Lifestyle & Belief

Anti-Christian rally sparks fears in central India

A Hindu fundamentalist gathering in central India has raised fears of a campaign against Christians, the Calcutta Telegraph reports.

Coming on the back of a controversial Supreme Court judgment in which the court appeared to argue that fanatics were justified in killing an Australian missionary and his two sons because the missionary was trying to convert Hindus to Christianity, the meeting is believed to be part of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's "reconversion" program, the paper said.

Organising secretary Rajendraji said reconversion was not on the agenda of the Narmada Kumbh but added that “if some tribals wish to rediscover their roots with Hindu faith, they will be welcomed with open arms”.  According to local Christian groups, the RSS has printed hundreds of thousands of reconversion forms, just in case.

Another organiser, Rajkumar Matale, described Mandla’s “social congregation” as a follow-up to the Shabri Mahakumbh held in the tribal-dominated Dangs district of Gujarat in 2006. Incidentally, the Dangs event was a brainchild of Swami Aseemanand, a Hindu fanatic who is now in jail in connection with terrorist attacks on Muslim areas.

In India, the Dangs and other so-called "tribals" have frequently been targeted for conversion by Christian groups, and Hindu organizations have responded aggressively. Five states already have "anti-conversion" laws that nominally prevent proselytizers from offering financial inducements or attempting to "force" conversions.  But minority religious groups say that they don't engage in forced or paid conversions, and these laws have been put in place to demonize their faith and stir up interreligious tensions.