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  • » 03/16/2006, 00.00


    Some 500 Tribal Christians "reconverted"

    Nirmala Carvalho

    "They are not Catholic," says Mgr Lewis, bishop of Jaipur, but "poor Tribal Pentecostals who are economically depend on the majority community for employment".

    Meherat (AsiaNews) – The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council, a Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization, reconverted back to Hinduism some 500 people in Meherat, a community in the Indian state of Rajasthan.  The ceremony took place last week when VHP activists visited area villages and placed a Hindu idol at the newly-constructed Baba Ramdev Temple and a yajna, a traditional service of acceptance into Hinduism, was performed.

    Until now the local community was included a variety of Christians, Muslims and Hindus. During the "visit" by VHP activists even the "non reconverted" were convinced to return to the Hindu fold.

    "First of all," Mgr Oswald Lewis, bishop of Jaipur, (Rajasthan's capital) told AsiaNews, "it must be said that the reconverted are not Catholic. They are Tribals belonging to a Pentecostal sect, who are extremely poor and defenceless and economically depend on the majority community for employment".

    "Even though the state government wants to implement a bill against re-conversion, rightwing Hindu nationalists effectively do as they please without any control. The whole of Christianity is under the thumb of these people who, with the tacit consent of the government, continue such [re-conversion] drives."

    Under anti-re-conversion legislation, people may switch religion if they provide a series of documents, including affidavits, to back their intention to change religious status.

    Bishop Lewis said that in light of what was happening the Catholic Church was going to organise a 'Protest for Peace' against what it considers the state government's failure to enforce the law when it applies to re-conversions to Hinduism.

    "We must make people aware of what is going on," he said. "All Christian denominations will take part [in the event], but we want it not only to be a protest but also a day of prayer for the whole state".

    "The Church and Christians are very often victims of this type of attack. And although we forgive our aggressors and look beyond [what they do], this does not mean that we cannot put things in the right perspective. It is in this sense that we are organising the protest."

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    See also

    22/07/2005 INDIA
    Hindu violence does not stop the mission
    Mgr Oswald Lewis, first Bishop of the new diocese of Jaipur, speaks to AsiaNews about the challenges from fundamentalism and Evangelical sects to his mission. "Our work must go on," he says.

    24/08/2004 INDIA
    Priest seriously injured in attack against Catholic Church

    09/03/2005 INDIA
    Falsely accused priest arrested in Gujarat
    Hindu fundamentalists persuade a woman to press charges against a Jesuit priest. Two months ago the same woman had cleared him of the same charges.

    21/01/2015 INDIA
    A national anti-conversion law to "save" India's Hindus
    The leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is calling for legislation to this effect. In the past three days, more than 100 Christians have been involved in "reconversion" to Hinduism. For the Global Council of Indian Christians, this is a "grave violation of a person's freedom of choice and conscience".

    09/05/2007 INDIA
    TV broadcasting of Anti-Christian attacks marks new terror campaign by VHP
    After the case of the Protestant clergyman in Jaipur, the beating of other Christians is shown on TV. Hindu extremists are making up stories of forced conversions of Hindus to justify their actions whilst police lets the perpetrators of the violence go scott free. For one human rights activist, the attacks are part of a wider, premeditated plan to provoke mass psychosis in the Christian community. He calls on governments to intervene.

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