The MK Stalin-led DMK Government in Tamil Nadu has filed a counter-affidavit in response to Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s PIL before the Supreme Court seeking directions to the Government of India and State Governments to take stringent steps to control fraudulent religious conversions and direction to the Law Commission of India to prepare a draft anti-conversion law.
The DMK Government’s counter-affidavit, at the outset, attacks the petitioner who belongs to the ruling political party and claims that the PIL is ‘politically motivated.’ The counter-affidavit claims that the petitioner “is attempting to use the device of Public Interest Litigation to camouflage a thinly veiled attempt at furthering a particular agenda.”
The counter-affidavit states that Article 25 of the Constitution of India provides for the right to propagate religion. Furthermore, it states that “The right to propagate religion means the right to communicate one’s religious tenets to others by way of preaching, teaching and writing with the explicit intention of spreading the ideology of his religion.”
The counter-affidavit acknowledges that the propagation of religion might lead to violence which puts the maintenance of public order and safety at stake. “The task of the State is to maintain a balance between the right to propagate religion and the right of the public order and security of life. Article 25 of the Constitution, therefore, grants freedom to propagate religion “subject to public order,” states the counter-affidavit.
Lavanya Suicide Case
Lavanya, a 17-year-old girl in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur, was forced to commit suicide for her refusal to convert to Christianity. She had consumed poison on January 9, 2022, and struggled for her life in a hospital for 10 days before succumbing on January 19, 2022. It is pertinent to note that a DMK MLA Inigo Irudayaraj felicitated the hostel warden Sagaya Mary, accused of torturing Lavanya, with a shawl outside the Trichy Central jail after she was released on bail by the Thanjavur District Court in February 2022.
However, the DMK Government has denied that the minor girl committed suicide due to compulsion to convert to Christianity. Furthermore, the counter-affidavit claims, “The petitioner has chosen to quote the contents of the conversation which he alleges to have taken place between a reporter and Lavanya’s mother. There are hundreds of videos in the internet over the same subject discussing for and against Lavanya.” The counter-affidavit states, “as per the investigation done by the state police there is no concrete proof or clinching evidence to say that Lavanya committed suicide because of compulsion to convert to Christianity.”
The DMK Government claims that “the petitioner has made sweeping allegations against the DMK Government saying that the Government was determined to remove the conversion angle from the case of Lavanya’s suspicious death. The petitioner who belongs to the Bharathiya Janata Party, has attempted to convert the court proceeding into a Political fight by bringing in ideological politics into the matter. All the allegations made against the Government of Tamil Nadu are politically motivated,” in its counter-affidavit.
Furthermore, the DMK Government claims, “There are no instances of forceful conversion of religion reported in Tamil Nadu and the State has not done anything in Lavanya’s case as alleged by the petitioner,” in the counter-affidavit.
Forced Conversions in Tamil Nadu
In 2022, a Tamil Nadu woman tried to self-immolate due to harassment by converted Christians. Valarmathi, a resident of Karuppa Kudumban Pacheri near RS Mangalam in the Ramanathapuram district, said that converted Christians in her village are forcing her to embrace Christianity.
However, unable to bear the harassment of Christians and the inaction of the police on her complaint, she came to the Ramanathapuram Collectorate with a kerosene can and matchbox and tried to self-immolate in protest. Fortunately, fire safety personnel on the premises prevented her from alighting herself and sent her to the government hospital for treatment.
Talking to the media after she was saved from a self-immolation attempt, Valarmathi said that Christians in her area filed fake cases against her and harassed her by blocking the road and attacking family members.
In another instance, a Tamil local daily, Dinamalar, reported that more than 3000 Hindu residents of the village are denied access to the public road because they refused to convert to Christianity. The residents are scheduled caste.
In their petition to the district collector, the Hindu residents of the village have accused Fr Yesupadam, the administrative officer of the school run by the Catholic church, of forcing them to convert to Christianity. The villagers said that the Christian cleric built a compound wall around the church to block the public road.
On being questioned, the Christian cleric claimed that the land in question is a property of the church and he can build a wall around it. The residents of the village said that the road has been there for more than 100 years and people have been using it without any hindrance. But, now since it has been blocked, people are forced to travel a long distance to get access to public transportation facilities.
Nehemiah Push: Religious Conversion in Full Swing under DMK Rule
In Chennai, right under the nose of the DMK Government, evangelical elements have conducted a two-day conference on ‘how to increase the number of churches in unchurched villages’ and converting people to Christianity.
Since the DMK took over the mantle from AIADMK, proselytisation forces have a field day with official blessings. Organiser weekly has been bringing their nefarious activities regularly. Now the two-day conference of Christian outfits in Chennai last week showed their tenacity, openly setting a target for building churches in every nook and corner of the country where there are no prayer halls. Vision 2030 Nehemiah Push, strategic Church leaders meet in Chennai at a luxurious private hotel. The meeting held on January 10 and 11 and elaborated in-depth on achieving the targets.
The conference, attended by over 300 proselytisation agents/missionaries, resolved to build Churches in less than four lakh villages (in other words, towns where no Christians reside) to enable conversion activities to go on unhindered. According to sources and WhatsApp posts, “If four lakh means, at least one crore people have of different religions mainly Hindus have to be brought into their fold, i.e. Christianity.
If we do a back-of-the-envelope calculation, even for small hut size church or prayer hall needs roughly 20 lakhs, including land costs. To build four lakh Churches, around Rs 80,000 crores is required. To meet the 2030 target, they have to spend Rs 12,000 crores annually and per month Rs 1,000 crores. It is a whopping amount. They have to construct over 4,800 Churches monthly and 57,000 Churches annually. If they need 1,000 people per Church, they have set a target of 40 crore people to be converted.”