Continuous attempts have been made by Christian missionaries to convert non-Christians in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh. The tribal communities are being lured and it has been causing some serious distress in the area. The Sukma police have given strict instructions to police officers in charge of all the police stations in the district, to maintain surveillance over the activities of the Christian missionaries and the new tribal converts.
By enticing and offering them allurement, the Christian missionaries are routinely venturing into internal areas of the district and persuading the non-Christian tribal communities for conversion. This situation has resulted in a conflict in the tribal community, with the unconverted confronting the fresh converts.
The Sukma SP Sunil Sharma, who admitted to have sent instructions to the district police officers, said “The circular is more as preventive in nature rather than prohibitory. Keeping in view some nearby districts where conflicts were reported owing to religious conversions, I intended such a situation shouldn’t arise in Sukma and the social harmony prevails. The police have been asked to gather its own information through their network on religious conversion activities by enticement”. He also added that all have ‘the right to follow their faiths’.
However, the Christian community felt offended by the internal official communication. According to Arun Pannalal, president of ‘Chhattisgarh Christian Forum : The Christians’ alleged that the people of their community are repeatedly harassed in the tribal-dominated Bastar. “This is totally pre-meditated. The district officials are supposed to protect the Constitutional rights of citizens and not trample them. How could the IPS officer conclude that Christian missionaries are involved in religious conversion without any investigation?”
This is not the first time where violence over Christian conversion has occurred. Last year, tribal Christians came under attack in a function during the night hours in Chingavaram village. A mob of locals had brutally thrashed them leaving many including women and children injured. The group that carried out the attack were armed with iron rods and other traditional weapons. Both the parties involved in the conflict admitted that their fight was over religious conversion.
It should be noted that conflict between Christian missionaries and tribals is a serious issue in most tribal areas. Luring tribals into Christianity by promising jobs, money, foodgrains and other benefits have often been reported in remote areas. The circular sent by the Sukma SP hopes to prevent future forced conversion in the state of Chhattisgarh. The preventive measures aim to avoid a future violent situation in Sukma, because of conversions.