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.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Unraveling the christist conspiracy in the muder of Swami Laxmananda Saraswati

From: S. Kalyanaraman
Date: Sat, Aug 30, 2008 at 9:33 AM
-- Ashok Sahu, IPS

Murder of Mahatma by the Church in orissa

By Ashok Sahu, IPS (Retd.)
Former Addl. Director General of Police.

On the 23rd August, while doing pooja on Janmasthami, the most sacred day for Hindus, militant Christians entered into the Ashram premises at about 8.00 p.m. and pumped bullets from an AK-47 assault rifle on the frail body of an 84 years old Swamijee (Vedanta Keshari Swami Laxanananda Saraswati) at Jalespata Vanabashi Kanyashram in Kondhmal District of Orissa. After killing him brutally the Christian assailants have cut various parts of Swamijee’s body by chisel and axe, it appears. Along with him others who tried to rescue Swamijee got killed are Sadhwi Bhakti Mata who was in over all charge of the Kalyan Ashram, Kishore Baba, Amritanand Baba and a visitor guardian of an inmate of the school. The dead body of Matajee was also defiled by cut injuries which was most brutish and nasty.

Swamijee had received a threatening letter which he could read only the previous evening on his return from routine tour for religious preaching. He had sought security from the local police against imminent danger to his life by a written prayer to the authorities including the District Magistrate on 23rd August. The media had broadcast on apprehensions to his life during morning news bulletins on the very fateful 23rd August.

Hardly one month back, at Tumudibandh, two kilometers from his Jalespata Ashram, there was armed attack by a group of Christians when he was protesting against Cow-slaughter in the area. In the violence one of his disciples Madhu Baba had sustained fatal cut injuries. Following the incident the State Government had deployed one platoon of armed CRPF personnel to guard his Ashram round the clock. Swamijee, in addition to these arrangements, had an armed security person to protect him during his tours who was mysteriously absent at the time of attack.

It may be mentioned that the personal security man Bhubaneswar Jani who was replaced by an emaciated, cowardice constable by the local S.P. only five days prior to the attack, was serving Swamijee for more than 10 months most sincerely jeopadising his own life. During armed attack by militant Christians on the 24th December 2007 at Daringbadi for which he was hospitalized along with Swamijee with fatal injuries. In that connection, though the Police has registered a case vide 83/07 u/s 147/148/353/323/324/307/426/149 IPC the culprits are still at large with impunity. Prior to this there were nine more attacks on Swamijee’s life and consistently the assailants were all recently converted Christians in the area. It is evident that the Catholic Church and the Baptist Church by conversion was gradually criminalizing the local youth. Few of them were also encouraged to join the Maoist group of terrorists which was proved by the way Bamunigaon Police Station was attacked and the subsequent raids in non-descript Sikarama village during December violence there, that led to recovery of more than 20 guns in a single tiny village.

What is surprising is that similar raids were not conducted in other villages where there is pillage of fire-arms. More suspicious is the withdrawal of the CRPF from the Ashram and replacing the PSO to the Swamijee only five days prior to the murderous attack on 23rd August. Danger to the life of Swamijee was mounting every day since the abortive attempt on his life in last December. According to reliable sources, there was a secret meeting on 9th August 2008 in the Community Centre at Raikia attended by activists representing Church based NGOs like the World Vision, Jana Kalyan Samiti, NISWAS, ASHA, Sahara, Palli Shree, Jana Vikash etc. who regularly receive huge funds from abroad. It was also attended by Nakul Nayak, former M.P. from the ruling BJD, Krushna Para Seth the former Block Chairman from Tumdibandh, Alfansoe Baliyar Singh a notorious militant Christian from Raikia, advocate Manas Singh who was to bring activists from Bamunigaon and Daringbadi in a vehicle specifically provided by Archbishop C.Raphel. It was resolved in the meeting to eliminate Swamijee who was ‘an insurmountable obstacle against conversion and cow-slaughter in the area’. Simultaneously, they felt that by philanthropic activities among the Kondh tribes in the District he was dissuading the vulnerable poor and illiterate tribe and Panas in the area from falling prey to the allurements and fraud by the Church authorities.

