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Part I

REPORT OF THE CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY ACTIVITIES ENQUIRY COMMITTEE, MADHYA PRADESH

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VOLUME I

PART I

CHAPRER I. - INTRODUCTION

The Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee was appointed by a Resolution of the Government of Madhya Pradesh No. 318-716-V-Con., dated the 14th of April, 1954 (Appendix I).

2. It was represented to Government from time to time that the conversion of illiterate aboriginals and other backward people was effected by the Christian Missionaries either forcibly or through fraud or temptations of monetary gain, and the Government were informed that the feelings of non-Christians were being offended by conversions brought about by such methods.  The Christian Missionaries repudiated before Government these allegations and charged local officials and non-Christians of harassment and as the State Government found that an agitation was growing on either side, it considered it desirable in. the public interest to have a thorough enquiry made into the whole question.  This Committee was, therefore, appointed, with Dr. M. Bhawani Shankar Niyogi, M.A., LL.M., LL.D., Ex-Chairman, Public, Service Commission, Madhya Pradesh, and retired Chief Justice, High Court of judicature at Nagpur, as Chairman, and Shri Ghanshyam Singh Gupta, B.Sc., LL.B., Ex-Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly, Durg, Shri Seth Govind Das, M. P., Jabalpur, Shri Kirtimant Rao, B.A. M.L.A., Ahiri, Tahsil Sironcha, District Chanda, Shri S. K. George, M.A., B.D., Professor, Commerce College, Wardha, and Shri B. P. Pathak, M.A., LL.B., Secretary to Government, Madhya Pradesh, Public Health Department, as members.  Seth Govind Das resigned membership on 8th May, 1954 due to his preoccupation with other work and was substituted by Shri Ratanlal Malviya, B.A., LL.B., M. P., Manendragarh, (vide Resolution No. 419-860-V-Con., dated 8th May, 1954).  On his appointment to the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, Shri Kirtimant Rao also resigned and was succeeded by Shri Bhanupratapsingh Giri Raj Singh Deo, M.P., of Komakhan, Tahsil Mahasamund, District Raipur, (vide Resolution No. 18-279-XXX-MR, dated 4th January, 1955).

3. The Committee was entrusted with the task of making a thorough enquiry into the whole question and to make recommendations on a review thereof from historical and other points of view.

4. The Committee was authorised to frame its own procedure for conducting the enquiry and to appreciate the circumstances in which the Government considered it necessary to appoint this Committee, access to certain files of Government was permitted. On going through all the relevant material, the Committee thought it necessary and desirable to meet representative members of the contestant parties at various important centres in the State and to ascertain the specific points in the controversy.  The Committee undertook a tour of the following 14 districts :-
 
 

(1) Raigarh. (8) Akola.
(2) Surguja. (9) Buldana.
(3) Raipur. (10) Mandla.
(4) Bilaspur. (11) Jabalpur.
(5) Amravati. (12) Betul.
(6) Nimar. (13) Chhindwara.
(7) Yeotmal. (14) Balaghat.

Seventy-seven centres were visited and an approximate number of 11,360 people were contacted. 375 written statements were received and the Committee took down notes at each centre.  To gain firsthand knowledge of the working of the various Mission institutions, the Committee visited institutions like hospitals, schools, churches, leper homes, hostels, etc., maintained by the various Missions operating in Madhya Pradesh and also had an opportunity of contacting local people amongst whom activities of the Missions were carried on and also the areas in which the various Missions were functioning.  A copy of the tour programme is appended (Vol. II).  The persons whom we interviewed came from about 700 villages and the statements of a large number of spokesmen from amongst them were recorded.

5. On the vital matter of religion, which is ordinarily surcharged with emotion, occasionally there was a flare-up of vehemence but such occasions were extremely rare, as ample precaution was taken at the outset of the proceedings to explain the object of the enquiry as being to clear up doubts and disputes that may exist and to promote goodwill, friendliness and peace among the various sections of the people.  The exploratory work of the Committee accordingly proceeded very smoothly and helpfully, except for two minor incidents, at Takhatpur in Bilaspur district and Jabalpur.  At Takhatpur Shri Ottalwar, Advocate, who was the only spokesman addressing the Committee on behalf of a large concourse of rural people, made some critical remarks of a political nature on the admission made by Rev. Maqbul Musih that he had received Rs. 38,000 from America for the Abundant Life Movement carried on by him in the rural areas with a view to stave off the danger of Communism.  No protest was made by Rev. Masih, but only by the representative of the Catholic Association, Mr. Francis. At Jabalpur, an Arya Samajist referred to some passages in the Bible which he thought inculcated immorality, while he was speaking about religious education.  As the Christians present resented the reference the Committee asked the speaker to drop it and he obeyed.

