Guwahati, Nov 25 (PTI) A month after 10 European tourists were deported to their respective countries from Assam after accusations that they were engaged in missionary work, a prominent Northeastern Christian organisation on Friday expressed concern over “false allegations” of conversion.
Claiming that it is an effort to “malign” the community, the United Christian Forum of North East India (NEI), said it has rendered yeoman service in the field of education, health and social development to all sections in society irrespective of caste, creed, or ethnicity.
Spokesperson of United Christian Forum, NEI, Allen Brooks said in a release the ''alarming news being spread about conversion has caused us great anxiety''.
Christian leaders representing all the Churches of the region, including the Council of Baptist Church in North East India, Church of North India, Presbyterian Church of India, North East Christian Council (all Protestant churches), Evangelical Fellowship Of India (all Pentecostal churches) and Regional Catholic Bishops Conference of North East India (all Catholic churches of NEI) had met here on Thursday to discuss the issue.
''We have been the first to denounce any sort of forced conversion but at the same time, we also affirm the right of every citizen to choose any religion of his/her own choice that the Constitution guarantees under Articles 25-28'', Brooks said.
It is wrong to make ''false allegations of conversion by force, fraud or inducement with the intention of humiliating our community. We feel that such accusations are made with the deliberate intention of dividing our society'', he said.
North-eastern society has always been open-minded and liberal, with an eagerness to promote enlightened thinking and refined relationships, he said.
''People in the northeast have always opposed the imposition of value systems, divisive thinking and narrow-mindedness that are totally alien to our collective ethos. We have always believed in harmony, cooperation, warm-hearted relationships and our mind has always been inclusive'', he said The Church leaders also expressed their pain at the recent incidents of violence that have happened at the inter-state borders and expressed solidarity with all those who are trying to settle the problems amicably.
Several right-wing organisations have often levelled allegations against Christian missionaries of attempting to convert, particularly poor tribals, by force or inducement.
Recently ten Europeans, three from Sweden and seven from Germany, were deported to their respective countries from Assam as they were allegedly engaged in missionary activities.
They did not have the required M1 visa but had entered the country on a tourist visa, officials had said.
Assam does not have an anti-conversion law, unlike several other states that criminalise what is described as forced religious conversions. PTI DG MM MM