The government of Chhattisgarh has funded tribal communities to develop and maintain their traditional places of worship, known as Devgudis, so that they are not attracted by anyone to convert to another religion, the minister said on Tuesday. ‘State Industry, Kawasi Lakma.
Lakma, a senior congressional official from Bastar, which has a large tribal population, also claimed that no tribe had converted to Christianity in the past 2.5 years of Congressional rule in the state.
Lakhma was responding to allegations by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that religious conversions were taking place in Bastar.
“In the 15 years of BJP rule, 30 churches have been built (in Sukma district) but none have been erected in the past two years. To ensure that conversions do not take place and people do not visit churches, the state government has provided ??5 lakh (each) to ‘Devgudis’ and ??10 lakh at ‘Ghotuls’ in Bastar… We want our temples and Devgudis to be in good condition. In the past two years, no religious conversion has taken place, ”Lakhma said when interacting with local media.
For the past year, the Bastar district administration has been funding the beautification and maintenance of the Devgudis, which are temple-like structures that house the deities of the tribal community and where their rituals take place. The Devgudis play a central role in the life of the Bastar tribes. The local government also developed the Ghotuls, the place where boys and girls of the tribe celebrate festivals and come together to choose life partners.
BJP spokesman Gauri Shankar Srivas said Lakma’s statement was “inconsistent with the realities on the ground”.
“A month ago, the Sukma police chief asked the authorities to strictly monitor the activities of Christian missionaries and converted tribal people, and now Lakhma says that no conversions are taking place. The two statements are contradictory. Congress is trying to propagate gentle Hindutva to win the election, but it has no faith in Hinduism, ”Srivas said.
Reacting to Lakma’s statement, the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum said it was “unfortunate” and “far from the truth”.
“The point is, the Congressional government is providing funds for the construction of temples in tribal villages. Newly built temples of Lord Ram and Lord Shiva appeared in tribal villages. The saffron fundamentalists try to pretend that the tribals are Hindus. We perceive that the minister’s declaration is part of the strategy to declare the tribals as Hindus, ”said Arun Pannalal, chairman of the Chhattisgarh Christian Forum.
Pannalal added that Christians are falsely accused of forcing people to convert by vested interests who want to take land and rights from the tribal community by falsely establishing them as Hindus, contrary to the opinion of the Supreme Court. that the tribals were religiously independent and therefore enjoyed the benefits of government reserves.