Maoist-Missionary nexus exposed Troubled Tribal
Archana Bhagat, a 21-year-old tribal woman from Jaspur, Chhattisgarh, made her way to Delhi to depose her testimony before a National Tribunal set up by Forum for Social Justice and comprising eminent bureaucrats, former judges, academicians and journalists. Her husband was brutally murdered for resisting an onslaught on his tribal culture two years ago leaving her to fend for herself and her ten-month-old baby.
Archana Bhagat’s heartbreaking story is not one single instance. More than 100 tribals from more than 14 states of India were in Delhi to present their testimony and appeal to authorities to take preventive steps to save their culture, economy and their way of life from the impact of evangelical conversion activities. The impact, extent and penetration of evangelical activities in our times came to the fore when a “Jamathia” tribal student of law final year in Delhi University informed about the conversion of his fellow 17 students in the capital itself, by funds provided “Tripura Christian fellow” organisation.
The Tribunal comprised former DGP, Punjab KPS Gill, Air Marshal RS Bedi (Rtd), former Jutice Suresh Soni, former Justice BK Gupta, former Justice DS Tewatia, former Ambassador Prabhat Shukla, Swami Shantatmananda of Ram Krishna Math, JK Bajaj, Bhavdeep Kang and Usha Goel, who listened to more than 100 testimonis regarding the evangelical atrocities. One tribal named Nikhil Khandulna who came from Jharkhand said that Christian missionaries were also taking help of Maoists of the region to pressurise them to convert. He also informed that there was a nexus between Maoists and Christian missionaries. Maoists are appointing Christians as their commander in these areas. Many tribals also alleged that these missionaries depriving them of their own land and forest which were their right from centuries. A tribal woman from the north-east complained that these Christian groups allowed them to use the land and forests only when they surrendered to be baptised otherwise they were beaten and even murdered some times.
Exposing the cruel face of the so-called liberal and peace-loving Christian missionaries, these tribals clearly said in their testimonies that Christian missionaries were forcing them to convert to their religion. They clearly stated that there was an increase in the nexus between the Maoists and these evangelist forces. Kamjam Hangphuk from Arunachal Pradesh stated his story of being abducted by the insurgents for resisting conversion. Similarly, Bhundia Bhai Teja Meda from Gujrat also narrated his story of being attacked by Christians for opposing conversion. These testimonies clearly proved that there was a strong nexus between the Christian missionaries and the different insurgent groups. Both are trying to take advantage of the poor economic and social condition of the tribals.
The eminent jury members of the Tribunal were shocked by these testimonies. This direct interaction with the blighted individuals proved very helpful for the jury in making an impact assessment of the detrimental effects of evangelism upon the life and culture of the indigenous tribes in India. This was amply reflected in the panel observation and adjudications. Former DGP, Punjab, KPS Gill said that before leaving India, British made some conditions so that they could be called back. He said that the reasons for the conversion were partly due to economic conditions of the tribals and more because of fraud, allurement, Macaulay’s method of education and force. Swami Shantatmananad of Ram Krishna Math, Delhi, said that conversions were taking place because there was no development in tribal areas. Christian missionaries are destroying tribal culture. He said that those who were capable enough should economically support and do some sewa in tribal areas. Founding Trustee of Forum for Social Justice and organiser of the Tribunal PC Dogra said that the number of Christians in census was less than 50 per cent of the actual numbers. Most of the Christians don’t reveal their identity because they fear that they will lose the benefit of reservation. He also said that Christian missionaries were not only alluring the poor and innocent tribals but they were also forcing them and providing support to insurgent groups like Maoists to pressurise tribals to convert to Christianity. He said that the tribal people were in a grave danger and it was our duty to help the tribal brothers and sisters living in remote areas.
Further, the tribal people also assembled at Jantar Mantar to register their protest against various challenges posing a threat to their lives. In this protest demonstration five MPs also participated to lend their support. The MPs who attended the procession were Jyoti Dubey from Madhya Pradesh, Murali Lal from Chhattisgarh, Kanjibhai Patel from Gujarat and Sudarshan Bhagat from Jharkhand. They assured them that they would raise the issue of atrocities on tribals in Parliament and other important forums.
By Ravi Shankar