Andhra Jyothy is the third largest circulated newspaper in Andhra Pradesh. From November 10 to 16th, the newspaper ran a six-part series on religious conversions in AP. The following is a translation of their articles. No personal views have been recorded in any of the six parts below. Read part 1 in Telugu. The first part was translated by Krishna Rao.
God calls you – A religious conversion spree in AP.
There are 18 proselytizing organisations that are currently working in India, along with 45 associated organisations. Andhra Pradesh (AP) leads in the number of religious converts, with main focus on districts like Krishna, Guntur, Prakasham, Godavari , Medak, Rangareddy, Adilabad, Karimnagar, and Kadapa.
Reports from RSS suggest that nearly 10% of the population in these districts have already converted. The organisations divide the state landscape into two parts – with the proselytizing effort in one part lead by 29 organisations and other with the remaining 77 organisations. In addition to this there are about 205 sister organisations, and countless small organizations supporting them from ground up.
Operation – AD2000
India: A population of 100 crore people with a majority of them from “other religions”. It is into this landscape of religious diversity that international missionary organisations have rushed into. A special project, AD2000, was started to co-ordinate all missionaries in India including in the area of funding was launched in 1995 with the congregation being attended by prominent Christian religious leaders from all over the world. This project is also known as “Joshua project.”
The project consisted of three parts – namely plug,prim, and nice.
Under “Plug”, experts will attempt to ‘plug’ (as the name goes) into pockets of demographic segments that fall under the poverty line to look at means for effective targetting. The next stage “prim” involves the targetting process itself involving localised or customised prayers, religious preachings/congregations and further refinement of the demographic targetting. Under “Nice” preachers move into affect the actual conversions. Experts are of the view that as part of the “Joshua Project” a lot of strategists from the US have visited India for ‘studying’ the prevailing conditions.
It is also said that the extent and scope of research, and diversified classification surprised even our intelligence agencies. It is believed that the first phase of “Joshua Project “is over and currently “Joshua-2” is in the flow. All these details have been published by “Tehelka” in their latest report “Top Secret”.
Having had a degree of success in coastal Andhra regions proselytising efforts have effected delta regions as well. Missionaries have travelled on the road of charity and have instead extended the reach of their religion.
States like MadhyaPradesh, Gujarat, Odissa, TamilNadu, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jarkhand have formulated laws against religious conversions. Although there were no such laws during the British rule per se few princely states such as Raighad and Udaipur had put laws in place to check conversions. After Independence, few laws were stipulated like Indian Conversion (Regulation and Registration) Bill (1954) and Backward communities (Religious Protection) Bill (1960).
Unfortunately, the bills did not pass through in Parliament due to lack of a majority vote. Even the Freedom to Religion Bill (1979) was withdrawn due to lack of majority. Orissa and Madhya Pradesh respectively have produced acts in 1968, 1969. Arunachal Pradesh did it in 1978, while in 2002 laws were introduced in Tamil Nadu to ban forceful conversions.
If we were to go by the statistics 22000 newspaer houses, over 1890 radio and TV stations are run by Churches worldwide. It is estimated that, over the next five years , 75% of Hindus in Malaysia will be converted.
Crime and Punishment
It is a criminal offence to undertake forceful religious conversion by Indian law (IPC, Sections 295A, 298)
If proved guilty, the perpetrators can be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment and a fine. Orissa and Madhya Pradesh have ensured by law that forceful conversion of children, women and of individuals belonging to scheduled castes and tribes (SC/ST) would be rewarded double the punishment. Further proselytising efforts in places of pilgrimage of other religions are also banned. Further instigation of religious fervor by inflammatory speeches is a crime too. (IPC, Sec 153 (A))
(Continued in Part 2: The story of Ramalakshmi of Srubujji Palli, Srikakulam District. Widowed for 12 years now she was lured with something she desperately sought: survival of her two sons and a decent education. Ramalakshmi now goes by the name Mary.)