6. In all the places visited by the Committee there was unanimity as regards the excellent service rendered by the Missionaries, in the fields of education and medical relief.  But on the other hand there was a general complaint from the non-Christian side that the schools and hospitals were being used as means of securing converts. There was no disparagement of Christianity or of Jesus Christ, and no objection to the preaching of Christianity and even to conversions to Christianity. The objection was to the illegitimate methods alleged to be adopted by the Missionaries for this purpose, such as offering allurement�s of free education and other facilities to children attending their schools, adding some Christian names to their original Indian names, marriages with Christian girls, money-lending, Distributing Christian literature in hospitals and offering prayers in the wages of in-door patients.  Reference was also made to the practice of the Roman Catholic priests or preachers visiting new-born babies to give �ashish� (blessings) in the name of Jesus, taking sides in litigation or domestic quarrels, kidnapping of minor children and abduction of women and recruitment of labour for plantations in Assam or Andaman as a means of propagating the Christian faith among the ignorant and illiterate people.  There was a. general tendency to suspect some ulterior political or extra-religious motive, in the influx of foreign money for evangelistic work in its varied forms.  The concentration of Missionary enterprise on the hill tribes in remote and inaccessible parts of the forest areas and their mass conversion with the aid of foreign money were interpreted as intended to prepare the ground for a separate� independent State on the lines of Pakistan.  In the Raigarh and Surguja districts, the Christians complained against the petty Government officials, but there were practically none in other districts including Berar.  At the meetings held in Surguja, Raigarh and Bilaspur districts there were present prominent Christian representatives, like Rev. Lakra of Ranchi, Rev. Kujur (Lutheran Mission), Rev. Gurbachansingh (American Evengelical Mission), Rev. Masih (Disciples of Christ), Shri Minz (General Secretary the Catholic Sabha).  Shri Minz complained against the sinister activities of Boko Sardar, of Shri Deshpande.  Advocate, of Baijnath Mishra and of the Tribal Welfare Department.  Shri Jagdish Tirkey, Secretary of the Adiwasi Jharkhand Party, claimed that Jharkhand was necessary to preserve the unity of the Uraons. He and Rev. Kujur repudiated the imputation against the Missionaries that they instigated the movement for an independent State. There was no specific complaints against officials or non-Christians besides the above. But there was a general complaint above the non-recognition of Mission schools. Rev. Nath of Khandwa complimented the Missionaries for elevating the Ballahis from their down-trodden condition in the Hindu society.  In the Betul district meeting, Rev. E. Raman and many American Missionaries had no complaints to make against the Government officers or members of the public.

7. On the basis of the allegations made orally and in writing a large number of people including Christians, supplemented by information derived from official sources and published literature bearing on the subject-matter of the enquiry it was thought necessary to make a thorough and searching probe into the problem. Accordingly, an elaborate questionnaire came to be issued so as to afford full opportunity to the parties concerned to assist the Committee in every way possible.

8. It may be noted that the Committee was not appointed under any enactment such as the Commission of Enquiry Act IX of 1952 but only under the inherent powers of the grate Government.  The Committee consequently functioned on a purely voluntary basis.  It had neither the power to compel any one to attend before it, nor to make any statement, oral or written, nor to administer an oath.  The Committee thus had no coercive power in any shape or form.  No one was bound to answer all or any question contained in the Questionnaire or to answer it in a prescribed manner.  The enquiry was riot judicial, in the sense that it was calculated to have an operative effect.  As the Committee interpreted the Terms of Reference, it appeared to it that the object of the enquiry was to ascertain the facts from the people directly at first-hand, unlike a judicial enquiry which proceeds on the material brought before it by an investigating authority.  The attitude of the Government, as well as that of the party in power, was perfectly neutral.

9. The scope of the enquiry was considerably enlarged by reason of the broad Terms of Reference relating to �Political and extra-religious objectives.� and �a thorough review of the question from the historical and other points of view�. At first sight the subject of the enquiry presented itself as a purely local one but that turned out to be more apparent than real. The material gathered in the initial stages of the enquiry revealed to the Committee that its significance far transcended the bounds of any one country or region in the world and that it was calculated to have world- wide repercussions. That compelled the Committee to view the subject as an integral part of a larger picture on the broad canvas of world history. The Committee had to consult a number of published books, pamphlets and periodicals for deter- mining the nature and form of their recommendations.

10. On the true construction of the Terms of Reference the Committee found that the subject in hand should be divided under specified beads, viz., Conversions, Social Relations. Hospitals and Schools with a separate head for Remedies.  The questions set out under each of these heads are indeed exploratory and searching, but in no way unconnected with the issues involved in the enquiry.

11. The response to the Questionnaire was encouraging, indicating as it did, the co-operation of the public as well as of the Protestant Missionary Bodies operating in the various districts of the State. 385 replies to the questionnaire were received in the office of the Committee out of which 55 were from Christian individuals or organisations and 330 from non-Christians.  The authorities and members of the Roman Catholic Church co-operated with the Committee in their exploratory tours in Raigarh, Surguja, Bilaspur, Raipur and Nimar districts. Shri G. X. Francis, President of the Catholic Regional Council, and Shri P. Lobo, Advocate, High Court, Nagpur, associated themselves with the Committee.  But subsequently the Catholic Church withdrew its co-operation, not only ling a statement of protest, but also moving the High Court for a Mandamus Petition (Miscellaneous Petition No. 263.of 1955).

Their Lordships dismissed the petition on 12th April, 1956, holding that it was within the competence of the State Government to appoint a fact-finding Committee to collect information and that there had been no-infringement of any of the fundamental rights of the petitioner.  The Committee have gone through the Lengthy judgment of the Hon�ble High Court very carefully and have given respectful consideration to the views expressed therein.  We may however like to state that some of the remarks concerning a few questions in our Questionnaire proceed from an apparent lack of full knowledge of the nature of the allegations made before us which formed the basis of those questions.  We had repeatedly informed the petitioner and the public that none of the questions represented either the views of the Committee or any individual member thereof and our anxiety to have information on various points was due to our desire to find out to what extent, if any, could any activity be considered to infringe the limits of public order, morality aria health imposed by the Constitution.  As will be clear from the body of this report, we have confined ourselves entirely to the spirit and letter of our Constitution.
 

