Christmas Season Brings Christianity under Renewed Attack in India

Violence, arrests and Hindu extremist ‘reconversion’ events bring tensions.

Somnath Temple in Gujarat, India. (Wikipedia)

Somnath Temple in Gujarat, India. (Wikipedia)

NEW DELHI (Morning Star News) – Christmas-related anti-Christian violence and harassment have begun as Hindu extremists undertake an aggressive effort to “reconvert” tribal people to Hinduism, sources said.

Police arrested and Hindu extremists attacked Christians in three Christmas-related incident in three states the past two weeks.

“Christians in India are apprehensive of having a peaceful Christmas amid this wave of attacks as the right-wing groups are also becoming more aggressive in their mass conversion program that is taking place in different parts of India,” the Rev. Bhupendra Kohra, a church leader in central India, told Morning Star News. “We are fearful but we are praying.”

Police on Wednesday (Dec. 17) arrested 16 Christians, including four women, as they celebrated Christmas in Navipur, Pipraich, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, Liris Thomas of Alliance Defending Freedom-India (ADF-India) told Morning Star News.

“They were taken to the police station at about 10 a.m., and they were detained till 3:30 a.m. the next morning,” Thomas said.

All the Christians except Pastor Amit Kumar were released without charges, with the pastor being held for “disturbing the peace” and his belongs confiscated, Thomas said.

In Andhra Pradesh, Hindu extremists on Dec. 13 attacked pastor Bhimudu Nayak and members of the Banjara Baptist Church at about midnight as they were singings carols, seriously injuring Pastor Nayak and five others in Singareny, Hyderabad, area church leader and Evangelical Fellowship of India representative T. Monohar told Morning Star News.

“About 15 people suddenly came up against the carol team, accused them of forceful conversion and started to beat them up,” Monohar said. “The pastor was beaten unconscious and rushed to the hospital along with five other Christians.”

In Madhya Pradesh state, Hindu extremists on Dec. 9 beat pastor Paltu Ahirwar and another Christian from Blessing Youth Mission as they were returning home to Bamnora village, in Chattarpur District. The Global Council of Indian Christians reported that the extremists were furious that the Christians were conducting a Christmas program in their village.

Ghar Vapsi

In the widespread Ghar Vapsi (“homecoming”) campaign launched this month by Hindu extremists, the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council) allegedly “reconverted” about 30 impoverished tribal Christians to Hinduism in Kerala state in a five hour-ceremony on Sunday (Dec. 21) in Alappuzha District, The Hindu reported.

The reconversion campaign is predicated on the Hindu nationalist belief that being born in India makes one a Hindu, and therefore anyone of a different faith must be “reconverted,” thus returning them “home” to their national religious identity. The unit president of the VHP, Pratap G. Padikkal, claimed that eight families from a Pentecostal church came forward voluntarily for conversion and that another 150 families expressed interest in conversion to Hinduism.

The converted families were not traceable, as the local VHP leaders had moved them to another location, The Hindu reported, noting that more than 200 Christians were also “reconverted” at Aranai village in the Valsad District of Gujarat.

Similarly, in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, 57 Muslim families on Dec. 8 were “reconverted” to Hinduism in a mass conversion ceremony jointly organized by the Dharma Jagran Samanvav Vibhag, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bajrang Dal, according to The Times of India.

“RSS people assured us that they will provide us a better place to live, better food and schooling for my grandsons,” Sufia Begum, 76, told The Times.

Some participants reportedly said they were lured to the reconversion event with the promise of voter identification, proof of address and government ration cards, while others said they were not aware that the ritual was one of conversion and that they still considered themselves Muslims.

“Any coercion or threats should be swiftly dealt with under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code,” attorney Tehmina Arora of ADF-India told Morning Star News.

The Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission has stated that the Agra “reconversion” event was an “act of fraud.”

Hindu extremists had pledged to hold a massive reconversion event in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh state, on Christmas Day in which 5,000 Christians and Muslims would be “brought back to the Hindu fold.” Rajeshwar Singh, head of a wing of the RSS known as the Dharm Jagran Samiti, reportedly said Christmas was chosen as the day of the event as a Shakti Parish or “test of strength” between religions.

At press time the planned event appeared to have been postponed after the RSS came under government pressure.

These and other reconversion events raised sharp protests in parliament, with the opposition demanding on Dec. 10 that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which has links to Hindu extremist groups, respond to the reconversion events and address the issue of fraudulent “reconversions.”

“The House and the country need reassurance that the constitution will not be violated,” Congress party leader Anand Sharma said, according to The Times of India.

