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Arunachal Pradesh: Christian group apologises after pastor burns idol of Goddess Ain Donyi, legal rights group writes to HM about rampant conversion campaigns

Chatung Sopung, a pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Seppa, and some others had recently burnt the idol and altar of the goddess Ain Donyi, worshipped as the mother of the sun by the indigenous tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, causing an uproar among local communities.

Days after the idol of tribal Goddess Ain Donyi was burnt in Seppa in East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh by Christians, the leaders from the community have reportedly apologised for the incident.

“One lady who was previously in other religion has recently converted to Christianity. She wanted to do away or destroy all the symbols of her old religion. And this is why the destruction of that religious symbol took place in Kameng. Our Christian leaders in the district, in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner, has tendered an apology and expressed regret for that particular incident,” Toko Tei, the Chief of Christian Forum, was heard as saying.

The incident shocked many in the area. Tajum Tasung from Vanvaashi Kalyan Ashram said, “The action of Christians in the Seppa region is shameful. I condemn the incident. I have never seen anything like this. This is very dangerous work. No religious permits desecration of another religious symbol and idol. Why did they do this? We are ready to take action.”

Legal Rights Protection Forum writes to MHA

On July 8, the Legal Rights Protection Forum wrote to BJP MP and Minister of State for Home Affairs, G Kishan Reddy, about the ‘predatory proselytisation’ by Christian missionaries and the danger it poses to ‘indigenous Faith and traditions of Arunachal Pradesh’. The letter urged Reddy to intervene into the matter and direct the DGP of Arunachal Pradesh to conduct a fair investigation into the case.

Besides, the group urged the MP to set up an inquiry commission and investigate the threats of rampant conversions and implement the recommendations of the commission in a time-bound manner. The letter urged Reddy to appoint a Nodal officer in each district to address and resolve the issues faced by indigenous communities. The group further urged to digitise tribal customs and rituals such that they are protected for future generations.

FIR against pastor for desecration

Religious and cultural units of East Kameng district have filed an FIR against the pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Seppa, Chatung Sopung, and Tali Langro, among others for burning the symbol of the Supreme Goddess Ain Donyi (Mother of the Sun). They said that the actions of the pastor had hurt their religious sentiments. In the FIR, the complainant said that the clergy’s action violates sections 295A and 298 of the IPC and 3, 4, and 5 of the religious and freedom act of Arunachal Pradesh. The pastor and his followers burnt down the icons and idols of Ain Donyi in the name of Jesus. The pastor was heard saying in a viral video, “In the name of Jesus, we destroy the powers of all the enemies.” As per News 18, the accused were initially arrested but have been released on bail now.

The Donyi-Polo faith is prevalent among the tribals of Arunachal Pradesh. It is centred around the worship of the sun and the moon.

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