CHAPTER II. - CIRCUMSTANCES LEADING TO THE APPOINTMENT OF THE COMMITTEE

In another part we pro se to give the history of Christian Missions in old Madhya Pradesh and also in the Merged States.  In this Chapter it is intended to detail the circumstances which led the Government to appoint this Fact-finding Committee.  Our source of information has been the various files made available to us by Government.  As the immediate cause which ultimately led to our appointment was the activities of some Mission organizations in the recently Merged States of Raigarh, Udaipur, Jashpur and Surguja, it will be useful to describe the principal or toot causes of whatever trouble was reported in the integrated States soon after their merger on 1st January, 1948.  Even in the old Madhya Pradesh the Government, was not unfamiliar with the problem of Missionary activities amongst aboriginals, because many of our districts contained a large number of Adiwasi population and Government had been carrying out, welfare measures for them for a good length of time.  It is reported that about 18 per cent of the total population of Madhya Pradesh prior to Integration consisted of aboriginals and that the Integration of the States added nearly 28 lakhs to the population of Madhya Pradesh, out of whom about 53 per cent were aboriginals.  According to official reports the integration of Chhattisgarh States was carried out smoothly and was hailed with joy by all sections of the community including the aboriginals.  When the then Premier toured the Integrated States, attempts were made by Christian and other Uraons of Jashpur State to create-some trouble, but it never presented a formidable problem.

2. The chief cause of unrest could be located against the following background :-

(a) Oppression and misgovernment which existed prior to Integration: In other parts of this Report a detailed reference to the various forms of oppression practised on the Adiwasis by the Malguzars, the Zamindars and the ex-Rulers will be found.

(b) The expectations of the people of the Integrated States of immediate improvement in their moral and material conditions as a result of Integration were pitched so high that almost inevitably they were bound to be disappointed to some extent.  Improvement of conditions in a specially backward area has necessarily to be a gradual process, which was not recognized.

(c) Almost from the very beginning interested parties, including Christian Missionaries, began to intermeddle and create dissatisfaction by exploiting the situation.  These interested parties were firstly the Rajas and their supporters and hirelings and also politicians of the neighbouring States, who wished to secure integration of some of the former States in their area despite history, geography and economy.  An end was put to the activities of such persons by the decision of the Union Ministry of States in May 1948, but according to Government reports the activities of Missionaries continued further though surreptitiously.

(d) The reports which the Government of Madhya Pradesh had obtained from the former States in respect of the activities of Missionaries show that their role in the past had not been healthy, their methods not savoury.  Two or three times there were rebellions in the States and even the Political Department, which was in the hands of the European Christians, was compelled to put restrictions on the entry of Missionaries and their movement in the former States.  Details of the Acts passed by the former States of Surguja, Udaipur and Raigarh regulating conversion and restricting the movement, etc., of Missionaries will be found elsewhere in this Report. On the integration of the States, Missionaries became afraid of losing their influence. So they started an agitation, playing on the religious feelings of the primitive Christian converts, representing the Madhya Pradesh Government as consisting of infidels and so on. Some of the articles published in Missionary papers, such as �Nishkalank� �Adiwasi� and �Jharkhand� were hardly distinguishable from the writings in Muslim papers advocating Pakistan, before, before the 15th of August 1947.  The Missionaries launched a special attack on the opening of schools by Madhya Pradesh Government under the Backward Area Welfare Scheme.  The then Commissioner of Chhattisgarh Division, contacted the Father Superior of the Roman Catholics at Jashpurnagar in February 1948 and explained to him the secular nature the Indian Union and the freedom of religion and worship which every citizen enjoyed in it.  He pointed out that there was no hindrance to Missionaries carrying on their religious activity in a lawful manner, but if the leaders of the Missions mixed up religion with politics and appealed to the religions fanaticism of the easily gullible Adiwasis they could not naturally claim the sanctity and consideration which attaches to religious organisations.  He further explained that having once suffered grievously from the communalistic policies of some persons, India could not afford to have another such movement in its very heart.  The Catholic Father Superior gave the Commissioner an undertaking that the Mission would confine itself only to religion and not dabble in politics at all.  The following letter written by Father Vermiere of the Jashpur Roman Catholic Mission may be quoted in extenso, to show the attitude of the Missionaries including foreigners, at the time of the Integration of the States :-

�We need help very much as we are so deep in debt and have to face worse times with a new Government so much against the Christians.

�Rev. Father Rector has probably acquainted you with what I wrote some time ago.  Things have riot much improved, although aye are rather on good terms with the local authorities.  Even so it is no more is before.  As more than one of the new or old officials points out, the men sent this side are too inferior, and cannot compare with, for instance, the late Dean.  Next those employed do riot seem to have half the powers necessary.  Things have continually to be referred higher tip, (which means most of the time no answer to the letters) and petitions, are delayed for five or six months.  What I say is the common complaint all over Jashpur from officials no less thin from the common people.  Moreover it seems to be a common complaint all over the Province, that this is the way.

�We should, e.g., settle about the transition from Patna syllabus to that of Nagpur.  But the new Inspectors have still to come.  They are always coming, but never arrive.  The best and probably the most sympathetic, to whom I wrote a personal letter, and is practically for us the head, would come in April, they in May; lately he informed me that he would come this month.  July is over and there is no trace of him.  They have been wasting the month of May and part of June on Adult Education, good in itself but much of a farce as it was conducted.  Hindu propaganda with open attempts to draw the Christians into the Hindu fold, occupied a large part of the programme.  In the end the Christians refused to go, on account of that propaganda and the Education came to an end.  Meanwhile the Inspectors have no time for any other work than that.

�The Bishop wishes me to discuss with them the question of our attempted High School at Ginabahar, but cannot do this with such fellows who come as makeshifts, till they can get away.