Sources reveal that on the 13th August a letter purportedly written by ‘Pahadia’ group of people was circulated addressed to the Swamijee that his life would not be spared, that too, within a week. Copies were supposed to be sent to the State Chief Minister, DGP, District Magistrate, District S.P. etc. besides the Swamijee and some other targets. A similar closed door meeting was reportedly held on 20th August in the Jana Kalyan Samiti at Jatani (Khurda) attended among others by Father Bijoy Nayak from Baliguda Church and Ajay Singh of Khurda, where it was decided to eliminate Swamijee, come what may. On the 23rd August night they succeeded in killing him as per their planned conspiracy.

The government had clear knowledge and the authorities had detailed information, but instead of reinforcing the security arrangements, it appears that they colluded with the killers. What has failed to convince is the glaring gap in alacrity with which the Orissa Police had rounded up 63 suspects in Graham Staines murder case within 24 hours of the alleged murder and their utter failure to arrest even a single culprit even after four days of the murder of Swamijee. People of Orissa expressed their ire against the government during the dawn to dusk bundh in the most unprecedented manner for the government attributed this murder to the Naxal Maoists within minutes of the incidents. They were reminded of the callousness of the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who had made a similar statement accusing the Maoists when DIG Jasvir Singh was killed but later it was revealed by subsequent investigation that the DIG was killed by his own PSO from Orissa Police. When there was prior information on danger to life of Swamijee, so much so that, the local TV channels trumpeted the whole day urging the government to save the Swamijee from imminent attack, the government apparently colluded with the killers and in order to prove his self-claimed ‘secular credentials’ the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is over active to safeguard the Christian minorities from the onslaught by the enraged Hindus whole over the State. Now the question is, why should the government first create a situation by a series of ‘omissions and commissions’ later in order to prove his ‘secular credentials’ try to protect the endangered minorities. There can not be a greater embarrassment for the ruling alliance BJP who can not escape the moral responsibility of being a party to these omissions and commissions on the part of the coalition government.

It is a ghastly incident and a challenge to the advocates of pseudo-secularism that the majorities are discriminated against, to keep the minorities appeased. The pseudo secularists have proved more Christian than Pope in upholding Christianity in India. The unprecedented response to the bundh called by Hindu organizations in Orissa indicated the shape of things to come. No government how powerful it may be can function with out the co-operation from the people. Peoples elected representatives in Orissa have legislated for the first time in independent India, the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 to prevent conversion by fraud, allurements, cheating, bribery and misrepresentation. It was challenged by all the Churches in the country in the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Bench of the apex court upheld its validity and said that right to propagate does not include right to convert.

Swamijee was only insisting that the Act should be strictly followed in the State. He came to Kondhmal District because there was utter poverty and illiteracy in the district with more than 70% of its population as tribals who are below the poverty line. He came there in 1967 and continued till his murder by Christians on 24th in August 2008.

Similarly, Orissa was the first to enact against cow-slaughter in 1964 as per Directive Principles in the Part-IV of the Constitution. Swamijee had made the motto of his life mission to make Orissa free of conversion as well as cow-slaughter. These two Acts legislated by Orissa Assembly reflect the sentiments of Orissa people for implementation by subsequent governments.

So long as these Acts are in the statute book, it is the constitutional responsibility of the government of the day to execute strictly. But the government has miserably failed. The government did not co-operate, rather criminally neglected in saving the life one man who preferred to lay down his life for the common cause.

The Church supposed to preach The Gospels, ironically criminalizes the youth and with foreign funding indulges in conversion by-passing the law. Hindus in Orissa are not against any particular community or religion. They do not want any other religion to disturb their faith and social harmony by taking advantage of poverty and illiteracy in their society. Irate Hindus when, as a last resort react, at times, with violence; the advocates of ‘secularism’ cry for protection. Is it not time enough to stop conversion and cow-slaughter as a respect for the majority living in the country as a lasting measure to ensure peace and harmony in the society?

