Copy of letter No. F. 751-JMS-35, dated the 20th April 1936, from Lt.-Col. A. S. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States, Ranchi, to the Political Secretary to the Government of India in the Foreign and Political Department, New Delhi.
SUBJECT.-Christian Missions in the Eastern States : Proselytism in the Udaipur State by the Jesuit Mission
I have the honour to make a report to the Government of India on a difference of opinion which has arisen between myself and the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi in respect of the activities of the Jesuit fathers in the Udaipur State, which is at present under my guardianship during minority, as are the States of Jashpur and Gangpur which figure prominently in the report. The matter has an immediate bearing on one State but it involves a question of general policy, which may have far-reaching effect in the States of this Agency. I will begin my report by describing the incidents leading up to this difference of opinion and showing in detail the action taken by myself.
2. At a later stage in this letter will be given a general account of missionary activity in this part of India with particular reference to the movement in the Jashpur State, and I will show that missionary activity in the Eastern States has been chiefly directed to such of them as are near the Ranchi district, where Christianity has made great headway. According to the census report of 1931 the total number of Christians in the States of this Agency was 126,532, and of these 48,700 were in the Jashpur State, 61,171 in the Gangpur State, 3,000 in Bonai and 1,400 in Bamra. In the Raigarh State, the borders of which march with those of Gangpur and Udaipur, there were 143 Christians. There were only 29 Christians in the Surguja State, where the Maharaja has shown a determination not to permit the entry of mission agents from Jashpur and not to allow the conversion of his subjects. There were no Christians in the Udaipur State. The ruling family of that State has a very close connection with that of Surguja, and the present minor Chief is a son of the Maharaja of Surguja who was adopted by the late Raja of Udaipur. It may be taken for granted that the minor Raja will pursue the policy of his father when he comes to the gadi in so far as missionary activity is concerned. The Udaipur State is bounded by Surguja on the north and west, by Raigarh on the south, and by Jashpur on the cast. The portion of it, which is bounded by the Jashpur State is small, and forms a re-entrant running into the Jashpur State. There is a mission station called Tapkara in charge of a Jesuit father in Jashpur State close to this portion of the Udaipur State. In the month of August 1935 the Bishop of Ranchi came to see my predecessor, Mr. Evans, and made request that arrangements should be made in the Udaipur State for the Roman Catholic fathers to pay occasional visits to the Christian communities there. It was not his wish to erect any buildings in the Udaipur State such as would constitute a regular settlement. This led Mr. Evans to make enquiry as to how many Christians there were in the State and the Superintendent reported that there were six families said to be Christians, but that they did not make open profession of Christianity. Shortly afterwards the Superintendent made a report that about a hundred people had gone to Tapkara for leans of money and to be converted to Christianity. The Bishop came to see Mr. Evans again in September 1935 and asked for permission to erect Kachcha buildings for schools and chapels in the Udaipur State, and in doing so he said he would undertake that Christians in the State would be loyal and obedient subjects of the Ruler. Mr. Evans informed the Bishop that he was not prepared to take any action on this matter and that he must leave it for me to decide on my return from leave. The Bishop had also desired Mr. Evans to induce the Raja of Raigarh to allow missionary enterprise in that State and Mr. Evans told him that that was entirely a matter for the Chief himself.
3. I met the Bishop at the end of January 1936. He asked for my good offices in connection with missionary activities in Raigarh and I gave him the same answer as Mr. Evans had given him. I had previously been in the Raigarh State and the Chief had informed me that he had the strongest objection to the conversion of his people to Christianity and enquired whether I had any objection to his introducing a law to regulate proselytism: I told him that I had no objection and that he was competent to introduce the law he proposed, a copy of which I append to this report (pp. 17-18). Going on to discuss the question of affairs in Udaipur the Bishop informed me that from the beginning of June 1935 there had been a spontaneous mass movement amongst the Uraons of that State towards conversion to Christianity, that some 6,000 persons had offered themselves for instruction with a view to baptism, and that these people had crossed the Udaipur State border and gone to the mission station in Jashpur to announce their, decision. The Bishop said that prior to June 1935 he had no thought of making converts in Udaipur and he described this influx of people as having been actuated by a knowledge of the benefits to be received from education in mission schools and from social relationship with the Christian population of Jashpur and the Ranchi district, as also of the general benefit to be obtained from membership of the Christian religion. I said to the Bishop that I had heard talk of the inducement to Uraons and other aborigines to become Christians through the advancement of loans on their accepting Christianity. He replied that the Mission advanced loans to Christians in need of money and that the knowledge of this fact might certainly be one of the inducements for such people to embrace Christianity, but the giving of loans was merely an incident in the Mission’s relations with its people and was not a means of enticing people into the fold. Questioned as to the exact procedure in conversion the Bishop stated that the would-be convert came to a Mission station with a request that he should be received. Thereafter an enquiry was made, and if it was found that the applicant was a suitable candidate he was accepted and his name was recorded. The man’s top-knot of hair was then cut off by his own friends, that being the custom among the Indian Christians. The candidate’s name having been inscribed he was then given instruction in the Christian religion and after a period of from three to nine months he was baptized. In the Udaipur State, the Bishop said, teachers had been at work but no priest had gone there and he did not intend to send one without my permission. I explained that my position in respect of the Mission in States under minority administration had nothing to do with my own personal feelings and that my duty was to serve the interest of the Ruling House and to see that nothing was done during minority which would embarrass the Chief when he came to the gadi. The Bishop declared that he fully understood this but that no Chief could deny the right of any subject to change his religion when that subject of his own free will desired to do so, and he maintained that in Udaipur the large body of people who wished to become Christians had the right to demand the services of the Mission priests. He laid stress on the fact that when a similar case had arisen in the Gangpur State in 1903 the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal had authorised the entry of missionaries into that State for the purpose of ministration. I pointed out to the Bishop that if his request were allowed a great part of the population of the Udaipur State might have become Christians by the time the Raja came to the gadi and I observed that the Raja was the son of the Maharaja of Surguja whose emphatic views on the subject of conversion he knew full well. I explained that I could not accept his request without referring the whole matter to the Government of India. I had previously warned both the Political Agent and the Superintendent to ensure that the missionaries did not establish themselves in the State in such a way as would make it difficult to expel them, and on the 8th of February the Bishop called and represented to me that the Superintendent was taking action to prevent his catechists working in the State. He desired me to give orders to the Superintendent to allow full freedom to the Mission catechists, on the undertaking that no priest would be sent into the State until the orders of the Government of India had been received. I told him that it was my desire that he should issue an order to his catechists that they should leave the State for the present pending the receipt of the Government of India’s instructions. The Bishop replied that he could not agree to that action which would amount to an admission that