[Note. - Three hundred and eighty-five replies to the Committee’s questionnaire were received, out of which 55 were from Christian individuals or organisations and 330 from non-Christians. However, only 13 replies from Christians and 5 replies from non-Christians have been incorporated in this volume]
Replies submitted by Shri J. Lakra
1 to 3. No.
4. The Lutheran Church entered Surguja in 1951. The total number of converts up to date is 2,033.
5. The people are converted both individually and in groups. In the case of a family usually the whole family is baptized if the parents are willing. The grown-ups are not baptized, if they are not willing.
6. It is duty of every Christian to preach the Gospel to others whether individually or in groups.
7. Convinced Christians offer themselves for Gospel preaching and the Lutheran Church receives them and entrusts them with the work of preaching. For Surguja such offers originally came from the G. E. L. Church of Chota Nagpur and Assam, an indigenous and autonomous organization registered in India and now there are local offers. Most of these offers are of the Pracharak grade who receive maintenance to the extent of Rs. 40 per mensem average. No question of reward arises.
8. (a) to (d) No.
9. A dozen or more well-to-do persons have been converted since 1951.
10. All Lutheran Christians are baptized as a result of religious conviction. Before and after baptism a course of religious instruction is given.
11. Lutheran Christians become better Indians more loyal to the country.
12. (a) Wherever possible
the preaching is done.
14. No foreign missionary in the Lutheran Church. Indian pracharaks do not use offensive language.
15. Pracharaks in the village are like ordinary men. At present coming from outside the district but belonging to the same community. Preaching is done through personal contact and conversation.
16. Lutheran pracharaks are under-matrics of various classes but maintenance is given as mentioned above in answer No. 7.
17. Lutheran men are taught the Bible in the Church and in the special Classes and offers for pracharak’s work come from those who attend these classes. No foreign training.
18. A pracharak may have one or more villages. Pastors supervise the work of the pracharak. Producing better characters is the criterion of the success of a pracharak.
19. Bible and Luther’s small catechism are used. No pamphlets and tracts.
20. No magic lanterns, no films and no loud-speakers in the Lutheran Church. Sometimes gramophones are used for music.
21. There is 'no such case.
22. No fairs have been held by the Lutherans.
23. The Lutheran Church has no foreign missionaries. Pracharaks do not speak of politics but every Sunday in every Lutheran Church prayer must be offered for Central and State Government of India for Rashtrapati, Rajpal and all Government authorities according to the Order of Worship. No foreign Government is mentioned.
24. There are three non-Christian agencies who are trying to reconvert Christians, viz., the Arya Samajists, the R. S. S. men and the Hindu Mahasabhaites. They are busily engaged all over the country with violent methods. Regarding their violence statements with proof have already been submitted to the Commission on 8th June 1954 by Rev. J. Lakra and others at Kusmi. They take the law into their own hands and beat Christians and excite the public against the Christians. The analogy may be given of the Russian Bolshevik and Government Nazis. Their action is similar. If the Government will not restrain them one day they will take hold of the Government and there be a regular reign of terror.
25. As Christianity is being preached in Surguja only since 1951 the question of deteriorated relationship does not arise. But in future if the non-Christian agencies above-mentioned are not restrained from their violence there is apprehension of the breach of peace by these agencies.
26. Non-Christians boycotted Christians at Kawadanr in Ambikapur not allowing them to drink from the same well but this is the result of the influence of the Arya Samajists. No boycott of non-Christians by Christians.
28. No question arises.
30. The behaviour of Government servants depends upon particular person. High Government officers have generally tried their best to be impartial but the lower grade Government officers such as Patwaris, Patels, Policemen, Tahsildars, Foresters, Revenue Inspectors. teachers, etc., in many places are prejudiced against the Christians. In some cases they clearly ask the Christians to renounce Christianity and in few cases whenever possible they discriminate against Christians and dismiss them from services. They also try to influence-the public against the Christians. Cases have been known where Patels have beaten the pracharak. But any ill-treatment of the Christians by these officials has its origin in the general activity of the non-Christian agencies, mentioned in answer No. 24, who easily approach the lower grade officials.
(1) A At village Amgaon, P. S. Jainagar, tahsil Surajpur, Lalsai alias Premsukh was a chaukidar. He is a Christian. When be came to Jainagar P. S. for hazri he was met by the Tahsildar of Surajpur. The Tahsildar asked the chaukidar whether he was a Christian. Upon the affirmative answer the Tahsildar ordered the chaukidar to take off his uniform. Later the chaukidar was discharged. This happened in January 1955.
(2) At village Bansipur Ambagora, P. S. Sitapur, the former Gauntia is the Patel who asks the Christians to renounce their religion otherwise they would not enjoy the privileges of scheduled tribes.
B. The Forester of Sitapur called the people to Ambagora Guri ghar and detained them from 4 p.m. 11 to p.m. in December 1954. He forced two Christians Thaula, and Gudu to give an undertaking in writing to renounce Christianity in the presence of the Patel and a constable of Sitapur. People outside the Guri ghar heard all the threats of the Forester.
