Thursday, November 22, 2007

Church burned in Bastar

Sangh Parivar Radicals burnt a church and later demolished it in a Bastar village to "protest" against the "conversion drive" taken up by missionaries in tribal pockets.

On November 19th, at 9pm party Bajrang Dal activists entered Manduwa village, some 40km from Jagdalpur and 340km from Raipur, to ransack a newly constructed church before gheraoing the pastor, Sudharu, and staff. The cadre tied the pastor before beating him up. The staff, however, managed to flee from the spot. Sources said Sudharu fell unconscious after the beating.

The cadre stayed at the spot for three hours to watch the church getting burnt and to demolish whatever remained after the fire.

After receiving the information past midnight, senior officials of Jagdalpur missionary rushed to the village.

Police rushed to the spot only to find the village empty. The church authorities lodged an FIR with Korla police station in connection with the incident. No senior police officer could be contacted for their comments as they were in a daylong meeting with the chief minister in Raipur.

Pasator K. Rajan of Jagdalpur Church, , said the activists had mobilised in the village in the evening and had staged a demonstration outside the church.

Later, they retreated only to return and ransack the premises.

He, however, refuted the allegation that the church was involved in any "conversion" drive and clarified that they were working for the development of the tribals.

"The church works for humanity and will never indulge in distorting the glorious culture and tradition of tribals," he said.

He added that missionaries working in the area, totally cut off from mainstream society, are facing regular threat from Hindu fundamentalists.

Church authorities have taken a strong exception to the incident and convened a meeting to discuss the next course of action. Rajan felt that the police failed to take action against the activists involved in the incident.