10/30/2006, 00.00
INDIA
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Andhra Pradesh: Hindu leaders call for arrest and deportation of Christian missionaries

by Nirmala Carvalho

The vice-president of the BJP – composed of nationalist Hindus – has accused 68 foreigners in the area of converting 6,000 tribals through fraud. He urged police to intervene instead of just looking on.

Hyderabad (AsiaNews) – The ruling party in the southern State of Andhra Pradesh, made up of nationalist Hindus, has accused missionaries coming from Canada and the United States of organizing conversions to Christianity through fraud among local outcastes, and has called for their arrest and deportation.

S.V. Seshagiri Rao, vice-president of the Bharatia Janata Party [BJP, India's biggest political party of nationalist-Hindu inspiration] made this allegation last week during a press conference in the capital. He said: "Teams of Christian missionaries have fanned out in various tribal areas of Nalgonda district and are forcibly converting tribals to Christianity."

The politician, who addressed the press conference together with the party's secretary and legal consultant, said the missionaries "promised those who converted free medical treatment, homes, education and 100 rupees per day".

The nationalists said that "according to information in their possession", already about 4,000 persons had converted to Christianity in 30 villages in Nalgonda and Guntur districts and a further 2,000 in Nidamanooru, Anumola and Gurrampodu.

Rao continued: "The 68 foreigners in the area divided into several teams that are visiting villages with the help of locals for their conversion work. The matter was reported to the Nalgonda police but no action was initiated."

Some experts say this last phrase is very dangerous because it often marks the prelude to attacks by fanatical Hindus who "feel duty-bound to intervene personally given the indifference of the armed forces".

The three leaders ended by urging "official action by the government who should arrest and deport the missionaries instead of remaining indifferent to the problem".

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