RANCHI: Prohibitionary orders have been imposed on Singpur village in Jharkhand’s Ranch district from 4am to 10pm on Sunday after several Sarna religion followers threatened to bring down the controversial statue of Virgin Mary in a tribal avatar at a church in the hamlet.
The dark-skinned figurine of Mother Mary in a red-bordered saree carrying Jesus in a sling in distinctly tribal style was unveiled by Cardinal Telesphor P Toppo at the church.
Dharamguru of Sarna Society, Bandhan Tigga said, “We had planned the protest march more than a month ago. We have asking the church to remove the statue or change its attire but they refuse to listen to us. We have planned to bring down the statue ourselves.”
He added, “This is a ‘Dharma Ulgulan’ (religious revolution) and we are ready to fight the administration too, if they try to stop us. The Christians are trying to mislead the innocent tribals by making Virgin Mary look like a tribal woman. Hundred years from now, the tribals will start believing that Virgin Mary is no different from our deity Ma Sarna and we cannot let that happen.”
Executive chairperson of Adivasi Jan Parishad, Prem Shahi Munda said, “The number of tribals is reducing every day as they are forced to convert to other religions and we are scared that adivasis would become extinct in the future. We are supporting the protest march to save our culture.”
A number of tribals from across the country are expected to participate in the protest march scheduled for Sunday. Tigga said, “Apart from Jharkhand, tribals from Chhattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Andaman and Nicobar and Rajasthan will be participating in the march and they would be arriving in the city on Sunday morning.”
The protest march will start from Dravid Ashram, near Dhurwa. Tigga said, “We will burn effigies of MLAs Bandhu Tirkey and Chamra Linda as despite being tribals they support the church.”
He added, “An FIR should be lodged against the Cardinal and other writers who try to defame Sarna religion through various books published by the Bible Society.”
Tigga said if they are not allowed to bring down the statue on Sunday and or if it is not removed by the church in near future, then they will call for an ‘Adivasi Mahasabha’ on December 25 in which lakhs of tribals would come together to discuss measures to protect their religion.
The district administration is fully prepared to avert any communal clash on Sunday. SDO Ameet Kumar said, “The Sarna Society has taken permission for the protest march from Dravid Ashra to Ring road. We will be deploying five magistrates and sufficient police force in the area. We have ordered section 144 within 25m radius of the church. If anybody violates the order required steps would be taken against them.”