Known as the Modi of Odisha, the guru-cum-minister has been accused of complicity in connection with the murder of Australian pastor Graham Staines and his two sons. For Sajan K George, “not a single case (of forced conversion) has been proven in a court of law in India”.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Religious conversions carried out by force, deception, seduction or the promise of money are like asking for sex in exchange for a favour, this according to Pratap Chandra Sarangi, the newly appointed Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries in the Narendra Modi government.
Known as the “Modi of Odisha” (Orissa)", Sarangi led the Hindu radical group involved in the death in 1999 of Pastor Graham Staines and the two young children who were burnt alive.
His appointment has already deeply outraged Christians. The new minister, who is considered a very devoted ascetic, did not waste time to make divisive statements.
Indeed, for Sajan K George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), "the language used by the minister is degrading, indiscreet, contentious with disregard of basic civility.”
Although “Odisha is the first Indian State to enact a ‘Freedom of Religion Act’ (against forced conversions) in 1967, not a single case has been proven in a court of law in India.”
Speaking to the newspaper ThePrint, the guru-cum-minister said that religious conversions to Christianity are like sex crimes against women and should be treated accordingly.
“Suppose somebody helped a girl in a medical or engineering college, and wanted to enjoy the girl physically. That would be treated as a crime, an inhuman act,” he said. “Similarly, if somebody wants to convert or exploit someone’s belief by giving some service or money, then that should also be treated as a crime – a crime against nature, a crime against humanity.”
For his part, Sarangi rejected accusations that he was complicit in the murder of Rev Staines, an Australian missionary, which was carried out by Dara Singh, a Hindu extremist and a member of the Bajrand Dal, which the minister headed at the time. "The accusations that I supported Dara Singh are just a madman’s cry," he said.
Turning to cows, Hinduism’s sacred animal, Sarangi said they must be looked after with more sympathy and love. “We have to make them happy. Cows are being slaughtered illegally in cruel and inhuman ways. We have to find a remedy,” he claimed.
For Sajan K George the guru’s comments are an insult to Christians. "India's multi-linguistic, multi-religious and pluralistic fabric is at risk. Minorities are being discriminated against, threatened. Fear and anxiety will increase among them."