Christianization of Meghalaya: ‘They gave us a book (Bible) and said the land belongs to them’

The Centre should put in place mechanisms to protect non-Christian minority groups from predatory Christian missions

When asked to talk about the extent of Christianization in Meghalaya, a Central government officer, who doesn’t want to be identified, said, “It is happening at a very dangerous pace.” The Church, in connivance with politicians, had put in place systems that whatever money comes in from the Centre is channelized further down to the grassroots through a host of Church-run NGOs and agencies, he said. “It’s very difficult to break this chain. In short, Christianity is being spread using the taxpayers’ money. They can even do without foreign funds,” he added.

After a brief pause, he said, “But resistance is also building up, albeit feeble. Recently, I heard a speech at a meeting of Seng Khasi – the social movement of the indigenous Khasi community, started as a response to massive proselytization initiated by the missionaries during the British Raj —  in which one of the speakers said in his mother tongue: ‘They gave us a book and they said the land belongs to them. We won’t accept it anymore.  I am confident that our Shad Suk Mynsiem (faith) will last in its glory for all times to come and Seng Khasi would withstand the attack.’ This means not all is lost.”

Despite the onslaught of Christianity and Western civilization, Seng Khasis are putting up a spirited fight to preserve their faith and belief systems.  However, they are fast losing out on the numbers. Compared to their Christian counterparts, Seng Khasis are facing severe social and economic infirmities. There is a demand for minority rights for Seng Khasis. The Centre should take initiatives to put in place institutional mechanisms to protect them and other vulnerable minority Hindu groups socially, culturally and economically.

The missionaries are now targeting non-tribal communities in Meghalaya. According to a social activist, a good number of Bengali Hindus have converted to Christianity.

The percentage of the Christian population in Meghalaya in 1901, 1951 (after independence), 1991 and 2011 is as follows: 6.16,       24.66, 64.58  and 83.30. The Christian population started showing a sudden surge post 1981. In the three districts of East Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills and West Garo Hills, the Christians formed 48.59 per cent, 55.93 per cent and 41.09 per cent, respectively.

Christianity has wiped out the whole way of life, customs and wisdom of the tribal communities. Missionaries have instigated the tribals in North East to demand a separate country. Former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who used to be a great admirer of missionaries, became a victim of their designs during his visit to the Naga Hills. Some Naga groups wanted to give a representation demanding separate independent Naga state. Authorities did not permit. As a protest, about 3,000 Nagas rose in a body and left the venue when Nehru was about to address the gathering. Nehru took it as a personal insult and said Christian missions in the country were playing a dirty anti-national game.

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