Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Maharashtra government orders inquiry into tribal conversions

After the state government last week asked police to inquire into reports of large scale conversions of tribals to Christianity in Thane district, Christian groups have asked the state home minister to take action against those who made the allegations.

The findings of the inquiry are expected to be placed before the state assembly, which is in session, this week. The inquiry was ordered after a front page report in a Marathi daily said that in the last 10 years, lured by gifts of cash or fear of god, a large number of tribals have converted to Christianity.

The Maharashtra State Minorities Commission has written to state home minister RR Patil to take action against people responsible for the allegations if the inquiry fails to confirm the report. The inquiry was initiated to inquire into allegations about conversion centres, the holy pilgrimage, prayers meetings and sale of property to finance the pilgrimage. The investigation was to be done by the superintendent of police, Thane (rural).

The report pointed at villages that form part of the constituency of minister of state for tribal development Rajendra Gavit as places where the maximum religious conversions have taken place. It said that the main centres for religious conversions were two healing centres where cash was offered as reward for changing the religion.

Dr Abraham Mathai, vice president of the State Minorities Commission said, “I have met some of the people who are supposed to be travelling to Israel. None of them have a passport.”

Protestant groups working in the area denied there were mass religious conversions. They also denied that conversions were carried out in places advertised as centres of healing.

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