�You may have read lately in the Herald some-very spirited answers purported to come from Jashpur Christian students, against the vile slander by one who came with a large retinue to spy our Institutions at Gholeng and Ginabahar.  He dares call himself a member of the much esteemed Servants of India Society.  He and his colleague have nearly wrecked the nascent Mission of the Norbertine Fathers in Mandla, District Jubbulpore. They were sent here by the Prime Minister, but if they hope to ruin this Mission, they are very much mistaken.  Our Catholics are too advanced to he taken in. or frightened by such slanderers.  Protest meetings against their vile report continue to be held, chiefly to wreck their treacherous machinations.  As one of the two, is a sort of Minister for the uplift of the backward people, he has a considerable Government budget to dispose of.  Their aim is more to prevent us front converting, than to care for the uplift of those they used to keep them in bondage.  Just now they are starting 40 new schools for these backward Adibasis.  The third I hear of, is in a village where we possess a school since 30 years.  But knowing that many pagan children come to our schools and that we had sent a petition for a building to enlarge that school, they surreptitiously try and draw aw the pagan children from us.  But we are ready for them. Today my men are gone there to attend a big panchayat to draw tip a protest, and get all the pagans to refuse withdrawing their children from us. I am giving you all this for the sake of those in the community interested in Jashpur affairs.�

In a subsequent visit to the then Premier at Nagpur, Father Vermiere was confronted with this letter and lie then gave an undertaking in writing that he would have no objection to schools being established by Government in the States.

3. Let us turn our attention to the activities of the Missionaries in the Merged States of Surguja and Udaipur during the months following their Integration.  It has already been mentioned that the former Rulers of these States had consistently stopped the infiltration of Missionaries in their territories and with the full knowledge and consent of the then Political Department Anti conversion Acts were passed.  In spite of these Acts individual Missionaries, specially Rev. Stanislus Tigga, a Roman Catholic Priest with his headquarters in Ranchi, kept on visiting these areas surreptitiously and carried on propaganda in the garb of religion.  The strip of land comprising Surguja, Korea, Jashpur, Udaipur, Changbhakar and some other small.  States of Orissa is surrounded by Bihar and Orissa States and is inhabited by a very large percentage of aboriginals.  The tract is full of forests and mineral resources.  Foreign Missionaries from Belgium and Germany had established themselves in Bihar and Orissa and also in Jashpur in 1834 and had succeeded in converting a very large number of people to Christianity.  In order to consolidate and enhance their prestige, and possibly to afford scope for alien interests in this tract, the Missionaries were reported to be carrying on propaganda for the isolation of the Aboriginals from other sections of the community and the movement of Jharkhand was thus started.  This movement was approved by the Aboriginals, local Christians and Muslims and the Missionaries sought to keep it under their influence by excluding all the nationalists elements from this movement.  The demand for Adiwasisthan was accentuated along with the one for Pakistan in 1938.  The Muslim League is reported to have donated Rs. one lakh for propaganda work.  With the advent of political independence in India, the agitation for Adiwasisthan was intensified, with a view to forming a sort of corridor joining East Bengal with Hyderabad, which could be used for a pincer movement against India in the event of a war between India and Pakistan.  The Christian community, supported by the Missionaries of the Ranchi district, organised themselves into a �Raiyat Warg�, ostensibly to do social work, but in reality to propagate the Adiwasi movement.  To counteract the isolationist doctrine of this organization of Christians, the non-Christians formed a Praja Mandal.  Although there was a tussle between these two organizations which continued till the integration of the States with Madhya Pradesh, they joined bands on learning that Surguja and Jashpur States were being merged with Madhya Pradesh and started a pro-Bihar agitation.  At the prospect of the integration of the States with Madhya Pradesh Mr. Jaipal Singh, member of the Constituent Assembly and President of the All-India Adiwasi Association, who is also commonly described as the father of the Jharkhand movement, protested in November 1947 against the merger of Surguja and Jashpur with Madhya Pradesh and accused the Bihar Government with failure to serve the people by not insisting on the integration of those States with Bihar.  After having seen the then Premier of Bihar at Ranchi, Shri Jaipal Singh convened a conference of All-India Adiwasi Maha Sabha, on 14th January of 1948.  This pro-Bihar agitation, which was originally started at the instance of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Missionaries of Ranchi in Bihar district, soon obtained the support of other Christians, non-Christians, aboriginals and members of the Bihar Congress party and it was also reported that the then Hon�ble Premier of Bihar and the Hon�ble Revenue Minister had sympathy with this cause.  Accordingly a party consisting of some Bihar Congressmen, Rev. Lakra, the head of the Lutheran Mission and a Jamidar visited Surguja in the second week of January 1948 to mobilise public opinion in favour of the integration of those States with Bihar. Two members of this party, however, informed the District Superintendent of Police, Surguja, that they were not fully agreeable to the views of the remaining members and further brought to the District Superintendent of Police�s notice that there was a conspiracy between Pakistan and some American and German Missionaries to instigate the aboriginals to take possession of their own land, commonly known as Jharkhand.  In Kharsaon and Sarikela States of Orissa there was violence necessitating the use of force to suppress it.  At the All-India Adiwasis� conference on 14th January, of 1948, called by Mr. Jaipal Singh, speeches after speeches were made narrating the disadvantages and worries associated with the merger of the States with Madhya Pradesh and the benefits accruing from their amalgamation with Bihar.  Two Christians and a non-Christian were appointed propagandists to carry on pro-Bihar agitation.  The Praja Mandal which consisted mostly of non-Christians and which was lacking in funds refused to support the pro-Bihar propaganda and in a meeting held at Bargaon (Jashpur) on 20th January, 1948 it was unanimously resolved to agree to the integration of Surguja and Jashpur with Madhya Pradesh.

4. The activities of the Missionaries in the Jashpur area from January 1948 to the, end of May when the Union Ministry of States decided finally the question of merger of Surguja and Jashpur with Madhya Pradesh may be narrated.  According to official reports these activities, though ostensibly carried on by Indian Christians, were in fact sponsored by Missionaries to secure a-strong foothold in the hitherto forbidden territories of Udaipur and Surguja.

January 1948.-The agitation for the inclusion of Jashpur, Udaipur, Surguja and Changbhakar States in the Bihar Province was continued and prominent persons of Ranchi visited Jashpur. Rev. J. Lakra, the head of German Lutheran Mission, carried on propaganda for a separate Jharkhand Province, which would be administered by Christians, who predominated in the area concerned.  Three meetings of Christians were held in the Jashpur State for the purpose of carrying on this propaganda.

