Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stop VHP reconversion drive, Minorities panel tells Centre

Express News Service

New Delhi, January 15 After failing to broker peace between the saffron brigade and tribal Christians in Dangs, Gujarat, the National Minorities Commission (NCM) has asked the Centre to intervene to check the "illegal and unconstitutional" reconversion of tribals reportedly being planned by VHP-led groups next month.
In a letter to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, NCM member V V Augustine has said that the proposed programme of the VHP, Bajrang Dal and the local Adivasi Kalyan Samiti "had led to simmering tensions which could flare up any time".

The NCM member had visited Dangs to assess the situation arising out of the proposed "re-conversion" - the Ghar vapsi samaroh to be organised at the Sabri Kumbh Mela in mid-february.

In its report on the situation in the district, the NCW says that "tribal Christians are feeling insecure and fearing attacks as the day approaches". Dangs' 1.8 lakh population is spread over 113 villages and there is a tussle between missionaries and Hindu groups to bring the tribals into their folds.

The NCM report says the Hindu organisations "made no bones about their plans to reconvert the tribal christians and bring them back to the Hindu fold" when the minorities panel met their leaders.

Augustine alleged that "the Hindu groups are violating the Constitution and also the anti-conversion law of Gujarat by holding such a programme."

The NCM has conveyed its apprehensions of a likely flare up in the communal situation in Dangs to Chief Minister Narendra Modi too.

The report says the VHP had distributed pamphlets in which the Adivasis have been advised to hoist an orange flag on their houses during the Kumbh. "This, the Christians fear, was meant to make identification of the Christian houses easier and make them vulnerable," the report says.

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