Himalayan region. Talking to Organiser in Dehradun, the State BJP president, Manohar Kant Dhyani said that non-Hindu elements were responsible for spreading the polluted culture in the region. "For several centuries, this region has been the cradle of Hinduism, but in the past decades non-Hindu elements are trying to spread polluted culture, which is alien to our traditional culture. This incident is a result of the growing influence of the polluted culture," Shri Dhyani termed it a threat to all Himalayan States. He urged the State Government to put restrictions on the activities of Christian missionaries in the region. "Christians have a right to preach and propagate their religion, but we would not tolerate the use of schools and colleges to distribute books that contain objectionable literature meant specially for adults," he said.

Meanwhile talking to Organsier Uttaranchal Madhyamik Sikshak Sangh President, Sohan Gupta announced to fight with those spreading hatred in the State. He said the teachers would not allow the distribution of such objectionable literature in schools and colleges of Uttaranchal.

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