February 1948.- Three more meetings were held in Jashpur sub-division in connection with the Christian agitation in favour of amalgamation with Bihar.  Speakers pointed out that inclusion in the Central Provinces would mean economic and social retardation and the evaporation of their dream of Jharkhand.  At a meeting at Ichkelah (Jashpur) on 13th February it was announced that an Adiwasi fund for defending the interests of Adiwasis had been started. Rev. J. Lakra was suspected of dissuading Christians from participating in Mahatma Gandhi�s Ashes Immersion Ceremony observed at Jashpur on 12th February.  Julias Tigga, Secretary Adiwasi Sabha, Ranchi, visited Jashpur and Ambikapur about the 14th of February and was warned by the District Magistrate, Surguja, for indulging in objectionable activities.  On 21st February 1948, Bowfus Lakra, a parliamentary Secretary of Bihar and Joseph Tigga, Pleader of Ranchi, addressed a small meeting at the prominent Roman Catholic Mission Centre of Ginabahar in which, although opposition to the formation of Jharkhand was voiced, it was stated that people should be allowed to decide whether they should be associated with Madhya Pradesh or Bihar.  These intense political activities of the Christians under the leadership of foreign Missionaries created a sense of apprehension and consequently the non-Christian organization called the Praja Mandal mobilized their resources to counteract this movement.  A few meetings were called and addressed by this party on or about the 23rd of February.  Rev. J. Lakra called a session of the All-India Adiwasi Maha Sabha at Ranchi on the 26th of February and delegates from Orissa, Chhattisgarh States and Bihar attended it. Mr. Jaipal Singh, who was elected President of the Maha Sabha criticized the Bihar Government for splitting the tribal people and emphasised that the salvation of the Adiwasis lay in the creation of a separate province including the States of Chhattisgarh.  He proposed to raise and send 1,000 volunteers for propaganda purposes.

March 1948.-A meeting was organised by the Lutheran Christians at Bargaon in Jashpur to further the propaganda of merger with Bihar.  There was propaganda on the border villages of Surguja district by Christian Missionaries of Palamau and Ranchi.

5. It was during this time that the then Premier of Madhya Pradesh undertook a tour of those areas and it was reported that a good deal of misapprehension regarding Government�s policy, etc., was removed and that open and extensive activities of the Missionaries through Indian Christian Fathers and Preachers were subdued, and Police officials reported that thenceforth the agitation was carried on in a surreptitious, manners In October 1948 a Gaonthia of Surguja was detained under the Public Safety Act for objectionable Activities and a search of his house revealed him in possession of letters which showed that he was an active worker of the Jharkhand movement, on behalf of the Missionaries and that the agitation was still being carried on for the creation of a separate Adiwasi Province.  The Gaonthia was ultimately released on his giving a written undertaking that he would not take part in any subversive activities.

6. In the neighbouring State of Udaipur activities were mostly confined to Rev. S. Tigga.  The laws which were in force in the former Merged States were continued on integration and consequently the Anti-conversion Act had also been continued.  The Anti-conversion Act of Udaipur had been promulgated on 9th July 1946-nearly an year and a half after the, Ruler of the State was installed in December 1944.  But to put a check on the unfair activities of the Roman Catholic Priests the then Political Agent had passed an order on 28th February 1941 [D.O. No. G-59-CR/37 (III)] permitting the entry of Roman Catholic Priests only on the following conditions:-

(1) Priests could be allowed to enter the State when called to the bed-side of a dying or dangerously ill person.  The Priest concerned must in such cases personally give information of his visits at the Police Station nearest to the route by which he travelled.

(2) Priests may be permitted to enter the State once every quarter to celebrate Mass at some village near the border.  Previous permission for this should be obtained from the Superintendent of the State on each occasion.  The Priests should not tour in the State but their parishioners should come to them at the place which was selected for the celebration of Mass.

(3) A Priest should not stay more than 48 hours in the State on any occasion unless unavoidably delayed by circumstances over which he has no control, provided firstly that in such a case he informed in writing the Officer-in-charge of a Police Station nearest to his route when leaving the State, giving particulars of the obstacle which caused the delay and secondly that no visit was extended to more than 96 hours without previous sanction of the Superintendent of the State.  Priests should not do any religious propaganda or proselytization while in the State.

(4) Only Ordained Priests and not lay Preachers from outside should be allowed to enter the State.