the Mission, had done something wrong. I showed him that if he felt that he could not take this action it would be necessary for me to order the expulsion of the catechists and that I was very loath to take that step. He said that the matter was one he must discuss with his fellow prelates and that he would let me have his reply in due course. I had in the meantime instructed the Political Agent to go to Udaipur and make a personal enquiry into the whole matter. Colonel Murphy went immediately to Udaipur and visited 15 of the villages in the re-entrant to which I have referred, his visit being without any previous intimation. He found that the statement that the movement of the people in the Udaipur State towards Christianity was entirely spontaneous and actuated by a knowledge of the benefits to be received was entirely incorrect. The people concerned had no knowledge whatever regarding such benefits and had been actuated by one idea, and one idea only, that being the receipt of money from the Mission on loan. He found that the people had no complaint regarding rent assessments or undue harassment by State officials, and I have to state here that there has been a regular settlement in the State. There was, the Political Agent found, a certain measure of economic hardship, common to many of the States at present owing to the failure of rains last October and the poverty of the ensuing winter crop. He found that information had been disseminated throughout this area of the State that loans were to be readily obtained at the Mission station at Tapkara on a note of hand without security, all that was required of payees being that they should have their top-knot cut off. Some of the people who had received loans were minors, while some were casual labourers, and it was evident that the number of persons who had taken loans and had had their top-knots cut off was much less than had been represented to me by the Bishop, it appearing that when one member of a family had taken a loan all the members of that family were shows as would-be converts. The rate of interest taken was 10 per cent, and in a large number of cases examined one year’s interest had been deducted in advance. Christian schools had been started by catechists who had invaded the State from Jashpur and in one instance a Mission teacher had stopped the boys of the hamlet from going to the State school. People questioned made it plain that their only purpose in going to the Mission station had been to get money and all said that without this payment of money none would have sought to become Christian. In one case a preacher had settled down in a village and announced that he would not leave it until he had made recovery of the loan-money advanced. Colonel Murphy ascertained that in 1929 a Christian preacher from the Tapkara station had come into the State and had been expelled by the State authorities. The same man had been largely responsible for engineering the new movement and was even then in the State. On the 28th February, I received a letter from the Bishop that he had discussed the whole matter with his staff. He maintained that the action of the Mission in the State was entirely bona fide. I quote these words from his letter: “The taking of loans is not a motive of conversion, but it is in the eyes of the Aborigines a sign of adherence and a pledge of earnestness and sincerity.” He said that catechists had been sent into Udaipur for the sole purpose of meeting the earnest wishes of the new converts for religious instruction, and he stated that it was impossible for him to order that they should leave. On the 1st of March the Bishop again wrote to me saying that as I had expressed the wish that the giving of loans to Udaipur subjects should be discontinued he had passed orders to that effect. He also wrote that he had to repeat his decision that he could not order the withdrawal of Mission agents from the State but that he had issued instructions that if I issued warrants for their expulsion these orders were to be peacefully obeyed. I thereupon instructed the Political Agent to issue orders requiring all the Mission agents to remove themselves from the State forthwith and this order was carried out, the. Bishop intimating his protest at my action. Thereafter I received a communication from Colonel Murphy that on receipt of a report that the catechists expelled from the State had taken with them a number of children to keep in the school at Tapkara for instruction he was proceeding to Tapkara to enquire into the matter.
4. On the 9th of April the Bishop of Ranchi paid me another visit and endeavoured to secure a modification of my views. After this visit I received the Political Agent’s report on his local inspection at Tapkara and he informed me that Father Gallagher had in his charge at that place 120 children, boys and girls, who had been brought over from the Udaipur State and kept in hostels at Tapkara for the purpose of education and instruction in religion. The Father alleged that these children had been brought away by the Mission agents before the orders of expulsion from the Udaipur State had been issued and he claimed that the children had been brought at the desire of their parents. A further report on this subject is awaited, but in the meantime I have considered it necessary to write to the Bishop of Ranchi requiring him to issue orders for the removal of the children from the Jashpur State. I have called his attention to the principle that I had stated in conversation, that I could not permit any action to be taken in the Jashpur State during minority which would be considered by any neighbouring State to be detrimental to its interests. I have drawn his attention to the fact that when the Mission in the year 1932 sought to have improved house accommodation His Excellency the Governor of the Central Provinces refused to entertain its request and stated that it was against the accepted policy of Government to grant to Missions in States under management facilities of a nature which ,would change essentially the status quo or commit the minor Chief, when he came of age, to a new policy. I have shown him that His Excellency had further laid it down that the Mission should not introduce any new activity into the State in time of minority, and I have made it plain that the Mission has been interfering with the Udaipur State and its people and taking action which represents a new activity. I have pointed out to him that when the Fathers were permitted to enter the State they did so on the understanding that they would go there for the supervision of the catechists and for work amongst the people of Jashpur and not with a view to using that territory as a base for operations in neighbouring States. I have warned the Bishop that the children should be returned to their homes in Udaipur and that if they are removed from Jashpur and not returned-to their homes the Mission will take this action on its own responsibility. I have intimated that, if the children have not been removed within 14 days from the date of issue of my letter, the State authorities will take action to ensure that my orders are carried out. I have stated that I assume that the Bishop will satisfy himself of the correctness of the position of the Mission with regard to sections 361 and 362 of the Indian Penal Code which define the offences of kidnapping and abduction. I had previously expressed to the Bishop my wish that he should transfer from Tapkara the Anglo-Indian priest in charge of that station, Father Gallagher, and in our conversation on the 9th April the Bishop had shown his inability to take that action. I have now required that Father Gallagher should be removed from the State and not permitted to return to it. This priest went to the State in the year 1925 and has never been persona grata with the State administration. In the year 1930 he erected buildings at Tapkara for hostel purposes without obtaining permission from the State and I have reason to believe that it is in those buildings the Udaipur children are now living. In the year 1933 this priest interfered in the administrative affairs of the State and threatened one of the State patwaris with the result that my predecessor, Mr. Gibson, conveyed orders to the Superintendent that he should administer a warning to him. It is this priest who has been responsible for the activity of the Mission in the Udaipur State. I must explain to the Government of India that I considered the advisability of deferring action in this matter of the removal of the children and of Father Gallagher from the Jashpur State pending reference to the Government of India but that looking to the length of time that must elapse before receipt of orders from the Government of India and to the subtlety of the Jesuits in establishing their position I have thought it essential to deal with the matter at once on my own responsibility.
