Kandhamal: Flags of fear and protest | india | Hindustan Times
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Kandhamal: Flags of fear and protest

india Updated: Sep 27, 2008 23:45 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik
Soumyajit Pattnaik
Hindustan Times
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After the anti-Christian violence, Hindu proselytisers ‘facilitating’ Sanskara - reconversion - have come to the interior pockets of Kandhamal district.

And as a signal to the outside world that they have embraced Hinduism, villagers are hoisting saffron flags atop their homes. It’s a shield to protect themselves from further attacks.

At least, this is the picture Hindustan Times found in the Menia panchayat area in Kandhamal district, where 38 persons were reconverted into Hinduism on Friday.

Bisraba Diggal of Masapadar village, who had reconverted into Hinduism, said, “Yesterday, I opted for Sanskara and stayed in my village. We took a pledge that from Friday, we became Hindus again. As part of Sanskara, I tonsured my head and observed other religious rituals.”

When asked whether it was due to the threats, Diggal replied, “It was a voluntary decision.” But a local leader said, “People like Diggal have no option but to reconvert. By embracing Hinduism, they want to buy peace.”

Reconversions, done by an organisation called the Viswa Hindu Prasar, are being done in a systematic manner. In Menia panchayat, the Hindustan Times team saw a register in which the names of all the 38 people who came back into Hinduism were written along with their fathers’ names, addresses and details about their families.

Abhiram Kanhar, who identified himself as the coordinator of the Kandhamal chapter of the Viswa Hindu Prasar, said, “People are voluntarily deciding to reconvert. We are only facilitating the process. They just have to give an application to our president, stating their intentions to come back to the Hindu fold. After that, we organise Sanskara.”

However, some are still waiting for things to cool down so that they can return to their homes without reconverting. K.C. Diggal and his son Ajay, a class VIII student, have decided not to reconvert. K.C. Diggal said, “They are telling us to reconvert. But we don’t want to give up our religion. That's why we are still here in the relief camp.”