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VHP stepping up its drive to Hinduise tribal belts of Bihar

VHP stepping up its drive to Hinduise tribal belts of Bihar

Author: Ashish Sinha
Date: The Hindustan Times
Date: July 29, 2000

A senior VHP functionary of south Bihar has said that the creation of small states like Mizoram and Nagaland in the northeast, as also Kerala and Goa, has made the Hindus there "second-class citizens".

The VHP, and organisations sympathetic to it, have been holding a series of "special programmes" in the region that began with a Sarna (tribal religion) meet at Bedo (near Ranchi) nearly two months back.  Local pahans (priests) attended the meet that was dubbed by some Adivasi groups as "an attempt to Hinduise" the tribals and their religious practices, a charge VHP vehemently denies.

Soon after, a training camp of Bajrang Dal volunteers was held in the city, followed by VHP working committee meeting where an "action plan" was decided.

The Govansh Rakshan Parishad (Save Cow Council), which held a meeting this month, has planned another function at Hazaribagh in August.  While Sanskrit Bharati, a cultural organisation, said to be close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), held a programme in mid-July, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch recently organised a state-level meet.  The Durga Vahini too has already announced that it would hold a state-level training camp soon.

VHP's state vice-president and chief of publicity Ganga Prasad Yadav said: "Our people are being targeted by the missionaries.  At least two VHP activists were killed in the Khunti region.  The Catholic Church has found the need to create four dioceses - Ranchi, Khunti, Simdega and Gumla, out of the earlier one Ranchi diocese.  The sole intention is to convert more and more people.  We have information that they want to construct one church in every village.  We have accepted the challenge.  Our fight will continue till conversions, fuelled by foreign funding, come to an end."

Asked if their activities had any relations with the likely creation of a new state, the VHP functionary said, "Christian missionaries want to emerge as a new force in the new state.  They are centralising their strength.  We are consolidating our force and expanding our reach."

Mr Yadav said the VHP's concept of ekal vidyalayas (one-teacher schools) has been a "big success" in the villages.  "Till date, nearly 400 such schools are functioning in rural Jharkhand.  We plan to increase their numbers.  Ekal vidyalayas can best counter the designs of the Church because they impart education based on Hindu samskara," he added.

The number of schools (Saraswati shishu mandir) run by the RSS in Jharkhand is approximately 10,000, though these are situated in urban areas.

The VHP functionary alleged that the missionaries were on a "land-grabbing spree" in some areas of Jharkhand.  "We have information that 50 acres of government land was grabbed by some fundamentalist Christian groups in Khunti.  These people simply came and erected a cross in the fields belonging to tribals.  Similar instances have been reported from other areas."

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