08/02/2018, 09.42
INDIA
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Haryana, Hindu families converted to Christianity risk marginalization

by Nirmala Carvalho

The new converts belong to the Hindu Agrawal community, which does not tolerate religious conversions. Village emergency meeting called to decide how to treat the "disobedient". In the State, Christians represent 0.17% of the population.

 

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - A group of Haryana families in northern India has embraced the Christian religion and therefore risk marginalization and exclusion from society. 

Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), tells AsiaNews,  as soon as the news of their conversion spread in the village, an emergency meeting was convened to decide how to deal with the issue and treat Christians. The message spread after the meeting was clear: "We will not allow anyone to [do] evil, that is, change religion".

The case emerged in the Sonepat district, where the Hindu Agrawal community lives, a tribe that is especially widespread in the northern Indian states. Yesterday, the Christian leader explains, "a committee of 11 members was convened to investigate the reasons that led families to conversion". 

In all, "four families have presented the necessary documents [a declaration by the priest and countersigned by the individual faithful who certifies that the conversion was a free choice and not imposed - ed], while other families are preparing them".

The village chiefs, continues Sajan K George, "did not appreciate the choice of families and call it 'evil'. They also claim that members of society are not allowed to convert to other religions and that those who have decided to change their religion will have to retrace their steps and explain their reasons. Then they said that the conversions carried out in secret will not be tolerated ".

According to the president of the GCIC, these village meetings are intimidating for residents who dare to break the rules. 

"Often - he explains - the community imposes them to maintain the discipline of those who transgress tradition. This has the effect of weakening vulnerable Christian families who want to embrace Christ as our Lord and Savior ". Those who "challenge the diktats of the community are eventually subjected to marginalization and social boycott. The same happens in the states of Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, where Christians are forced to face the agony of exclusion. The trauma of ostracism by the family is difficult to cope with and even the protection of civil laws does not provide adequate support for the victims ".

Sajan George points out a paradox: "The 2011 census on religion records that Christians make up just 0.17% of the Haryana population. In this way the government data reveal that the accusation of [forced] conversion is constructed and false. India is a secular country with constitutional guarantees ".

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