by Bibhuti Mishra
A pastor in a Baptist Church and other missionaries were beaten up by some youth, who accused them of conversion attempts.
The incident ocurred at a meeting at Baidhar Singh's house in Gopinathpur Nuasahi village, Balasore district, on Sunday evening. More than a hundred tribals and Dalits were present.
Sanjay Pal and Dubai Tudu, priests at the Baptist Church of Kuruda, had come to the meeting along with two other missionaries. Word spread that the missionaries were trying to convert the tribals and Dalits.
Kishore Sarangi, a worker having links with the VHP and the BJP allegedly led a group of youths and came to the meeting place. The priests and the misionaries were chased and bashed up in public.
Two FIRs have been filed and the district administration has deployed police as the situation is tense. The FIR lodged by the priests allege hooliganism and physical assault by the youths while the counter FIR allege forcible conversion attempts by the missionaries.
The FIR says Chand Mallick, Dhanuram Hansda and four others were trying to convert Geda Singh of Nilgiri by giving him Rs 10,000. Hundreds of VHP and BJP workers gave a memorandum to the subcollector alleging such conversion attempts. No arrest has been made so far.