ITANAGAR, Jul 6: A video of a group of Christian persons setting an altar, images and other materials used by followers of the indigenous faith (Donyi-Poloism) on fire in a purported act of conversion has surfaced on social media, igniting anger among indigenous faith organizations.
Sources informed that the incident occurred on 4 July at the house of one Bima Tok in Type-II Colony in East Kameng HQ Seppa.
Infuriated by the incident, several indigenous faith organizations jointly lodged an FIR against three persons at the Seppa police station on Sunday.
The district unit of the Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh (IFCSAP), the Nyishi Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society (NIFCS), the District Nyedar Namlo Committee, and the All East Kameng Abo Tani Nyibu (Priest) Welfare Association in their FIR alleged that one Chatung Sopung and Tali Langdo, along with a pastor of the Pentecostal church in Seppa, and others were involved in the incident.
The organizations said the torching of the altar and the image of the supreme deity (Ane Donyi) “have hurt the sentiment of the indigenous faith believers in the district and the state as a whole.”
East Kameng SP Piyush Fulzele Nirakar confirmed that a case has been registered at the Seppa police station under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act and Section 295A and 298 of the IPC, and that the matter is under investigation.
Sources informed that the owner of the house, Bima Tok, an employee of the PWD, was a stern believer of Donyi Poloism. She is reportedly physically disabled and has been suffering from illness. The burning down of the altar in her premises was reportedly an exhibition of her conversion to Christianity.
Condemning the incident, the IFCSAP claimed that the act of torching was carried out under the influence of Pentecostal pastor Taye Kadu, along with Chatung Sopung and Tali Langdo.
Stating that it would “never tolerate such humiliating action against the indigenous faiths,” the IFCSAP urged the law enforcing agency to “punish the wrongdoers as per the appropriate section of the law.”
Joining the condemnation, the NIFCS stated: “We are not against any individual or group, who have the freedom of conscience to embrace any faith, but we oppose the manner in which pastors sermonize and preach, using all kinds of vilification and instilling hatred against the indigenous faiths.”
The NIFCS urged the state government to direct the district administration to book the persons involved in the incident.
The NIFCS informed that it has along with the IFCSAP submitted a joint representation to the state government, urging the government to enforce the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1987, in letter and spirit.