In what appears to be a strategic move following its Bastar conclave in August, the Chhattisgarh BJP has got aggressive on the issue of alleged conversions in the state by Christian missionaries.
The party, which has been conducting demonstrations and protests in different districts on the issue, is now planning to get mass FIRs lodged at different police stations across the state simultaneously on September 15.
Office bearers at all 404 mandals (sectors) of the party will carry documents related to conversion cases in their areas to the local police station with a demand to register FIR, state BJP spokesman Gouri Shanker Shrivas told THE WEEK.
The mass action will be in response to the Congress stand that there are no complaints related to conversion pending at any police stations in the state. “They asked us to show cases and complaints and we will do so en masse on September 15 and then see what action the government takes,” Shrivas said.
The Congress has retorted saying that if particular cases of forced conversions are brought to the notice, action will be taken by the government within 24 hours as promised. Spokesman R.P. Singh said that the BJP has been hurling general accusations of conversion but has not been able to cite a single case with documentary evidence till now.
“The truth is that during the 33-month regime of the Congress government, not even a single application of legal conversion was made anywhere in the state, let alone any complaint of illegal or forced conversion. We want them to cite cases and see whether action is taken or not,” Singh said.
He also accused the BJP of trying to play politics of religious hatred after losing all their pet issues in the state. “They have lost their core issue of Lord Ram as the Bhupesh Baghel government is constructing the Ram Van Gaman Path and government funded temple of Mata Kaushalya; the issue of cows as the government has started the Gothan scheme where funds for cow conservation goes directly to villagers and farmers and youth. So, they are trying to rake up this hate-filled issue for their politics,” Singh added.
BJP has always kept the issue of conversion by Christian missionaries alive in Chhattisgarh, but the recent and sudden spur in the issue is being seen as a result of the Bastar conclave that reportedly directed the senior leaders in the state to take united and strong stands on popular issues.
Consequently, the BJP has been organising demonstrations and protests against alleged attempts of conversion in various districts and a huge ‘silent rally’, despite pouring rain, was held on September 11 in capital Raipur with all key leaders including ex-chief minister Raman Singh, leader of opposition Dharamlal Kaushik, state BJP chief Vishnu Deo Sai and ex-ministers like Brijmohan Agrawal and Rajesh Munat attending. A memorandum was also submitted to the governor Anusuiya Uike.
On the day, Raman Singh warned the government of strong action (eenth se eenth baja denge) by the BJP in case the conversions under its protection did not stop.
Earlier, on September 6, a Christian priest was beaten up inside a Raipur police station by BJYM activists, accusing him of attempting conversion. Later, BJP also protested the case registered against seven BJYM activists in this regard.