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March 15, 2000
Sangh Parivar's new thrust in Orissa
M I Khan in Bhubaneswar
The Sangh Parivar is employing a two-pronged strategy in Orissa to undo the conversions carried out by Christian missionaries over the last few years.
On the one hand, it has launched a massive reconversion movement, while on the other it is enlisting the help of more militant members of the Parivar, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal, to prevent the Church from carrying out more conversions.
In the last six months, affiliated organisations of the Sangh Parivar, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, have been able to reconvert a large number of tribal Christians in the western, northern and southern parts of Orissa.
Buoyed by their success, they have now set a target of 10,000 re-conversions by the end of year 2000.
With a sympathetic government in Bhubaneswar, the RSS head honchos are confident that the target is achievable.
The previous Congress government had clamped down on the Sangh Privar's activities following the killing of the Australian missionary Graham Stuart Staines and his two sons allegedly by some Bajrang Dal activists.
In Orissa, however, unlike in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, the Sangh Parivar is keeping a low profile. There are no inflammatory statements and no tom-toming of the high reconversion rate.
"We have deliberately decided to keep a low profile so that we don't provide any opportunity to our detractors to criticise our campaign,'' said an RSS functionary.
Spearheading the movement is the Hindu Jagran Sammukhaya, which has roped in the VHP, the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and the Bajrang Dal.
The state unit of the HJS has indicated that currently they are focusing on Sundergarh district in western Orissa and Gajpati district in southern Orissa.
The state convenor of the HJS, Subhas Chauhan, said his organisation has already reconverted about 2,000 tribals in Sundergarh district.
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