5. To enable the Government of India fully to appreciate the incidents I have related in connection with missionary work in the Udaipur State, I will give some account of the rise of Christian Missions in this part of India and of the spread of their activities generally in the Eastern States.
6. In 1845 the German Lutheran Mission was established in Ranchi. Prior to their coming-I quote from the Final Report on the Survey and Settlement Operations in the District of Ranchi, 1909-10-there had been deep seated agrarian discontent amongst the aboriginal population in the Chhota-Nagpur area. British courts of justice were established in 1834 and though they were useful in checking the most glaring abuses they did not remove the causes of discontent. By the year 1857 the missionaries had a considerable following and the Christians were becoming a powerful and organised society whose members, backed by the moral and financial support of the missionaries, were able to assert their rights successfully in the courts. An impression gained ground that the best means of successfully shaking off the oppression of the landlord was by becoming Christian. This resulted in the persecution of the Christians during the absence of the executive authorities after the Mutiny, but when the executive authorities returned the Christians were to some extent compensated for their losses and it came to be believed that they as a class were specially favoured by Government. The result was that by 1859 there had been a great accession to strength of the ranks of nominal Christians. The Chhota-Nagpur Tenures Act was passed in 1869 and the position of raiyats became one of contract and was greatly improved; and the influence of the European missionaries continually extended, and they became not only the spiritual head of the village communities but their advisers and guides in all temporal matters, supplanting the zamindar and the official in their power with the- people in large tracts of country. In further settlement operations it was found that the people of the khas villages of the Maharaja of Chhota-Nagpur, who were content with their tenancies, had not become Christians. The system of beth-begar or forced labour continued to be prevalent in the Chhota-Nagpur country and there was constant trouble on this account. About 1886 the Jesuits began Mission work in Ranchi on a large scale and they with the other missionaries took an active interest in the temporal affairs of their people. Within three or four years 40,000 converts joined the Roman Catholic Mission and the influence of the Christian population reacted on their non-Christian brethern disturbing their relations with their Landlords. A Commutation Act was passed in 1897 whereby tenants could secure under the orders of Government freedom from praedial services in return for cash payment. It was found however that little recourse was had to the provisions of this act for the reason that the system of praedial services was popular when fairly worked, and that the raiyats who were on bad terms with their landlords became nominal Christians and refused to perform any service whatsoever under the protection of the Mission organisations, while those who were on good terms with their landlords had no objection to working off a portion of their rent liabilities in the shape of labour.
7. The first direct evidence I have come across in the matter of missionary activity in the Eastern States is obtained in letter No. 13087 of 7th November 1904 from the Chief Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces, to the Secretary to the Government of India in the Foreign Department. That letter shows that in the year 1893, Mr. Fraser (afterwards Sir Andrew Fraser), who was at that time Commissioner of Chhattisgarh, gave authority, without reference to the Local Government, for the acquisition of land for Mission purposes in the Baster State at a time when the State was under Government management. In the following year a similar application, for the acquisition of land in the Kawardha State was received, and the matter being referred to the Local Government, it was laid down that alienation of land for Mission purposes in a State under the administration of Government should be refused on the principle that the fiduciary position of Government required that it should not take action which might be liable to misconstruction and of which the result might be distasteful to the Chief on his attaining majority. In letter No. 4689 I. B. of 31st December 1904; the Government of India indicated their approval of this statement of policy.
8. About the year 1900 the German Lutheran Mission opened two stations in the Gangpur State without she permission of the Ruler and without reference to the Local Government. The Chief made protest, but the political authorities decided that as the missionaries were actually settled in the State they should be allowed to remain there. One of these missionaries thereafter openly preached disobedience to the Chief’s orders in the matter of begar, the demand for which was moderate, and the missionaries generally made promises to the raiyats that they would secure their freedom from various petty demands of the Darbar, a principle of insubordination being set up and fanned amongst the aboriginal people, who were of the same class as those belonging to the Missions in Chhota-Nagpur. The result of this was that one missionary was removed from the State under the orders of the Commissioner of Chhota-Nagpur who acted at that time as Political Officer; but the teaching had taken root and for some years the Christian converts set themselves steadily to oppose the Chief, so that when a European Diwan was appointed to the State in 1903 he found it difficult to get any of the usual services performed for himself. He found that some of the people refused to make payment of part of their rents which were paid in kind. The Christians were quite out of hand, but he dealt firmly with the position, and later on took up settlement operations. He formed the opinion that the majority of people who joined the Missions did so out of motives of policy and in the expectation of so me advantage to be obtained and not for any spiritual benefit expected.
9. The missionaries entered Jashpur apparently at about the same time as they did the Gangpur State, and that they did not do so upon the willing invitation of the Chief revealed in a letter of 10th June 1923 from the Roman. Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta to the Political Agent, at Raipur in which occurs the following sentence: “In Gangpur [which is in many respects similar to Jashpur and where we started establishing, Christianities (sic) about the same time as in Jashpur], the Raja-under pressure of the Government of Bengal, within whose jurisdiction Gangpur then was-gave me a perpetual lease at the usual rent, of an extensive plot of tent ire land at Kesramal in 1907; and since then, the Chief-quite willingly this time-has granted me leases of two more plots one at Hamirpur and one at Gaibira. In Jashpur so far we have had only verbal grants.” The Archbishop desired the Political Agent to give him a set of perpetual leases, action in which he failed.