(3) At village Chirapara, P. S. Sitapur, there is a pracharak by name Suleman Kujur. Two Patels, one from Chirapara and the other from village Ranipur, the adjoining village called the pracharak in the presence of Raniprasad Sau, the former Gauntia of Chirapara and asked him to leave the village and began to beat the pracharak with shoes when Ramprasad ran away.
(4) At village Batwai, P. S. Ambikapur, the Patwari went to the village on the 10th January 1955 to take the number of Christians in the village when the pracharak of the village welcomed him and arranged seats for him. Two Khatias were brought. The Patwari sat on one of them and the pracharak also sat on the other. The Patwari was angry and ordered the pracharak to sit on the ground. The Patwari also threatened Benjamin Lakra, a young man of the village, to geat him because he considered him to be the leader of the Christians.
(5) At village Tedga, P. S. Sitapur, the Patwari by name Loknath came to take the number of Christians on the 2nd of January 1953. He met the pracharak in the village in his house and he became very angry and with the threatening voice he told the owner of the house by name Rade Uraon, “Drive out this. Mohamedan and renounce your Christianity otherwise I am empowered to handcuff you and to take you to Ambikapur. Also your lands evil be confiscated and you will be transported to Pakistan”. The same Patwari proceeded to village Ghoghra, P. S. Sitapur, and repeated the above threats to the Christians and the Pracharak of Ghoghra.
(6) In village Shahpur, about June 1954, one Dhansil alias Dhanmasih, a Christian, admitted his son Premchand in an Adibasi School at village Jaratala. The boy had stayed three days in the school when the father decided to bring the boy to Ambikapur in the municipal school. The teachers by name Rajnath Tiwary, headmaster and Biswanath Prasad (now transferred) got angry with the father of the pupil and fined him Rs. 25. When Dhansai alias Dhanmasih refused to pay the fine both teachers but more so Biswanath began to beat Dhansai with shoes and Dhansai was bleeding. The matter was reported to the police at Samri P. S. When the Police S. I. came to the Shahpur Guri ghar for enquiry the Patel the late Jamindar Lallu Saheb of Mari induced all people not to give any witness before the S. I. and so no one came for evidence and the enquiry was dropped.
Then Dhansai filed the complaint before the Tahsildar at Kusmi, the Tahsildar did not show any interest in the case and it was filed. The same Tahsildar Shri Sharma was transferred in January 1955, and a farewell party was given to him. At this time the Tahsildar was heard to say, “Do not give any accommodation to Christian pracharaks in any village.
(7) The Patel of Dhaneshpara, P. O. Surajpur, Shri Ramdular Singh, took few people and went to Ratiram alias Masihdas of village Deonagar, P. S. Surajpur, and demanded the Christian pracharaks should be driven out of the house. Due to the threat of the Patel, Ratiram was compelled to give notice and then the pracharaks were compelled to leave the house in July 1954.
31. Christians are not members of any political party.
32. As the Lutheran Christians have given up drinking and worship of spirits which demanded lots of money they have improved the standard of living by introducing cleanliness in the person and in homes and they have learnt the value of education. Spiritual matters are now discerned.
33. Yes, definitely.
35. The non-Christians desecrated the grave of Rev. U. E. Kujur at Ambikapur in 1953 and 1954 and the Police could not trace the culprits.
36. The Lutheran Church is always ready to co-operate in any National reconstruction efforts but opportunity has not set been offered in Surguja.
39. No foreign missionaries in the Lutheran Church.
41. No, but good marriage and other social customs are kept up.
42. Viz, Dali Dhiba, maisary kickri, charbiha, dulphera, chuman, etc,
43. The Lutheran Church has been working in Surguja since 1951.
44. No foreign missionaries in the Lutheran Church.
46. Six Indian Lutheran Pastors are working in Surguja. No Missionaries in the Lutheran Church.
48. The Lutheran Church has no missionaries and the six Indian Pastors have no foreign training.
49. No foreign missionaries.
50. The Lutheran Church is an indigenous body over which a Board of six persons have supreme authority.
51. The Board is responsible for the finance and has regular budgets and accounts. Arranging for the supply of the annual statements of accounts.
52. Accounts are audited by qualified auditors appointed by the Board.
54. No amounts are received for purposes other than the religious activities.
55. Bible and Luther’s small catechism are used. No pamphlets and tracts are used.
56. Regular reports are not published as yet.
57. (a) Yes.
58. Not yet organised.
59. The Lutheran Church works in all places and for all people, but response generally comes from Uraons, thus, tot.
60. to 61. No.
62. Yes, and the proceedings are made known to the persons and bodies concerned.
63. The Lutheran Church works in a demarcated area.
64 to 65. No.
67 to 68. No.
69 to 77. No hospitals in the Lutheran Church.
78 to 92. No schools in the Lutheran Church.
94. Change of religion implies enrichment of culture.
95. Education is not complete without religious instruction.
96 to 97. No.
98. The truth must exist and falsehood must disappear and so let there be coexistence of religions and let them have their own coure men exercising tolerance towards one another.
99. Yes, if required.