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Primitive tribes families convert to Christianity in Jharkhand

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Ranchi: Driven by poverty, over 100 families of primitive tribes have converted to Christianity in Jharkhand’s Gumla district, prompting the VHP to demand a probe into the role of missionaries, sources said on Monday.

Over 100 families belonging to Ghaghra and Visunpur bocks were converted, but the local media put the number at more than 300, administrative sources said.

Asur, one of the nine primitive tribes of Jharkhand, is facing a population decline.

The converted villagers said they took the decision to ensure education for their children. The villages lack basic facilities — roads, electricity, school and health centres.

The Gumla authorities said they would probe the issue.

“Some conversions in the district have been reported last week and some cases of conversions are old. We will probe both; all the reported conversions to find out the truth,” Dinesh Chandra Mishra, deputy commissioner of Gumla district said over phone.

“People converted by their will or they have been allured will be ascertained only after probe,” he said.

Condemning the religious conversion of the primitive tribes people, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) sought a probe into the Christian missionaries’ role.

“The role of Christian missionaries should be probed. The primitive tribes whose population is declining in the state has been converted into christianity under a design,” Pramod Mishra, the VHP’s Bihar and Jharkhand Dharam Prsar head, said.

“Non-tribal people living in the same area. But why did they not convert on the same reason? The primitives tribes have been allured and converted. The funding of missionaries activities should also be probed,” he added.

(IANS)

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Citizen of Lao Punished For Practicing His Christian Faith

The latest case came to light a week after tree U.S. citizens were held for 10 days on suspicion of disseminating bibles and Christian material without government approval, before being deported to neighboring Thailand.

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Agoon, the Lao Christian in an undated photo. RFA

Police have allegedly arrested, beaten and detained a man named Agoon in Savannakhet province in southern Laos for practicing his Christian faith, witnesses told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday.

Police say that Agoon was arrested for another crime, cutting timber illegally in a protected forest. But local sources say the man was unfairly targeted for his beliefs.

A source who declined to have his name published, told police that he and others cut down trees in the forest at the request of the village leader in the province’s Phin district. But sources say that officials rarely enforce the statutes against illegal logging.

Another source told RFA’s Lao Service in an interview that Agoon’s involvement in the timber-felling is merely an excuse—the other loggers in his group, all of whom are not Christians, were not arrested.

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The latest case came to light a week after tree U.S. citizens were held for 10 days on suspicion of disseminating bibles and Christian material without government approval, before being deported to neighboring Thailand. Pixabay

The villager also said that according to the suspect, while in jail, the police tried to force him to renounce his faith, but he refused. The police responded by beating him harder, slapping his ears to the point that he became unable to hear.

RFA contacted a local security official for details, but the official declined to comment on the matter.

“He was detained for cutting timber illegally. Logging in the protected forest is illegal so [that is why] he has been detained,” said an official from the National Front Organization, which handles religious affairs in the communist nation.

“He has to pay a fine or serve jail time according to forest laws. [His arrest] has nothing to do with religion,” the official said.

A third source who requested anonymity agreed with the villager that charging him for cutting timber was an excuse, as an arrest for his beliefs would stroke the ire of international religious freedom organizations.

The latest case came to light a week after tree U.S. citizens were held for 10 days on suspicion of disseminating bibles and Christian material without government approval, before being deported to neighboring Thailand.

Conflicts between Laos’ small number of Christians and local authorities often flare up because believers assert the right to freedom of worship guaranteed by the country’s constitution, while authorities call Christianity a foreign religion in a traditionally Buddhist country, and say that Christians must move out of their villages.

In 2016, six Christians in Savannakhet’s Phalanxay district were arrested after local authorities entered their house and found that they were practicing the Christian faith.

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Police have allegedly arrested, beaten and detained a man named Agoon in Savannakhet province in southern Laos for practicing his Christian faith, witnesses told RFA’s Lao Service on Thursday. Pixabay

In 2014, local officials in the province’s Song Khone district arrested 11 Christians for building a temporary church without permission.

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In Phin district, seven Christians living in Na Kha Nong village, were arrested in 2015 for gathering people together for a prayer meeting.

The U.S. State Department said in a 2017 report that Lao local authorities often arrested or detained members of minority religions during the year, with a district-level official in Houaphan province expelling 26 Hmong Christians from their village, advising them they could return only if they renounced their faith. (RFA)