Odisha conversion row: action sought against officials

Reported by Ranjan Rath
Rayagada, May 13:

Sensing an opportunity to get even with the administration, right-wing Hindu organisations have jumped headlong into the troubles waters of the controversy over two Odisha government officials ‘nudging’ a Dalit family in Rayagada district to convert to Christianity to avail the benefits of the government’s social security schemes.

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A Dalit BPL family from Rengalapadu village in Dunduli panchayat under Kolnara block has levelled serious charges against the Tehsildar and Block Development Officer (BDO) of luring them to convert to Christianity to have ‘good times’ as we reported here:http://odishasuntimes.com/127206/odisha-officials-nudge-dalit-family-to-convert-to-christianity/

“We denounce the acts of the Tahasildar and the BDO to use government schemes to lure tribals for conversion. The district administration has lost its track because of some officers like this. Lack of vigilance by senior officers is also to blame. Things have turned so bad that anti-social elements threaten to murder saints. We would not tolerate such lowly acts in a peaceful district like Rayagada,” said Swarupanandji Maharaj, the founder of Krantikari Ashram.

The VHP also upped the ante on the issue and asked the collector to act.

“This is high time the collector takes action. The people of foreign origin who rule the country are behind the conversion to the minority religion. A proper investigation and stringent action is required to contain this,” said Debi Prasad Kar of VHP.

On the other hand, both the tehsildar and BDO have refuted the conversion charge against them.

“The lady in question had come to my office. She wanted a house under Indira Awas scheme. I had sent an official to get her requirement verified. It is a lie that I went to her house. The accusation of encouragement for conversion is also baseless,” said BDO Shantiprava Pradhan.

“I respect all the religions. This woman never met me for a patta (land record). This accusation is a lie,” said Tehsildar Bernadutta Lakra.

It may be noted that acting on the complaint of the woman Nilandri Nag, the District Collector had asked the sub collector to probe the allegation and assured action after the inquiry.

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