It was a historic moment when most of the major Vanvasi leaders of the North-East came under a single umbrella, leaving behind their differences, to start a new era of peace and harmony, confidence and unity. Janajati Faith and Culture Protection Forum organised a three-day conference at Hojai, Nagaon, Assam, from September 5, in which 342 leaders from 56 Vanvasi communities representing their major 46 organisations along with more than 500 delegates (both male and female), several scholars and experts from all over India, took part to discuss all complicated and critical issues, which had endangered the existence of Vanvasis, their peace, harmony, livelihood, unity and integrity. Inaugurating the conference, Guru Tulku Rimpoche of Abbot of Tawang Monastry (Arunachal Pradesh) said: ?Faith and culture are one'sidentity and it is our foremost duty to preserve our age-old culture and faith. Conversion of people by enticement and allurement is totally against the practice of religion. This kind of religious conversion should not be encouraged or followed furthermore; forced conversion is not good at all. In this regard, China'srole is suspicious. It is claiming half of Arunachal Pradesh and fuelling the separatist elements in the region.?
Shri B.B. Jamatia, president of the Forum, made the leaders aware of the Supreme Court of India'sruling that ?A Scheduled Tribe member shall continue to be a member of the tribe even after conversion to a different religion, however if he/his ancestors have not been following the customs, rituals and other traditions, which are required to be followed by the members of the tribe and even has not been following the customary laws of succession, inheritance, marriage etc, he may not be accepted a member of the tribe.? He said that the church is violating the customs, rituals, culture, festivals and faith of forefathers, so the converts should not be allowed to enjoy the rights and privileges given to the Vanvasi people by the Constitution of India. It is unfortunate that the governments are providing all rights given to the Vanvasis to the converts too. There should be a massive and nationwide movement against this practice, he added.
Citing an example, he further added that the Jamatia Vanvasis had drafted and enforced a customary law, which has been approved by the government. Due to this law, conversion is being checked. He appealed to all Vanvasis to draft, enforce and get such customary approved by the goernment for their respective communities.
Shri Indresh Kumar, National Executive Member of RSS, said so far in the world, church has ruined more than hundred indigenous civilisations and now it is active in the North-East for the same. In the world history church alone had killed more than 150 crore of people of which almost one crore were women. Why do people in several countries today boycott the Pope'svisit? It is a big question. Pope is seen apologising for the missdeeds of the church authorities. It is a big question as to why church is against the freedom of religious bill. It means church activity is unlawful and illegal. Regarding unrest and unemployment, he said there are more than 80 lakh illegal Bangladeshi Muslims living in the North-East, snatching more than 30 lakh jobs from the local youths, thereby putting an extra burden of Rs. 360 crore annually on the government.
Dr Krishna Gopal, Kshetra Pracharak, said in Brahmputra-Barrak valley 3000 new Muslim villages have come up, more than 6000 villages in Assam are controlled by Muslims. The situation in the North-East is more volatile and dangerous than that in Kashmir.
In the conference, the Vanvasi leaders blamed the central and state governments, headed by the Congress for the worst situation in the North-East. Vote Bank politics is solely responsible for all the crisis, leaders claimed.
Yide Potam, a Galong Vanvasi leader from Arunachal Pradesh, expressed his concern over how Christian missionaries in the name of modern education are ruining the indigenous languages and culture. He appealed to the delegates to promote primary education in their mother tongue. Citing several instances, Rajbansi Vanvasi leader Sripad Barman made the delegates aware of the evil design of the foreign forces to divide and get engaged the Vanvasis in fighting among themselves. Gogoi Lingi, a Lingi leader, stated that it is unfortunate that foreign elements are getting strength both from our governments and from foreign governments, whereas nationalist forces are being deprived of their legal rights by our governments.
Shri Teche Guvin, president, Nisyi Vanvasi community said it is the need of the hour to open several prayer halls and welfare centres of the respective Vanvasi communities. Nisyi community has done such thing by opening more than 400 prayer halls-cum-welfare centres in which they worship Doni-Polo (sun-moon). It has given a new hope and aspiration to the community. It has not only checked the conversion but has been successful in bringing back to home, the converts too.
An American scholar, Shri B.B Parker, said that in the world, Christianity has failed to give the people peace and happiness. People in the West are lacking interest in church and Christianity. They are getting fed up with church activities day-by-day. For the real peace and happiness, they are looking beyond Christianity, looking towards the great Indian culture, faiths and traditions.
Shri Jagdev Ram Oraon, national president of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, assured the leaders of the North-East that all the Vanvasi people of the country are with the North-East Vanvasis. Shri Somaiya Julu, National Executive member of VKA, said the problem facing the North-East is the problem of India as a whole; it'sa national problem.
The leaders from Tagin, Mismi, Ade, Hilmiri, Apatani, Tokta, Karbi, Dimasa, Kachari, Bodo, Dewri, Reang, Narginary, Basumatari, Khasi, Garo, Jayantia, Hazong, Koch, Rongmoi, Maring, Leliyang, Munda, Santhali, Oraon, Angami, Tripuri, Lepcha, Subba, Sherpa, Tamang and other Vanvasi communities from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya addressed the convention in different sessions. Shri Jaleswar Brahma proposed a vote of thanks.