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.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Missionaries held for firing at Hindus who oppossed conversion

9/23/2006 6:22:44 AM www.indianexpress.com

6 held for firing at mob after attempted conversion

Dahod:Barely a day after the Freedom of Religion (Amendment) Bill, 2006, was cleared by the Gujarat state assembly, an incident of attempted forcible conversion among tribals of Dahod district was reported. Six people, supposedly missionaries, were arrested by the Devgarh Baria police on Thursday evening following allegations that they had fired at a mob which allegedly heckled them while they were visiting a member of the mission in Diviya village.

The incident was reported by Diviya village resident Kanji Nayak, supposedly after the 'missionaries' fired three rounds at villagers. In his police complaint, Nayak said that he had seen seven men and a woman just outside the village on Thursday. On inquiry, Nayak was told that they were representatives of the missionary church. ''The group allegedly tried to convince a small band of people that Hindu gods and godesses are no good and tribal brothers should adopt Christianity as a faith. It is reported that certain benefits like food, repairs of huts, and free education to children were also offered,'' said Devgarh Baria police sub-inspector R M Parmar.

The eight reportedly attracted a crowd when they started propagating Christianity. On facing opposition from the complainant and a few others, one of the accused, Dashrath Bilban, reportedly took out a contrymade pistol and fired three rounds at the fleeing mob. No one has been reported injured following the incident.

The police have recovered a used cartridge shell from the alleged incident site, along with a few copies of the Bible and some leaflets purpotedly published by a little-known Protestant group 'Indian Missionary Society'. After the alleged firing, the group is said to have fled on two motorcycles in two different directions. The villagers reported the incident to the police, complete with the name and addresses of all the accused. On Thursday itself, the Devgarh Baria police conducted a search operation and six of the accused were arrested from Raniar, Kariarai and Chainpur villages around Limkheda. All the accused had claimed allegiance to a church based in Wankhdi village, about two kilometers from Limkheda.

''No weapon could be recovered following the incident. The accused have stated that they had gone to visit a woman associated with the same church who was ill. They claimed that on their way back, they were threatened and hounded out of the village by the complainant and some others with little or no provocation,'' said Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dahod), N B Munia. All the accused were produced at a Dahod court on Thursday. The police have submitted a remand plea for 14 days for the accused, to interrogate them about the weapon used in the fiasco.

One of the women was learnt to be a member of woman's welfare organisation 'Anandi' operating from Devgarh Baria. Refuting claims that they were trying to propagate Christainity through their volunteers, a spokesperson of the organisation said, ''We provide identity cards to most of our volunteers who are part of our women's self-help group network. Some of them are also Christians.''

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