As this brutal murder is directly linked with the series of incidents right from December 2007, until and unless the State Police detects the right culprits and bring them to book with out further loss of time, peoples already shaken trust on the government can not be restored and peace in the civil society can not come back. Should the government at the centre and the state want a permanent solution to these types of communal repercussions in future, they must concentrate in stopping illegal conversion, put a check on the church based NGOs, stop cow-slaughter strictly in Orissa and manage the forest land and tribal land problems with tribal welfare as the sole yardstick. This would also serve as a fitting tribute to the departed soul of Swamijee who has immortalized himself by laying down his life on the altar of the motherland.

By Ashok Sahu, IPS (Retd.)
Former Addl. Director General of Police.

Christian Zealots and Swamiji Murder in Odisha

The Christianity as a faith is essentially based on the Love, Peace and the Truth as its basic tenets and central theme. But in the name of protecting Christianity, history of the world is colored many a times with human blood. During, before and after the Crusades, series of wars have been fought for peace, and extreme brutality has been perpetrated in the name of God. In India the conversion of Hindus was resorted to by the missionaries with direct patronage from the alien rulers with intent to bring about a permanent change in the mind set of Indians so that the Union Jack could fly permanently over Indian soil. But it was not that easy to change the Hindu mind set which is the product of centuries old particular way of living. Though, the missionaries realised that for Hindus living was more important than believing, still they pursued their efforts to convert them to Christianity by dividing their society into `depressed class' and `high-caste Hindus and Aryans' having come from out-side and the Dravids and the aborigines as `animists' . They set up schools to condition the young minds with distorted history. Still, they failed. Then they started having boarding schools and picked up children directly from poor and illiterate families particularly the so called `depressed classes' and the tribal people whom they termed as aborigines. Later, the missionary boarding schools manufactured clerics for furthering the missionary conversion among the down trodden.

The Portuguese missionaries were notorious for adopting duress and violence to proselytize the natives in Goa, Daman and Due. In the tribal districts of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal it was more by taking advantage of their abject poverty and illiteracy.In the North-East the hill tribes were again treated as `animists' like the African tribes and got converted `en masse' in the 1940s due to their basic ignorance. Between 1941 and 1947, 90% of the tribal population in the districts of Naga hills, Mizo Hills, Khasi Hills and the Garo Hills were converted to Christianity and were tutored to secede from independent India by claiming that they never had any historical link with rest of India. Along with Christianity gun culture was also taught and Phizo from Naga Hills and Laldenga from Mizo Hills were given political asylum in the UK. The MNF and the NSCN had bloody fights with armed forces for decades. And, at last, the indigenous people realised that it was a Christian conspiracy to weaken India whose independence was to the detriment of the colonial interests of the UK.

The NSCN is notorious for running armed training camps along the Indo-Burmese border for all the armed secessionist outfits and also indulge in regular illegal Arms trafficking and Narcotic trade. The separatist groups in Manipur, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura were all trained by the NSCN factions operating from the Kachin border in Burma. The NSCN's demand for " `Nagalim' (Greater Nagaland) for Christ" is well known. Now they are trying to convert the Karbi and the Dimasha tribes in Assam on gun point. Because they have realised that unless the 34 major tribes are converted to Christianity they won't accept common leadership of Nagas. There is regular bloody war in the name of Christ in the Assam, Nagaland and Manipur areas in the North-East.

