Indian pastor accused of converting tribal people Christian leader denies the charge made by Hindu and Sikh organizations in Jharkhand state
A Hindu organization has been joined by a Sikh group in demanding the arrest of a pastor for organizing faith-healing sessions to lure tribal people into Christianity in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or World Hindu Council accused Pastor Ravi Singh and his wife of conducting a Changai Sabha (healing ministry) from their home in Nanak Nagar in Jamshedpur city’s Golmuri area.
The VHP and a Sikh organization, Jharkhand Gurdwara Management Committee, staged a protest against Pastor Singh on Feb. 27 and accused Chief Minister Hemant Soren of failing to take action against him
Media reports said state police briefly detained Pastor Singh that day but released him in the evening.
Ratan Tirkey, a member of the Jharkhand government’s tribal advisory council, denied the allegations of religious conversions against the pastor.
“As per information from our sources, Pastor Singh embraced Christianity some time back and is involved in spreading awareness among the youth about the importance of education and their rights,” he told UCA News.
“Pastor Singh is being misunderstood by Hindu activists as a missionary indulging in religious conversion activities. We have no information about his converting anybody.”
He said Hindu activists often accuse Christian missionaries of conversion activities without any basis or proof. “The VHP and other fanatic groups need to read the constitution of India to know about religious freedom granted to the citizens of this country,” the Catholic lay leader said.
Tirkey said Christians would not be a small minority group in Jharkhand if conversions were rampant as alleged by the Hindu organizations.
But local Hindus and Sikhs stuck to their accusation that the pastor was running a mass conversion racket in the state. They pointed out reports of the mass conversion of 30 tribal families in Gumla in December 2021.
Likewise in 2020, a Santhali tribal person had allegedly confessed how he was pressurized by a pastor to embrace Christianity, they alleged.
An anti-conversion law enacted by Jharkhand in 2017 bans religious conversion by force or allurement and provides for up to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of 50,000 rupees (US$800).
Jharkhand has 1.4 million Christians among its population of 33 million, most of them tribal people.