=According to an IPC Pastor, local resistance had forced them to stay away from visiting some of the hamlets. “But, people are now ready to let us in following the recent incidents of malnutrition deaths. Now, a Christian denomination has adopted the entire Nellipathi ooru to put an end to the malnutrition issue there,” he said.
V Krishnankutty, SI and nodal officer for Tribal Welfare and Grievances Study under the Janamaithri Community Policing Scheme, said efforts for religious conversion result in occasional quarrels in tribal hamlets.
“At Sholayoor hamlet the efforts of a pentecostal pastor to dip a woman’s head repeatedly in a bucket of water to ‘show god’ was opposed by the locals. Later tribal youths mobilised and drove the group away,” he said. “The chieftains of certain hamlets had banned the entry of pastors to avoid untoward incidents,” he said.
However, District Collector K Ramachandran said he was unaware of attempts for religious conversion by missionaries among the tribal communities. Palakkad SP Rajpal Meena said no cases of forced conversion were brought to his notice.
Social activist Mani Parambett, who has a 35-year experience with the tribal population in Attappadi, said religious and political movements in Attappadi, had their own motives. Mani who has been a Roman Catholic priest said he unfrocked himself after a 34-year service owing to the double standards of his congregation on many issues, including conversion. “Various Christian congregations function here and the non-Catholic pentecostal organisations are active in conversion.
“They have succeeded in converting a significant number of families in every hamlet,’’ he said.
Parambett also refutes the claim that tribals are better off after conversion. “There are drunkards in such families too. Conversion gives only a temporary change. What we need here is secular and apolitical movements like the Thaikula Sangham,’’ he said.