(This is a part of Cobrapost’s Operation Shuddhikaran focussing on RSS’ alleged role in trafficking tribal girls to convert them to Hinduism)
Tribal people who in the past have converted to Christianity and Dalits who leave Hinduism for its dehumanizing caste system are the primary target of this Home Coming campaign and at times has led to violent clashes ending up in brutal murders.
For instance, Australian Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons were burnt alive by a mob led by Bajrang Dal thug Dara Singh in Orissa’s Keonjhar district on 23 January, 1999. On 23 September a year earlier, three nuns were allegedly raped in Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh. RSS has made it its cause calibre to bring such converts back into Hindu fold.
Meanwhile Dalipbhai has been able to get through Ramanikbhai in Surendra Nagar, Gujarat, and after preliminaries tells him about our reporter who purportedly runs an organization which wants to help the girls they have brought to their ashram in Gujarat. Our reporter also speaks with Ramanikbhai.
Our next port of call was Halwad, 60 km from district headquarters of Surendra Nagar in Gujarat, where Ramanikbhai runs an ashram and a school for children. At this Saraswati Shishu Mandir, hung on a wall is now the most familiar portrait of Mother India, holding a trishul on her left hand and a Saffron flag on her right, flanked on her right by a roaring lion, with its geographical contours including almost all corners of once undivided Hindustan of its heydays.
Here we first meet the woman caretaker, Varsha Gavande, who tells us some more about what happened in Delhi: “Do din pareshan ho gaye the. Police walon ne bahut pareshan kiya tha (For two days we had a tough time out there. The policemen troubled us a lot).” She lets our reporter into the class room where the girls brought from Assam have been put and lets us speak with them.
Language is a barrier and most of the kids are not able to tell theirs and their fathers’ names, and their body language does not give you a reassuring feel that they are at home. At present, there are 100 kids at this shelter home.
Varsha tells us how the alleged trafficking was coordinated by Korbi, an RSS prachalika from Gauhati: “I had gone to Delhi, not Assam. It was Korbi from Assam who came to Delhi to drop the children there … I told her to come to Delhi from where I took over and brought them here).”
According to Varsha, of the 100 girl children they have, 20 are from Assam and 15 from Surendra Nagar. Ghansyambhai and Ramanikbhai are the trustees of this school.
Varsha tells us that Ramanikbhai was there in Delhi on that day along with her and her husband: “I was there and Ramanikbhai was with me … I, Ramanikbhai and my husband, we all three had been there.”
They had a very tough time, especially Korbi, while satisfying the police that they were taking the girls to Gujarat with bona fide intent.
We get the names of some of the girls brought from Assam while talking to them: Sunila, Babita, Motila and Surgi. They are being tutored in Gujarati. Varsha tells that of the 31 girls they have 20, and the rest were sent to Punjab.
Varsha got our reporter in touch with Ghanshyambhai, one of the trustees of the ashram that is now home to the girls brought from Assam. We could not meet with the man as he was in Bhuj.
However, as we were talking with Varsha came in Ramanikbhai. A fertilizer seller in Halwad, Ramanikbhai also runs a booming nursery business. There are six–seven businessmen like him who support Seva Bharati’s programmes.
In fact, he has been involved in this work for the past 20 years. He corroborates the facts of the day when he was there to receive the girls brought from Assam: We are working for the past 20 years. Right now we have about 15 girls from Gujarat itself. Seva Bharati had brought 20 girls to Delhi … I had gone there to receive them.”
He had been told that some girls were to arrive at Delhi from Assam, some of which were to be sent to Punjab. He told the Seva Bharati people to give him all the rest of the girls and he will raise them.
“One day I received a phone call telling me that they have 20 girls. I told them all right I will come there and tell me when they are coming and send me a list. So that day I had gone there to pick them.” However, the authorities got the wind and trouble broke.
What should we do with Muslims and Christian girls and boys? Asks our reporter. “Humare paas bhi hain (We too have [both Muslims and Christian girls and boys),” pat comes the reply as Ramanikbhai describes how they are initiated into Hinduism and how they have to follow all daily rituals of Hindu tradition.
Talking of the girls who were then into a month learning Gujarati, Ramanikbhai says one year into this training is enough to make them proud Hindus: “One year into the initiation, they will fully identify themselves as Hindus and they will begin to take pride in it … exactly this is what we are doing … once they realize from the core of their hearts they are Hindus … our job is done.”
When Cobrapost reporter asks him to help his organization work for the mission of Ghar Wapasi in the same manner as they all have been doing, Ramanikbhai reveals that Ghanshyambhai, another trustee of this school, will do whatever is required: “We will get you in touch with our organization. Our Ghanshyambhai is a fine man … he will tutor you in all aspects including preparing documents which is what he does. He will explain it to you.”
When our reporter suggests that he wants to bring kids back into Hindu fold, Ramanikbhai tells us this is what they are doing: “Wahi sab chal raha hai (This is what is going on).”
In our conversation with Ramanikbhai, his comrade-in-arm Ghanshyambhai emerges as the main resource person who will fix everything related to conversion or reconversion. Here Ramanikbhai speaks highly of his fellow Hindu missionary: “I will take you to him. He will pay you enough attention to teach how you should move and how you should be able to hold the staff of Hinduism in Hindustan, Ghanshymabhai will make you capable of that. He is a fine man and he will teach how you should prepare documents in such a manner that you will never have problem whatsoever.”