10. The first mention on the Agency record of the work of the missionaries in Jashpur is contained in a memorandum made by the Commissioner of Chhattisgarh in 1903 on the subject of a conversation he had had with the Diwan of Jashpur. I extract this passage : “I understand from Mr. Mears (the Diwan) that European Missionaries have had hitherto no footing in this State. The recognised custom is that no European is to be allowed to go into any Feudatory State without the permission of the Commissioner having been first obtained. The Raja should see that this is duly observed. With regard to tenants who allege themselves to be Christians and refuse to render beth-begar, since such services are part and parcel of the rent due from such tenants, the refusal amounts to a refusal to pay the rent due. Any such instance occurring should be treated as a case and the party concerned called on to show cause why he should not be ejected from his land.” The Commissioner sent a copy of his note to the Raja. This Chief was afterwards deposed with the approval of the Government of India for maladministration (letter No. 1021-883-P, dated the 26th June 1923, from the Government of India to the Government of the Central Provinces) and it being my purpose to show that that deposition was the direct result of Mission activities in the State I feel that I must trouble the Government of India with a fully detailed narrative of subsequent affairs.
11. In the year 1906 the German Lutheran Mission made application to the Political Agent stating that people of Jashpur desired to become Christians and that the Raja had no wish that they should become Christians ; and the Mission requested that the Political Agent should issue a licence for the entry of Indian preachers into the State. The Political Agent sent reply that he could not issue any such licence but he said that he had reason to know that the Raja had no prejudice against Christianity and that he would address him on the subject. At the same time he advised the Mission to be careful not to flout local prejudice and he expressed the opinion that it would be preferable that the Mission authorities should arrange that aborigines of the State who wished to change their religion should go over for that purpose to the Ranchi district. The Political Agent wrote a letter to the Raja that he should observe complete impartiality in matters relating to religion and that he should not prevent the entry of Mission preachers into the State. In the same year the Archbishop of Calcutta wrote to the Political Agent complaining of the treatment accorded to Christians in Jashpur. The Political Agent in reply wrote to the Archbishop that the Chief was “a most benign and gentle Ruler” and he warned the Archbishop that those people in British India who stirred up agitation against the system of beth-begar in the States knew nothing whatever of the meaning of the system as applied there and that the system was not a harsh one as they imagined. On the same day the Political Agent wrote to the Raja and administered to him a peremptory warning with regard to the complaints made in the matter of the treatment of Christians. This brought a reply from the Chief that he did not want any Christians in his State as he felt that their presence was a danger to him and to his administration. The following year serious friction occurred and the Political Agent, Mr. Laurie, brought about an agreement for the future conduct of Mission work at a conference held by himself and attended by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta and some Jesuit Priests and representatives of the German Lutheran Evangelical Mission. The Raja was prevailed upon to agree to terms of a modus vivendi but friction continued and a few months later the Raja sent in a memorial of protest. His case was that “conversion to Christianity was synonymous with subversion of old custom and existing rights and obligations” He stated that the catechists induced catechumens to rebel against his authority, and refuse to render services due from them as rent-free holders of certain lands. He demanded that he should be permitted to vindicate bib authority and enforce his traditional rights. The Political Agent was anxious to support the Missions and while admitting that catechists did ignore the Ruler he held that the latter must abide by the agreement to which he bad subscribed and advised that he should abolish the system of beth-begar and assess all tenants to full rent. The matter was examined by a new Political Agent, Mr. Brett the following year and he reported that he had made special enquiries in the Jashpur State and had found that some 30,000 people were claimed by the Roman Catholics and some 15,000 by the Lutheran Mission as enquirers after Christianity. All these people were of the Uraon tribe of aborigines. Almost all-of them had signified abandonment of their old beliefs by having their top-knots of hair cut off, a ceremony performed in the presence of a European father or pastor, and very few of them had actually been baptized. None of the European missionaries at that time resided in the State, but they were posted at- various places beyond and close to the border and they carried on their work in the State by means of catechists who were converted Uraons belonging to neighbouring British territory. These catechists were distributed throughout the villages, the residents of which had submitted to the top-knot-cutting ceremony, and their duty was to instruct enquiries in the elements of Christianity and to gain over new converts. Referring to the complaint of the Raja that the catechists interfered in secular matters and instigated people to refuse to tender compulsory forced labour, the Political Agent showed that this labour was an incident of the State tenure common to all the States and expressed the opinion that in this respect the people had no legitimate cause of complaint and that the Chief was a considerate and indeed a generous Ruler.
12. Mr. Brett stated that the Chief maintained that he had accepted the agreement of 1907 under pressure from the Political Agent and that he would not be satisfied until all foreign preachers had been expelled from his territory. The Political Agent expressed his own opinion that it was a matter for regret that the missionaries had ever been allowed to extend their propaganda to this State, but that matters having advanced so far it was not possible to give the Chief permission to take the action he desired. The Central Provinces Government passed orders in September 1908. They held that the Raja could not be given general permission to forbid all missionaries and preachers from entering the State. The Political Agent was ordered to advise the Raja that it was inconsistent with the principles of liberty recognised in British India that the missionaries should be prevented from building houses in his State. Any resistance by Christians to the lawful demands of the State should be dealt with according to law. At the same time the Political Agent was instructed to warn missionary societies that they must not expect any support from Government against the Raja if their preachers encouraged his subjects to resist his lawful demands. It was to be explained to the societies that it was their duty properly to supervise their preachers, and that if they were found to be stirring up dissatisfaction with the Chief’s authority the Political Agent would be justified in excluding them as a class from the State. If the preachers faithfully abstained from any action of this kind and confined themselves to religious preaching the Chief would not molest them. Thereafter there was continual complaint on the part of the missionaries against the conduct of the administration and continual complaint by the Ruling Chief in respect of the missionaries and their activities. A serious state of affairs having developed the Political Agent, Mr. Blakesley, made a thorough enquiry in Jashpur and. submitted a full report to the Local Government in 1913. He found that the movement towards Christianity in the Jashpur State was in no sense a religious one: it was one actuated in lesser measure by the expectation of social benefits to be obtained, Christians being able to get their children married by missionaries in the adjoining districts of British India without incurring heavy expenditure, but the real governing causes were political and agrarian. It was the, belief of Christian converts that by becoming Christians they would secure freedom from compulsory service, the commutation of cesses into cash rental and the settlement of their land revenue such as had been secured in the Chhota-Nagpur division. He found that the missionaries bad advanced loans to many of their converts and that the missionaries had a considerable hold on them by means of these loans. He found that the catechists interfered on every possible occasion in the temporal affairs of the Christian converts, whom they called “their raiyats”. These catechists carried complaint to the missionaries, wrote petitions for the converts, accompanied them to the courts, worked out cases for them, and generally acted as unrecognised vakils, the State authorities having on control over them at all. The Political Agent was of opinion that the Ruler had no antipathy whatever to Christianity as such. The Ruler was a Hindu, and the aborigines were animists, and the Chief, he thought had no more interest in the aboriginal faith than he had in Christianity. His distrust and dislike of missionary propaganda, especially that of the Jesuits, arose solely out of the agrarian and political agitation and the subversion of his authority which he foresaw, and against which he sought in vain the protection of the political authorities. Mr. Blakesley showed that, under the guise of religious proselytism, political propaganda had been spread throughout the State. The Roman Catholic priests alleged that they had no concern with the temporal affairs of the State, but this was abundantly disproved, and the Archbishop had himself been continually referring to the Political Agent in respect of temporal matters. He expressed the opinion that the Ruler’s authority bad been seriously undermined, a result which, he observed, the Chief had himself expected from the spread of mission activity in his State. Re pointed out that his predecessor had in 1906 assured the Chief that he would be responsible that his authority in his State would not be weakened by people becoming converted to Christianity, a promise that had not been maintained. He showed that the Raja had acted under political pressure in allowing extension of missionary activity in his State. He recommended that the Chief should be permitted to exclude Jesuit missionaries and their catechists from the State. He did not recommend that his action should be taken in respect of the Lutherans who, he said, were less inclined to interfere in temporal affairs. If this proposal were not accepted, he advised that no missionary or catechist should be permitted to enter or reside in the State except with the permission of the Chief.
