The issue pertaining to illegal conversion and its ramifications in the remote terrain of Chhattisgarh has surfaced once again as a fresh tussle has erupted between the villagers and the local administration over the burial of the people from the Christian community in Bastar.
The controversy over the burial has erupted after residents of a number of tribal (Janjati/Vanvasi) dominated villages of Lohandiguda block launched a protest against a newly allotted space for a Christian crematorium in Mechnar village of Bastar, according to reports floating in the media.
According to the details, the residents of as many as four villages are now protesting against the local administration’s decision to provide land for a Christian crematorium in the said village.
The protest erupted after the local administration allegedly advised the members of the Christian community to bury their dead one’s at the said location, triggering protests from the residents of the vicinity. It’s been learned that the villagers also staged a sit-in protest and demanded to disallow the burial at the said place.
Now that the villagers have taken the matter to the streets, the local administration is reportedly engaging with them to resolve the issue. However, as of now, the efforts of the administration to find an amicable solution to the issue have turned out to be futile, as the villagers of the surrounding area have refused to discontinue their sit-in until a solid assurance is given from the administration.
Tussle over burials
It is worth mentioning here that the tussle between the local Vanvasi Hindu community and the newly converted Christians over burials of the dead ones of the latter is not new, and similar instances of communal scuffles occurred earlier as well.
In a similar case reported from the Parpa police station limits of Bastar itself, the members of both communities indulged in a violent clash that led to the injuries of a number of people in March last year.
The confrontation between the communities occurred after family members of a 58-year-old lady from a converted Christian family of Bhejripardar village tried to bury her in the village surroundings, to which the local Hindu Vanvasis objected and asked the family to either bury the deceased outside of the village or to get reverted to Sanatan.
It was then reported that after a brief argument, the altercation between the groups turned violent, leading to the injuries of people from both communities.
Further, a few policemen had also reportedly sustained some minor injuries in the incident, following which additional forces were rushed to the village. The altercation came to an end on the third day after the villagers allowed the burial to take place in the private land of the deceased family with some reservations.
Scuffle over illegal conversion
It is pertinent to mention here that the growing cases of conversion in the Vanvasi-dominated regions of the State have also led to serious confrontation between the two communities in recent years.
This includes altercations between the communities in Gorra village of Narayanpur in January, Ghoraha village of Bemetra in May, and Kondre and Polampalli village of Sukma district in September and June, respectively, last year.
The growing tussle over conversion and issues pertaining to it such as burials of the dead and reservations, have also inspired the Hindu community to hit the streets with a demand for a nationwide delisting exercise to identify those who have converted and embraced other religions by leaving the tradition and belief system of the Vanvasi community.
The debate over illegal conversion and its ramifications in the Vanvasi-dominated regions has also led the newly elected Chhattisgarh government to mull over enacting a stringent anti-conversion law in the state to stop illegal conversion.