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Mandla (15-8-55)

Oral Statement made before the Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee.

MANDLA
(15-8-55)

No. 1

Name-Rambharos Agarwal.
Father�s name-Seth Bhaddelai.
Occupation-Lawyer.
Residence-Mandla.

I have sent my reply to the Committee�s questionnaire, and my honest views are expressed therein.  The litigants of Salhedanda village of Mandla tahsil by name Luta and Hazari were coerced by one Padri byname Anthony Thudiyhill (Roman Catholic) to effect a compromise of their case on pain of dire consequences.  Being afraid, they effected a compromise.  This matter went to the Civil Court and one of the findings of the Court is that the compromise was not voluntary but a result of undue pressure by the Padri.  The motives, as I understand, must be to show his influence and superiority in that village with a view to convert people to Roman Catholic faith.  Other persons of Salhedanda have made complaints to the Deputy Commissioner through the District Congress Committee, Mandla, about undue pressure of this Church, It is not merely my information but also my personal knowledge that loans were advanced by the Roman Catholic Missionaries with a view to convert people to Christianity.  There is another Mission also working in the Mandla district.  It is now called Gondwana Mission but no instances of objectionable methods have come to my notice with regard to their working.  I file a statement today.  In this I have suggested remedies to protect an aboriginal in his ancestral faith.  On the analogy of the Land Acquisition Act I say that the permission of the Deputy Commissioner should be necessary for an aboriginal leaving his ancestral faith, but not so when he comes back to his ancestral faith.  In a backward tract like Mandla district, in my opinion, officers of high character and efficiency should be posted.  At present the general opinion is that those who are sent here are sent by way of some sort of punishment for their not very efficient work elsewhere.  In fact the process should be reversed.  Men of proved efficiency and character should be posted here as backward people need more sympathy and more looking after their interests than those in the advanced areas.  My written reply to question No. 42 of the questionnaire is based on my belief that conversion not only to Roman Catholic faith but also to any denomination of Christianity would lessen an aboriginal�s affiliation as an Indian though I grant that this cannot be said of highly placed and intelligent men and women.
 

No. 2

Name-Shri D. L. Dilrai.
Father�s name-Dilrai.
Occupation-Missionary of the Gondwana Mission.
Residence-Mandla.

Our main work is Evangelistic but so far we have no converts.  Our main work is in the backward tracts, amongst the aboriginals in the Mandla district.  Our annual expenditure is about Rs. 7 to 8 thousand.  We get this money from the Bishop of Nagpur.  We have 3 school teachers, 2 of them do pastoral work also.  We have no pracharaks in addition to these.  They are also not regular pracharaks.  Our total number in Mandla district would be about 400.  The main field of work in Mandla district is of Roman Catholics and their number is much larger than ours.  I cannot say how much.  It is the lack of funds that is coming in the way of our evangelistic work in the Mandla district.  Had we the funds, we would have done as we did 20 years ago.  I have also heard complaints of the type regarding advance and loans by the Roman Catholics stated by the previous witness but it may be just to help a poor man in his needs.  The other aspect also can be there, that this loan may work as an inducement to conversion.  Our Mission, therefore, had never adopted this method and would not adopt this method even if we have money. On our part I should not fail to bring to the Committee�s notice that the Roman Catholics reached the places wherever Government help could not be available and the Roman Catholic have helped in such places.  That fact also must have attracted the persons residing in those distant parts of the jungle area, towards the (Roman Catholics) religion.  Our Government is looking more and more onwards the welfare of the tribal area in matters of education, financial help and, general uplift.  This is welcomed by the people of those areas. It is also welcome to me. About the Roman.  Catholics, I cannot say.

To Mr. S. P. Verma-

There is a small dispensary belonging to the Mission at Patpara.  These four persons have come from Travancore, three ladies and one gentleman.  Besides doing their hospital work the two who are attached to the hospital do preaching work also.  The other two are learning the local language.  In fact all four are learning the local language in order to prepare themselves for work in this locality.  They are not paid by our mission.  They are paid by Travancore mission although they are under the Nagpur diocese.

To Shri S. B. Shukla, counsel for non-Christians-

I cannot say what has been the increase or decrease in the number of Christians here for the last 3 or 4 years. This information can be given by the Bishop of Nagpur.  We keep no record of the work done by our workers.
 