13. Mr. Blakesley’s report was submitted by the Commissioner of Chhattisgarh to the Local Government. The Commissioner was Mr. Laurie who had been Political Agent in 1907 and it was this officer who had, according to the Raja, brought pressure to bear upon him in that year in accepting the agreement with regard to the conduct of mission work. Mr. Blakesley had stated in his report that Mr. Laurie had favoured the missions as against the Ruler and there was a definite cleavage between the two officers. The Local Government passed their orders in the matter in June 1913. It accepted the Political Agent's conclusions as to the actual state of affairs in Jashpur, but declined to accept his recommendations. The Chief Commissioner was then Sir Benjamin Robertson and he found it impossible to take any action other than that indicated by Sir Reginald Cradock in his orders of 1908. This decision was soon followed by the entry into the State of the Belgian Jesuits who had hitherto worked from the Ranchi District and since that time they have been in residence there. Sir Benjamin Robertson left it on record that the Raja of Jashpur was a very well disposed and kind Ruler, He made a note of an interview he had had with the Archbishop of Calcutta and wrote that he had had to disabuse the Archbishop of his idea that the State was British territory. The Archbishop he said, had intimated to him that the preachers employed in the State were as a class not all that they should be. Sir Benjamin indicated his own personal feeling of repugnance to giving support to the missionaries against such an excellent old man as the Ruling Chief. Another interesting admission of the Archbishop of Calcutta is recorded by Mr. Napier, who was acting for a time as Commissioner of Chhattisgarh in 1912. The Archbishop said to Mr. Napier that, putting aside all cant, he did not suppose that the majority of the aboriginal Christians in the States had much feeling either way in the matter of religion but that they saw how the Uraons over the border in British districts had prospered in material welfare and they embraced Christianity in the hope that such material benefit would result to themselves. That being so, the Archbishop said, he could not understand the hostile attitude of the Raja who must also gain from the material prosperity of the people. The Archbishop told Mr. Napier that when trouble had occurred in Gangpur Sir Andrew Fraser, the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, had intervened, and had secured an arrangement whereby priests were settled in Gangpur State to supervise the preachers. He desired that that action should be taken also in Jashpur. Mr. Napier told the Archbishop then that what the Raja of Jashpur was afraid of was that the missionaries “would raise up a power within his power and would undermine his authority”. I will set down here also the gist of a note made by Mr. Napier that the Anglican Bishop of Nagpur, who had worked by the side of the Jesuit Mission, had told him that they had no real hope of Christianising adult men and women but that they did hope to be able to instil the doctrine into the minds of children. This accounts for the recent action of the Jesuits in removing children from the Udaipur State to the Catholic station at Tapkara in Jashpur.
14. I now come to the disturbances which occurred in Jashpur in 1922 and which resulted in some loss of life and in the deposition of the Chief. In May 1922 the Superintendent of Police at Ranchi, informed the Bihar and Orissa Government that a society had been formed by the Lutherans of Ranchi called The Unity Samaj, that its object was the improvement of the lot of aborigines generally, and that people of all creeds had joined it. In July an Englishman, who had been in Jashpur in connection with the recruitment of coolies for the tea-gardens in Assam, reported to the Political Agent that there was a dangerous movement amongst mission preachers in the State and that secret societies had been formed. In August 1922 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Calcutta wrote to the Political Agent sending an account by one of his priests of the bad state of affairs then existing in Jashpur. This priest showed that the Raja had ceased to take any interest in the affairs of his State, that the administration was bad, that Lutheran preachers were fomenting trouble that would lead to rebellion and that the Roman Catholics had no hand in the movement. I will not go into the details of the disturbances. Enquiry revealed that the trouble was caused by the Unity Samaj acting through the agency of the Lutheran pastors and preachers. A state of rebellion ensued, and the Raja connived at illegal acts of repression designed to secure his secret purpose of expelling the mission agents from his State. The Raja clearly failed in his duty at this stage and was deposed as has already been stated. An Extra-Assistant Commissioner of the Central Provinces Government was appointed as Diwan and after the death of the Chief some years later this officer was appointed Superintendent of the State, a position which he still holds.
