India's Hindu Nationalists Seek To "Indianize" Christians

Friday, May 11, 2001

May 11, 2001

SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) -- In a fresh attack on Christians and Muslims, the Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in demanding the "Indianization" of Christians and Muslims in the country.

On April 20, VHP Vice President Acharya Giriraj Kishore demanded that Christians and Muslims should be "indigenized" and be given Indian names.

"By Indianization, we are not demanding conversion of Muslims and Christians into Hindus. For the sake of unity and integrity of the country, we are demanding that Christians and Muslims should be indigenized, carrying Indian names," Kishore said.

Last October, RSS chief K.S. Sudershan called on Christians and Muslims to cut their spiritual links with "foreign sources."

In a separate development, the VHP's international general secretary, Pravin Togadia, claimed that about 33,000 people had been converted to Christianity in the northern state of Sikkim in the last 25 years. Togadia said there were only a few Christians 25 years ago.

He added that the figure was compiled by VHP workers touring villages in the state to caution people against conversions. According to Togadia, the release of the government census figures would confirm the VHP count. The VHP leader accused Christians of trying to convert Hindus and Buddhists in the area.

Meanwhile, the VHP says it is planning to revamp its image and highlight its "social work" component in the rural areas among the backward castes and tribals.

According to VHP's chief of social projects, Sitaram Agarwal, the aim is to counter the influence of Christian missionaries. The VHP says the program has helped in checking conversions as "awareness" was being spread in the rural areas.

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