By Sanjaya Jena in Bhubaneswar
Hon?ble Orissa High Court has finally intervened and has directed the Government to look to the plight of few cobbler families facing ?coercion? to be converted to Christianity in the Ganjam district of the state.
Police and law is yet to bring any solace to Alekh Bej'sfamily in Dhenkanal district of Orissa. Bej family'sonly daughter Jyotirmaye was killed at the instance of ?missionary zealots?, the family FIR said. The family and the circumstantial evidence said this happened as the family refused to shun their religion in favour of Christianity.
While the law and order authorities are yet to concede to the fact that the brutal murder of Jyotirmayee was consequence of her family'srefusal to be converted to Christianity, Hon?ble Orissa High Court has come out with notices to home department officials to explain plight of cobbler families in Ganjam district, over their exploitation again at the behest of missionaries coercing them to be converted to Christianity.
The Orissa High Court has seriously viewed the alleged plight of 22 families of a cobbler community at Mallabhandaja village under Digapahandi Police Station in Ganjam district after they refused to be converted to Christianity.
The issue of conversion, involving coercion in the form of socially ostracising 22 families, was taken up as public interest litigation and directions were issued to the state government to clarify the steps taken for the rescue of the alleged victim families.
Dalua Tabatia and others of Mallabhandaja village had sought judicial intervention alleging that fines to the tune of Rs 21,501 were being imposed on persons who were refusing to be converted to Christianity.
They were also being tied to trees and punished for it as per the decision of the Nikhila Utkal Ambedkar Mochikula Samaj. Social boycott of 22 families formed a part of the decision, the petition alleged.
The petitioners also alleged that petitions to the collector and the SP, seeking protection against forcible conversion, had evoked no response.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S.B Roy and Justice L.K Mohapatra issued notices to the state home secretary, Ganjam collector, Ganjam SP, officer in Charge of Digapahandi Police Station and the Nikhila Utkal Ambedkar Mochikula Samaj.
It may be noted that Orissa Freedom of Religion Act (OFRA) stipulates stringent action against persons involved in coercing people or using fraudulent means like bribing or befooling in conversion.