No. 3

Name-Koshibai.
Father�s name-Mudewa, Gond.
Occupation-Agriculture.
Residence-Raitwar, tahsil Dindori.
 

MANDLA

No. 4

Name-Singarobai.
Father�s name-Kodu.
Occupation-Agriculture.
Residence-Bijori, tahsil Dindori.
 

No. 5

Name-A. I. George.
Father�s name-Rev. A. P. Itty.
Occupation-Secretary, Patpara Mission.
Residence-Patpara.

Formerly Patpara was a Mission station of the Gondwana Mission.  We have taken over Patpara, and the near about villages from that Mission.  It is now an independent Mission and not a part of the Gondwana Mission.  Our funds come from Travancore Mission.  I, my wife and two other ladies came here on an invitation of the Nagpur Diocese.  Our annual budget is about Rs. 3,000.  The amount comes from Travancore.  Our sphere of work is confined to 7 or 8 village�s roundabout Patpara.  Our main work is evangelistic.  There are in all 49 Christians in our area and the rest are mostly Gonds.  We came in last October.  But Christian Missions have been working in the area since about 70 years.  We do preaching work, and sometimes visit houses.  We run school and some medical aid is given, as there is no medical aid available nearabout. Patpara is 7 miles from Mandla and important medical cases are referred to Mandla Hospital.  Some 3 or 4 people came to me individually and told me that they wanted to he Christians.  I then questioned why they wanted to be Christians, and I was not satisfied of their worthiness.  Therefore I did not convert them.  The Gondwana Mission has made available to us all their establishment and work.

To Shri S. B. Shukul.- Whenever we go for preaching, we go in numbers, varying from 3 to 12.  Generally we collect a large number of people.  We preach in substance that through Jesus Christ alone people can get salvation.  We never say about their religion.  We tell them about our life and experience and about their faith.  We sing Christian songs and show magic lantern slides.  There are no records of conversion for the last 10 years.  I asked people who had come to me to become Christian whether they had come for financial help or to get a woman in marriage, as I had heard that people are actuated by such motives to become Christians.  That has been within my experience also that people come to become Christian with that expectation.  There are people of our confidence in every village who are not Christians and they invite us for preaching, medical help and other works.
 

No. 6

Name-Ishwardas.
Father�s name-Jhadudas.
Occupation-Kotwar.
Residence-Khitoli.

Some 2 or 3 years ago I had been to Junwani where my son was reading in the Mission School.  Father of the Church, whose name I don�t know, is called Bade Swami.  He gave me several tracts asking me that I should distribute them amongst the villagers and take the villagers every Sunday to the Church.  I took the pamphlets and distributed them and also asked the villagers to go to the Church.  I am kotwar of two villages.  In fact I had taken some Baigas of Lakhanpur to the Church on Sundays, nut they did not continue to go as they said they did not like that.  Then Bada Father asked me why I was not trying to take the people to the church.  I told the Bada Father that I was a Government Kotwar.  I could not do more than I was doing.  I could not help when the people did not go to the Church.  This he did not like and became displeased with me.  One day I went to Junwani again.  I was standing in the courtyard of Amritdas master, hearing two other masters� quarrel.  As I was standing, Bade Father came from behind and when I heard his steps I legged behind but he became wild and he gave me good beating saying that I was not doing his work and was not taking the people to Church.  The father followed me but I anyhow escaped.  I reported the matter in Mawai P. S. next day.  The next day the Bada father came to my house and entered it.  He threatened that unless I continued to send my son to his school, I would be turned out. I was afraid of not sending my son to his school.  Then I began sending my son to school and nothing happened to him.  Some 15 days back they have turned out my son from the School and I suspect that the reason is that I have come here to depose facts.  I had given written statement to the Committee when it visited Dindori last time I gave a statement (Bayan) in writing dated the 10th December 1954.  A copy of it was given to the Committee by Shri Nilkanth Sharma along with his answer to the questionnaire. (The original is shown to the witness and he admits his signature.
 