In Orissa, the Christian churches in the districts of Deogarh, Bargarh, Anugul, Koraput, Rayagada, Kondhmal and Gajapati have come into recent record for harbouring the armed Maoists and using them for conversion of poor villagers. It is evident during December riots in Kondhmal district when Bamunigaon police station was attacked by armed Christians and subsequent raid in Sikarama village helped in seizure of twenty guns with ammunitions. Particularly, the Pastors/clerics from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa operating in Orissa are using the Maoist activists who serve as a shield against reaction to forced conversion in the area. As a result, the number of crypto-Christians is more than those who are enumerated Christians in the demography figures of 2001. Some of the killers of Swamijee on the 23rd August 2008 incident are reportedly hiding in certain Churches under protection by the armed police from the State in Kalahandi district bordering Kondhmal. It is doubtful, whether the state police would be able to conduct a raid in to the precincts of the Church for the proclaimed `secular credentials' as stated by the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Against the known nexus between the Maoists and the Church, the reported involvement of one `Azad' from PLGA, the guerilla outfit of the terrorist group has come to surface after one week of the gruesome murder of Swami Laxanananda Saraswati, Sadhvi Bhaktimta and two others on 23rd August 2008. The interview to a local newspaper by `Azad' further strengthens the theory of close nexus between the Church and the terrorist out-fit in Orissa. But the fact remains that the way the attack on the Swamijee and the Ashram was conducted and the way the assailants retreated from the spot is the handy work of local Christian youth with borrowed weapons from the Maoist armory.

On 08/7/2008 there was attack on followers of Swamiji at Tumudibandh by an organized armed group when Madhubaba protested against cow-slaughter. Swamiji had decided to sit on fast-unto death from 22/7/2008 to mobilize public opinion through out the state in protest of government apathy in ensuring security against Christian zealots in the area. Recently, one front organization of the CPI (Maoist) called Loka Sangram Dalit Manch is busy in recruiting suitable tribal youth in the area for their guerilla outfit. Krishna Paraseth, Nakul Nayak, Hemant Nayak and Gajapati Mandal are some of the leading members of the new outfit. In this regard, the failure of the local police is directly proportionate to the future success of the out-fit in the area. The recent developments are only indications for the shape of things to emerge, and a signal to the governments at the Center and the State to prepare the future agenda, as how to deal with the role of Church and the spread of Maoist extremism in the state of Odisha.

Ashok Sahu, IPS (Retd.)

The Evangelical Project in Orissa

The Case against Proselytization »

As Kandhamal burns, the BJD-BJP coalition in Orissa is under severe strain. It should be obvious to even the most amateur of political observers that the murder of Swami Lakshmananda was a pre-emptive strike at unravelling this coalition. The unabated violence against Christians is not just unacceptable but is plain stupidity to provoke it for it only widens chasm between the BJD and the BJP ahead of the elections to hand over Orissa on a platter to the Congress. The Naveen Patnaik Administration and the BJP must realise the stakes are too high for the NDA to not contain the violence and to bring the perpetrators of the murdee and subsequent violence to justice.

Having said that the events in Orissa are symptomatic of a deeper malaise that needs to be fully understood. When violence had flared in Kandhamal during Christmas last yera Offstumped had pointed out that it was a feud over entitlements while highlighting the mischief mongering by the National Minorities Commission's fact finding team.

The bias in the NCM's investigation is clear from these remarks that find place in the official report.

The 1991 Census shows the Christians constituted 75597 of the population of Kandhmal district whereas in the 2001 Census their population had gone up to 117950. While the increase in population in percentage terms is substantial, there is no evidence whatsoever that this increase occurred under duress or on account of inducement to conversion. A stringent law regarding conversion the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act has been on the statute books for the past four decades. The NCM Members asked both district officials and senior officials in the State Secretariat whether any cases had been reported or filed with regard to infringement of this law over the past 10 years. Not one incident of forcible conversion was cited or adduced. We also inquired from the Church representatives whether they keep a register of conversions. Such a register is a routine practice at the time of baptism. The Church representatives confirmed that they indeed maintained such a register. But no one has apparently bothered to check it. In fact the Archbishop of Bhubaneshwar told the NCM team that neither he nor anyone in the Diocese was ever summoned by the authorities with regard to matters relating to conversion. From the above the NCM team has inferred that there is no basis whatsoever to justify the anti-conversion campaign. On the other hand, this mischievous campaign has created an atmosphere of prejudice and suspicion against the Christian community and Christian priests and organizations.

It is clear from the above that the NCM team did the bare minimum necessary to understand the social effects of evangelical activity in Orissa. But what is confounding is the arrogance of the NCM in concluding that there is "no basis" for what it calls an "anti-conversion" campaign.

Offstumped will now detail the Evangelical Project in Orissa and the foreign entities behind it.

