Church & State- The plight of Hindu Community in Andhra Pradesh

The Hindu Population of the state is reeling under the pressure of Conversion mafias supported by the Christian missionaries, successive state government policies have only encouraged this dangerous trend of activities.

Church and state is a jurisprudence term which is used in the western democracies to separate the government institutions and religious institutions from meddling into each others affairs. But in the state of Andhra Pradesh this term has acquired a new form and meaning. When the Hindu Population of the state is reeling under the pressure of Conversion mafias supported by the  Christian missionaries, successive state government policies have only encouraged this dangerous trend of activities. And if a Hindu happens to be from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the struggle for protecting their rights from the onslaught of Christian Missionaries is only going to increase.

In the first week of September 2019, all the daily newspapers in the state published an article on a so called welfare policy of the state. The newly formed state government under the leadership of Jagan Mohan Reddy came up with a new policy to provide monthly honorarium of Rs.5000/- to the Christian pastors in the state[1]. When the opposition parties claimed that it is to appease the Christian vote bank, the government countered that even Hindu priests will get honorarium[2].

But this scheme is riddled with many doubts. First, it was observed that there are 29,841 pastors for a population of 6,82,660 Christians. Whereas the number of Archakas for the vast Hindu Population is 31,017[3]. Aren’t these numbers questionable? Second, the application form released by the Andhra Pradesh Minority corporation for availing the honorarium contains a category for knowing the caste of the applicant. They have given options like SC/ST/OBC/OC. If we read paragraph 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order,1950[4] it states that,

“3. …..no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu [, the Sikh or the Buddhist] religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste.”

So isn’t this a clear cut violation of the Constitutional Order? In January 2020 a petition was filed in the supreme Court to invalidate this constitutional order[5]. If it happens it will be like giving a free hand to these conversion mafias to convert the marginalized members of the Hindu society.

This issue is not just a matter of adding Caste to converted Christians. This problem is very deep rooted. To understand it clearly let’s take a look at the census data of past few decades. In 1971 the Christian population of the state(Telangana data not counted) was increased to 14,87,364(5.37%) from 8,13,008(4.53%) in 1941. But immediately the numbers started declining, 11,47,223(3.44%) in 1981 to 6,82,660(1.38%) in latest 2011 census[6].

So now comes the big question. What happened to Christians of Andhra Pradesh? There are two practical possibilities. Either the Christian population should have converted back to the Hindu Religion or the converts to Christianity are hiding their religion with government authorities. The first one is highly impossible because the ground realities show that there has been an increase the Christian communities. Mainly in the coastal districts like Krishna, East Godavari, West Godavari and Prakasam. The second possibility is very close to being true because the census data which saw a decline in the Christian population has also seen a sharp rise in Schedule Caste Population. So can we conclude that the new converts to Christianity are hiding their true identity to avail the benefits meant for Schedule caste communities?

Clear cut example for this possibility is the case of MLA Vundvalli Sridevi from Tadikonda Constituency. She contested and won from a SC reserved Constituency claiming that she was a Dalit[7]. But later on reports emerged that she was converted to Christianity. Immediately a public spirited NGO called Legal Rights Protection Forum approached Rashtrapati Bhavan regarding this issue. The President office ordered for an enquiry into this matter as a Christian cannot claim benefits meant for Schedule Caste Hindus under the Constitution Order 1950. An MP from the ruling YSRCP claimed during a national news channel debate that large scale conversions are happening in the state with money power of the missionaries of Christianity[8].

Now let’s look at some other policies of the successive state governments which are indirectly helping these missionaries. Andhra Pradesh State Christian Finance Corporation is state government body which looks after the implementation of welfare policies meant for the Christians. One of the schemes they implement is the “Financial Assistance to promotion of Christian Culture”[9]. Now why should a secular state government spend hard earned tax payers money to promote the culture of an Abrahamic religion?

There is another scheme of the government which provides financial assistance for construction/Renovation/Repairs to Churches. On 27-12-2019 Rs. 15 lakhs was sanctioned for Church construction in Guntur district[10]. On 8-3-2019 Rs 30 lakhs was granted for repair works in Kadapa district[11]. A whooping Rs. 100 lakhs was sanctioned for the construction CSI St Pauls Basilica Church in Vijayawada[12] on 22-2-2019. Another policy is providing financial assistance to Christian pilgrim’s going for Jerusalem and other Christian Pilgrimage centers. Earlier the assistance was Rs. 20,000/- which was increased to Rs 40,000/- in 2016 and again increased to Rs. 60,000/- in 2019.

But when was the last time the state government sanctioned any Grant-in-aid for Amarnath Yatra or Kailash Mansoravar Yatra? When was the last time the government granted any aid for a Hindu cause? In 2009 the state government constituted Andhra Pradesh Dharmic Parishad after a resolution was passed by 40 peetadhipathis at TTD Dharma Prachara Saddasu. It was one of the recommendation by Justice Rama Jois Committee to oversee the administration of temples. But in 2014 it was dissolved and even after repeated requests from various quarters of the Hindu society to revive the Dharmic Parishad the successive state governments turned a blind eye towards them.

