In a significant step to prevent the Scheduled Castes (SC) community from getting lured by Christian missionaries to convert to Christianity, the Gurujala village in Kurnool District of Andhra Pradesh has passed a resolution to take steps to protect the Dalits from forceful religious conversion.
On Friday, Legal Right Protection Forum, a legal-activism group, took to Twitter to express their heartfelt appreciation for the villagers of Gurujala for passing five resolutions in the Gram Sabha.
One of the resolutions passed by the Gram Sabha is to remove an unauthorised church constructed through foreign funding from the Christian organization International Mission Board (IMB). According to the villagers, now the converts to Christianity are seeking to expand the illegally built Church by constructing a compound wall. Villagers have said that if the Church is expanded as planned, it will hamper the rituals and celebrations in a Shiva temple nearby.
The villagers of Gurujala has passed five resolutions at Gram Sabha recently to prevent Christian missionaries conversion activities in the surrounding areas of the village.
Villagers say that during Shivratri, Ugadi etc festivals, the chariot has to pass through the road where the Church is located, and a large number of stalls are set up in the area during such occasions. If the church is expanded by constructing boundary walls, it will hamper the festivals at the Hindu temple.
(2/3):— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) July 16, 2021
2. To carry on proper survey on who is Christian, Hindu and Muslim and enter the same in Public Records
3. Recommendations to revenue officials to issue BC-C (SC convert to Christianity) Certificates to persons who converted to Christianity out of SC Community.
In its resolution, the Gram Sabha has also decided to undertake a registration exercise to document the number of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and enter them into the public record. The villagers also decided to ask the revenue officials to issue BC-C (SC convert to Christianity) Certificates to persons who converted to scheduled caste converts to Christianity.
The other two resolutions passed by the Gram Sabha are – no religious structure will be allowed to be constructed in future unless the Gram Sabha approves the same with a 51% majority and giving priority to Scheduled Castes in all social and cultural festivals and temple activities in the village.
4. No religious structure will be allowed to be constructed in future, unless the same is approved through a #GramSabha resolution passed with 51% majority— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) July 16, 2021
5. SCs will be given priority in all Socio-Cultural festivals & will be an integral part of all Temple activities in village
On June 27, the LRPF had informed that they had come with a strategy in association with the villagers to end this serious issue of religious conversions at Gurajala Village, Kurnool District after Christian missionaries had erected a huge Church on common land in the village.
#Revolution2021— Legal Rights Protection Forum (@lawinforce) June 27, 2021
We are coming up with a Strategy in association with the villagers to put an end to this serious issue at Gurajala Village, Kurnool District.
Details will be shared soon. https://t.co/yqMSzYu94b
Realising the dangerous menace of conversion activities by Christian missionaries, the villagers had also written a letter to President of India Ramnath Kovind seeking action against the illegally constructed IMB Church in the village to convert Scheduled Caste communities.
The villagers had also accused the Christian missionaries of using the converts holding SC Certificate to slap SC/ST Atrocity Act on anyone who dared to raise their voice against illegal conversions.
A month later, the Gram Sabha has taken a significant step to pass a series of resolutions to prevent Christian missionaries conversion activities in the surrounding area of the Gurujala village.
Speaking to The Commune, LRPF has said that they will try and implement this in other villages too. “We strongly believe in the power of people in this democracy”, the head of legal activism group LRPF said.
Mandal Parishad orders to stop expansion of church
After the complaint was filed by the villagers, the Mandal Parisad Development officer issued an order to stop the expansion of the church.
The order says that the construction of the boundary wall will lead to encroachment of 10 feet of land in the area, which is despotic, capricious, tyrannical, autocratic, unlawful, illicit, illegitimate, and violation of Gram Kanta rules and regulations.