Sunday, January 13, 2008

Orissa: 'Conversions not out of choice' - Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati

jan 13th, 2008

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'Conversions not out of choice'

Pioneer News Service | Bhubaneswar

Appearing before the team of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday, Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati said that not a single person was converted to Christianity out of his choice. "They always adopt a means of allurement and fear to force and persuade innocent people to change religion," he said, adding that he was prepared for an open debate on this issue with any one.

Saraswati appeared before the Commission to record his statement. He further said conversion was going on rampantly in tribal areas.

He further alleged that there has been large scale forgery of tribal certificates. "Most of the converted Christians forged Kui tribal certificates to get jobs," he said, adding that an inquiry could only expose the rackets behind it.

He further said foreign funds also were diverted for the cause of conversion. "A mechanism should be evolved to regulate flow of foreign funds to NGOs," he demanded.

Asked why he did not return to his Chakapada Ashram in Kandhamal, he said as tension continued he preferred not to go the Ashram at this point. "If I return the miscreants who want to create disturbances will take mileage out of it. Later, they will try to squarely blame me," he said.

He demanded that an inquiry should be ordered to find out who were behind the attack on him. "I have been attacked nearly eight times. But no one has yet been arrested," said an emotionally-charged Lakshmanananda.

Later, a delegation led by general secretary of BJP Vinay Katiyar met the Swamiji and held a detailed discussion with him on the Kandhamal turmoil. Speaking to reporters, Katiyar said the attack on the Swamiji should be condemned. "I would raise this issue on the floor of the Parliament," he said, adding that Congress MP RK Nayak should be squarely blamed for all this. "He has been involved in conversion activities," Katiyar alleged, adding that action should initiated against him.

SP of NHRC Mukesh Singh said he has already recorded the statements of 20 people. "The team will submit the final report within 15 days," he said.

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