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Friday, August 12, 2022

Gurgaon: Christmas event disrupted by outfit alleging conversion

According to police, the incident took place at 5 pm at SBD Public School on Friday. Amit Kumar, SHO Pataudi, said, "We got to know of the incident from video clips.

Written by Pavneet Singh Chadha | Gurgaon |
Updated: December 26, 2021 11:19:12 am
Video grab of protesters disrupting the choir. (Express)

A group of people affiliated with several right-wing outfits entered a school in Pataudi during a celebration on Christmas Eve and disrupted the event, alleging that people from the Christian community had gathered there for “religious conversion”.

According to police, the incident took place at 5 pm at SBD Public School on Friday. Amit Kumar, SHO Pataudi, said, “We got to know of the incident from video clips. The school’s owner had given the premises to some people for a Christmas celebration. Some men arrived and raised slogans, they thought that religious conversion was happening. They left after the school owner requested them to, saying it was a Christmas event. We have not received any complaint.”

R P Pandey, who runs Dharam Jagriti Mission in Pataudi, and lives across the school, said some women knocked on his door on Wednesday and gave him an invitation to attend a function in the school on Friday.

He alleged: “… On Friday at 3 pm, we heard that some outsiders were conducting religious conversions under the garb of celebrating Christmas there. So we went to check their agenda. For over an hour, we observed the function… But later we saw they were brainwashing children through drama and speeches into accepting Christianity with the aim of religious conversion… So, we stopped it and asked them to leave… hum iss tarah ki gatividhiyon ko safal nahi hone denge (we won’t allow such activities to succeed).”

He said he got on to the stage and grabbed the mic to address the crowd. In a video clip shared on social media, Pandey can be heard saying, “We are not disrespecting Christ, but we want to tell these children… to remember him if they want and do it legally but don’t fall for attempts of religious conversion or destruction of Indian culture is guaranteed. You need to take a resolution to protect it, take that resolution and chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’.” In several video clips, protesters could be heard disrupting the choir and raising ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Satya Sanatan Dharm ki Jai’ slogans.

Narender Singh Pahari, a former RSS and BJP leader, who was among the protesters, alleged, “It was not a Christmas celebration, their aim was religious conversion. They had spent a lot of money and brought pastors and people from outside. They were targeting poor people from nearby areas for conversion. Our religious sentiments were hurt as there were attempts to divide Hindus.” Pahari had contested the 2019 assembly polls from Pataudi as an independent candidate.

The event organiser, Ravi Kumar, said they stopped the function after the objections.

Kumar, who has a tent business in Pataudi, said the claims of religious conversion were baseless: “It was a simple Christmas function… there was no preaching. At least 55 people, including women and children, were in attendance and some people from the Christian community had come. Around 4 pm, a group of more than 100 people came and opposed the gathering. We told them if they had any objection, we would cancel the function. But they said they just wanted to observe and told us to not mention anything about their religion. An hour later, they disrupted the event. Some got on stage and raised slogans, alleging religious conversion was being conducted.”

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Kumar said they asked women and children to leave to avoid an escalation: “The protesters told people to leave and never return. We felt hurt since it happened in front of children, who were scared. Everyone has a right to practice their religion. We don’t know what we did wrong. Only a few elements are trying to disrupt harmony. We have chosen not to file any complaint.”

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Srikant, who runs the school, said a woman in his neighbourhood had requested him for space to hold a programme on the premises. “I told them I can give the space for an hour after school… I did this as a gesture of goodwill. In the evening, I got calls from several Hindu outfits asking me why I had provided the space. They alleged that religious conversion was happening. I am not aware of any such thing. It was just like Christmas day is celebrated. None of the students from our school were present,” he said.

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First published on: 26-12-2021 at 01:33:23 am

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