World

RANCHI – The Hindu extremist group, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has launched a “Christianity-free” block campaign in eastern Indian state of Jharkhand despite warning of action against proselytisation of tribals.

At least 53 families in five tribal-dominated villages “returned to Hindu fold” in the last one month as part of the RSS campaign in the mineral-rich state, according to Hindustan Times.

These families live in villages that are part of the Sindri panchayat, which the RSS says has been “hijacked” by Christian missionaries over the last 10 years.

“You cannot call it conversion. We are only bringing our lost brothers and sisters back to their religion,” said RSS Saiyojak Laxman Singh Munda, who is spearheading the campaign.

“We want a Christianity-free block. The villagers will soon return to their roots.”

The ‘ghar wapsi’ would continue throughout April.

Ghar wapsi, the Hindi word for homecoming, is the proselytising campaign launched by some Hindu outfits to convert non-Hindus and “bringing them back into the fold of Hinduism”.

The RSS, which the ideological parent of the ruling BJP, and its various affiliates have been accused of terrorising and forcing people into changing their religion.

Last week, at least seven Christian families – including tribals and non-tribals – underwent a Shuddhikaran, or a ‘purification ceremony’ in Kochasindhri village.

Tribals account for 26.2% of Jharkhand’s population of 33 million. Around 4.5% of these tribals are Christians while the remaining follow the Sarna code.

Over the years, several tribals in Jharkhand have embraced Christianity.

Rights activists have called the practice wrong as tribals were not Hindus and worshipped nature.

“If at all this is happening, the tribals are being wronged since they are not Hindus. So, there is no question of ghar wapsi,” Father Sten Swamy told Hindustan Times.

Though Sarna tribe worships Mother Nature and claims to belong to a non-Hindu, non-Muslim and non-Christian faith they are recognised as Hindus in the census and other socio-economic surveys. The tribe has been petitioning the government to be recognised as a separate faith.