Though Uttarakhand became the 7th state to pass the anti-conversion law in 2018, the state has witnessed rampant conversions of Hindus over a period of time. Dalit Hindus en masse have been abandoning their faiths to become Christians. The issue of religious conversions has assumed serious and contentious proportions in this state.
However, this is something which is not new but has been prevalent since ages. It has been observed by numerous scholars through the ages that the Christian missionaries convert people primarily by offering them financial benefits rather than the virtue of their preaching. Like others, the marginalised Dalit Hindus in small villages in Uttarakhand too are easily lured by the freebies offered to them by the cash-rich Christian Missionaries.
Earlier, poor Hindus in small districts of Uttarakhand were targeted by Christian proselytisers who came to dwell with these poor people and offered them religious Christian books. The fascinating stories written in the form of comic strips and fascinating illustrations enticed the poor Hindus and attracted them towards the religion.
How Christian proselytisers used 2013 Uttarakhand flood to lure poor Hindus
But after the 2013 flash floods in Uttarakhand which wiped out settlements and decimated lives, things began to change. These Christian proselytisers became more active in the villages of Uttarakhand. Under the guise of providing relief and help, large scale religious conversions started happening in these villages rampantly. The work which was happening secretly till now started taking place openly under the pretext of help.
Various teams of doctors started carrying out free health check-ups and distributing free medicines. The innocent villagers were made to believe that some “world bank” has sent these medicines, which the government was not providing them with.
Gradually many such instances, where Christian preachers started converting Dalit families by luring their children with freebies like cycles and other expensive things which were not within the reach of these poor people, started coming to the forefront. Slowly, the marginalised Hindu Dalits started falling into the trap laid by the Christian proselytisers. Now, the pictures of Hindu deities which were found in the houses of these Dalit Hindus started being replaced by the pictures of Jesus Christ and the aartis replaced by the hymns. The bags full of rice and scrumptious meals laden with meat were enough to lure these poor Dalits into mass conversion.
Coronavirus pandemic gives an added trust to the Christian missionaries strategem
Religious conversion in Uttarakhand was in full swing when the recent coronavirus epidemic yet again gave the Christian missionaries an opportunity to lure the economically affected backward class Hindus in the state via monetary inducements. These Christian proselytisers started distributing ration amongst the Dalit Hindus in various villages of the state almost twice a week. It also ensured that every household is getting to cook and eat meat daily.
In fact, some of the marginalised have been given so much money and brainwashed to such an extent that they are now building their own houses with this money and making churches on the roof of their houses. Without the locals even realising, these Christian proselytisers are gradually Christianising entire chunks villages in the state of Uttarakhand.
The question is that if Christian missionaries want to eliminate hunger and poverty from the world, then why have they chosen only Scheduled Castes for this task? Another question which crosses our mind is that whether being from the scheduled caste means that the person is poor and can be easily lured with freebies?
No, in fact, there are many people in these villages who own ancestral land for centuries and are farming on it. But the fact is that these freebies being distributed unsparingly are making these villagers lazy and negligent. The abundant supplies of free ration being provided to them regularly attract them towards these proselytisers who then brainwash them and into converting.
Only until a few years ago, those school-going students who wanted to join the police or the army are now asking the Christian missionaries to ‘fund’ them to build a church.
Though religious conversions are happening rampantly in the state of Uttarakhand, this practice is not only confined to this state. The Christian preachers are targeting Dalits and people from backward communities for religious conversions from all across the country.
Christian missionaries use various tactics to convert Hindus to Christianity
- Christian missionaries send letters saying – ‘Embrace Christianity because only Jesus is the saviour’.
- To impress upon the local people that only Jesus is the saviour, various churches circulate such pamphlets.
- On railway stations, Christian missionaries distribute free booklets propagating Christianity to Hindu passengers. The passengers read whatever is available freely and easily to pass time during boring railway journeys. Hence, these Christian missionaries are certain that these booklets will be read by the passengers.
- Christian missionaries visit the houses of Hindus who are in need and pray for them.
- Converting youth from the upper strata of society under the pretext of de-addicting them.
- Distributing free comics and animation films on Jesus to children
- Luring unemployed youth with promises of high-salaried jobs or capital to start a business
- Enticements given to people affected by calamities natural calamities like tsunami, earthquakes
Christian missionaries are carrying out the task of converting Hindus through activities such as setting up homes for the aged, organisations to eradicate leprosy, homes for abandoned women, schools etc., that are labelled social services. Christians who participate in such social service behave as if they are the sole benefactors in the world. Their ulterior motive of religious conversions is realised much later.
As a result, the cultural pride that was still alive until at least recent generations, over time, will also perish with this cultural Christianisation.