Organised campaign to convert Christian Adivasis to Hindus in Chh'garh: Report | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Organised campaign to convert Christian Adivasis to Hindus in Chhattisgarh: Report

Dec 27, 2022 09:18 AM IST

There was no forcible religious conversion and the situation was under control, Mahendra Chhabra, chairman of the Chhattisgarh minorities commission, said.

There was an “organised campaign” to forcibly convert Christian tribals into Hindus in Bastar’s Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts, a team of civil society representatives said in a report on Monday after visiting more than 30 villages in districts where attacks allegedly took place against Christians. State authorities, however, denied that the violence was related to forcible religious conversions.

State authorities, however, denied that the violence was related to forcible religious conversions.
State authorities, however, denied that the violence was related to forcible religious conversions.

“From December 9, 2022 to December 18, there was a series of attacks in about 18 villages in Narayanpur district and 15 villages in Kondagaon district, displacing about 1,000 Christian Adivasis from their own villages,” said the report of a fact-finding team led by Irfan Engineer, director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, and Brijendra Tiwari, convener of the All India People’s Forum, Chhattisgarh.

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“Those displaced were told to give up their Christian faith and convert to Hindu religion, failing which they were threatened their village or face dire consequences, including death,” the report said. “Many Christian adivasis were gravely assaulted and beaten with lathis, tyre, and rods. At least two dozen people had to be hospitalised with injuries like fracture of collar bone.”

The fact-finding team was formed following incidents of violence against Christians in Narayanpur and Kondagaon districts, and also included non-profits such as the All India Lawyers’ Association for Justice and the United Christian Forum. The team visited relief camps and villages and interacted with victims of the violence, as well as non-Christian adivasis, including village chiefs.

The report quoted Manglu Koram, a resident of Madamnar village, who claimed that he and members of 21 Christian families of his village were forcibly taken to the village temple where the priest sprinkled some water on them and conducted some rituals before declaring them as Hindus.

“They also forcibly took away copies of the Bible from their homes. Likewise, 18 families from Udidgaon village, 3 families from Fulhadgaon, 3 families from Putanchandagaon village were also forcibly converted,” the report claimed. “Even persons with disabilities and pregnant women were not spared of the brutal violence.”

“The district administration ignored the early warnings such as threats and intimidation targeting Christian Adivasis,” the report said. “These intimidations were reported but no action (was taken).”

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There was no forcible religious conversion and the situation was under control, Mahendra Chhabra, chairman of the Chhattisgarh minorities commission, said. “We came to know about some incidents of violence in the district, but it was related to other disputes, not conversion,” Chhabra said. “However, I had a talk with senior officials and instructed them to contain such violence.”

District authorities have never ignored any incident of violence in the community, Narayapur collector Ajeet Vasant said. “It is not true that the administration ignored the violence. We have registered seven FIRs at various police stations, and the accused have been arrested. Secondly, 500 people of the community were displaced, of which around 250 were sent back to their villages and they have been provided security,” Vasant said. “The administration is also making arrangements to bring the rest back to their villages.”

A special investigation team should be constituted under the supervision of the Supreme Court or high court to investigate the offences committed on Christian Adivasis in the villages, the report further recommended.

The report will be submitted to the Union government and National Commission for Minorities in the next couple of days, said Ajay Justice Shaw, a Supreme Court lawyer who accompanied the fact-finding team in Chhattisgarh.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    State Correspondent for Chhattisgarh. Reports Maoism, Politics, Mining and important developments from the state. Covered all sorts of extremism in Central India. Reported from Madhya Pradesh for eight years.

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