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.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Christian militants started 1998 violence in Gujarat

by Manoj Damor

A seven-year old newstory archived on sheds new light on the widespread involvement of Christian militants in starting anti-Hindu pogroms in the Dangs district of Gujarat in December 1998.

As an eyewitness and a Hindu tribal from the Dangs, it was plainly evident to me and the locals that as we Hindu tribals objected to blatant conversion activities and repeated violence by Christian missionaries, clashes broke out. The so-called mainstream media used this pretext to tarnish the reputation of the peace-loving Hindus. In December 2004, press reporters from 40 countries descended upon the Dangs and spread a misinformation campaign.

But the truth, as our elders say, can never be buried. Here are some excerpts from the news-story, which I reproduce below:

When a little-known organisation called the Hindu Jagran Manch decided to stage a rally at Ahwa, headquarters of the Dangs district in south Gujarat, on December 25 to protest against the mass conversion of Hindus to Christianity, nobody foresaw much trouble.

But, at noon, some 100 tribal Christians pelted stones at the rally. Christian [converts] from surrounding villages joined in and started abusing the rallyists and throwing stones at them.

Soon, the place became a battlefield with some 2,000 Christians ranged against 3,000 Hindus and stones flying all over.

Finally, the police used their batons and tear-gas to disperse the warring groups. But by then several people were injured. And a spark had been lit.

Next, a group of [heavily armed] tribal Christian [converts] turned their attention to a Hindu house, trying to break down the doors and windows. When they failed, they smashed a jeep parked outside.

They then ransacked the shop of Pradeep Sambhaji Patil, district president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

"The [Christians] were drunk and shouting anti-Hindu slogans," alleges Sanjay D Vyavahare, whose house was attacked. "They were [taunting us and] screaming, 'Hindu baahar niklo, Hinduonko maar do (Hindus come out. Kill the Hindus) and abusing our Gods. We were lucky the door didn't open, otherwise they would have killed us."

Says Poonam Vyavahare, his sister-in-law, "We support neither the BJP nor the VHP, but still they attacked us. We have never experienced these things here. Our house was the only one they attacked [as we are the only Hindu family living amongst Christian homes]."

The news spread like fire and soon Hindus started congregating and [retaliated strongly by] attacking Christian institutions in and around Ahwa.

Says Sunil Choudhary, local Bajrang Dal [President], "There were hardly any Christians in the district 20 years ago. But today almost every village has 10 per cent Christians. This is only because these missionaries convert poor [Hindus] by force or greed."

Choudhary sees the attack on the Hindu rally as a warning to all Hindus that "these [Christian] missionaries are going to change our Hindu sanskriti (culture). But we will not let them."

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