15. After the deposition of the Chief the Superintendent, a Muhammedan officer, took a strong hold of the administration and proceeded with settlement work. The principle was laid down that in respect of the missions, matters were to be left as far as possible in status quo, missionaries neither being encouraged nor discouraged and they being allowed no better footing in the State than they already enjoyed. No trouble of any serious dimensions seems to have taken place till 1927 when the Superintendent made report that the Roman Catholic Mission was taking strong action in spreading Christianity through the large Khuria Zamindari, a jagir of the State, which had hitherto not entered the field of missionary activity. The Political Agent thereupon wrote to the missionary in charge. He stated that the Zamindar had very strong objection to missionary work, holding that where missionaries went there went trouble. The Zamindar, he stated, had made personal complaint to him in respect of the invasion of his country by preachers and Christians and of their settlement there without his permission at the instigation of the missionaries. These people the Zamindar had said, were being taught by the preachers to flout his authority. The Political Agent warned the missionary that if there was the slightest likelihood of trouble, he would have no hesitation in closing this ilaqa to missionary work altogether. He pointed out that the settlement of this Zamindari was no concern of the mission and that if the Zamindar did not want Christians he would certainly not force them upon him. The Superintendent at the same time was ordered to go into the ilaqa and make a report on the conditions obtaining there, and he found that the priests had commenced their operations thereby sending Christians into the country who concealed the fact that they were Christians and took service as field labourers or lived there with relations. When in course of time a sufficient number of such people had taken up their residence in the ilaqa three preachers went into the country and they appointed sixteen assistants from amongst the Christians who had gone to live there, and a mass movement of conversion to Christianity ensued.
16. Describing the position as it is to day in Jashpur the Superintendent gives the population of the State as 193,000, the number of Catholics 50,000 and that of Lutherans 4,000. Christians are now to be found in practically all villages of the State and continual pressure is being exerted by the fathers to secure the conversion of the remaining part of the population. Since the deposition of the Chief a settlement has been effected and all trouble has ceased, and this is ascribed to the influence of the missions. They are 12 Jesuit fathers resident in and distributed throughout the State, the same number as in Gangpur. There are 163 Indian preachers paid at rates of Rs. 4 to Rs. 6 plus a small quantity of rice from each Christian family. The Christians have given these preachers a little land so that each holds also a small farm. They (the preachers) are badly educated people and the Superintendent describes them as mere pawns in the hands of the priests. They act as vakils for their people in all matters, and interfere continually in all temporal affairs. They compound non-cognisable criminal cases and pay the composition money into the mission funds; and they at times hide criminal cases occurring in their communities. In 1935 a preacher was convicted for attempting to suppress the offence of murder and the record of the trial shows that one of the Catholic fathers knew of the murder and connived at the concealment of the crime. There was a case in 1928 in which preachers so persecuted certain aborigines who had renounced Christianity that one of them committed suicide. The Superintendent shows that these people have no regard for the Ruling House, and that they have it in their hands to cause riot and rebellion. The Superintendent has shown tact in his dealings with the European priest and gets on well with them, but he states that they have no interest in purely humanitarian work and that they have done nothing for the people on the medical side, their whole aim being to secure converts and to increase the number of Christians in the fold. The younger generation, the Superintendent states, know little about religion but are staunch Christians, who are devoted to their priests and have no regard at all for the Chief. The Roman Catholic Mission has established co-operative banks and through these banks they secure the added obedience and devotion of the people. They encourage emigration to the Assam tea gardens, and on the return of the emigrants get them to deposit their savings in the banks. The Superintendent shows that it was only when the late Chief found himself completely trapped by the missionaries that he connived at the harsh measures, which led to his deposition. He draws attention to the fact that, as in Gangpur, the preachers first entered the State, and then the political authorities required the Chief to permit the missionaries to reside in the State in order to control the preachers. This officer is of opinion that in course of time the Jesuits will convert all the aborigines of all the States in this part of the Agency. If this were to occur and foreign priests were to be given full freedom of entry and residence the result might be virtually a foreign Government of the whole group. The Superintendent considers that it will be almost impossible for the Ruler of Jashpur to administer his State without the assistance of a European Diwan or of a non-Hindu Indian who is a Government Officer. He relates that when the Chief was deposed, his heir was obliged to leave the State and that the heir became Ruler in 1928 and died two years later, the Superintendent becoming his Diwan. Very strong pressure was brought on the Chief by Hindus in British India to counter Jesuit activity and win over the Uraons to Hinduism. The Chief was sympathetic and relations between him and the Diwan became strained. Had the Chief lived serious trouble would have ensued and he also might have been deposed.
17. After this lengthy historical account of mission work in the Jashpur State, I come to the concluding portion of my letter, and make proposals for the consideration of the Government of India. The general policy of the Government of India has been one of impartiality with regard to the practice of religion and it is now the plea of the Bishop of Ranchi that what he seeks is nothing more than the application of this principle in the States. He maintains that no ruling Chief has any moral right to prevent any of his people from the exercise of freedom of conscience, and he holds that if any Ruler take action to deny the exercise by his subjects of full freedom of conscience the paramount power should secure it; and of course the Bishop maintains that if this thesis is to be accepted it is the duty of the Government of India in its office as guardian of a minority State to apply the same principle. Now in many of the States of the Agency there is. missionary activity on a small scale which is looked upon without misgiving by Rulers concerned. One such mission does excellent work in the Nandgaon State in the treatment of leprosy. There is a small Australian Mission in the Mayurbhanj State which has a very small number of adherents and is hardly a noticeable feature. There is a small Baptist mission in the Patna State, which has been established there for many years, and carries on work amongst Hindu outcastes. It too has not a large number of adherents and is not a source of any anxiety to the Darbar. I spoke to the Maharaja of Patna a few days ago on the subject of conversion, and asked him what he thought about the theory of freedom of conscience. His reply was that it was hardly possible to apply the idea of freedom of conscience to the aborigines in so far as conversion was concerned for the reason that they had no understanding of religion as an educated man understands the term, and that it was quite impossible for them to judge as between the merits of any other faith and those of their own. This, I venture to suggest, touches the root of the matter. I have shown the admissions of the Jesuit Archbishop of Calcutta and of the Anglican Bishop of Ranchi that in so far as religion is concerned the change of faith has practically no meaning for adult men and women amongst aboriginal people. It is to my mind clear from the methods adopted by the Roman Catholic Missionaries that they too know that the theory of freedom of conscience is a sham. They know full well that, as the historical account of missionary enterprise which I have given abundantly proves, the aboriginal people of this part of India change their faith and accept Christianity in the expectation only of material benefits to be received. True religion has nothing whatever to do with the