No. 7

Name-Chhiddi
Father�s name-Hira
Occupation-Cultivation
Residence-Surajpur, tahsil Mandla

My village is a mile and half from Salhedanda and about 10 miles from Katra, where there is a Roman Catholic Church and a Padri.  The Padree used to give me two bottles of kerosene oil and Rs. 13 per month so that I might learn Christian religion and induce others to become Christian.  He used to tell us that it is no use worshipping our Gods and Goddesses.  He also used to say that we should not say �Ram Ram�, when wishing each other bus should say �Jai Issu�.  For some time I did his work and tried to learn his literature.  But after some time I began to realise that I was loosing my caste and would be excommunicated by my caste fellows.  Therefore, I became cold in this matter.  Then the Padri Sahib discontinued paying money and two bottles of kerosene oil.  Salhedanda and Surajpura are on the other side of river Narmada and are Jangli tract.  Katra is near Mandla.  Year before last Chhota Padri Saheb of Katra told me that I was their old worker and should work for them, myself become a Christian and make others Christians and then I would get my old remuneration of Rs. 13 and two bottles of kerosene oil as before.  I know that there are five houses of Catholic Christians and about 50 houses of Gonds in Salhedanda.  The Catholic houses were formerly of Gonds.  They have converted to Christianity about two or three years ago.  The Gonds told the Christian converted that they would not allow them to touch their food and not have such other connection with them.  On this there was some quarrel between the two parties.  The Catholic insisted that they did not cease to be Gonds because they adopted Christianity and they had every right to take food, etc., in their caste pangats.  The matter was reported and on Government officials' intervening and telling them that the Christians should not interfere with the Gonds and the Gonds with Christians, the matter is now at rest.  There is a dispute between one Luta and Hazari.  Both are Gonds and non-Christians.  The Padri Saheb of Katra is siding Hazari in that quarrel. I cannot definitely give reason of the quarrel but I gasp that one Ajansingh is Christian and his mother and Hazari�s wife are sisters.  That may be the reason for this sidetaking of the Christian Mission.
 

No. 8

(16-8-55)

Name-Suraj Prasad Verma.
Father�s name-Shri Janaklal Verma.
Occupation-Photo Artist and Secretary of Arya Samaj, Mandla.
Residence-Mandla.

I have replied to the Committee�s questionnaire. I have several occasions to go into the interior in connection with my business, and also in connection with Ramayan function.  I have recorded in writing my experience, which I am handing over to the Committee.  Nandu, son of Lingu Baiga of village Bijoara informed me when I had been to his village that Foreign Missionaries forcibly took away his sacred Trishul and Sath Kathwa talking very disparagingly about them and took them into Church and sprinkled water on them saying that these are nothing and Jesus Christ is our Saviour.  He also gave me in writing copy of the application.  This has been sent to the Committee and I give the original for your perusal.  I was also informed by an old man, who is locally called Gandhi, and a few others with him that the Christian Missionary there (in order to convert people) played the following trick.  He brought two idols one of Jesus Christ and the other of Ram or Krishna.  He told the audience that these were the two idols one their God and other his God.  He would try which one is purer.  The pure one would come out of the dirty water if both are placed in it.  Then a bucket of water was brought and some dust thrown into it.  The idol of Jesus and the idol of Ram were then placed under the water taking care that the idol of Jesus should be under the idol of Ram.  Then they were asked to call out their Gods to swim over the dirty water.  The Hindu idol did not come up and then it was his (the Christian�s) turn to call his God and then he gave a shake to the pot and the idol of Jesus swam over the water as that was made of wood and that of Ram or Krishna was made of metal.  In this way the ignorant and backward people are deceived into believing that there is truth in what the Missionary says.  These tricks are played in the open bazar.  I am willing to produce my two informants.  In fact they would have come to day, but due to heavy rains, they were held-up. I shall willingly produce them in Nagpur or if the Committee comes in open season, then I will produce them here.

Ratnu son of Lingu Baiga told me that one foreign Padri beat him as he thought he was interfering with his work of conversion.  Ratnu has given his written statement to the Committee and I produce the original here for the Committee�s perusal.  Village Bijora is far in the interior and difficult to approach.  I asked Ratnu why he did not report to the police.  He said that it was difficult for him to go alone.  He could not find a companion as they were afraid of pressure from Missionaries.  Bhangi, son of Dasru Baiga was also beaten by the Missionaries.  He had made a report.  His writing is also with me and a copy is given to the Committee.  Asru, son of Baisakhu Baiga informed me that the foreign Padri entered his house, drove away his children and wife, and locked it because he thought that Asru was not going to the Church and not taking others to the Church although he was a Mukhia.  He has given a report in writing.  The original is shown, and a copy given to the Committee.  Bhagutsing has also given in writing the original shown and a copy has been handed over to the Committee.  Ishwardas Kotwar, who was examined yesterday, has also given his report in writing to me.  The original is shown and a copy is given to the Committee. Lamu Gond and Chhatarsingh have also given their versions in writing.  The original is shown.  Copies of this have already been supplied to the Committee.  These are instances of how the Roman Catholic Missionaries in Mandla are terrorising the people in the backward tracts.  These are not isolated cases but instances of what they do and of which I have heard various reports.  Lately their behaviour like this has no doubt lessened.  But it may be revived again.

