Allured Conversion: Faith on Sale @ Rs.5000 in Kashmir

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Srinagar Nov 23: One of the eight Kashmiri youth, who recently reneged Islam to embrace Christianity, is reported to have converted for a paltry sum of Rs.5000. A police source told Kashmir Monitor that the conversions had taken place against petty material gains.
Sources said that all the eight converts were arrested and interrogated by police, who found petty financial reasons behind the conversions. They said that one of the converts is a poor labourer who changed religion in the hope of getting some financial aid from the Christian Missionary. He however was dismayed when he was paid just Rs.5000, sources said.
He revealed to his interrogators that his father had borrowed loan of Rs. 3 lac from the bank, which had accumulated to Rs.5 lac by way of interest. “I am labourer, earning just around Rs.3000 for a month. It is beyond my means to repay the loan. I had heard about Christian Missionaries that they pay heavily to the Muslim converts. I approached them and expressed my willingness to adopt Christianity with the hope they would pay me some money which would enable me to repay my bank loan. But I was disgusted when they paid just Rs.5000”, he told the police.
Police sources said that almost all the converts had a similar story to tell and had resorted to conversion for financial reasons. They said that the converts had been paid between Rs.5000 and Rs.10000.
The conversion is snowballing into a major issue as it has angered a major section of Kashmiri Muslims and Ulemas. Right from Syed Ali Geelani to Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq and Grand Mufti Moulana Bashiruddin, all have expressed their resentment against Christian Missionaries for luring Muslim youth to Christianity. Some parts of Srinagar witnessed sporadic protest demonstrations against conversions since the news broke over a week back.
Police has filed a case against Church head Rev Chander Mani Khanna and arrested him for luring and baptizing Muslims to conversions in exchange for money.
The police interrogation of the converted youth brought a horrifying fact to the fore that raises more questions on the religious conviction and character of Kashmiri Muslims than the activities of Christian Missionaries. Keen observers say materialistic mindset and worldly gains have taken precedence over everything including their religious beliefs in Kashmir. They are aghast over how some people compromise their political and religious belief just for monetary benefits. “It is sickening that a person could change or her religion just for Rs.5000 or 10000”, said Ishaq Ahmad, a college teacher. He, however, said that the religious and political leadership of Kashmir is equally responsible for it.
“Our religious and political leaders do not enjoy good image among people. They are deemed as corrupt and mendacious as any person. A common man knows them only for exploiting religion and politics for their personal gains. They have amassed huge wealth from nowhere”, Ishaq said, adding “It is they who showed the way to resort to unfair and unsolicited means of livelihood”.
“It is a slap on the face of our religious and political leadership that a person sells his belief for Rs.5000. They should shun giving lectures and delivering sermons, and instead learn from Christian Missionaries how religious and social duties are performed”, commented Mohammad Khalid, a university student. “They are living a 5-star life but advise people to live simply”, he said, adding “unless they discard this dichotomy, nobody would take them seriously”.
Muzaffar Ahmad, another teacher, said “We lack a leader who can inspire us by his character and conviction. Everybody is raising din over the conversions and activities of Christian Missionaries. But name me just one who has ever tried to build institutions that could help common people at the time of need. People need help. They have suffered a lot—physically, mentally and materially. They have no choice but to go other institutions where they would be exploited. The din raised by our religious and political leaders does not impress anybody.
They lack the moral high ground wherefrom they can speak of purity and belief”.

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