matter. This being so the request of the Bishop of Ranchi for freedom of action in the States cannot be accepted. We are not concerned, I submit, with the question of benefit to be derived by that higher religious life to which it is the purpose of missionary bodies eventually to bring the people we are concerned with the matter of the interference with the people of the States by an outside body the members of which are in the present case Jesuits and foreigners. They have maintained that there should be no interference either on the part of the Government of India through its political officers or on that of the State administration with their work, which work is essentially one of interference with the people and, as my history shows, with the administration of the State. The Roman Catholic Missionaries are now firmly and perpetually installed in the States of Jashpur and Gangpur and I have shown that they are installed there against the will of the Rulers and owing to official pressure brought upon them. We have seen that the late Raja of Jashpur was described by many political officers and by the Chief Commissioner of the Central Provinces as a just and kind ruler. He was apparently a man of exceptional personal merit who had kept his people content. He saw the danger that lay in store for him after the Missionaries entered his State and he endeavoured to keep them out. They were forced upon him: he lost heart: and when the Missionaries stirred up agitation he was unable to cope with the situation and was deposed. He was deposed as a direct result of a well-intentioned but mistaken use of the advice clause in his sanad, which required him to act according to the instructions given him by the political authorities. It may be argued that we have in Gangpur a still greater number of Christians than they are in the Jashpur State and that there has been no rebellion there. I would reply to that that it has been fortunate that there has been no rebellion there: the conditions in Gangpur are not in fact exactly similar to those in Jashpur and the late Ruler there had the good fortune to have been a bad ruler and to have had imposed upon him at the beginning of mission, enterprise in the State a European Diwan who was able to control the situation which had already got out of hand when he assumed charge of his office. There has been a European officer of the Bihar and Orissa Service in Gangpur from 1903 till the present day and it cannot be maintained that the rights of the Ruler have been maintained as has been the public peace. I have made mention of the fact that the Maharaja of Surguja is determined to keep Christianity out of his State and I understand that he adopts on his border very summary methods with any preachers who make attempt to go into his country- methods which if they were officially resorted to me I would not be able to countenance, but which have been very effective for their purpose. Now if the Government of India are to accede to the prayer which the Bishop of Ranchi proposes to make to them against my action it will be necessary for me to apply whatever principle is to be applied in the Udaipur State to States under their own Chiefs through the advice clause. In Surguja there has never been a revenue settlement. The State is one of over 6,000 square miles in extent and the people are very primitive. They have been kept content through the exclusion of outside interference and by, I understand, a very light assessment, but were Jesuit interference to be admitted in that State there is every likelihood that a rebellion might ensue, the administration holding only a very light authority throughout the territory. In the Bastar State we have similar conditions, in an area twice the size. There settlement operations have created a more stable agrarian position but there are large tracts of country over which the administration has hardly any hold. Propaganda there, religious or other, would have effects which might conceivably be far beyond the power of the administration to deal with. It is, not to be denied that, when a State such as Jashpur is situated on the borders of a British district which has become permeated with Christianity, there must be certain influence in the State created through the natural effects of contact. These effects however will be gradual and must be left to be dealt with by the State administration in its own way, and I would urge that the Government of India should be very zealous to prevent a recurrence in any State of this Agency of the events that took place in Jashpur. In respect of the Udaipur State and of the particular points arising from my disagreement with the Bishop of Ranchi I make request that the Government of India give me their support in the following propositions:-
18. The acceptance by the Government of India of the propositions stated in my last paragraph and the signification of their approval to the action I have taken with the Bishop of Ranchi will meet the present needs of the Udaipur State. There remains for consideration the question of steps to be taken in the Gangpur and Jashpur States during the remainder of the period of Agency management to secure the position of the Ruler when he comes to the gadi. There can be no question as to the truth of the proposition that the Political Authorities required the Darbar in each case to admit the missionaries, forced the Darbar to submit to the extension of proselytism, and created a position which, if not now modified will make it impossible in all probability for the Ruler on accession to administer his country in his own way. I represent then that action must now be taken so to modify the existing state of affairs as to make it possible for the Ruler to administer his country. The missions have in each case a large Christian following. There can be no thought of securing its reduction and eventual extinction and on the contrary the probability is that Christianity will extend. Whatever arrangements therefore are to be made should provide for the full satisfaction of the religious needs of the Christian community subject to the maintenance of the public peace and the welfare of the State. This must form the subject of further special enquiry and consideration, which I will defer pending receipt of the instructions of the Government of India on the other matters brought to their notice in this report.
Copy of letter, dated the 27th April 1936, from Rt. Revd.O. Sevrin, Bishop of Ranchi, to Hon’ble Sir Bertrand Glancy, Secretary to the Government of India, Political Department
I beg to inform you that there has been recently a movement of conversions to Christianity in the Udaipur State of the Eastern States Agency.
Some of the measures taken in this connection by the Agency, have created serious difficulties and caused great dissatisfaction.
The Agent to the Governor-General has informed me that he intended referring the matter to Delhi. I am myself preparing a statement on the Mission views and desiderata. It will soon be forwarded.
I pray you may be so kind as to consider my report before taking any decision and to grant me an interview after perusal of my statement.
Copy of letter, dated the 12th May 1936, from Rt. Revd. O. Sevrin, Bishop of Ranchi, to Hon’ble Sir Bertrand Glancy, Secretary to the Government of India, Political Department
From the month of June 1935 onward a general movement of conversions to Christianity took place among the Uraons and Kharias of the State of Udaipur (and to a smaller extent in the State of Raigarh), Eastern States Agency. By the end of 1935 there were 5,949 converts in Udaipur (Enclosure 4). Subsequently the Agent to the Governor-General decided that this movement of conversions ought to be “stayed”. In reality the measures taken under his orders had for object the stamping out of all traces of Christianity from the said Udaipur State. I tried in vain to obtain from the A. G. G. a minimum of religious toleration for the converts : his refusal only became more and more accentuated. I deem it now to be my duty to lay my case before higher authority.
It will be best, I think, in order to arrive at a fair appreciation of this movement, to clear the ground by stating from the outset what the movement is not:-
The true explanation of the movement is, in reality, a simple and very natural one:
In view of the foregoing considerations I beg to respectfully submit:
In conclusion, I feel it to be my duty as Bishop to respectfully ask the Government of India to enact that sufficient facilities be given to the abovementioned converts for practising their religion.
This, in the case of the Roman Catholic religion, implies essentially, and in the present case without delay, liberty to receive instruction and sacramental ministrations, for, on account of the sacrificial and sacramental character of Catholicism, these, as is well-known, are part and parcel of the Churches’ dogma and practice.
