In Narayanpurin Chhattisgarh, 100s of Christians are beaten up, excommunicated, and driven out of their villages.
In recent incidents in Chhattisgarh, 100s of Christians were beaten up, excommunicated, and forced out of their villages from more than eighteen villages around the Narayanpur district. Around 1,000 Christian Adivasis were displaced from their own villages during this violent move, and even the local Superintendent of Police was injured. This incident has sent horror across the Christian Community, as it signifies there is no law and no one in political authority to protect them.
These Christians have lost their livelihood, homes, and security. No action has been taken against the aggressors. There is a specific attack on pastors, but if people are proclaiming forced conversions, all people who convert do it out of their free will.
“There were a series of attacks in about 18 villages in Narayanpur and 15 villages in Kondagaon, displacing about 1,000 Christian Adivasis from their own villages. Those displaced were threatened to renounce their faith and convert to the Hindu religion, failing which they would have to leave their village or face dire consequences.
The persecuted include women and children who were beaten up in public when they refused to leave their new faith,” said the report. Speaking to the media on Thursday, Irfan Engineer, Director, of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, who led the fact-finding committee, blamed a few fringe groups which are trying to convert these tribals to Hinduism.
What does the Supreme Court say?
A number of interventional applications have been filed in the Supreme Court who have called it a ‘Very serious matter’, and Supreme Court asks Attorney General to assist in religious conversions case.
Heeding that religious conversion is a serious issue that should not be given a political colour, the Supreme Court on Monday sought the assistance of Attorney General R Venkataramani on a plea seeking direction to the Centre and states to take stringent steps to control “fraudulent” religious conversions.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar asked Venkataramani to appear in the matter in which the petitioner sought a check on religious conversions through “intimidation, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits”, and assist as amicus curiae.
“We want your assistance also, AG. Religious conversions by force, allurement etc. There are ways and ways, anything by allurement, if that is happening, when what should be done? What are the corrective measures?” the bench said.
At the outset, senior advocate P Wilson, appearing for Tamil Nadu, called the petition a “politically motivated” PIL, insisting there was no question of such conversions in the state.
The bench took objection and remarked,” You may have different reasons to be agitated like this. Don’t convert court proceedings into other things. … We are concerned for the entire state. If it is happening in your state, it is bad. If not, good. Do not see it as targeting one state. Do not make it political.”
The court was hearing a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking direction to the Centre and states to take tough steps to control fraudulent religious conversions.
Forced religious conversion may pose a danger to national security and impinge on the religious freedom of citizens, the top court had said recently and asked the Centre to step in and make sincere efforts to tackle the “very serious” issue.
The court had warned a “very difficult situation” will emerge if proselytization through deception, allurement, and intimidation is not stopped.
The Gujarat government had told the top court at an earlier hearing that freedom of religion does not include the right to convert others, and requested it to vacate a high court stay on the provision of a state law that mandates prior permission of the district magistrate for conversion through marriage.
The Supreme Court had on September 23 sought responses from the Centre and others to the plea.
Upadhyay has submitted in his petition that forced religious conversion is a nationwide problem that needs to be tackled immediately. “The injury caused to the citizens is extremely large because there is not even one district which is free of religious conversion by ‘hook and crook’,” he claimed in the petition.
“Incidents are reported every week throughout the country where conversion is done by intimidating, threatening, deceivingly luring through gifts and monetary benefits and also by using black magic, superstition, miracles but Centre and States have not taken stringent steps to stop this menace,” said the plea filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey.
The plea has also sought directions to the Law Commission of India to prepare a report as well as a Bill to control religious conversion by intimidation and through monetary benefits.
The matter will be heard next on February 7.
The question is, can people really be forced to convert to another religion? Earlier, Christians in Uttar Pradesh reacted sharply to constant attacks on them.