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, December 31, 2005

Christian Aggression in Peraiyur (Tamil Nadu)

Publication: Media Center, Chennai
Date: April 15, 2003

Peraiyur village in Madurai District is undergoing a silent transformation into Christianity and Islam under the guise of 'religious harmony'. Out of a total population of about 20,000, Christians and Muslims are negligible. About 1200 [Hindu] Harijans live in the centre of the village.

About 5 years ago, a church was built amongst great opposition by the villagers, in the street in which these [Hindu] Harijans were living. Now the church administration is raising a compound wall around the church, demolishing the houses in between the wall and the church. [A missionary priest called] Father Charles is forcing the people here to cut the Pipal Tree and to remove the [deity] of Muniappasamy from the temple nearby.

Construction of [the church] wall was stopped thanks to the intercession of the Tahsildar and the District Collector. However Charles, with the connivance of the Sub Inspector of Police, Veer Netaji (?) threatened the public and proceeded with the construction of the wall.

An old resident of the village, Kaliammal (80) claims that the village was donated by the Zamindar to her grandfather who worked in the Zamin and they have been living there all these days; but in 1997, Usilampatti Father built the church saying that he was building a Noon Meal centre. When objected to this, [Charles] said that he was building a school for their children. Even after 5 years, no school has come up. Then [Charles] tempted the villagers to accept Rs.10,000/- each and get converted to Christianity, for which the villagers were not agreeable.

AIADMK party local branch Secretary, Sri Ramar says that the claims of the Father that the church existed for the past 55 years is not correct. In 1997, [Charles] obtained Patta [land ownership document] by dubious means with the connivance of Mr. Ibrahim, V.A.O. The previous V.A.O., Mr. Paulraj, a Christian, was advising Ramar to accept whatever cash was given and go away; or else, he will face problems. Keeping the good of the community in view, he did not accept the offer.

Patta [Number] 119/96-97 [thus] obtained by corrupt methods is only for 12 cents [12 parcels of land], but this Father [Charles] now claims 24 cents. When questioned, Father [Charles] is not able to show the valid documents for 24 cents. Instead, he tempts by offering cash to those who will relinquish their right within these 24 cents. Sri Ramar strongly feels that the Anti-Conversion Law enacted by the Chief Minister should be invoked to arrest this Father. Deva Francis, owner of a Nirmala Printing Press in Peraiyur is an accomplice to this Father [Charles].

Sri K. Kalidas (DMK party), President of the Peraiyur Panchayat questions why this Deva Francis is involving himself in this. What [Charles][possesses] is a false document made on Rs.10/- Stamp Paper and unregistered. If he were to have valid documents, he would have approached the court, but he could not now approach the court as the documents in his possession are false and fabricated. [Charles]' claim that the church has existed for the past 55 years is not correct as the village itself is only 40 years old. Father comes with the Govt. officials for compromise by offering cash. He says that he is not converting illegally and that he is baptising only with legal records.

Valid questions that remain unanswered are:
1. Why should Father [Charles] construct the wall after so many years?
2. Why should he come for talks to compromise?
3. How did the [number] of Christian families increase to 15 from 3 ?
4. Why did the Police harass the [Hindu] public instead of protecting them?

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