Two women evangelists from Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu, are currently detained for inquiry and may face deportation from Sri Lanka following allegations of engaging in religious conversion activities.
Maravanpulavu K Sachithananthan of Siva Senai, in a release dated February 2, reported that the women, one from Chennai and one from Thoothukudi, had been attempting to convert Hindus in the Chundikuli area of Jaffna town over the past week.
Siva Sena cadres initially intervened and chased the women away after observing their proselytising activities. However, the evangelists reportedly resumed their activities despite the warning. Under Sri Lankan laws, attempting to proselytise is considered an offence, especially for foreigners arriving on tourist entry visas.
In the release, Sachithananthan highlighted previous cases of deportations involving individuals engaged in evangelical activities in Sri Lanka. Notable instances included the expulsion of Mohan Lazarus and the deportation of Paul Dhinakaran from Jaffna. The immigration department had also expelled Lazarus’ Jesus Redeems ministry from Chilaw, and four foreigners on tourist visas engaging in evangelism in Vavuniya were deported.
Sharing copies of the passport details of the detained women with the Jaffna police, Sachithananthan asserted the authenticity of his claims. He stated that the police are actively seeking other individuals who may have arrived with the two women, suspecting the formation of small groups to carry out conversion activities.
The release emphasised the economic challenges faced by the people of Sri Lanka amid the country’s unprecedented economic situation. India has extended financial assistance to address the crisis, providing about $4 billion for economic recovery, relief materials, and medicines. Despite the dire economic circumstances, the evangelical elements are accused of exploiting the vulnerability of the local population by engaging in forceful religious conversions.
Critics question the desperation of Abrahamic religions in attempting conversions, especially when their faiths are considered popular and attractive. The current situation has raised concerns about the ethical implications of engaging in religious conversion activities, particularly in regions facing economic hardship and health crises.
The Jaffna police are actively investigating the matter and searching for potential accomplices or individuals who may have arrived in Sri Lanka on tourist visas with the intention of engaging in similar conversion efforts.