Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Conversion 'attempt' lands Jharkhand school in trouble

Ranchi, April 4:
A police complaint has been lodged against a Jharkhand missionary school for allegedly attempting to force two tribal students to convert to Christianity - but the school says the boys themselves wanted to convert.

The complaint was lodged Sunday in the Jaggnathpur police station against Elson Dundung and other employees of the Prabhat Tara School. The report was lodged on the complaint of Ajay Tirkey, president of a tribal welfare organisation, Adivasi Sarna Samittee.

The complaint said that on Sunday, two brothers - Bidhan Bara, 12, and Mahan Bara, 10 - were called to the school where the conversion was to take place.

However, the Adivasi Sarna Samittee, the Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party got wind of this and staged a demonstration in front of the school. "The school authorities tried to forcibly covert the tribal students to Christianity. They were assured free education and money for converting," Tirkey alleged. School representative Father Albinus Kujur denied the charge and said the boys themselves wanted to convert.

"Neither did we put any pressure for converting them nor did we allure them with money," he maintained. "This is a baseless allegation. The children had expressed their willingness to embrace Christianity. The mother of the boys had submitted an application for this. Some people are politicising the issue," Kujar added.

Police said the case would be thoroughly probed before any action is taken. "An officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police will talk to the boys, their mother, and the school authorities. If we find anything wrong, action will be taken against the school authorities," a police officer said.