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Distributing Bible not allurement for religious conversion under UP Anti-conversion law: Allahabad HC

According to the Court, the appellants were involved in providing good teachings to children and promoting the spirit of brotherhood among the villagers. Hence, there doesn't appear to be the existence of any material which would suggest conversion by use of force.

On Wednesday (6 September), a single-judge Allahabad High Court bench observed that distributing the Bible and imparting good teachings cannot be termed as an “allurement for religious conversion” under the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2021. 

The High Court’s Lucknow bench, presided over by Justice Shamim Ahmad, passed the order and granted bail to two accused Jose Papachen and Sheeja who belong to the Christian faith and are accused of carrying out religious conversion through allurements and other means. 

It is alleged that Papachen and Sheeja, through various allurement, played a major role in the conversion of religion (from Hinduism to Christianity) of villagers who belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities.

Earlier, the Special Judge S.C./S.T. Act, Ambedkar Nagar in March this year had rejected their bail application following which they moved an appeal before the Allahabad High Court.  

Papachen and Sheeja were earlier booked under Sections 3 and 5 (1) of the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act and Section 3(1) of the SC/ST Act. They were arrested earlier this year on the basis of a complaint filed by a BJP functionary in Ambedkar Nagar district. 

Following the arguments by both sides, Justice Ahmad observed that there was no material to show that the appellants had used any undue influence or allurement to the said villagers for mass conversion.

According to the Court, the appellants were involved in providing good teachings to children and promoting the spirit of brotherhood among the villagers. Hence, the court further observed that there doesn’t appear to be the existence of any material which would suggest conversion by use of force.

Justice Shamim Ahmad also explained the scope of several Sections of the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Act 2021 and asserted that a stranger cannot lodge FIRs under the act. 

Justice Ahmad added that as per the mandate of the said provision, only a person who has been converted, his/ her parents, brother, sister, or any other person who is related to him/ her by blood, marriage, or adoption may lodge a first information report pertaining to the allegation of such conversion and no one else.

The court noted that the complainant in the case was not the competent person to lodge an FIR u/s 4 of the 2021 Act. 

Regarding this, Justice Ahmad said, “The complainant has no locus to lodge the present F.I.R. as provided under Section 4 of the Act, 2021 and there also appears force in the argument of learned counsel for the appellants that providing good teachings, distributing Holy Bible books, encouraging children to get an education, organising assembly of villagers and performing “Bhandara” and instructing the villagers not to enter into an altercation and also not to take liquor do not amount to allurement.” 

Accordingly, the court directed that the accused be released on bail.

Evangelical ‘preachers’ are ‘Christianising’ village after village

Christian missionaries and evangelical organisations are best known for their multilevel marketing techniques. Their network comprises healthcare centres, education centres, and everything that a family living in the hinterland or below the line of poverty is in need of.

With a multi-pronged ploy, they achieve their evangelical and one true objective by firstly detaching the villagers from their roots. In fact, a well-defined and well-designed strategy to uproot the Sanatan society which is the biggest hindrance to the imperialistic goals of the evangelists is to deploy these divisive tropes – 

“Tribals are not Hindus,” “Dalits are not Hindus,” “Hinduism is a conspiracy by the upper castes to oppress the lower castes and must be denounced as a religion” and many more. They even don’t shy from maligning the priest or desecrating the Gram Devata shrine’.  

The slow indoctrination is coupled with a slyly crafted inculturation campaign. This inculturation includes every possible way to disguise the Gospel in local culture and traditions be it through Yeshu Jayanthi to Yeshu Kathakali. 

The concept of inculturation is deeply enshrined in Christianity. It “denotes the presentation and re-expression of the Gospel inform and terms proper to a culture.”

Through techniques like ‘inculturation’ and ‘indoctrination’, evangelists have been achieving success in ‘Christianising’ village after village. 

While the exact number of forced or lured conversions is hard to arrive at, according to one estimate in a limited geographical span, the missionaries converted as many as 1 lakh people and adopted 50,000 villages in a span of one year. Claiming that the pandemic lockdown was ‘godsent’, they promised to provide medical aid and two square meals amidst the financial crisis and lured the hapless villagers into the fold of Christianity. 

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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