July 14, 2021 3:22:22 am
The Valsad district police is probing a video of a purported baptism ritual of a tribal family in Umargam taluka, after the Vishwa Hindu parishad (VHP) sought action on what it claimed to be a case of conversion. On July 11, the Baria community of tribals held a meeting in Maroli-Dandi village of Umargam taluka that was also attended by VHP leaders to deter “conversion”. On Monday, the local VHP leaders gave a memorandum to the district collector seeking action against those involved.
Jayesh Baria, general secretary of the Baria Samaj of South Gujarat, said, “There are over 250 families of Baria community residing in the coastal belt of Dandi village. They are into farming and fishing, while youths are working in industries. A church was built over 40 years ago on the sea shore at Maroli Dandi village and since then over 50 families have converted to Christianity in Dandi village. Once again they have started conversion activities. In the Sunday meeting we objected to such conversions.”
The VHP leaders headed by working president of its Valsad district unit, Piyush Shah, and general secretary Rakesh Rana met Valsad collector Kshipriya Agre on Monday, and handed a memorandum requesting “strict action”.
Shah said, “Christian priests visit interior villages in Umargam, Kaprada and Pardi talukas in the district and convert tribal Hindus. Those who got recently converted are relatives of those who were earlier converted to Christianity.”
Collector Agre could not be reached for comment.
Valsad superintendent of police Rajdeepsinh Jhala said, “We have started a probe into the incident after the video went viral on social media. We have come to know that a baptism ritual was carried out in a nearby church and somebody had taken a video that went viral. We will get a report soon and later further actions will be taken.” Umargam Marine police sub-inspector SB Zala said, “ The church in the coastal area in the Maroli Dandi area is 50 years old and it is registered. We will identify those who have taken a dip in the pond and will take statements of them as well as the priest seen in the video.”
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