By Shiv Narayan Singh
KILIPAL, a tiny village in Jagatsinghpur district, lying nearly 50 km away from Cuttack on the Cuttack-Paradeep route was an ordinary, unknown village, which came into limelight recently. This fact proves true when one notes the observation made by Justice Mahendra Nath Pattanaik, District Sessions Judge in the famous Staines murder case that ?conversion spree by Christian missionaries in remote areas is leading to serious social tension.? The collective decision of the alert villagers not to allow conversion any more, that encouraged some of the converts to return to their original Hindu fold, has created ripples in an otherwise peaceful Orissa. This comes on the steps of the reported smuggling of six converted women from Kilipal to Bhubaneswar by the church authorities and parading them before the media to allege that they were victimised and forced to be tonsured and embrace Hinduism.
Kilipal, a village of nearly 174 families was a cent per cent Hindu village 12 years ago. The people used to live in peaceful co-existence. But Gouranga Malik and his brother Prafulla Malik of nearby Kanimul village induced Subas Samal of Kilipal village to get converted to Christianity in 1992. That marked an ugly beginning. Subas was appointed as pastor of Kanimula church and put in charge of converting the other gullible villagers, particularly the poor Harijans.
As a result, 23 persons from seven families became Christians. Failing to convince the elder Harijans, the missionaries then targetted the minor boys and girls. The boys and girls, after embracing Christianity despite the vehement opposition of their parents, began rebelling and left their homes. Some of them like Sujit, the son of Amitarani Jena and Mamta, as also Namrata, daughter sof Niranjan Bhoi are reported to be still missing.
The local Harijans were faced with a piquant situation as they were perceived to be hobnobbing with anti-Hindu forces. They had to face an undeclared social boycott. The staunch Hindu hearts of the Harijans forced them to approach the village elders to wipe out the stigma. Amitarani Jena and Sukadev Samal logded a complaint against Subas Samal and Gouranga Malik.
On the insistence of the affected persons, the village committee met several times and in a meeting in the presence of the converted persons, it was collectively and unanimously decided that conversion would not be allowed any more. The converted persons agreed on their own to return to the Hindu fold as they realised the conspiracy behind the conversion.
A yagna was arranged on 15 February for paribartan. Many males and females tonsured their heads of their own volition. Interestingly, Subas Samal, the pastor who was responsible for converting so many villagers was present in the meeting and consented to become Hindu again. It was a serious setback to the Christian lobby.
They decided to launch a damage control exercise by persuading the converted persons not to return to the Hindu fold, but the majority of them declined. Of course, the church leaders from Bhubaneswar succeeded in smuggling six Harijan women to Bhubaneswar. This was done in the wee hours to avoid the watchful eyes of the villagers.
These smuggled women were paraded before the media to spread the lie that Christians of Kilipal village were being subjected to harrasment, victimisation, persecution by Hindus and were being made to bear the brunt of tonsure as they refused to forsake Christianity. This so-called torture news hogged the headline of vernacular newspapers. But investigation conducted by police, administration and media nailed the canard meticulously upon the church lobby. Shri Suresh Palsania, the Superintendent of Police, Jagatsinghpur, who personally visited the village has categorically admitted to Times of India that not a single case of torture had happened.
It is interesting to note that the church leaders in general and the so-called tortured women in particular have not lodged any formal complaint with the police; rather they are using the media to air their grievances.
On the other hand, separate complaints of inducement to convert and abduction of minor boys have been filed in the police station. On the basis of media reports the police has registered a case suo moto and is investigating the entire matter.
Hindu Jagaran Samukhya?a leading Hindu organisation of Orissa, reacting to the so-called incident in Kilipal has alleged that it is a self-inflicted handiwork designed to distort the truth. The organisation feels that it is actually a step to attempt fresh conversion to Christianity in the village.
Shri Ashok Kumar Sahu, IPS (retd.) and president of Samukhya, has said that earlier also such incidents had been taking place in large numbers in the interiors of the state. Shri Sahu has warned that more such incidents might take place in other parts of the state unless conversion by missionaries in violation of Section 3 of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act was stopped forthwith. The Hindu Jagaran Samukhya also presented before the media Smt Amita Rani Jena, whose son Sujit and Shri Niranjan Bhoi, whose daughters Mamata and Namrata, after converting to Christianity, are missing. Shri Golakh Rout, who has returned to Hinduism has also narrated his story to mediamen.