In Chhattisgarh, about 33 members of 10 tribal Christian families were “reconverted” to Hinduism on Oct. 9 at Kunkuda, Bastar town, Jagdalpur, ADF-India reported. In the same area, the VHP demanded that Hindu idol Ma Saraswati should be installed in 22 schools run by Catholic missionaries, and the lead priest should be addressed only as “Sir” and not “Father.”

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Comments

  1. Is there a lasting solution for religious re-conversion?

    It is a paradox that the so-called non-Hindus are being reconverted to Hinduism. The following facts deserve consideration of all Indians to solve the perpetual problem of India:

    • The Supreme Court of India, in an election petition case in 1995-96 in Maharashtra has ruled that Hinduism (i.e. Hindutva in Hindi) is not a religion but only a way of life.That ruling of the Supreme Court is the law of the land now.The Sangh Parivars also proclaim that Hinduism is not a religion;. If so, to which religion are the Sangh Parivars reconverting the Christians and Muslims? Under which law of the Land the Arya- Samajist Brahmin priests are empowered to reconvert non-Hindus?

    • Before the Aryan Brahmin priests surfaced in India, there were the non-Aryan priests and non-Aryan Vedas in non-Sanskrit languages. Non-Sanskrit Vedas were written in the non-Sanskrit mother tongues of the Children of the soil of India. Sanskrit is not the mother tongue of any Indian. To spiritually enlighten the people, the texts should be in the mother tongues of the people.

    • If this process of ‘homecoming’ to one’s previous religion is to be objectively followed, who can stop the 90% non-Aryan majority (BC (52%)/SC(15%)/ST(7%) and religious minorities 16%) of India, from reconverting those who are now being ‘reconverted’? The non-Aryan religions are the real religions of Sindhusthan. Veer Savarkar rightly calls India as Sindhusthan and not Hindusthan. It is the European colonizers who renamed Sindhusthan as Hindusthan and India!

    • Moreover, before reconverting non-hindus to their previous religions, is it not the duty of the law makers of India to enable the Indian Constitution to clarify to the Indian citizens as to:

    (i) what is Hinduism i.e. Hindutva (in Hindi)
    (ii) Who is a Hindu?
    (iii) What is Hindu religion?
    (iv) Which are the Hindu scriptures and what are their roots?

    • As elucidated by the Supreme court, if Hindutva is only a way of life, is it not true that it is the way of life of the Aryan priestly class who enforce casteism, and not the way of life of the non-Aryan Sindhusthanis, i.e., the so-called Sudra- Panchama- Adivasi majority, the founders of the great, ancient , pre-Aryan Indus valley civilization, who were casteless?

    • From the media, we learn that the low caste non-hindus who return to their previous religion, could choose any caste of their choice. On that pre-condition for reconversion, can the re-converted panchama or Sudra Christian/Muslim be accepted into the Brahmin caste and become a Shankaracharya? If the answer is yes, does it not mean (i) that varnashrama dharma was not a divine dispensation; but only a human manipulation and (ii) that during the past centuries, the ancestors of these unfortunate children of the soil ( BC/SC/ST) were cruelly deprived of their socio-spiritual equal rights ?

    • As a corollary, why the children of the soil should be asked to get reconverted as Hindus in order to get a caste trap to which their Sindhusthani ancestors never belonged? The Sangh Parivars are converting non-Hindu Europeans and Americans as Hindus. To which castes are those Europeans and Americans admitted? For European Hindus and American Hindus if casteism is not essential, why should it be imposed in Sindhusthan, i.e. India which was once casteless?

    Question: What is the lasting solution for
    problems arising out of
    conversion and reconversion?

    Answer: (A) Abolish casteism by law.

    (i) The Indian govt. has abolished untouchability by law.It is a self deceiving law
    of hypocrisy. We know that untoucheability is the puss oozing out of the cancer of casteism. By the anti-untouchability Act, we are only wiping off the puss of untoucheability, while retaining the cancer of casteism which will continue to ooze puss. If we are honest, we should take the logical measure of abolition of casteism by law.

    (ii) Also, Caste is socio-economic capital in India. Higher is one’s caste, higher is his socio-economic potential. Lower is one’s caste, lower is his socio-economic potential. Democracy offers socio-economic equality. On this count also casteism should be abolished by law. )

    (B) Concurrent with abolition of
    Casteism by law,implement positive
    discriminatory empowerment-cum-
    welfare measures to uplift all those
    who are socio-economically weak.

    A real Challenge to Indians

    Do the Political parties, NGO-s, and the religious institutions of 21st century India have the enlightenment and guts to mobilize public opinion and bring lasting peace and prosperity to all Indians?

    Jai Sindhusthan!

    s

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