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.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Sangh Activists Save 300 Tribals from Fraudulent Conversion


Sangh Parivar outfits today continued their opposition to a Christian group's programme here this week, forcing the return of groups of people who came in two buses for the programme close on the heels of turning away nearly 300 tribals from Andhra Pradesh back home.

Two busloads of passengers who had arrived from different parts of Rajasthan to attend the two-day programme had to take shelter in a police station after being stopped by activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, a spokesman for the Emmanuel Mission said today.

In the programme, certificates to those who graduated in Bible courses ran by the mission's branches all over the country are to be presented.

The tribals from Andhra Pradesh, who came here on Saturday by train, have already left for their home after allegedly being turned back by the Parivar activists.

The administration and police officials claimed that those who returned home were Hindus and made statements before police that they were brought here for sight-seeing and the promise of monthly pension if they attended the programme.

However, Chairman of the Emmanuel Mission Committee charged the police and adminstration officials with forcing the two groups to go back by "fabricating" their statements.

The saffron activists lodged a FIR against Christian mission on Saturday at Bhimganj Mandi police station for bringing Hindus from other parts of the country for "conversion" during the two day programme.

But Mission Chairman M A Thomas claimed that all those arriving here to take part in programme were Christians.

Police officials, however, said that situation was completely peaceful and about 1,500 people had arrived in the town for attending the function being organised by the mission.

Meanwhile, a committee of four officials from Social Welfare Department, has arrived here from Jaipur to probe the allegations that people were being brought by "allurement" for their conversion into Christianity.

The probe was ordered by Social Welfare Minister Madan Dilawar who had said government will take stern action against those indulging in religious conversion after receipt of report from officials.

Official sources said the Mission "failed" to inform well in advance about the holding of the programme and expecting large number of people from other parts of the country. However, Thomas said the district administration was informed in writing on January 19.

Additional District Magistrate K K Sharma said, in their statements the visitors from Andhra Pradesh reported that they were Hindus and they had been brought by a real estate agent Sharad and wife of one Babu Rao incharge of Emmanuel Mission in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh, promising them Rs 250 per month pension each and a cycle as a gift if they attended a two day function in Kota.

Denying the allegation that a group of 295 people was forcibly sent back, Collector Tanmay Kumar said the visitors returned on their own after coming to know about the Bible graduation function.

Only after saturday incident when activists of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena "gheraoed" the batch from Andhra Pradesh at the railway station and brought to the notice of the police, the Mission authorities sought security arrangements for the function, he said.

Incharge of Bhimganj Mandi police station Man Singh said two cross-FIRs had been registered on the incident.

While a saffron activist complained against bringing of Hindus for forcible religious conversion under scetion 505, 505(2) and 511 of IPC, drivers of the Mission buses lodged complaint against Parivar activists under sections 145, 147 and 341 of IPC that they were beaten up by them.

Refuting the allegation of conversion Thomas told PT I that many in the group from Andhra Pradesh were trained Bible teachers who were to get certificates of graduation during the two-day fucntion here.

He charged police and administrative officials with forcing "illiterate and innocent" persons to make whatever statements they wanted.

"Why should we bring Hindus to BJP-ruled state from Andhra Pradesh, where the Chief Minister himself is a Christian, for conversion as it would have been easier for us to do so there," he asked.

When asked about the criminal cases registered against him in the past, including the one for alleged conversion of children, he said they were all fabricated cases.

Thomas alleged that a group of 22 people coming to Kota by bus were beaten up by anti-social elements and taken to Nayapura police station.

He said about 6,000 people were likely to participate in the function being held annually for the last 31 years.


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