Nithari becomes a hunting ground for missionaries

via Hindustan Times published on January 18, 2007

Nithari’s grieving parents had a new visitor last week. Dressed in a flowing black habit, controversial Indian-born evangelist KA Paul came calling.

Evangelists are streaming into Nithari, promising unheard-of favours to the families of those who disappeared and died. Hindu nationalists say it is all about religious conversion, and want them arrested.

Paul heads the KA Paul Foundation, a Christian charity. Officials of
his foundation said he is based in
Houston in the United States and has preached and conducted philanthropic activities in 54 countries. His critics say the foundation carries out religious conversions.

“Paul had come, they offered us a house at
Hyderabad and free
education at English medium schools for our children. They also offered to give us jobs,” said Pappu Lal, father of 8-year-old Rachna, who disappeared in Nithari and has since been confirmed as dead.

Paul’s reported offer did not go down well with many families. “We have lost our children, but we are not orphans,” Lal said.

“Members of 17 families were present when they made this offer.
Someone also promised to take us to
Florida. However, none of us accepted this offer,” said Jenu Sarkar, whose 20-year-old daughter Pinki Sarkar was among the victims.

On Monday, a team of Hindu religious leaders approached the district administrator, alleging that Christian groups were trying to convert the families.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other groups alleged in a letter that evangelists had offered the families Rs 25 lakh each and a trip to the United States if they convert to Christianity. “They are offering Rs 25 lakh to the victims families, which is much higher than the amount given by the state administration. They are trying to convert the families into Christianity…  Such persons should be immediately arrested,” the letter said.

“Our offer was only part of the charity programme organised by the Foundation,” Aruna Sharma, the foundation spokeswoman, said.

The families want to have nothing to do with the controversy. “All of them are playing politics in the name of helping us. They just want to garner publicity by using our name,” said Ashok Kumar, whose five-year-old son Satender’s remains were found in the Nithari drain.

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