Conversions spark tension in Orissa

HT Correspondent

Bhubaneswar: IN THE last few days, 19 persons from four Hindu families in a village in Kendrapara district in Orissa have embraced Christianity. The conversions have sparked off tension in the area and yet another round of debate has begun on conversions.

All the converts are adults and belong to the Scheduled Castes. Preliminary investigations have revealed that three Christian priests from Gujarat visited Korua village in the past one week, Kendrapara Superintendent of Police, Sanjay Kumar has said One Sanjay Jena, a local villager, who has been working in a private firm at Ahmedabad for the last three years, accompanied the priests. Jena, too, is a "converted Christian" and shares the same caste status as the new converts.

All the 19 converts have Jena as their surname and are suspected to have embraced the new religion after being proselytised to do so by Sanjay Jena.

The district administration, which is preparing a report on the conversions is not too sure about the whereabouts of the three priests or of Sanjay Jena. The adminstration believes that the three priests are now in Balasore district.

The identity of the priests were yet to be ascertained and further investigations were on, superintendent Kumar said.

Details on how and where the conversions rituals were performed were also yet to be ascertained.

A senior district official said that the conversions most probably took place in three phases last week.

Some of them embraced Christianity probably at the Paradip Church, while others were initiated in their village.

Villagers said that the converts were made to take a dip in the river, wear new clothes and chant hymns from the Bible before the priests blessed them, the district official said.

Director General of Police K D Bajpai told the Hindustan Times that there was no serious law and order problem, although tension gripped the village and its adjoining areas. Members of the majority community have expressed their anger over the incident.

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Referred by: Mukandan CM
Published on: July 8, 2001
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