NDTV Correspondent,Wednesday, January 4, 2006 (Ahmedabad):
A temple has become the latest point of conflict between the Sangh Parivar and NGOs working in the tribal dominated Dang belt of Gujarat. The VHP and the RSS say that this is where Lord Ram met his devotee Shabri in the epic tale Ramayan.
But NGOs claim these organisations are merely reinventing myth and creating trouble. The Sangh has planned a massive Shabri Kumbh mela in the area next month and more than five lakh people are expected to attend it.
High level meeting
A team of National Minority Commission will go to Ahmedabad on Friday to discuss the issue.
They will hold meetings with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the chief secretary and home secretary. The high level visit follows various representations made by minority community organisations in Gujarat, like the All India Christian Council.
On their part, Left organisations fear the mela is part of a campaign to convert adivasi Christians to Hindus. There are more than 8,000 Christians living in the jungles of Dang and Left groups say that under the protection of the Gujarat government, a massive reconversion campaign is going on.
The Sangh is equally vehement in their claims that missionaries force adivasis in the area to convert to Christianity.
In 1998, churches and Christian prayer halls were attacked and burnt down across 25 villages in the area. Then also the Sangh had begun a widespread conversion drive. Observers say the rerun has begun and what remains to be seen is if violence will follow this time.