Madhya Pradesh Police has arrested 10 people for allegedly trying to convert tribal children of Jhabau and Alirapur region to Christianity, in two separate incidents on May 21 and 22. All the 71 children have been rescued and the arrested have been booked under Section 3/4-4 of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act 1968.
Out of the 71 children, 60 minors–32 boys and 28 girls– were rescued by the Ratlam GRP and the other 11 minors–including 7 boys and 4 girls–were rescued from around the Choti Gwaltoli police station in Indore.
Incident#1 – 60 tribal children rescued, 9 adults held
In the first case, Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) teams intercepted a group of 60 children travelling with nine people, including two women, at Ratlam railway station. They said they were going to attend a summer camp in Nagpur. On cross checking, a police team found that there was no summer camp there, but a Bible prayer camp.
“The camp was organised by Jeevan Raksha, a Gujarat-based organisation. We sent our team to Nagpur to find out whether the children were being taken to a summer camp there. But our team found out that there was no summer camp, but a special Bible prayer camp from May 22 to May 25,” SP (GRP-Indore) Krishnaveni Desavatu said, quoted in The New Indian Express.
All the boys and girls were produced before the Ratlam district child welfare committee (CWC) and the committee later sent them to shelter homes in Ratlam and Jaora.
“We have arrested Vijay Meda, Nitin Mandor, Lalu Bhamore, Pangu Singh Vasuniya, Akash Jodiya, Sharmilla Damor, Savita Bhuria and Amia Pal,” said deputy SP of Ratlam, DS Chouhan.
According to the report of a local news agency, the RPF men initiated the action after the complaint received from Child Line, a child protection organization under Women and Child Development Ministry.
As per The Indian Express –
“GRP Police Station in-charge, Abhishek Gautam, told The Indian Express that police teams had been sent to Nagpur and Jhabua for verification after the accused claimed that the children were being taken to attend a summer camp.
“The parents were under the impression that their children were going to attend a camp but the actual purpose of the Nagpur visit was to read the Bible. There was a mismatch in the statements given by the accused,” GRP SP Krishnaveni Desavatu said.
Incident#2 – 11 tribal children rescued, 2 adults held
In a similar case, the Indore Police arrested two men for allegedly taking 11 tribal children from Alirajpur to Nagpur for the same ‘bible camp’. As per The New Indian Express –
“The police rescued the 11 minors, including four girls, last night from Sarwate Bus Stand here when they were being taken for religious conversion, said Chhoti Gwaltoli Police Station in-charge Sanju Kamle.
“We arrested two persons – Alkesh Gadawa and Haroon Dabar, and freed 11 minors, including four girls, who were being taken to Nagpur for conversion to Christianity. These minors were offered free education and other facilities besides gifts in exchange of conversion,” Kamle added.
The police subsequently registered a case against them under the relevant sections of the IPC and the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968. The Act prohibits religious conversion by use of “force, allurement or fraudulent means.” “We are investigating the case,” he added. The kids, hailing from tribal-dominated Alirajpur district, were later handed over to an NGO, Childline, the police officer said.”
The Indian Express informs us about how the police were tipped off regarding this case –
“According to police, the two along with 11 children had to board a bus to Nagpur from Sarawate Bus Stand. However, they missed the bus and Alpesh called his neighbours to ask if he could take the children to the house he had rented in Indore. One of the neighbours, Manohar Morne, then came up to the bus stand and found it suspicious when the children told him that they were being taken to read the Bible while the suspects claimed that they were headed for a summer camp, said police, adding that acting on the neighbour’s tip-off, the police arrested the two from the bus stand.”
Missionary nexus spanning MP, Gujarat, Maharashtra
It is clear that all 71 children rescued from Indore and Ratlam were being taken to the same ‘Bible Camp’, disguised as a summer camp, in Nagpur, organized by Gujarat-based Jeevan Raksha. Do note the Hindu sounding name for an evangelical Christian organization – this is another example of Christian inculturation of Hindu ethos to dupe the unsuspecting.
Christian news site MattersIndia.com tells us that the ‘Bible Camp’ was a a weekly program of the Shalom Church, a Pentecostal group. Pentecostals are a radical sect within Protestant Christianity that emerged in the late 19th/early 20th century in South USA. They believe in the inerrancy of the Biblical scripture and in ‘spiritual gifts’ such as ‘speaking in tongues’ (the ability to speak a previously unknown human or divine language) and ‘divine healing’. If this is a weekly program, one can just imagine the sheer scale of the conversion industry at work – how many children from poor, needy or deracinated Dharmic families are passing through such camps each week?