7. After Integration Rev. S. Tigga, a Roman Catholic Missionary thwarted these restrictions add visited the State several times up to the month of May 1948.  He was warned against doing so by the Sub-Divisional Officer, but he did not pay any attention to it.  Ultimately the Sub-Divisional Officer ordered his prosecution under section 188, Indian Penal Code for disobeying those restrictions and Rev. Tigga was sentenced to pay a fine of Rs. 20.  Although he was in possession of the requisite amount he refused to pay the fine and had to be imprisoned for four days in consequence to suffer imprisonment which had been ordered in default of the payment of the fine.  This sudden �invasion� of areas in Udaipur State by Roman Catholic Missionaries created a sharp reaction in the mind of the local people and they represented to the Government as well as the district authorities against encouraging the Missionaries to establish their centres in the Udaipur State and thereby to prevent mass conversions of Uraons.  Government apprehended an imminent danger of breach of the peace and disturbance of public tranquility and it also felt that Communist bodies functioning in areas outside Madhya Pradesh on the immediate borders of Surguja, Udaipur and Jashpur States might take advantage of the situation and create trouble, similar to the one which was then raging in the neighbouring States. Accordingly an order, under section 144, Criminal Procedure Code was passed restricting the entry of Christian Missionaries in the Udaipur Sub-Division except for purposes of religious work.  The order was on the lines of the restrictions mentioned in paragraph 6 above and remained in force for nearly a year from 27th January 1949.  It is reported that about 20 to 25 persons were arrested for defiance of this-order.  Throughout the year 1949 the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi and some Roman Catholic leaders of Nagpur made repeated efforts to seek the permission of the State Government to establish centres in the Udaipur Sub-Division.  The restrictions which were imposed in the former State Regime were still in force and Government had information with them to show that Christian Missionaries in the Udaipur State were indulging in political activities of an objectionable kind, really reminiscent of the two nation theory which had awful consequences in the history of India.  Considering that such dangerous activities could not be tolerated by any responsible Government, they were not prepared to remove the restrictions, altogether.  In view of the political bias with which Christian Missionaries had carried on proselytism during the last half a century in the merged territories and in view of their active support of the dangerous Jharkhand movement.  Government considered it necessary to put down the activities which led to fissiparous tendencies.  In a conference held by the Hon�ble the Premier on 29th March, 1949 with three Roman Catholic leaders (Major Bernard, M.L.A., Shri G. X. Francis and Major A. F. W da Costa) the policy of the State Government was fully and carefully explained and it was pointed out that India being a secular State, there was perfect freedom of thought and religion, but difficulties cropped up only when religious organisations mixed this up with politics.  At this conference it was pointed out by the Government spokesman that several non-Christians had represented to Government about the activities of the Missionaries in the Integrated States, in particular about religious instruction being imparted in their schools.  This had become necessary because ever since the opening of schools by the Tribal Welfare Department, Roman Catholic Missionaries had carried on persistent propaganda against such schools and had represented this to the State Government also.  Although Father Vermeire had intimated that he had no objection to Government starting schools in Jashpur side by side with the Mission schools, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi kept on representing that this should not be done.  It was, therefore, pointed out at the conference that the duty of Government being to provide non-sectarian educational instruction for the people, no legitimate objection could be taken against it.  On the question of restrictions imposed on the entry of-Christian Priests in Udaipur State, the official point of view was pointed out and it was explained how the situation had developed on account of the mingling of religion with politics.  The leaders present were told that the policy of Government towards matters of religion was one of allowing complete freedom of conscience and worship to all and there was not the slightest intention to have a different policy in Udaipur or other States.  The gentlemen present were requested to remove any misconception from the minds of the people and to tell them that Government would not interfere in their peaceful religious pursuit so long as they did not mix up politics with religion.  Major da Costa on behalf of the Catholics assured Government of the loyalty of Catholics and informed that Catholics had no connection whatsoever with the Jharkhand movement.  The three leaders present assured the Premier of their unflinching loyalty to Government and of their determination to co-operate and help Government in every possible manner and they requested that the question of allowing reliable Christian Priests to reside in Udaipur might be favourably considered by Government after making due enquiries about their bonafides and Government promised to examine the suggestion.  Shri Francis informed the Premier that he would take an early opportunity of visiting Udaipur and Jashpur to tell the people of the policy of Government and to remove all misconceptions.  In accordance with this promise Shri Francis undertook a tour of the newly integrated States of Udaipur and Jashpur between 20th and 25th April, 1949.  It appears that the representations made by Shri Francis and other Roman Catholic leaders of Nagpur to the Government of Madhya Pradesh were at the instance of the Roman Catholic Mission working in the Jashpur area.  After the conference of these leaders with the Premier on 29th March, 1949 details were apparently reported to the then Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi, who on 18th April, 1949 came to Nagpur and gave a written pledge on his behalf as well as on behalf of his Priests, undertaking to give all due obedience and respect to the lawfully constituted Government of India, and the lawfully constituted Government of Madhya Pradesh and also stated that while carefully abstaining from participating in political affairs it was his desire and purpose that his influence in so far as may be possible in such matters shall be so exerted in loyal co-operation-with Government.  In view of this undertaking Rt. Rev. O�Sevrin, Bishop of Ranchi, requested Government to allow without further delay his Priests to reside in Udaipur without whose presence the Catholics were effectively prevented from practising their religion in a normal way. As regards the apprehension that the Priests might meddle in politics the Bishop assured the Government that as far as his Priests were concerned they would not do so and that they had not done so in the past.  He stated that although soon after Integration he was approached more than once by Bihar Congressmen and other supporters of the Jharkhand movement to lend his support to the movement towards amalgamation with Bihar he had refused to co-operate.  On account of this he had incurred the hostility, not only of the Lutherans in Jashpur, but of Catholics in Ranchi.  In this letter the Bishop stated, �If we, Catholic Priests, had chosen to urge them on in the direction of joining the Jharkhand movement the situation in Jashpur and Udaipur would have been much worse than it is now, considering at very close to one-fourth of the population of Jashpur is Catholic�. This is a significant admission of the control exercised by Roman Catholic Priests in matters outside religion and of the existence of a state of political agitation in the newly merged States of Jashpur, Udaipur and Surguja, soon after Integration.  Along with his request to allow Catholic Priests to reside in Udaipur State, the Bishop levelled charges against petty local officials and also non-officials.  It was also stated that patent discrimination which was officially adopted by the Central Provinces Government against Christian aboriginals in denying them scholarships and other concessions was much resented by the Catholics.  The following are some of the reported grievances of Catholics in Jashpur voiced by the Bishop of Ranchi:-

(1) There have been several cases of Catholic candidates for Government posts being asked as a condition for employment to give Christianity and become Hindus.  Although the letter admitted that this allegation was made on what is �being whispered about�, the Government was asked to remedy the situation.

(2) The Catholics are not enrolled as Home Guards and are not given other posts.

(3) Many Catholics at the request of Congress leaders at Raigarh had collected a fair sum of money for Gandhi Memorial Fund.  They were severely rebuked by some officials.

