Tuesday, February 07, 2006

U.S. missionaries deported from Kerala capital for visa violations

By K.Asif, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala): Three American missionaries were deported from Kerala capital Thrivananthapuram on Friday for violating visa norms.

The missionaries - Terrel Davis Heze, Van Meter Carl Micheal and Taylor David Lee—had come to India on business and tourists visas and were charged with conducting crusader programmes in the state.

They were deported from Thiruvananthapuram following complaints from the Neyyattinkara Taluk Committee of the Hindu Aikya Vedi and RSS.

According to Hindu Aikya Vedi and RSS, these evangelists had violated the visa rules by conducting revival crusade programmes in two areas on the Kerala Tamil Nadu border, which was stopped by the police.

"Today we deported three persons named Terrel Davis Heze, Van Meter Carl Micheal and Taylor David Lee because they violated visa conditions," said S. Suresh Kumar, Circle Inspector.

The missionaries, however, claim that they are returning to the United States voluntarily.

Last year, Dr Nanditha Krishna, Chairperson of the C P Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, alleged that the ecological traditions of India, especially in Kerala, were facing a serious threat in the form of religious conversion. This view was also supported by other noted environmental scientists, technologists and ecologists.

Dr Nanditha pointed out that the alarming rate at which religious conversions all over the country were taking place had destroyed forests and holy groves (popularly known as Kaavus in Kerala).She also pointed out with statistics that many dense forests and groves in north east India had become the main target of the Christian missionaries.

M Amrithalingam, a well known botanist and ecologist with more than two decades of research experience in the ecological system of south India said that unless something was done to arrest the destruction of the holy groves, the country could face serious crises, like drought and shortage of water.

"While we had small sized forests attached to the Hindu tharavadus in Kerala, urbanization and religious conversion have denuded them. There were many scientific reasons for worshipping forests, animals and groves," Amrithalingam had claimed.

Last month, RSS leader A Gopalakrishnan that Kerala had become a testing lab of global Islamic terrorism. Delivering the keynote address, he also referred to the demand by the Christian community for reservation benefits for the Christian converts from Dalit communities, and said that such demands would help increase the number of religious conversions in the state.

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