Incidentally, Nagpur is also the headquarters of RSS – the cultural nationalist organization which Christian propagandists paint as evil, violent, fascist and an enemy of Bharat’s minorities. But Pentecostals are able to conduct weekly Bible Camps in Nagpur without hindrance! Would a Hindu missionary org be allowed to conduct Gita Classes for Christian/Muslim children from poor families in the Vatican or Lahore?
The Madhya Pradesh home minister, Bhupendra Singh, who is in charge of state security, told India Today, “Illegal religious conversion activities are being carried out in a large scale in Jhabua and Alirajpur. We are trying to get to the bottom of the racket.”
“There is a law for conversion. The law ensures that people are not enticed and lured to religious conversion. A proper procedure has been laid down in which a magistrate has to be informed before taking any such step. In this case no such procedure was followed.” Singh said.
Parents’ version – tribal converts to Christianity?
What is missing in the mainstream media coverage of these incidents is detailed coverage of the parents’ version of events. While many reports have said that the parents were not aware of the true nature of the camp to which their children were being taken, The New Indian Express informs us –
“The parents of the children, who reached Ratlam on Monday evening, claimed that their children were being taken for the camp in Nagpur with their consent and there was no question of any religious conversion, as they already followed Christianity. However, police officials said that they did not follow the due process to convert to another religion.
“For changing to another religion, one needs to submit a written application to the district collector and only after the stipulated process, a person can change religious identity, which didn’t happen in the case of any of the parents claiming to be Christians. This is why, the children and their parents will be officially treated as Hindu tribals and not Christians,” said Desavatu.
It is no secret that tribals in vast swathes of Central Bharat (MP, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh etc) are converting in droves to Christianity, abandoning their delicately woven ancestral faiths which form part of the Dharmic diversity unique to Bharat. 70 years of socialist, statist rule, mostly under the self-serving Nehru-Gandhi clan, has left most citizens of Bharat struggling for basic amenities – disadvantaged tribals are especially vulnerable to unscrupulous, foreign-funded missionaries. It is also no coincidence that this tribal belt is the centre of the bloody Naxalite insurgency being waged by Maoists against the Bharatiya state.
Scheduled Caste or SC Hindus (also known as Dalits) who convert to Christianity often hide their true religious identity in order to continue enjoying Constitutional reservation benefits in education and jobs which extend only to SC Hindus, but Scheduled Tribes (ST) enjoy the reservation benefits irrespective of their religion. So there is no real reason for the tribal parents in this case to hide their religious identity, other than the possibility that theirs is just a conversion of convenience which will not stand official scrutiny under Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1968. Maybe there is also a sense of shame in officially converting to Christianity and abandoning their ancestral beliefs?
But the evidence seems clear that these tribal families and their missionary handlers have not followed the due legal process to formalize their alleged conversion to Christianity; hence sending the children to a Christian Bible Camp is both illegal and immoral.
Such cases of unscrupulous Christian missionaries preying on poor and under-privileged families, especially their children, and exploiting them under the garb of shelter, education, jobs and gifts are not new. Sadly, the poor socio-economic situation in many tribal regions is probably forcing poor parents to entrust their children with such predatory soul harvesters.
In 2015, we had seen a horrific case in which 30 children, all from poor families, were rescued from horrific living conditions after police raided two homes run by the Emmanuel Seva Group, an evangelical organization in Greater Noida and Meerut, UP. There have also been multiple cases of sexual abuse of children in hostels/orphanages run by Christian missionary organizations.
Christian Missionary Network Cries ‘Persecution’!
The robustness of the Christian evangelical network can be assessed by the fact that within a matter of days this news was propagated by Catholic site Crux, and several other evangelical propaganda sites like ChristianPost.com, ChristianTimes.com, FaithWire.com etc. Eventually, the news made it to the hub of the global Christian evangelical movement, USA, when it was featured in mainstream right-wing media outlet Fox News. The spin given to the issue remained consistent across all these reports, with the Fox News article being particularly error-ridden –
- The childrens’ parents were undoubtedly Christians, and hence the authorities had no grounds to stop the children from being taken to a Christian summer camp.
- The fact that parents had failed to file legal paperwork with the government to make their conversion official, was just an ‘allegation’ made by authorities.
- Christians in Bharat routinely suffer various forms of intimidation and harassment, including physical violence. The threat to Christians has worsened since ‘Hindu nationalist’ BJP came to power in 2014.