To understand this Project better, Offstumped draws the attention of its readers to foreign evangelocal entities "World Encounter" and LCMC (a Lutheran Church Congregation). The LCMC has a quarterly newsletter and in its edition for the first quarter of 2007, the LCMC newsletter carried a detailed 1 page story focused on Orissa where it invited congregations in the U.S.A for what it called

For a life-transforming experience, join World Encounter, in association with LCMC, on a short term outreach to India October 5-22, 2007. Orissa Evangelical Fellowship (OEF), an LCMC association of churches in India, has invited congregations in the US to encourage them in their efforts to share the Good News with the unreached people of India.

What's interesting is why this project zeroed in on Orissa of all places, in its own words.

The people of Orissa are primarily tribal/animists and Hindus who worship spirits, trees, rocks, and other objects of nature. The heart of the OEF vision is focused on church planting, discipleship, and leadership…Groups of believers worship inhomes and thatch-roofed churches. In the midst of opposi-tion to the Gospel,they are committed to reaching their Hindu neighbors and families with the Good News that has transformed their lives .

This precisely is the problem in Orissa - aggressive proselytization with foreign funding and support thats invasive of people's privacy with a clear objective of "planting churches", expanding to "new villages" and evangelizing to "Hindu Neighbors".

This not about the practice of Christianity in Orissa.

This is about changing the social demographics and the fabric of society in poor rural pockets of Orissa, one village, one neighborhood at a time.

To appreciate how well prepared this Evangelical Project in its targetting of Orissa, consider this compilation of target Villages in Orissa by geo-cordinates.

To further appreciate the sophistication and subterfuge with which proselytization is conducted in Orissa in the post-Staines era read this blog post by a Brian Zahnd, founder and senior pastor of Word of Life Church, a 4,000 member congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri.

I was never allowed to sit on the platform and was never introduced as a preacher. P.G. would say that he and his wife, Lilly, and his daughter, Grace, were the preachers. They would get up, speak for five minutes, and then P.G. would say he had a friend he wanted to introduce and bring a "greeting." P.G. would introduce me as a friend bringing a greeting, and then as he handed me the microphone, he would whisper, "Preach for an hour and a half." We did this twice a day and every evening. So three times a day I would bring a 90 minute "greeting." I was told the police were wondering, "Who is this greeting man?" Because several thousand local people were coming at night, the evening meetings took on the tone of an evangelistic event. The last three nights I preached strong evangelistic messages.

The Orissa Government maintains a list of foreign contributions to NGOs in Orissa. The list is worth reading to appreciate how much money was pumped from International sources to further the evangelical project in Orissa during the earlier part of this decade - 2.3 crores to Orissa Fellowship Ministry, 12 crores for Cuttack Roman Catholic Diocese, 2.73 crore for Indian Evangelical Association, 1.4 crores for Brethren in Christ Church, 2.8crores for East India Mission, 4.4 crores for Joypore Evangelical Lutheran Church -- the list goes on.

Of all the digging up by Offstumped, this appeal for foreign funds by a Pastor from Orissa should take the cake, replete with address and details of Bank Accounts posted as a comment on a Christian Financial Ministries site, its funny and tragic at the same time.


Had the NCM been honest and objective in its fact finding it would have detailed out the influence of foreign sponsored Evangelical Activities. The fact that this kind of evangelical proselytization with the aid and support of foreign entities finds no mention in the NCM's report dents the NCM's credibility while ascribing all the blame to the VHP's so-called "anti-conversion" campaign.

Offstumped Bottomline: There is a critical distinction between the religious freedom of the Minority Community to practice its faith and the freedom to aggresively proselytize flush with funds and support by foreign entities. The former is a fundamental freedom enshrined in the Indian Constitution the latter is a privilege that has been abused to the detriment of the social fabric of poor rural communities. As Orissa picks up the pieces from this spate of violence the Evangelical Ministries would do well to reflect on the damage done by aggresive proselytization.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Home | Syndicate this site (XML) | Guestbook | Blogger
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors.
Everything else © 2005 The Conversion Agenda