(4) The attitude of some leaders of the Backward Area Welfare Sabha was against the Roman Catholics.

(5) The whole policy of the Adiwasi Sudhar Sabha was one of sheer waste of money and conducive to breach of peace.

(6) Government schools should not be opened where Roman Catholic schools already exist.

8. In his report of the tour undertaken in April, 1949 Shri G. X. Francis voiced almost the same grievances which had already been put forward by the Bishop of Ranchi in his communication dated 18th April, 1949.

9. Enquiries were ordered by Government into the allegations made by the Bishop of Ranchi and Shri Francis and it was reported by the authorities that in spite of the denial by the Bishop of the part played by the Jashpur Roman Catholics in the Jharkhand political movement definite evidence existed to prove that the Roman Catholic Mission authorities at Ranchi had made common cause with other elements and were taking active part in this movement.  The vehement opposition of the Roman Catholic Bishop to the Backward Areas Welfare Scheme was explained by the blow given to the proselytising activities of the Roman Catholics through their schools by the Backward Areas Welfare Scheme.  Government however could not take an immediate decision to permit the Priests to reside in Udaipur because of the strong feelings of a considerable section of the people there against such action and therefore it was considered desirable to await the Constitution which was then being drafted by the Constituent Assembly.

10. The efforts of the Christian Association of which Shri G. X. Francis is the Chairman and of the Bishop of Ranchi to secure cancellation of the orders in respect of the residence of the Priests in Udaipur State continued unabated till the promulgation of the Constitution in January, 1950.  Besides, written individual representations of Shri Francis and other Catholic leaders, the demand was raised in some of the All-India conferences of this body.  On the other hand, non-Christian bodies kept on representing to Government against relaxing the ban.

11. The promulgation of the Constitution was soon followed by the entry into Surguja and Udaipur of the Belgian Jesuits, the Lutherans and some other Missions, who had hitherto worked from the Ranchi district.  Strong action was taken by these Mission authorities to spread Christianity amongst Uraons.  Having firmly and perpetually installed themselves in the State of Jashpur against the will of the then Rulers and owing to official pressure brought upon the Rulers by the foreign administration, it was used as a base of operation for further expansion into Udaipur and Surguja territories. The Priests had either commenced their operations by sending Christians into the country who concealed the fact that they were Christians and took service as field labourers or lived with relations.  When in course of time a sufficient number of such people had taken up their residence in the area the Preachers went into the country and appointed assistants from amongst the Christians who had gone to live there and a mass movement of conversion to Christianity ensued.  Reports started pouring in upon the Government that these Pracharaks and other paid servants were mere pawns in the hands of the Priests, they acted as Vakils for the people in all matters and interfered continually in all temporal affairs.  The Catholic, Lutheran and Swedish Churches soon established centres all along the Surguja-Bihar border.  In 1950, branches were opened at Ambikapur and Sitapur in the Surguja district.  The authorities reported to Government that the method adopted by Christian Missionaries was as follows:-

After preliminary investigation by a responsible (usually foreign) member of a Mission they would establish themselves in a small village and try to gain the confidence of the village people.  They would gradually start advising the village folk in their local problems and very often make out applications and complaints to be presented to the authorities.  They would personally follow the matter in courts and thus gain the confidence of the party.  Selected Uraon boys would be sent out with the help of scholarships to the Missionary headquarters in Jashpur or Bihar for training in handicrafts or for higher education.  Meanwhile earlier converts from Bihar would be brought down to the Centres to move amongst the village folk to propagate the benefits of conversion.  Local intelligent villagers (in many cases Muslims) would then be selected and appointed as Pracharaks on a pay of about Rs. 50 per month.  These paid Pracharaks would move in the country-side doing propaganda, paving the way for the Missionaries to tackle responsible individuals in near about villages.  Meanwhile recent converts at the Centre would receive social attention, new clothes, personal advice on agriculture, free chemical manures and attention at home to make the houses look distinct from others in the village.  They would open schools wherein only prospective converts would be admitted.  Free medicine would he distributed on bazar days, prospective converts being treated free while others were charged.  They would make arrangements to distribute paddy and other seeds free to certain selected families.  In some cases cash grants were also reported to have been given.  Loans were advanced and the borrower was told directly or indirectly that if he became a convert he need not repay the money.  Thus, by the system of preferential treatment and with temporary physical benefits displayed before them an atmosphere in favour of conversion was being created.  In some cases reports of coercive methods being used were also received.

12. As Missionary activities spread in Surguja district local non-Christians got alarmed.  In 1952, leading citizens of the district, including the Maharaja of Surguja distributed pamphlets and addressed gatherings advising the Adivasis not to give up their religion for the sake of monetary benefits or temptations.  Members of the Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh and the Arya Samaj joined hands and intensified propaganda against Missionary activities.  The services of a large number of enthusiastic workers could be secured by them and reconversions took place in some numbers.  A conference of Virat Hindu Rashtriya Sammelan was convened at Ambikapur where all non-Christian organisations were asked to present a united front against the Christians and the Jharkhand movement.  Thus, acute tension prevailed in the area and the authorities thought that the situation may result in serious trouble unless handled properly.