- Christian leaders like the anti-Hindu, hate-spewing John Dayal have been provided a platform to besmirch Hindus in general and the NDA government in particular. Some of the baseless, vitriolic allegations by Dayal are –
- ‘paranoia and targeted hate is currently sweeping across north India’
- ‘traumatization of these tribal and Dalit children’
- ‘apart from rampant impunity and turning a blind eye to [Hindu nationalist] violence, the law and order institutions have been heavily infiltrated and radicalized under almost 15 years of Bharatiya Janata Party rule in Madhya Pradesh’
- The Fox article goes on to subtly justify conversion to Christianity by raking up caste discrimination, and is riddled with misinformation like –
- ‘The children and their families are part of the nation’s lowest caste, known as Dalits, a group that is sometimes called the “untouchables” because their touch is believed to defile higher-caste Hindus.’ The children here are from the tribal community, also called Scheduled Tribes – which is distinct from Hindu castes.
- ‘Although discrimination against Dalits was outlawed in 1955, the problem persists – especially among Christian Dalits.’ Discrimination on basis of caste was outlawed under Article 15 of the Constitution in 1949 itself, and untouchability was outlawed under Article 15.
- ‘police stopped a bus with 60 children’. The 60 children were rescued from a train at Ratlam station, not a bus.
- ‘Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party shut down a Christian charity called Compassion International amid the government’s claim that it was doing conversions.’ Compassion International (CI) was clearly breaking Bharat’s laws by funding Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) that were not registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). Despite being provided all proof, CI kept insisting that it had not violated any law and decided to shut down operations in Bharat. Still, it was clear that CI was involved in funding organizations involved in predatory proselytization – CI’s publically available material and the words of their chief ideologues makes it clear that their end goal is to make use of poverty in Bharat to create foot soldiers for evangelism
- ‘Indian authorities have raided villages and compelled Christians into “reconversion,” which includes forcing them to conduct Hindu rituals, according to Crux.’ Fox is referring to Ghar Wapsi here, a program carried out by Hindu organizations to bring those who have been lured or forced to convert out of Dharmic paths back to the original faith of their ancestors. No Indian Government authority is involved in such “reconversion.”
This incident provides a snapshot of the powerful, well-organized Christian missionary machine which operates in Bharat and the rest of South Asia – as part of the geographical ’10/40′ window identified for an aggressive evangelical crusade. The fact that all American mainstream media outlets, from right-wing Fox News to left-liberal New York Times, support the predatory American evangelists and revile Hindu organizations in Bharat who resist this conversion agenda, shows how dominant Hinduphobia is in America and other Western nations.
But many policy makers in Bharat overlook this crucial fact, and prescribe unconditional engagement with the West as the way forward for a resurgent Bharat. We must make engagement and cooperation with the West contingent on their dismantling the Christian missionary network which is slowly destroying Bharat.
What should be the Hindu response?
Many urban Hindus (in name only) will say –
‘So what if some tribal children were being taken for a Christian summer camp? At least these missionaries are providing some education and other facilities for these poor people, unlike Hindu society which discriminated against and neglected them for so long!’
This is an old argument which colonial apologists have always employed whenever any civilization has faced a threat from a foreign colonial power. Christian evangelism is the new-age colonialism – it follows in footsteps of the British colonialism which bled Bharat dry for over 200 years. If left unchecked, evangelicals will rip apart Bharat’s society and plunge the country into social strife and chaos. It will destroy the priceless cultural and religious heritage of Bharat where countless belief systems have co-existed with mutual respect for millenia.
There is a myth that conversion to Christianity leads to prosperity – also known as ‘prosperity gospel’. Yes, Christian organizations are well-funded and have a deep grip on education & healthcare sectors. But these benefits are fleeting. Ultimate allegiance of these missionary organizations lies with their Western masters, and they will manipulate native converts to make political choices that serve Western interests. Hence, it is no surprise that the Christian activist/missionary block is such a staunch supporter of discredited, venal, corrupt secular parties like Congress, AAP, RJD etc. The example of Latin America where entire nations were forced to convert enmasse by the cruel Spanish conquistadors, yet those same nations are still under-developed and rife with social and political instability despite being 100% Christian, is a grim warning to us in Bharat.
Hindus need to wake up to the existential threat that these missionary organizations pose. We need to counter the anti-Hindu propaganda spread by these groups and expose their true face. But at the same time, urban Hindus need to revive the tradition of dana (giving to the needy) which has been a defining feature of Hindu Dharma but which we have forgotten in the last 50 years or so.
There are several Hindu organizations toiling hard on the ground to support needy and deprived Hindus – we need to support those with time and money. We need to campaign to free our temples from rapacious Government control and ensure temple funds are utilized for benefit of Hindus. And we need to make wise political choices keeping in mind the interests of Bharat and Hindus across the world.
(We would like to thank @by2kaafi whose series of tweets on this topic lies at the core of this article)
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