The heads of Christian organizations in India recently issued a statement denying the accusations of religious conversions in Assam, located in India’s northeastern region.
The Christian leaders made the denial following the deportation of three Swedish nationals for allegedly converting Assam residents to Christianity.
Details of the Incident
A Hindu nationalist organization, Biswa Hindu Mahasangha (translated as “Global Hindu Federation”), urged the government to enact an anti-conversion law in light of the alleged efforts by the reported Swedes to convert Assam locals to Christianity.
The conversion purportedly happened in the Naharkatia area in Assam last October, UCA News reported.
The Swedish nationals, who arrived in the country with tourist visas, allegedly tried to convince the locals to shift to the Christian faith. The incident reportedly happened on Oct. 26 during the healing prayer and peace festival in the area.
Authorities reportedly arrested the Swedes under the Foreigners Act. Still, a local court eventually junked the charges and ordered their deportation.
Two days after the arrest of the Swedish nationals, Assam authorities jailed seven Germans after they participated in a religious event in Karbi Anglong and Tinsukia. The local police said the German nationals violated via rules, hence the arrest.
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‘Show Proof of Conversion Attempt’
Allen Brooks, the spokesperson for Assam Christian Forum, stated on Nov. 15 to UCA News in which he challenged the Hindu group that made the allegation to show proof.
“Let the Hindu group present the true facts about the alleged religious conversion if any. Show some proof or an official record,” Brooks told UCA News.
He added that one argument against the accusation is the current number of Christians in Assam. Brooks argued that the local Christian population in the state would not remain less than 4% of the state’s population if the conversion allegation were true.
“Christian missionaries came to the northeastern states in the 19th century and worked in the fields of education and health that benefited even non-Christians who did not convert,” Brooks explained.
In response, the general secretary of Mahasangha, Balen Baishya, told reporters that there had been previous instances when foreigners went to Assam to convince the locals to convert to the Christian faith.
“They were caught this time because of the ‘strictness’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party[(BJP]-led state government,” Baishya alleged.
Biswa Hindu Mahasangha issued the plea for enacting an anti-conversion law for Assam since the state does not have such a law, unlike the other Indian states governed by the BJP.
‘An Excuse to Enact Anti-Conversion Law’
Guwahati Archbp. John Moolachira said that some groups are using just any excuse to advance their motive to enact an anti-conversion law in Assam.
“It looks like some fanatic groups are finding an excuse to push for an anti-conversion law. Just because some foreigners came to Assam and took part in a prayer service doesn’t mean locals are being converted,” Archbishop Moolachira explained.
The prelate added that the government must not prohibit people from practicing their religious freedom.
“So far as the recent cases of foreigners are concerned, let the law of the land do its work,” he said.
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