The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has launched a special drive in rural areas of Punjab to keep a tab on conversion activities of the Christian missionaries.
Amid aggressive proselytisation campaigns run by the agenda-driven missionaries and videos circulating on social media platforms showing mass conversions in Punjab, the SGPC has come under attack from within the Sikh community for not doing enough to protect the faith.
The drive has been named Ghar Ghar Andar Dharamsaal (sacred shrine within every home). The campaign aims to distribute Sikh literature to the people in the villages of Punjab.
SGPC alleged that Christian missionaries, funded by foreign NGOs, are running conversion programmes in the villages of Punjab and luring the poor through cash and other incentives. A major lure offered to them by the Christian missionaries is the opportunity to settle abroad. The role of foreign funds for conversion has been a constant theme in the history of Christian conversion across India.
A majority of these conversions in Punjab are being reported from the rural and border belts of Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Ajnala, Majitha, Dera Baba Nanak, Fatehgarh Churian and Batala.
"Religion is a matter of spirituality. Forced conversion or luring someone can never be justified. All Sikhs should support the SGPC in strengthening the campaign against forced conversions. It is a very serious challenge for us and we have to combat it. SGPC campaign should run all over India. Right now, we have been focusing on the areas that are more affected” — Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh
On October 12, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, the head priest of the Sikh community’s highest temporal seat, said that the Christian missionaries have been running a campaign in the border belt for forced conversions over the past few years. Innocent people are being cheated or lured to convert. We have received many such reports.
He further said, “Religion is a matter of spirituality. Forced conversion or luring someone can never be justified. All Sikhs should support the SGPC in strengthening the campaign against forced conversions. It is a very serious challenge for us and we have to combat it. The SGPC campaign should run all over India. Right now, we have been focusing on the areas that are more affected”.
“When we don’t force anyone to join our religion by greed, then no one has the right to ask the followers of our religion to convert by greed or pressure”, said the Jathedar of Akal Takht.
Under the campaign, 150 teams, comprising seven preachers each, have been dispatched to the villages in Punjab. The teams will stay in the villages for a week and go from door–to–door to distribute Sikh literature.
They gather children at the local gurdwara to teach them the correct Gurbani recitation and create awareness about Sikh history, culture, and philosophy. Thereafter, Diwan (religious congregation) is staged by the preachers, Dhadis (ballad singers) and Kavishars (folk singers) to sensitise the community members about their faith and values.
Under the campaign, SGPC will also approach families that have converted to dialogue with them and make them take pride in Sikh beliefs.
The Dalit Sikh community in Punjab constitutes 30 per cent of the population and has been the major target of Christian proselytisation activities. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh himself hails from the Dalit Sikh community.