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Orissa prelate rejects conversion 'lies'
Hindu radical says he has turned 150,000 Christians away from their religionArchbishop Barwar rejects conversion claims by Hindu
- Ajay Kumar Singh, Bhubaneswar
- April 21, 2011
â€śHe is an habitual liar,â€ť Archbishop John Barwa of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said yesterday.
Togadia, international general secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP, world Hindu council),Â also claims that Hindu groups in Orissa have stopped some five million Hindus from converting to Christianity.
Such claims are â€śfull of lies and a ploy to foment violence,â€ť said Archbishop Barwa, who was head of Rourkela, a tribal dominated diocese in northern Orissa, before becomingÂ Orissa Church leader on April 2.
â€śOnce Togadia claimed to have converted some Christians to Hinduism in Rourkela diocese and we cross-checked and found nothing but lies,â€ť Bishop Barwa said.
The Church would not be â€śbulliedâ€ť by people such as Togadia. â€śIt is unfortunate that Togadia resorts to such tactics to foment violence and confuse communities,â€ť he said.
Sister Justine Senapati of the Sister of Josephâ€™s Annecy congregation, a human right activist, wants the government to arrest Togadia if his claims are true.
Orissa is among half a dozen Indian states that have banned religious conversion by force, coercion or inducement.
Sister Senapati regretted that the police have arrested 14 tribal and dalit people on March 28 under the law â€śwhen real culprits such as Togadia go scot-free.â€ť
The Christians were arrested for flouting the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act that ban religious conversion.
Sister Senapati alleged that Togadia had â€śscriptedâ€ť the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal district along with local Hindu radicals.
More than 90 people were killed and thousands of people made homeless as violence raged for seven weeks.
â€śNow he has now focused on Mayurbanj, another tribal-dominated district,â€ť she told ucanews.com.
Balasore diocese covers Mayurbanj, where Australian missioner Graham Stuart Staines managed a leprosy center. A Hindu radical mob burnt him alive along with his two young sons in 1999.
Hindu groups oppose conversion