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22. Please tell us about the letter given to the Prime Minister by a Sarvodaya leader working in Dangs.

      The name of the leader is Ghelubhai Nayak, and a letter was given not only to the Prime Minister during his visit in January 1999, but also to the National Minorities Commission which had visited Gujarat in connection with the alleged attacks on minorities in the state, and the National Human Rights Commission when it visited Dangs district in January 1999. Ghelubhai says that he has no connection with any of the Sangh organisations. He has been working in Dangs since 1948 and so has good knowledge of the area's social issues.
     He is 'anguished' to narrate the 'ground realities behind the recent violent incidents in Dangs'. They have been 'deliberately ignored by large sections of the media', which has 'violated the atmosphere further.' There is 'no dearth of evidence' to prove that the violence is a 'reaction to the organised conversion activities of the Christian missionaries'. The means are 'clearly questionable and even illegal', and a 'curious mix of blind faith and allurements' have been used. The Christian population of Dangs has increased from 500 in 1951 to more than 35,000, or over 30% of the population in the district.
    Ghelubhai accuses the missionaries of 'poisoning' the minds of the tribals, and 'inculcating a spirit in them which clearly goes against true secularism.' On Christmas day 'some Christian youths pelted stones on the rally of the Hindu Jagran Manch and burnt a jeep of a tribal participant.' The ire 'against the 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 influence of their preachers.' There have been 15 cases of desecration of idols of Lord Hanuman, 'who is worshipped by the tribals for ages'. Tension has been created by the Christians 'publicly calling Hindu Gods as Shaitans (demons), again under the influence of their preachers.' These preachers also entice the tribals to desist from participating in the traditional festivals of the area.
     The social conflicts increased on account of conversions, which tended to divide the families. The nephew of the former Bhil Raja of L for his refusal to marry his son to a Christian. The Christians there have also opposed to the construction of a Hanuman temple on land owned by the Raja of Linga, Bhavar Singh.
    Ghelubhai wrote in his letter that both Mahatma Gandhi and Vinobha Bhave were against conversions, and the latter wanted a ban on them.


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