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Christian Today India (01/12/06) – Fear of communal violence breaking out in the sensitive tribal district of Dangs in Gujarat has gripped several Christian organizations, including the All India Christian Council (AICC), following reports that the right-wing Hindu organization, the Sangh Parivar, is planning to host a massive Hindu festival in which an estimated half million people, including thousands of tribals and sadhus (Hindu saints) are expected to converge.

The Shabri Kumbh Mela, organized by the Hindu fundamentalist outfit, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates, the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad and the Hindu Jagran Manch, amongst others, and supported by Hindu leaders like Praveen Togadia, international general secretary, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP or World Hindu Council), is suspected to be used by the Hindu radicals as a launching pad for their Hindu reconversion campaigns and for spreading their radical Hindutva ideology.

Christian organizations have alleged that thousands of anti-Christian pamphlets were already being printed and distributed in and around the Dangs region and they fear that there would be a massive drive to “reconvert” Christian tribals.

Writing to the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, Abraham Mathai, general secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC), demanded the Center’s intervention to protect the tribal Christians.

“While it is the right of any organization to hold a peaceful rally wherever it pleases, one wonders why the organizers of the Shabri Kumbh have chosen Dangss as the venue,” queried Mathai, adding, “The Shabri Kumbh is being organized with the support of the Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad, an affiliate of the RSS. The only agenda of the Parishad is ghar vapsi, or re-conversion of tribal Christians into the Hindu faith.”

According to news reports, on Jaunary 4, several Christian leaders met the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police, Dangs, and apprised them of the “fear among the tribals” in view of the upcoming event.

“The only way their fear could be allayed is by the central government deputing a central observer to ensure that the rule of law is enforced,” the AICC letter noted, adding that the state government was spending millions of rupees to organize the event.