L Victoria Gowri , Advocate
KANYAKUMARI, the place renowned world over for its connection with Swami Vivekananda has become a Hindu minority district because of aggressive Christian evangelical activities and unbridled conversions. According to the 2001 census of the total population of 16,76,034, the Hindus are 8,59,307 and Christians are 7,45,406. Of the total SC-ST population of 73,597, 90 per cent of them and at least 20 per cent of the dominant Hindu Nadar caste population are Crypto Christians.
Thirty years earlier, in 1971, it had a total population of 11,82,000 of which seven lakh were Hindus, 4.30 lakh were Christians and 52,000 were Muslims.
The demographic change has had a huge social, political and economic impact on the Hindus. The Hindu activists are now being implicated in false cases. The police atrocities and Christians imperialism has reached new heights resulting in notice to each and every Hindu temple committee office bearers across the district under Section 111 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to secure bonds ensuring peace under Section 107of the Code of Criminal Procedure. More than four criminal cases under Section 307 IPC have been registered implicating Hindu activists since August 26, 2012. But not a finger is lifted to stop allured and forcible conversions and to prevent Christians from conceiving communal conflicts.
In another recent instance, C Dharmaraj, district BJP President, who was emerging as an activist resisting communal skirmishes, has been falsely implicated and named first accused in a murder case on the information of one of the members of Alancode-Nadaikavu CSI Church. Thereafter deterrent order under Section 144 of Cr. PC has been proclaimed in many areas across the district. On August 30, the police witch hunted the BJP cadres who protested the false implication of Dharmaraj. The State BJP President Pon Radhakrishnan was prevented from reaching the protest and arrested. More than 1,000 people courted arrest. Police brutally lathi charged in which 126 were injured including two, who were hurt in the head. Criminal cases were registered against Mananeeya Ramagopalji, Mananeeya Kesavavinayagamji, Pon Radhakrishnanji and many others.
For fifty years, the marginalised Hindus have been fighting the mighty Christian diocese. But now the situation is out of control. The Christian sectarianism and bigotry indulging in organised alluring conversions continuously has shrunk the majority Hindus to minorities. The demographic change and its electoral outcomes had influenced the politicians cutting across party lines, who have chosen to surrender and submit before the Church. Conversions have created adverse socio-economic ramifications with respect to Hindus. The people’s representatives of the electoral process have completely bowed before the wealthy Archbishops singing the choirs of sycophancy to garner minority votes.
This major demographic upheaval and the rising Christian numbers have escalated fault-line communal conflicts in this district. There are six lakh Catholics, around two lakh Protestants, Pentecost’s, Salvation Army and many other sects. Under the mighty leadership of RC Bishop Peter Remigious, the Roman Catholic empire expands with 170 full fledged parishes, four vicariates, 192 sub-stations and more than 10,000 village stations named Anbiyams in this small district. The Protestant Bishop Devakadaksham of the Church of South India has to his pride a total number of 1,600 churches in this tiny district of 1,672 square kilometers. And thousands of independent Pentecostal churches without appropriate sanction mushroom daily.
The religious conflicts began in 1963, when a section of Christian fishermen fixed a Cross in the rocks of Indian Ocean protesting the proposal to build a Rock Memorial for Swami Vivekananda. The proselytising approach went to the extent of naming Kanyakumari district named after Parvati after their Virgin Mary as Kanni Mary district. However Hindus succeeded to lay the foundation stone for Swami Vivekananda’s rock memorial on November 6, 1964. In 1975, the Christian fishermen forcibly stopped Vivekananda Kendra Administration’s ferry service to the rock memorial. The government of Tamil Nadu intervened to resolve the crisis by taking up the ferry service itself.
Thereafter, the intolerance of Christians increased. Hindu temples were invaded, every temple festival was interfered, and every Hindu festival was resisted. On February 28 , 1982, the famous Mondaikadu Bhagavaty Amman temple’s Maasi Kodai temple festival commenced. Immediately Christians played Christian songs loud with cone shaped horns continuously from the nearby Sahaya Mata Church. The next day, a few Christian aggressors raped a few women when they were taking the holy dip in the nearby AVM channel. The entire district was caught in the fire of religious animosity. As a result the police fired in two places in the district to control the situation. The Tamil Nadu Government, appointed Retd. Justice P Venugopal Commission to enquire the situation in the District. After elaborate investigation, Justice P Venugopal submitted his report to the government, which was accepted on September 21, 1985. The Tamil Nadu Law and Order Department passed an order (G.O.No:916 dated 9.4.1986) affirming to implement the recommendations of the Commission in this district. The said G.O.916 in fact insisted on the enactment of anti- conversion law in this district at the earliest. But the subsequent governments closed their eyes against the naïve Hindus. As a result after 1986, the wealthy Roman Catholic Bishop had purchased the entire age old Chunkankadai Ponmalai Sasha (Golden Mount of Lord Iyyappa) and had renamed the same as St. Xaviermalai (Mount St. Xavier). They have conquered a portion of Kaalimalai (Mount Kaali) forcibly with a Cross and had converted the same as Kurusumalai (Mount Cross). The entire village of Kumarapuram wherein Kumarakovil of Lord Muruga is situated has been completely purchased by Noorul Islam Majeed Khan. Thiruvithancode Periya Nayaki Amman Temple (Goddess Parvathi) has been transformed into Periyanayaki Virgin Mary Church. The compound wall of the 60 year old Ettamadai Astkaleeshwari Temple was unlawfully demolished and trespassed by the Ettamadai RC Church members. The list of Christian aggression is not ending. ‘Where there is a temple, there must be many Churches’ is their aggressive motto. Recently a Hindu, Radhakrishnan, who refused to embrace Islam after marrying a Muslim girl was brutally murdered in Parakai by Islamic fundamentalists.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has upheld more than once that, “Organised conversion, whether by force or fraud or by providing help or allurement to persons, taking undue advantage of their poverty and ignorance is anti-secular. Therefore conversion cannot be a secular activity. In short freedom of religion must be guaranteed to all, even to those who are subject to conversions by force, fraud or allurement.”
Justice Venugopal Commission’s recommendations as ratified by Tamil Nadu G.O.916 have already insisted that Anti-conversion Act could be the only strong medicine to treat the ailment of this district. Anti-conversion Acts are meant to avoid disturbances to the public order by prohibiting conversion from one religion to another in a manner reprehensible to the conscience of the community.
Baptising Kanyakumari can no longer be a local issue. A delegation of Member of Parliament, distinguished leaders and social workers should visit Kanyakumari, to probe the fall of a glorious tradition to dust, to help the situation from death to survival.
(The author is a National Secretary of BJP Mahila Morcha and the Prabhari of BJP Mahila Morcha – Kerala. She is practicing as an Advocate of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court).