Tension prevailed in the Bhejripadar village under Parpa police station limits of Bastar after clashes erupted between two village groups over the cremation of an old lady who died on March 18.
As per the information received, a 58-year-old lady of a converted Christian family in the village died on March 18, after which the family members of the deceased tried to cremate the body of the lady in the village surroundings, to which the local Hindu Vanvasis objected and asked the family to either cremate the body to the outside of the village or to get converted back to the Sanatan fold.
It was learnt that after a brief dialogue, the altercation between the group turned violent. A few Hindu villagers including Umesh Muchaki, Jagra Muchaki and others got injured.
It’s been reported that the Christian family then informed the local police about the incident, after which a police team led by ASP Nivedita paul visited the village and tried for an amicable solution, however, it’s been learnt that after the Christian family handed over the body to the police and asked them to cremate the body, the Hindu villagers lodged a strong protest to it which ultimately led to stone pelting between the groups in the presence of the police.
A few people, including some policemen, reportedly sustained some minor injuries in the incident, after which additional forces were rushed to the village, it’s been reported that after three days of altercation, the Hindu villagers allowed the cremation to take place in the private land of the deceased family with some reservations.
Meanwhile, the opposition BJP has constituted an 11 members committee, including former Home Minister of the State Nanhku Ram, former Minister Kedar Kashyap and former MP Dinesh Kashyap, to investigate the matter; the team paid a visit to the village and met the victims on March 21.
Interacting to the media after the visit, former MLA and Minister Kedar Kashyap alleged that there is rampant conversion going on in Bastar, the local Vanvasi are being targeted and beaten up, but the administration has failed to act on the missionaries due to pressure exerted upon them by the incumbent government.
The voices of the tribals are not being heard, we have come here for justice and we will definitely raise this issue in the state assembly, added Mr Kashyap.
On the other hand, the local police and the administration is keeping a vigilant eye on the situation; it’s been reported that area domination exercises are being conducted in Bhejripardar and the surrounding villages to prevent any untoward incident.
The Organiser also spoke with the VHP leader Chandrasekhar Verma on the issue, who quoted that ” all the land of the villages traditionally belongs to the Hindu Vanvasi community; therefore anyone who has converted to Christianity should cremate their deceased’s to the mission-owned crematorium.
The local administration should also hold talks with the Christian bodies that they should cremate their dear ones to the missionary-owned crematoriums; this will settle the dispute once and for all, added Verma.
It is to be noted that this is not the first time that clashes have erupted between Christian groups and local Hindus in the region as in a similar kind of incident in the neighbouring Narayanpur District, dozens of people from the local Hindu community were attacked by the mission backed mob on January 1, 2023, for protesting against the illegal conversions in the area. The incident triggered wide-scale protests and shutdowns from the local Hindu community, during which a few more clashes with the Christian groups were also reported.