An incident of Christian missionaries going after Hindus for proselytization even at Hindu religious events has come to light in Chembur area of Mumbai. Local residents have claimed that on Monday evening, when they were taking part in Gauri Ganpati Visarjan ceremony to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi, Christian evangelists targeted them and handed them over pamphlets that claimed that Jesus Christ was the only true god.
The evangelists were two young women who ambushed devotees at Teen Talao, near Acres Club of Chembur. The pamphlets that were handed over to Hindu devotees claimed that Hindus had their heart hitherto away from god, and they (Hindus) should come to Lord Jesus to find true god and ‘salvage’ themselves.
The pamphlets also gave ‘testimonials’ of two individuals who were supposedly cured of serious diseases like brain tumour and AIDS after accepting Christianity. The pamphlets asked Hindus to convert to Christianity because that was the only right way to achieve peace, freedom, and a healthy life.
The audacity of evangelists was noticed and protested by some local residents, who confronted them and asked why were they targeting Ganesh devotes for their activities.
“They were adamant. They said that it was their duty to show Hindus the path of truth, which according to them was only available by becoming Christians,” Dhananjay Dubey, a local resident who witnessed the entire incident and confronted the evangelists, told OpIndia.
Dhananjay said that the local residents were behaving politely with the evangelists, who still refused to leave the place to show some respect to the religious sentiments of Hindus. “They also refused to accept prasad from us, making their intentions very clear that they were not interested in any dialogue, but in showing Hindus that their religion was inferior,” Dhananjay said.
Satish, another local resident confirmed the incident. “While most of the Hindus taking part in the visarjan ceremony did not bother protesting, a few of us decided to act further and asked a local policeman to remove the evangelists from the spot as they were indulging in provocative deeds,” he said.
“When some of us confronted them for their claims of Jesus being the ‘only true god’ and asked them what they had to say about Ganesh devotees, they said they did not believe in Ganpati,” Satish further recalled, “On being told that the surroundings were being littered by the pamphlets distributed by them, they said ‘humko koi matlab nahi’ (we don’t care).”
“They refused to budge even after the policeman requested them to,” Satish recalled, “After that we also started protesting. They finally went away.”
A short clip of this confrontation was shared on Twitter by a user:
Here is a short video clip of what happened yesterday. Posting it on request of one of our brothers. pic.twitter.com/b7MEhl0sVB
— दारोगा हप्पू सिंह (@iasandip) September 18, 2018
While the Indian constitution gives freedom to propagate one’s religion, the incident shows how evangelists have become emboldened and don’t even spare major events like Ganesh Chaturthi in Mumbai while targeting Hindus.
“It is difficult to act against such deeds as everyone has the constitutional right to propagate one’s religion, but such acts where someone tell people taking part in a religious procession that their god is not true; it can be deemed to cause enmity between groups,” said Chirag, an advocate OpIndia talked to.
“Since the pamphlets talked about religious conversations getting rid of serious diseases, that can come under anti-superstition law enacted in Maharashtra. A case of illegal activity can be made on that count too,” the advocate said.
Local residents say that they don’t know contact details of the evangelists so as of now they are not planning to take any legal action.
“We also have day jobs so it might not be possible for us to pursue court cases, especially given that the other side can get lots of support from established network of lawyers,” Dhananjay said, “But we will not silently watch such assaults on our faith from now on.”