Conversions at the root of carnage | india | Hindustan Times
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Conversions at the root of carnage

india Updated: Aug 27, 2008 23:13 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

The growing chasm between the Church and the Sangh Parivar is one of the factors instrumental in igniting communal flare-ups in Orissa. Religious conversions apart, job reservations for Scheduled Castes who embrace Christianity (which is forbidden under the law) and domination over rural businesses has fuelled the tension.

People in several areas of the state have been embracing Christianity since the days of the British rule. But conversion was not considered a problem till counter-movements began either to stop them or to re-convert Christians to Hinduism.

In 1966, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati moved to Chakapada in Kandhamal district and started his anti-conversion campaign and a year later, the government enacted the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA) to attach several conditions to provide legal sanctions to certain conversions and declare others illegal.

The Sangh Parivar’s main grouse is that the Church and missionaries are doing “illegal conversions” by violating the OFRA. Church leaders have, however, denied this saying people have voluntarily embraced Christianity without inducements. SCs who convert to Christianity cannot enjoy job reservations, but in the recent past Pana (SC) Christians, especially in Kandhamal district, were trying to get ST status so they can continue to get quota benefits.

Reason: Unlike SC Christians, converted tribals enjoy quota benefits.

Subas Chavan, national co-convenor of the Bajrang Dal told HT: “Several SC Christians are falsely identifying themselves as Hindu SCs and getting job reservation benefits. They are preventing Hindu SCs from getting jobs.”