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Ghelubhai Nayak gave protection cover to Gujarat against false propaganda campaign in 1999

Ahmedabad, DeshGujarat

Ghelubhai Nayak

Veteran Gandhian Sarvodaya movement worker Ghelubhai Nayak, father figure of Dang district of south Gujarat who passed away today was veteran Sarvodaya worker was vocal against the tricks Christian Missionaries use to convert tribal. In one of conversations he said, “the missionaries even used the name of the Mahatma for effecting conversions. They entered the Sabharmati Ashram carrying a book entitled Gandhiji’s favourite Bhajans, but the book contained no Gandhian reference but only Christian psalms. Some missionaries even tried to induce me and my associate to embrace Christianity. When we rebuffed their overtures they tried to evict us from the house where our office was located in the mission area in Ahwa”.

When tension between converted tribals and their Hindu neighbors gained national press coverage in Dangs in 1999, as always, so called secular but actually anti-Hindu or apologetic Hindu left-liberal foreign/church influenced section of media started throwing mud on then BJP government led by Shri Keshubhai Patel and RSS affiliated saffron organizations. The coverage nationally in English press was such that only Hindu tribals were responsible for clashes and Christian missionaries were innocents like holy-cow and they were the only victims. It was Ghelubhai Nayak who then stood by the facts. Having served in Dang for over 50 years, Ghelubhai(then he was 75) keeping the record straight spoke truth about the situation on ground and neutralized the debate. As he was a Gandhian and selfless servant of tribals beyond doubt with proven record, his opinion helped Gujarat state and innocent Hindu tribals who were defamed by biased English media nationally.

In his testimony before India’s National Human Right Commission, Ghelubhai Nayak said that the conflict at Dangs was rooted in the work of Christian missionaries. In the preceding three years, Nayak stated, there had been at least fifteen instances in which Christian converts, “under the influence of their preachers,” desecrated idols of the Hindu saint Hanuman, who has been venerated as an incarnation of the Hindu god Siva, a servant of Vishnu, by the Dangs tribals for generations. In one incident, he said, the converts urinated on a statue of Hanuman; in another they “crushed Hanuman’s idol to pieces and threw it away in the river.” In addition to the desecration, Nayak testified, converts had raised the ire of their Hindu neighbors by repeatedly, publicly denouncing Hindu saints as shaitans, or “Satans.” This was done, again “under the influence of their preachers.” The native clergy, it seems, were themselves ex-Hindus afflicted with the Naipaulian “neurosis.”

Below is full text of what Ghelubhai put down in black and white on January 7, 1999 in his address to the National Minorities Commission:

Memorandum text begins:

Subject: The truth behind the recent Hindu-Christian conflict in Dangs and South Gujarat.

Honorable members of the National Minorities Commission.

Myself and my elder brother, late Chottubhai Nayak, who was known as the Chotte Sardar of Dangs, came to Dangs in 1948 at the behest of late Sardar Patel for commencing, tribal welfare activities in the backward region. Ever since then the Dang Swaraj Ashram, founded by Chottubhai, has been one of the foremost tribal welfare institutions in the area. Last week I became the recipient of the Gramseva Award of the Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, the university established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921. This should leave little doubt regarding my antecedents.

Sirs, myself and many of my Gandhian colleagues condemn the violence being perpetrated In South Gujarat, particularly the attacks on churches, in the name of religion. However, we are anguished to bring to your notice the ground realities behind the recent violent incident in Dangs which haven’t come to the fore or have been deliberately ignored by the large sections of the media, which In turn has led to a one-sided media reporting and press statements thus violating the atmosphere further.

The fact is that there is no dearth of evidence to prove that the violence is a reaction to the organised conversion activities of the Christian missionaries in the area with means that are clearly questionable and even illegal. The single point programme of the missionaries is to convert the tribals and in doing so they are often using means that go far beyond the realm of social service and can even be called illegal. They have been using a curious mix of blind faith and allurements to entire the innocent tribals into the Christian fold. There have been quite incidents, I know, which support the charge, but this is not the time to go deeply into it. The population of converted tribals, which was just around 500 when we came to Dangs in 1948, today reportedly stands around 35,000 to 40,000 which is over 30 per cent of the total tribal population of around 1.35 lakh in Dangs.

The following facts are for your perusal in order to convince you and the entire country that the recent religious violence which began in Dangs on the Christmas Day was because of poisoning of the tribals by the Christian Missionaries after converting them and then inculcating a spirit in them which clearly goes against true secularism:

The Violence in Dangs began on the Christmas day after some Christian youths pelted stones on the rally of the Hindu Jagran Manch and burnt the jeep of a tribal participant in the rally. If the participants in the rally had raised filthy slogans against the Christians as alleged by them, then they should have lodged complaint with the police Instead of triggering violence.

The ire against Christians in the area has been rising for past few years and has reached a boil now because of the provocative activities of the Christians, under the influence of their preachers. There have been at least 15 instances in the past three years in Dangs wherein the Christians, under the influence of their preachers, have desecrated idols of Lord Hanuman, who is worshipped in this area by a large section of tribals for ages. In one incident in Gaadhvi village three years ago, they urinated on an idol of Hanuman and later in Jharsod village they crushed Hanuman’s idol to pieces and threw it away in the river. Then there have been several instances where tension has gripped a village on account of the Christians publicly calling Hindu Gods as Shaitans, again under the influence of their preachers, besides, one of the causes of the increasing tension is the refusal of the Christians tribals to contribute to the traditional tribal festivals under the influence of the preachers who poison them with antiviolatory sermons.

Social conflicts In tribal families have greatly Increased on account of the terror tactics of the converted tribals at the behest of the preachers. In many cases a tribal who accepts Christian faith starts pressurising his brother into accepting the faith and this, often results in bloody fights over the issue. In one case recently when a person, who had not converted, went to live with his converted son and died in his house, he was buried by his Christian son in the graveyard without even telling his other brothers (who were all non-Christians).

In another case in October last, I had warned the district collector about an attempt by some Christians to disturb peace when they twice beat up no less than the nephew of the former Bhil Raja of Linga (in Dangs) which he refused to many his son to the daughter of a Christian, who was forcing him to enter into the matrimonial alliance. The Christians of Linga have also been opposing the construction of a Hanuman temple on piece of land which is owned by the Raja of Linga, Bhavar Singh and on which they have no right.

The press release issued by the Chairman of the Minorities Commission appearing in the newspapers says that “the Commission owes a special responsibility to the holy land of father of the Nation.” Let me remind the honourable chairman that the Father of the Nation had also denounced the conversion activity by Christian missionaries as a blot on humanity in the name of social service. Even Vinoba Bhave, the greatest saint that the country can boast of in the past several centuries, denounced conversion activity and called for a legal ban on any kind of conversion. This can be cleared gleaned from the writings of these two greatest sons of India.

I have been a close witness to the entire episode in Dangs and I stand by whatever I have mentioned in this communication which I have the honourable bench will place on record. I also hope that this will prove useful to you in arriving at the right conclusions. I am sending this communication through fax, as I am unable to reach Ahmedabad on such a short notice. In case you need any clarification kindly call me up on phone.’

Faxed memorandum text ends

Also read: A Gandhian Speaks Out From Dangs

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