Ranchi, May 26: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP, Mr Dileep Singh Judeo has reconverted 15 Christian tribals to their indigenous faith in Jharkhand, but the move has irked Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, the former archbishop of Ranchi.
Mr Judeo reconverted the tribals to their original religion known as Sarna in a ceremony organised on the outskirts of state capital on Thursday. The reconversion took place under the banner of the Sarna Sansthan Rakshak Sammittee (SSRS) and Vanvasi Kalyan Kendra (VKK) at Mahilong village, about 40 km from here.
When Mr Judeo was going to attend the re-conversion programme, other Christians blocked the road and protested the move. The ceremony was conducted by tribal priests and Mr Judeo washed the feet of the reconverted.
Addressing the gathering, Mr Judeo said, “If reconversion had taken place 500 years ago then countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka would not have been formed.” Mr Judeo also criticised the Pope for his reported statement on anti-conversion bills passed in some states.
“The Pope’s remark is an indication of the intolerance of the community towards other religions,” said Mr Judeo. He alleged: “European countries and the US are pumping money into India for conversion and it should be checked.”
Launching a scathing attack on Cardinal Toppo, SSRS president, Mr Ajay Tirkey said, “Toppo claims to be a tribal. Does he celebrate tribal festivals? His only motive is to convert tribals.”
Cardinal Toppo, who had supported the Pope’s statement on anti-conversion, on the other hand is unhappy with the reconversion. “The reconversion is against the spirit of Christianity,” he said. He is the former archbishop of Ranchi and was appointed cardinal by the Pope in 2004.
Cardinal Toppo, who does not hesitate to remark on political issues, has opposed a Jharkhand plan to ban conversions.