At one hand these appeasement policies and anti Hindu attitude of the governments is costing the Hindu society dearly and on the other hand the rampant Christian Missionary activities has increased which is leading to a serious demographic change.

An NGO based in Andhra Pradesh named ‘sylom Blind Center’ headed by pastor Praveen claimed in a video that they have created hundreds of ‘Christ Villages’. In the same video the pastor claims that a Christ Village is a village were everyone has been made to accept that Jesus Christ is the sole savior and god. The pastor and his ‘Sylom Pastors League’ group claims to have bapitized around 6,00,000 persons in 2015[13].

An investigation by Legal Rights Protection Forum has reveled that the Guntur based India Rural Evangelical Fellowship(IREF) has been indulging in converting rural students to whom they claim to provide free education. This Evangelical Organisation is raising funds through its US and UK based counterparts. These unending criminal activities are taking place under the very noses of the government agencies. The president of IREF released a video asking Christians to vote for the YSRCP party in the 2019 elections[14]. And this is how these Christian missionaries are forming an unholy alliance with the governments to protect their interests.

The Christian missionaries show their might by illegally occupying public places. In 2019 the evangelists erected a cross on forest land adjacent to Lakshmi Jaganatha Gattu in Kurnool and started constructing a church[15]. In 2006 a fact finding committee was constituted under sri Justice G. Bikshapathy to investigate into the activities of Christian communities in and around Tirumala[16]. Some of the findings of the committee-

  • The committee found that many Christians have been employed by the TTD and that they are regularly gathering to hold Christian prayers.
  • Smt. Veena Noble Das when she took over as Vice-Chancellor of Padmavathi Mahilla University she ordered for the removal of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavathi photos and placed a portrait of Jesus Christ and a Cross in her office.
  • Two Christians David(pastor) and Kumar were found propagating Christianity in Tirumala.
  • Two Christian women were arrested on 26-4-2006 distributing religious pamphlets in the temple queue complex.

All these illegal and wicked acts are taking place in front of our very own eyes and still we are expected to remain calm as if nothing has happened. If any person raises up to question these atrocities committed against the Hindu society and civilization, he/she will be branded as a communal bigot, hypocrite and bhakt. Its time for a modern Hindu Re-awakening to reform and protect the Hindu civilization which has survived centuries of oppression under various invasive forces.

Raise up and Reclaim what rightfully belongs to us.

References

[1] Circular Memo No-2824047/SDM/A2/2019, Minority Welfare Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

[2] https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/not-only-pastors-ap-govt-pay-honorarium-hindu-priests-too-ysrcp-clarifies-108585

[3] G.O.RT.No.38, Revenue Department. Government of Andhra Pradesh.

[4] C.O.19, Constitution (Schedule Castes) Order, 1950.

[5] SC to examine Dalit Christians’ plea that reservation should be “religion neutral”, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-examine-dalit-christians-plea-that-reservation-should-be-religion-neutral/article30512888.ece#:~:text=The%20petition%20highlighted%20how%20paragraph,religious%20freedom%20and%20non%2Ddiscrimination.

[6] What happened to the Christians of Andhra Pradesh, Centre for Policy Studies, https://www.cpsindia.org/dl/Blogs/Blog%2023%20Ch-AP.pdf.

[7] https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/ec-probe-ysrcp-mla-sridevis-caste-status-after-complaint-alleges-shes-christian-112616

[8] https://swarajyamag.com/insta/ruling-ysrcp-mp-admits-large-scale-conversions-are-happening-in-andhra-via-money-power-of-christian-missionaries

[9] Financial Assistance to Christian Hospitals, School Buildings, Orphanages, Old Age Homes, Community Halls-cum-Youth and Resource Centers; and for Youth Awareness Programmes and promotion of Christian Culture, Schemes, Andhra Pradesh State Christian Finance Corporation, http://christianminorities.ap.nic.in/schemes.html

[10] G.O.Rt.No.238, Minority Welfare Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

[11] G.O.Rt.No.125, Minority Welfare Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

[12] G.O.RT.No.96, Minority Welfare Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

[13] Evangelical Fellowship converts gullible rural students to Christianity in the garb of free education – A LRPF investigation, Organiser, https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2020/6/6/Evangelical-Fellowship-converts-gullible-rural-students-to-Christianity-in-the-garb-of-free-education.html

[14] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_GNsC1RP78&feature=youtu.be

[15] Evangelists illegally constructing a Church on forest land adjacent to the hills of Lakshmi Jagannatha Gattu in Kurnool AP, Organiser, https://www.organiser.org/Encyc/2019/6/6/Evangelists;;’-illegally-occupy-forest-land-in-AP.html

[16] Report of Fact Finding Committee, http://creative.sulekha.com/ttd-conversions-report-of-fact-finding-committee_156357_blog

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