‘Due to poverty and lack of education, tribes such as Oraon, Munda, and Kawar are vulnerable to this practice’.
NEW DELHI: Religious conversion among tribal groups in Chhattisgarh has increased after 2010. More than 75% of conversions are taking place today in the remote corners of Chhattisgarh; however, the political parties have chosen to be silent spectators on this issue so as to avoid losing a huge chunk of vote banks. As per local sources, many Christians serving the higher authorities also do not condemn this practice.
The Sunday Guardian spoke to Dr Ravindra Nath Sharma, who has written a research paper, titled “Religion Conversation and Tribes in Chhattisgarh in India: A Case Study”. The paper distinctively speaks about the tribes of the Jashpur region of Chhattisgarh, who have mostly gone through religious conversion. While talking to this correspondent, Dr Sharma said, “As a result of poverty and lack of education, tribes such as Oraon, Munda, Kawar, and so on are vulnerable to this practice. The members of the Christian missionaries have a clear agenda of religious conversion and are not much bothered about the political scenario. These missionaries have brought development, and education among the tribal groups and as a result, the missionaries have earned their faith. This has increased much more today.”
This correspondent explored the ways how the tribal population is getting converted. A local source told this paper that Christian missionaries have brought development among tribals. People among the Christian missionaries provide food and help the tribals financially, and ultimately leave them compelled to convert to Christianity. Many Christian missionaries are verbally spreading the historical ideas on how Hindus have tortured the underprivileged section in the name of caste. Many Hindu landlords have also exploited the tribals financially and forced them to pay a higher rate of interest. Tribals residing in the remote corners of Jashpur are unaware of the government schemes and as a result, they believe that the government doesn’t take the underprivileged into consideration. This belief manipulates them to convert to Christianity where the underprivileged are treated with respect.
However, the government and the local police are taking action against such illegal conversion. This year, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat unveiled the statue of BJP leader, Dilip Singh Judeo, who was also a member of RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), in Jashpur. He, thoroughly, worked on tribal uplift, preservation of temples, and religious conversion of tribals. As a part of the “ghar-wapasi” campaign, many tribals were “reconverted to Hinduism”. As part of a ritual for their “re-entry” into the Hindu religion, he washed the feet of tribal people who had converted to Christianity.
The Sunday Guardian also spoke to Jashpur SP, D. Ravishankar. “Whenever such cases come to our notice, we take immediate action. In case a person has converted intentionally and has not informed the authority or DM concerned, we take action against them. Also, if there is any religious conversion ceremony taking place or is practised, we prevent such action and take strict action against the organisation or an individual,” Ravishankar told this paper. However, he declined to comment on whether the conversion has increased presently or not.