On October 26, 2022, the news about the detention of three Swedish missionary preachers from a Swedish evangelical organisation called Good News To All People (GNTAP) broke Assamese news channels’ otherwise calm morning news hours. The three Swedish nationals, Hannah Mikaela Bloom, Marcus Arne Henrik Bloom and Susanna Elisabeth Hakanason, were arrested by Dibrugarh police while officiating a Miracle Healing session (Changai Sabha) at a tea garden area of Naharkatia.
Swedish Preachers from ‘Good News To All People’
The Healing Crusade titled “Peace and Healing Prayer Festival” was being organised at a little-known place in the interiors of Naharkatia called Ghinai with the support of two clandestine missionary fronts called the United Churches Fellowship (UCF) and Bless Assam Mission Network (BAMN), both floated for the specific purposes of organising this particular healing crusade stunt. As per sources, while UCF is a front floated by the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran (GEL) Church, the BAMN on the other hand is a front working under the aegis of the Council of Baptist Churches of North East India (CBCNEI), and Misson India, which in turn is a front of the American Baptist Mission floated for the specific purpose of carrying out proselytisation work inside India.
Assam Police intercepted Swedish foreign missionaries while officiating their first proselytisation programme in Naharkatia; however, the Swedish evangelists had one more similar event lined up in the adjacent district of Tinsukia, from October 28-30, 2022 and was reportedly cancelled after the deportation of the foreign preachers, who were the main charm of the event supposed to allure the masses into conversion. While the first event was being organised under the aegis of Ghinai GEL Church through as UCF, the next was being organised by the Panikhowa Baptist Church, Tinsukia, through BAMN.
In what can be termed a historic turn of events, Assam Police within 48 hours of detaining and deporting the Swedish preachers, intercepted another group of seven German missionary evangelists affiliated with the Gossner Mission Berlin while returning from a proselytisation workshop at Rongorha Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church (GEL Church), Karbi Anglong. Assam police detained the German evangelist group at a resort near Kaziranga National Park and were subsequently fined 500 dollars each and deported. According to a press brief on the issue by GP Singh, Special DGP, Assam Police, the German delegation was being led by one Indian missionary Mukut Bodra, a resident of Jharkhand and a liaison officer for the Ranchi headquarters of GEL Church of Chottanagpur and Assam. The police detained Mukut Bodra along with a local evangelist from Karbi Anglong for further questioning.
The menace of Healing Crusades is neither new, nor is the issue of foreign missionaries violating tourist visa norms and participating in the proselytisation of gullible Hindus under a pseudo alibi of miracle healing of chronic diseases. Often aided by the Indian overground Missionary agents, these foreign preachers have a long history of having had a free run in proselytising the North Eastern states of India, so much so that few states in the region are now Christain Majority and indigenous Faith systems and traditions have been entirely erased.
Assam had been repeatedly subjected to these attempts in the past, but since Himanta Biswa Sarma has been sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Assam, it has been objectively established that his no-nonsense attitude when dealing with issues related to Islamic radicalisation or that of Christian Proselytisation. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is believed to have individually tasked GP Singh, the Special DGP in charge of Law and Order and the famous Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Assam to tackle these two challenges that are posing a serious threat to the demographic stability of the state. The highly decorated IPS officer of the 1991 batch, Assam Cadre, is considered a confidant of the Assam Chief Minister and has a long history of excelling in difficult waters. During his stint in the NIA, GP Singh played an instrumental role in breaking the bogey of the saffron terror notion and handled sensitive cases such as the Samjhauta Express Blast and cases of terror financing in J&K, Punjab and NE. Another significant achievement credited to GP Singh was quelling the Anti-CAA agitations of Assam within 36 hours of being specially flown to Assam from his assignment at NIA in Delhi.
In just one month, the Assam Police had successfully detected, detained, fined and deported 3 Swedish, 7 German and 17 Bangladeshi preachers who had sneaked into Assam on tourist visas and were participating in proselytisation and radicalisation programmes in various parts of the State.
What is worth mentioning is the fact that when the entire country was celebrating these exemplary actions taken by the Assam Government, the reaction of the Congress party to these incidents has become a source of criticism and shame. Comments made by its Assam spokesperson, Manjit Mahanta defending the foreign missionaries and opposing Assam police action for reasons best known to him and the congress party has only further cemented their anti-Nation Society stance in front of the digital age voters.
However, in light of these actions, some more pertinent questions need to be addressed by both the Union Government and as well as by the respective State Government, for as these actions come to the limelight, it is evident that we are only treating symptoms of a deadlier disease called proselytisation, that needs to be addressed at the earliest before conversion disrupts the demographic threshold. While the Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) 1954 and the foreigner’s Act 1946 are some potential solutions to treat the symptoms, a more stringent, efficient and objective law is needed to uproot the very evil of illegal proselytisation from the State and the entire country.
Amendments to the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act 1954 and the Foreigners Act 1946 is now a crucial necessity, and it is important that this government which is known for addressing tough questions, doesn’t shy away from taking them up for the task. The two laws, if not an immediate solution to the disease in question, are a tool for a willing government and an efficient police force aware of the challenges of conversion to at least break the speed of conversion and strategical support received by the conversion mafia from their international handlers.