(Left) A church in Lamahi, Dang. (Right) Ganga Khadka, a victim of the local Christian missionaries, at her home in Dang.
DANG, May 7: Ungodly things are happening in the name of ‘Lord Jesus’ in Dang. Locals report that forceful attempts to convert locals into Christianity, something which has been going on for a long time in the district, has intensified over the past decade. Of late, the targets of forceful conversions have started to speak up.
Ganga Khadka of Lamahi Municipality has a shocking story to share. Two incidents have left her disturbed.
“I had just cleaned my house and was sitting outside. A woman came and urinated on the patio without any hesitation right in front of my eyes. I had just daubed the house including the patio with cow dung. So, her unexpected act deeply hurt me,” Khadka narrated.
Khadka is a Hindu woman. The woman who had urinated on the patio of Khadka’s house was a Christian, according to Khadka. When Khadka intervened, the woman and a foreigner who accompanied her answered that her house needed to be purified.
“They told me that the urine purified my house as it came from one of the Lord’s followers,” said Khadka.
Enraged Khadka then went to meet the pastor at the nearby church. He apologized. According to Khadka, the pastor did not say much, besides begging her pardon and telling her to remain calm.
But the Christian missionaries did not stop troubling her. The youngest of Khadka’s three sons, Sunil, married a Hindu woman four years ago. But after the marriage, the bride converted to Christianity. That happened due to the constant nagging and persuasion by some foreign Christians, according to Khadka.
“Then the tension started. My daughter-in-law started pressuring my son to convert to Christianity. He would not agree and they fought all the time,” said Khadka.
Last year, Khadka came to know about her son’s ‘accident’. He was badly injured and taken to the Lamahi Hospital. “Later, I learnt that it was not an accident. My daughter-in-law had hit him after a dispute over conversion,” Khadka said.
After investigation, police arrested Sunil’s wife. But Khadka herself pleaded to the police to free her. “My daughter-in-law has a toddler. She kept crying as she missed her mother. So, I asked the police to free her,” said Khadka.
After regular altercations at home, Sunil converted to Christianity. After he became a Christian, Khadka does not like to come in contact with the son. “Recently, he had come to see me. But I told him that he did not need to show his face till I am alive,” she said, sounding quite hurt. “Things have become intolerable.”
Manoj Chaudhari of Kohali village of Lamahi has an even worse story to share. He even tried to seek police help but he was pressurized not to do that either.
“One day, I was walking on the road. Some people came on a motorbike and took control of me. Then they took me to a church. They forcibly fed me something like blood which I instantly vomited,” he reminisces.
Following this incident of last year, locals visited Lamahi Municipality urging the administration to take such incidents seriously. However, the municipality officials suggested that the matters related to forceful religious conversions should be taken to the police instead. But the police, too, took no action, according to Chaudhari.
With the motive of converting students to Christianity, missionaries in the district are approaching the community schools as well. According to principal of Kohali Secondary School, Ram Prasad Khanal, little children come to the school with Bibles in their hands. “It is getting really challenging. It is getting difficult to teach them Social Studies. They love to hear that Christianity is everything,” he stated. “There is no doubt that forceful conversion has become rampant after the country became secular,” he added.
A teacher in the same school, Bishnu Prasad Bhandari elaborates on how people are lured into Christianity. “There is a church beside my house. Zealous people from the church come to my house almost every day and ask me to convert to Christianity,” he said, “It is my bad luck that I live near a church. I am really suffering.”
There are many nameless churches in Lamahi. Children and elders gather at these churches and take part in several functions and trainings. According to Alina Sharma, an eighth grader at a community school in Sikta, the training provided by the church has taught her many good things. “I have also been given responsibilities. I am supposed to convert at least some locals into Christianity. What I have learnt, I have to teach others too. I have been told to try my best spread Christianity,” she reported.
Meanwhile, teacher Bhandari stated that religious conversion is going on in Dang in a massive scale. “They are doing it openly and fearlessly. Nobody stops them,” he said. “They show videos, play music, give speeches, distribute books, and lure people into Christianity in different ways. The only motive is to reach out to the poor and under-privileged communities and convert them,” he added.
According to Bhandari, missionaries from different countries keep coming to Dang and stay here for weeks and sometimes months with the only mission to convert more people into Christianity. “They don’t reveal their names or identities. They live in posh houses, enjoy all luxuries, and reach out to the poor people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sunil Budha, assistant pastor of Prasamsha Church of Lamahi expressed ignorance about such issues. He stated that foreigners do come to the churches but they do not come with any mission. “They just visit different places and observe things there,” he said, “Our church does not force people to convert. I don’t know about others.”
There were only 640 Christians (1.14 percent of the total population) in Dang, according to the 2001 census. But the census of 2011 shows that there are 7,431 Christians in the district.