13. This tension was attributed chiefly to the objectionable methods followed by Missionaries, some of which may be narrated.  On 5th May, 1951 at about 8 p.m. in village Chando, Rev. K. C. Burdett, a foreign Missionary took out a procession with about 25 followers in a truck and moved into some villages, singing provocative songs denouncing the Hindu religion.  The matter was reported to the police and an offence was registered.  As Shri Burdett offered an unconditional written apology the case was not prosecuted. In village Salba, Police Station Baikunthpur, 16 Christian Preachers entered the house of one Charan Uraon on 7th November, 1952, threw away his utensils and threatened him with violence, because he had opposed conversion.  These persons were prosecuted and each of them was convicted.  On another occasion in the same village, recently-appointed Christian Pracharaks, as alleged, used threats and intimidation against local Uraons for which they were prosecuted under section 506, Indian Penal Code.  Reports of the use of violence and threats by a group of recently-appointed Pracharaks were received from other villages in the area and offences were registered.  Rev. J. C. Christy, head of a Mission with headquarters in Palamau district who was organising centres in the Surguja district adjoining Palamau district, was also reported to have indulged in smuggling rice to Bihar in contravention of Government orders and to have assaulted public servants who tried to check the smuggling activities.  Cases were registered against him and he was prosecuted.  In both these cases he has recently been convicted.  Another case of a village Headman was reported in which the Headman complained that when he had gone to village Amadoli near Madguri to make enquiries about new arrivals Lutia and other Christians of the village caught hold of the Headman and snatched his dress and beat him.  A report was made to the police and investigation was started.  The four Christians concerned were convicted in a court of law.  In connection with this case Rev. F. Ekka of the Catholic Ashram made a false complaint against the Head Constable who had investigated the case. Ekka�s complaint was investigated by the Sub-Divisional Officer, Police, Ramanujganj, and was found to be entirely false, presumably made to gain favour of the Uraon converts and to discourage police officers from performing their duties.

14. Besides these criminal offences registered and investigated numerous ordinary complaints made by villagers against the objectionable activities of Christian Missionaries were presented to the district authorities at Ambikapur.  Some of them may be enumerated here:-

Thirteen villagers of village Dhajji and Sukhari, Police Station Samri, complained against Patras Kerketta of the Roman Catholic Mission along with other Pracharaks who addressed a meeting in the village stating that the Congress Raj was bad because it was trouble to the Christian people; that Christians were getting a Raj in which people would get all facilities.  They asked the villagers to refrain from paying Malguzari dues to Government, cut the Government forest, assault officers who would check them and also to beat the persons who refused to join hands with them.  He asked them to unite together against Government and threatened that those who did not co-operate would be turned out of the villages when Christians cot Jhar-Khand.  Complaints against Rev. Kerketta were made to the authorities at different times by the villagers of Mandwa, Nawadikalan, Karcha, Khujuridi, Shahapur and Kandri.  It was brought to the notice of the local officials that Patras Kerketta had baptized two Uraon babies when their grandmother had taken them for getting medicine for some eye trouble.  Apprehending a breach of the peace the Sub-Divisional Officer, Ramanujganj, held a spot enquiry. According to the wishes of the villagers the babies were reconverted to Hindu religion and Patras Kerketta tendered an apology to the Additional District Magistrate.

15. Instances also came to the notice of the authorities to show that Missionaries deliberately put up false and frivolous complaints against Government servants, so that the activities of the Missionaries could be carried on without bein

VINDICATED BY TIME - The Niyogi Committee Report On Christian Missionary Activities

Sita Ram Goel
Chapters
Preface
The Sunshine of �Secularism�
Rift in the Lute
Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, Madhya Pradesh
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Appendices
Tour Programmes of the Committee
District Raigarh
District Surguja
District Raipur
District Bilaspur
District Amravati
District Nimar
District Yeotmal
District Akola
District Buldana
District Mandla
District Jabalpur
District Chhindwara
Questionnaire
Replies submitted by Shri J. Lakra
Replies to Questionnaire concerning the area covered by Jashpur, Khuria and Udaipur of the Raigarh district
Replies submitted by the Catholic Sabha of the Raigarh district Replies
Replies submitted by Shri Gurubachan Sing, Raipur
Replies submitted by Chairman and Secretary of the General Conference, Mennonite Mission in India, Saraipali, Raipur district
Replies submitted by Rev. Canon, R. A. Kurian, Nagpur
Replies submitted by Rev. E. Raman, President, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh, Gopalganj, Sagar
Replies submitted by Miss M. L. Merry, Khirkia R. S., Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh
Replies submitted by Shri L. E. Hartman, Amravati Camp, Berar, Mission Bungalow, Amravati Camp, Berar
Replies submitted by Umri Mission Hospital, Umri, via Yeotmal, Madhya Pradesh
Replies submitted by Shri F. B. Lucas, President, Independent Christian Association, Yeotmal
Replies submitted by Shri R. W. Scott, Secretary, National Christian Council
Replies submitted by Dr. E. Asirvatham, Nagpur
Replies submitted by Shri P. S. Shekdar, Khamgaon, district Buldana
Replies submitted by Shri Sohanlal Aggarwal, Secretary, Vedic Sanskriti Raksha Samiti.
Replies submitted by Shri T. Y. Dehankar, President, Bar Association, and six others of Bilaspur
Replies submitted by Shri M.N. Ghatate, Nagpur Sangh Chalak.
Replies submitted by Shri R. K. Deshpande, Pleader, Jashpurnagar
Correspondence of Roman Catholics with the Committee, the state government and the Central Government
Extracts from Catholic Dharma ka Pracharak and other pamphlets showing the methods of propaganda
Short History of Chhattisgarh Evangelical Mission
Camp: Raipur (22-7-1955)
Camp Bilaspur (25-7-1955)
Raigarh (28-7-1955)
Jashpur (22-11-1955)
Jabalpur (8-8-1955)
Sagar (11-8-1955)
Mandla (15-8-55)
Khandwa (17-8-55)
Yeotmal (10-8-55)
Camp Amravati (13-8-1955)
Washim (16-8-1955)
Buldana 18-8-1955
Malkapur (20-8-1955)
(22-8-1955)
Nagpur (20-9-1955)
Camp Ambikapur (19-11-1955)
Activities of Christian Missions in the Eastern States and proselytism in the Udaipur State by the Jesuit Mission