Loans were advanced by the Roman Catholic Mission with a view to conversion.  Small amounts ranging from Rs. 2 to Rs. 10 are given to ignorant and simple people so that they may be tempted to become Christian and if they do not become Christian, heavy interest is realised.  Roman Catholic Mission was constructing a school in Salhedanda in the year 1953-54.  Salhedanda and Surajpura people did not give Begar to the Missionary.  The Missionary Padri, therefore, beat the people of Salhedanda and Surajpura.  Some of the people of those villages reported the matter to the Congress Committee and also to the police.  Ramsukh Pande, a head constable, went to make enquiries and it is believed he reported against, the missionary.  Seeing this, Shri H. Ross, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mandla, transferred Ramsukh Pande to Bajag, an interior thana of this district, where generally people are sent by way of punishment.  Ramsukh Pande represented his case to his officers and all the papers are in the District Superintendent of Police's office, as I believe. I went to the District Superintendent of Police's office in order to find out if I could get copies of the above said papers.  There I was informed that it was not possible for me to do so, but I think if the Committee writes to them they may supply copies of the proceeding to the Committee.  Kunwardas�s daughter was reading in the Mission School, Sijhora.  Kunwardas settled her marriage in his own caste.  He is the waterman of that school and when he went there Rev. Lamers, who is a padri, and also in-charge of the institution, beat Kunwardas saying that his daughter should have been married to a Christian and not to a non-Christian as she has studied in the Christian school.  Kunwardas reported the matter to the police and when Rev. Lamers came to know this, he gathered a sort of panchayat in the village and offered apology to Kunwardas.  But Kunwardas has been removed from service.

Panchhabai aged about 13 or 14 years, daughter of Radhelal Pathad of the village Kisli was taken away by a Christian boy, son of a teacher of Narharganj.  I do not know his name but the young man was a forest-guard.  She was turned Christian and married.  The matter was reported to the police and a Criminal case was started but what happened of the Criminal case I do not know.  This occurrence had taken place in the month of August 1950.  The report to the District Magistrate was made on 26th August 1950.

I give another instance of how the people are converted to Christianity.  There is a custom among the hilly tract people and among the tribal that they do not take water from other caste people.  The Christian pracharaks pretending to distribute medicines, give medicine in liquid form and after sometime the pracharak tells the caste people that man is worthy of ousting from their caste because he had drunk water from the hands of Christians.  The caste people then outcaste him and the men has to suffer heavy compensation (Jat Dand) in the form of feast, liquor, etc.  Ultimately the man becomes nervous and gets converted to Christianity.  These are done by the agents of the missionaries, who make propaganda in the caste people that the person has become a Christian by his taking medicine containing water from Christians.

The evidence of one Chhiddi who deposed about Missionary activity of taking sides in litigation with a view to conversion is a typical instance of what a missionary does.  There are various ways and many methods of inducing people to become Christian, too numerous to mention in such a short time.  But I am giving some more illustrations as follows:-

(1) Christians do not allow their wells to be used by non-Christians when real need of water arises unless they become Christian.  This has happened in Bijora village.

(2) Love affairs-An instance of this has already come to the Committee�s notice yesterday.

(3) Petty employment and monthly salary-This has also come to the Committee�s notice yesterday.

(4) Giving material help to the guardians of children and to children who read in the mission school.

(5) Changing name of a student in the attendance roll in the mission school.

(6) When boy with Hindu name passes an examination or leaves a Mission school and wants a transfer certificates, then his name is given as a Christian.

I am giving a few instances for your perusal.  One Nanhudas Panka of mission school of Parsel Daori near Bonder was given a Christian name when he wanted a certificate.  His father�s name was mentioned as Christian, viz.  �Dr. Rembo�.  I file a written statement.
 

No. 9

Name.-Nilkanth Sharma.
Father�s Name.-Ramdatt Sharma.
Occupation.-Arya Updeshak.
Residence.-Nagpur.

