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, April 17, 2007

Alluring to convert Sriganganagar episode exposes a Christian plot

By Lokpal Sethi in Jaipur

The police recovered two mobiles and a laptop, along with missionary literature from the possession of two missionaries. The entry in the laptop revealed the real purpose of their visit to Agrasen Nagar. Both of them had arrived there from Moga in Punjab and were in touch with some new converts.

A recent incident in agriculturally rich Sriganganagar district has exposed the claim of the Church and its missionaries that they are not luring the innocent people to Christianity by offering them bribes and promising jobs.

The two Christian missionaries received thrashings from the angry crowd, which had come to know their purpose of visiting the town, which is close to Punjab and also the international border with Pakistan.

The police, which were ignorant of activities of Christian missionaries in this part of Rajasthan, have now put them behind the bars. According to intelligence sleuths, of late, these missionaries are trying to shift their base in these areas as they are facing stiff resistance from the people in Vanvasi areas, where they had earlier established their strong base to carry out their conversion activities.

The details of the incident revealed that these missionaries were equipped with the latest caste-wise population details of the area and their aim was to select a particular section of the society to lure them to Christianity.

On March 23, two middle-aged missionaries, one Jacob Thomas (from Mumbai) and the other Phillip from Noida, landed in the city early in the morning. They straightaway went to the Indira Colony and held a prayer meeting at the house of a newly convert. Later with the help of this neo-convert, both moved in the locality. They were speaking derogatory language against Hindu religion and its gods. They were also telling the poor residents in the locality that they would be benefited in many ways and would also receive cash rewards, if they embrace Christianity, which is a modern religion and not orthodox like Hinduism.

Late in the afternoon, they were seen moving in another colony—Agrasen Nagar. Meanwhile, the word had spread that some Christians are moving in the town to spread the message of Christ. A group of alert people, belonging to Hindu organisations, surrounded them near the Shani Temple and there they were exposed of their nefarious design. Later, police was informed and they took both of them to a nearby police station. A case, under 295 of IPC, was registered against them. The police recovered two mobiles and a laptop, along with missionary literature from their possession. The entry in the laptop revealed the real purpose of their visit to the place. Both of them had arrived there from Moga in Punjab and were in touch with some new converts.

For years, Kota was the major centre of Emmanuel Mission International (EMI) founded by one Samuel Thomas, a Christian missionary from Kerala. Later, his son Dr. M.A. Thomas became its head. The EMI is running a number of educational and other institutions. Last year, a complaint was lodged against Dr. Thomas and some others of EMI saying that they were indulging in religious conversion. After an inquiry, these allegations were found true. It was also revealed that EMI was getting foreign funds in violation of the act.

The government superseded the management and took over the management in its own hands by appointing an administrator. This was challenged by Dr. Thomas in the court but he lost the case. But later a double bench admitted his petition and gave judgment in the favour of Dr. Thomas. The government has further challenged the judgment.

These cases and banning of the controversial book Haqeeqat, containing several derogatory remarks against Hindu gods, had dampened the spirit of the Christian originations.

The Vanvasi-dominated districts of Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand, Banswara and Partapgarh are the other areas, where Christian missionaries were arriving in big numbers as they found that it was easy to lure innocent Vanvasis to Christianity. They told the Vanvasis that they were not part of Hinduism and have religious identity of their own.

Till few years back, these missionaries, who had lot of funds at their disposal, were succeeding in their acts, though in a limited way, to attract the Vanvasis to Christianity. But with the arrival of Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad in the area, they are facing a stiff resistance from the people. The Parishad, in the last week of February, organised a massive Rashtra Shakti Sammelan of Vanvasis in Udaipur. The Parishad is working under the devoted team of RSS Pracharaks and its functionaries, who are determined to put a stop to these activities of the missionaries in this area, as it was slowly turning a gracing ground for these missionary organistions.

Now Vanvasi Kala Parishad Ashram as launched mass contact programmes in Jaipur and other cities to collect funds from common people. The funds would be used in putting up hostels, schools and astha kendras in the Vanvasi area for the uplift of Vanvasis and also to spread the message that they are very much part of the larger Hindu parivar.

According to Narsimha Bhatt, state president of the organisation, the total population of Vanvasis in the state is around 85 lakh and Ashram has set an target to reach all of them in the next few years.

According to intelligence sources, the strategy of these Hindu organisation has forced these Christian missionaries to search new places to carry out their activities. Sriganganagar and the adjoining areas are their first target in this regard.

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