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Gujarat: Fed up with conversions, villagers decide to not allow outsider Christians into the village

Villagers have put up banners and boards saying that outsider Christians should not enter the village

Fed up with rampant Christian conversions in and around the village, the residents of Navsari district’s Gandeva village in Gujarat have decided to ban on entry of outsider Christians to their village as a measure to prevent them from converting local tribal Hindus, reported Indian Express.

According to the reports, the local tribals have put up banners and boards declaring a “ban on entry of outsider Christians” in the area. The recent activities from Christian missionaries to convert local Hindu tribals to Christianity have been cited to be the reason behind such decision by the villagers.

“Christi dharm parnara tamam bhai-behano Gandeva Haripura faliya ma baharno koipan vyakti e faliya ma pravesh karvo nahi (All the outsider brothers-sisters of the Christian religion, should not enter into Haripura street),” reads a banner written in Gujarati which has been put up at the entrance of the village.

The report suggests that Gandeva village has a population of 7,500 with the majority of them belonging to Halpati community, a Scheduled Tribe, while others are Bakshipanch.

Jayanti Mistry, Deputy sarpanch of the village said that the local villagers are now fed up with the spread of Christianity in the village. She added that there are already 900 Christians in the village. Expressing concern, she said 12 tribal families out of 70 present in the village have already converted to Christianity. “On every Sunday morning, Christian priests from different neighbouring districts come and preach Christianity, and lures innocent tribals to get converted into Christianity,” said Mistry.

The village sarpanch, Satish Katariya said that the conversion began around eight years ago when Christians built their first prayer hall. Katariya went on to say that within five years Christians built their second prayer hall and then the third prayer hall was built on Hathwada street. Later fourth prayer hall was built around one and a half year ago on Kharel street, said Katariaya.

“Local Hindu tribals do not want that such prayer hall to be built on Haripura street. So, they may have hanged such banners. Those who convert to Christianity are farm labourers or do petty jobs,” he said. Katariya said no one has opposed such banners till date, “But we have come to know that Christians in our village are unhappy. We have urged the villagers to maintain peace,” he added.

Sub-Inspector B L Raizada, who visited the village said that they have spoken to both Hindu tribals and the converted people. The police officer said that they have assured that no problem of law and order will arise in the village. “We have not told the villagers to bring the banners or board down. Some of the villagers are against the outsiders spreading Christianity. Therefore, such boards and banners have installed by them,” said Raizada.

In April 2018, the village of Kesalingayapalli in Andhra Pradesh, located about 35 KM from the Kadapa district in the state had proudly declared itself to be “Hindu only”, by erecting a saffron board at the village’s entrance. The villagers had taken a decision to make such a proclamation after Christian evangelists had tried to convert the villagers to their religion by promising money and medicine.

Recently, nearly 200 tribal Christian families in Gujarat that had earlier converted to Christianity returned back to Hinduism. The people who had converted to Christianity had believed that they would not fall ill and be saved from evil spirits if they follow Christianity.  In this event, nearly 700 members belonging to 200 families were made to wear ‘kanthi mala’ around their neck after puja was held.

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