I am Arya Samaj Updeshak.  I have travelled in Mandla district in connection with my preaching work. I have gone alone and also with Shri Suraj Prasad Verma. I beard the statement made by Shri Suraj Pd. Verma and endorse the same. I also file my written statement. I had replied to the questionnaire sent by the committee and along with my reply I had sent copies of various statements made by several persons.  The originals of these were shown to the Committee by Shri S. P. Verma.
 

No. 10

Name.-Bhagwani Singh.
Father�s name.-Hemsar.
Occupation.-Cultivation.
Residence.-Murta.

I am a member of the Dindori Janpad Sabha.  The villages of Junwani Mohania, Deoridadar, Andhiar Khon and Mohwari all situated, in Mawai than of Mandla district, were originally inhabited by Gonds.  But for the last 10 or 15 years they are being converted to Christianity.  The methods of conversion are monetory help, inducement, Terrorising people and others, of which I give a list in my note, which I have written and is under my signature.  Now the Christian population has increased very much and still continues to increase.  My village Murta is about 4 or 5 miles from Junwani.  In my village also, the mukaddam�s son has been turned into Christianity last year while he was a student in their school.  They get hold of the Mukhia so that they may be able to use him to convert others.  These are all very jangli tracts where pacca roads are very distant.  They (these Christians) are of R. C. Mission.  My mother was treated when she was old. but she did not recover by the treatment of the Missionary there.  So she was brought to Mandla and recovered her health.  In the other village mentioned above, 100 persons may have become Christian in the course of the last year. There are 5 or 6 Churches (Kachcha) in the villages situated at a distance of about 5 miles from each other.  We do not have eating and drinking connection with those who have become out of caste.  We don�t take back to our caste a married couple who become Christian.  We can take back the males but not the females and even for males the charges of taking back in our castes come to about Rs. 100 per head as expenses for caste feast.
 

No. 11

Name.-Shri Umeshdatt Pathak.
Father�s name.-Shri Damodar Shastri.
Occupation.-Pleader.
Residence.-Mandla.

I am advocate at Mandla. I am old worker in Mandla district and was also a member of the Provincial Council. I belong, to no political or communal organisation.  For some time, I was a member of the A. I. C. C. People claim that I am one of the oldest public worker in Mandla, I had many occasions to go into the interior.  I am LL.M. and M. A. Before I came to Mandla, I was a professor in the Morris College, Nagpur and at Jabalpur also.

I have been in Mandla since the year 193J. I used to go for teaching in the Law College from Mandla. I have some knowledge of happenings in Mandla district, and the methods which the Missionaries employ to convert people to Christianity, particularly in the backward and village tracts in Mandla district.  They are objectionable.  They convert people by giving them inducements like money, loans, taking sides in litigation, distributing clothes and too many other questionable ways to be enumerated are resorted to.  I have personally gone and met many of the converts and known them at first hand.  Their conversion is based not on conviction or knowledge of Christianity but on things other than these.  I have studied the Bible and in some cases I found that the new converts have actually no knowledge of Christian religion.  Conversion on a large scale did take place after the flood and during the War.  The methods of the Padris have changed now no doubt, but they have become what I should call �underground�.  They have now their secret agents getting pay and salary working among the villagers and trying to persuade them to become Christian.  Except in distant areas in Mandla, the method of coercion-cum-inducement has been changed into secret agencies doing the work.  Generally they catch hold of some influential persons of the village, such as mukaddam and his son and the kotwar, and work through them.  That conversion to Christianity affects, the loyalty to India is not true in the case of the first generation of new corners.  In fact they feel for their old religion and are not very happy over the change.  But of the 2nd and the subsequent generations it is definite in my mind that their loyalty and affinity to India become affected.  There are various factors leading to this mentality. For instance, the attitude of excommunication by the caste fellows, the teachings of the Missionaries from childhood and many others.  The use of liquor by the R. C. Missionaries is another great incentive to the tribal people in the jungle to embrace Christianity.  The Christian Missionaries are encouraging the backward area Gonds in their separatist tendency to demand a state of their own.  The Missionaries think they will be profited by this, as the educated Gonds, who may be expected to be future leaders of the Gonds, would be mostly Christians.  This also can be said to be a part of the Jharkhand area.  There are a hundred ways of the Padri to do conversion.  They also act as recruiting agents for labourers for Assam plantation from where they come back either as Christians or Christian-minded.

   

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