Christian evangelists continue to target indigenous faiths in North-eastern states. Recently as video surfaced where a Christian Pastor gathered several people in Seppa, East Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh and burnt idols of local deity Donyi-Polo. He was also heard foul-mouthing the deity and urging others to repeat the same.
As the pastor exhorts people to shun the local deities, a man is seen pouring flammable substance on the idols and sets them on fire. Other people present at the gathering support the pastor as they throw dry grass and leaves on the idols.
Subsequently, the action of the Pastor received severe backlash from netizens and organisation in the state. NeNow reports that Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP) has condemned the incident and in its statement has said “it has hurt the emotions of the indigenous faith believers of the state as well as the nation. Freedom of Religion is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India. It, however, does not mean that one should demean and demolish other religions. The IFCSAP will never tolerate such humiliation against the indigenous faith believers,” Bai Taba, the society’s general secretary said.
Nyishi Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society (NIFCS) also condemned the incident and said “it is a deliberate attempt to insult and hurt the sentiments of the indigenous faith followers of the state. We are not against any individual or group as everyone has the right to freely manifest his or her religion or faith. We, however, oppose the manner in which some pastors give out sermons, vilify and preach hatred against the indigenous faith and its religious structures,” NIFCS president Pai Dawe said, as per the NeNow report.
Dawe has said the incident is “a clear testimony of religious intolerance and it attempts to disparage the ideal of secularism being enshrined in the Constitution of India.”
IFCSAP and NIFCS have lodged an FIR at the Seppa police station against a pastor of the Pentecostal Church, Seppa, identified as Taye Kadu and two others. The FIR has been filed against the three for allegedly burning down the sacred worship altar and the images and idols of Donyi-Polo, and other deities.
The Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1978 prohibits the conversion from one religious faith to any other religious faith by use of force or inducement or by fraudulent means.
‘Donyi-Polo’ is the designation given to the indigenous religion of animistic and shamanic type of the Tani people of Arunachal Pradesh. The name ‘Donyi-Polo’ means ‘Sun-Moon’ and was chosen for the religion in the process of its revitalisation and institutionalisation started in the 1970s in response to inroads made by certain other religions.
According to the 2011 census, around 30.26 percent of Arunachal Pradesh’s population is Christian, 29.04 percent Hindu and 26.2 percent of the populace practice other religions.