For imparting instruction a certain number of lay catechists are needed; for the sacrificial and sacramental ministrations the Christians require the presence of the priests in their midst. I beg you to note that I am not asking facilities for proselytising. I should, however, ask, in order to be consistent with our principles and with the Government general policy in this matter, that no hindrance be put in the way of those who, of their own accord, should want to become Christians.
Along with this general statement of the case, I beg to submit three other statements on various aspects of the same (Enclosures 1-3).
ENCLOSURE 1 TO THE BISHOP’S LETTER
It has been the persistent, though not openly avowed, policy of the Agent to the Governor-General with regard to the conversion movement to Christianity in Udaipur, to use, on his side, every means at his command to entirely suppress this incipient, though already numerous, Christianity, and to exact from me that I should so act and direct my subordinates so to act as if these new Christians were non-existent.
You will readily understand, I am sure, that it is impossible for me to accept such a position, as it would amount to the dereliction of a clear duty. My repeated representations to the A. G. G. have only served to accentuate his determination and to lead him to more and more highhandedness, and he gradually gave me to understand that he would not deviate from the course he had chosen to follow, whatever my convictions might be on the matter.
In such circumstances I have no other course left open to me but to appeal to the sense of justice and the fair-mindedness of the Government of India. It is with great reluctance that I take this step against such a high and distinguished servant of the Government as the A. G. G., but the principles involved are too important to allow me to stand by and remain silent.
From the first the A. G. G. made known his intention of allowing no conversion movement in Udaipur, because, as Guardian of the Minor Chief, he could not tolerate any change in the religion of the State subjects.
The A. G. G., in his anxiety to safeguard the rights and privileges of the Ruler, has never consented at any stage to give a thought to the rights of the State’s subjects and it is evident that these weigh nothing in the balance with him. Yet the Report of the Indian States Committee, p. 39, states : “He (the Political Officer) has to identify himself with the interests of both the Paramount Power and the Prince and People of the States”. The mention of the ‘people’ is, I believe, significant and implies that the primary rights of the subjects must also be safeguarded. Such a right is undoubtedly liberty of conscience.
The A. G. G. warned me that Queen’s Proclamation had no bearing on the present case. Granted that it has no direct bearing, it remains true that religious toleration is the accepted policy of the Paramount Power throughout India, just as it is throughout the Empire. We might, therefore, expect that a high Government servant as the A. G. G. would show some concern with regard to this principle in a State under his guardianship. Instead of this the A. G. G. in many of his sayings, seems to endorse the old adage : “Cujus est regio illius est religio”, and in the measures he takes he has clearly as object to thwart the religious freedom of the Udaipur State Aborigines.
In the A. G. G.’s view “a change in the religion of the Udaiput subjects would infringe the rights of the future Ruler”.
It is hard to see how the conversion of Aborigines from animism to Christianity can possibly infringe the rights of the Ruler. It is, in fact, the Ruler’s duty to allow, and it is the subjects’ right to enjoy religious toleration. In fact unless this be admitted no room is left for any religious freedom of any kind. No doubt, were such a change to be the cause of a serious disturbance in the State, the Ruler would be entitled to take measures to safeguard the peace. But the change in question is not of such a nature. In the case of Udaipur there has never been any apprehension of trouble at any time and among the many fanciful allegations brought against the Mission the allegation that the Missionaries, or the preachers or other Mission agents have tried or shown any disposition to create trouble has never been brought forward.
It is well-known, besides, that Catholicism is an element of stability in any State. It bases obedience and loyalty, not on servile motives, but on religious grounds. Recent history, not only of British India, but also in Indian States like Gangpur and Jashpur, shows that in the course of periods of revivals and unrest such as chronically agitate the Aboriginal population, as for instance the troubles in Jashpur in 1922 and the last Haribaba movement, that the Catholic community had stood as a bulwark of law and order, a fact which has been officially recognised.
The A. G. G. had assured me that he would refer the matter to Delhi and that the case would be decided there. But the successive measures he took leave no doubt that he had prejudged the case and that he intended to settle it entirely according to his views:
All the facts mentioned above taken together go to prove that the A. G. G. handled the situation very much as a sort of rebellion where punitive measures are self-indicated and not as a delicate psychological problem involving the primary rights of those under his charge, in which tactfulness and considerateness were evidently needed.
If fact the repressive measures taken by the Agency, even if they are of a temporary character as I had been made to believe they would be, were calculated to suppress Christianity in Udaipur for-
All these measures intended, as they apparently were, to suppress Christianity in Udaipur have in fact created for the now helpless convert a state of vexatious discrimination and oppression amounting to persecution, in which there is no room left for liberty of conscience and freedom of religion.
† O. SERVIN,
ENCLOSURE 2 THE BISHOP’S LETTR.
Note on the enquiry made by the Political Agent on the order of the A. G. G.
1. Previous to this enquiry the A. G. G. had declared that the conversion movement must be stayed. Therefore the enquiry was a step towards the supersession of the conversion movement and, partly at least, a foregone conclusion.
2. The enquiry was limited to a very small number of villages among the 89 concerned and it lasted but three or four days. Therefore it was but a semblance of an enquiry.
3. The vexations and threats which had preceded the enquiry, the mustering of the Aborigines through the Police, the presence of high officials of the State, all went to paralyse the Aborigines with fear, the more so that the views of these officials were fully known by this time. Therefore the method of the enquiry was not conductive to obtaining straightforward answers.
4. Not a few questions were puzzling or even meaningless. F. i. the following question was repeatedly put to the Aborigines: “Do you wish to remain Uraons or become Christians?” This could have any sense only if by becoming Christians Uraons ceased to be Uraons. Therefore the enquiry was not efficient.
5. To judge by what the A. G. G. quotes of the report following the enquiry the P. A. omits to mention the instances, and there were many, where right answers were given in explanation of the adoption of Christianity. Therefore the enquiry was one-sided and the report incomplete.
* * * * *
7. I beg to contrast with the above the missionaries’ methods of enquiry. They have abundant occasion to talk to the people informally and in the tribal language, they have a good knowledge of Aboriginal psychology and customs, their past experience enables them to discriminate bogus converts from real ones and have nothing whatever to gain by registering nominal adherents, besides being forbidden to do so. It cannot therefore be denied that they are advantageously placed to ascertain the genuineness of the Aborigines’ feelings. Now their findings flatly contradict those of the P. A. I may add that I have myself spoken to and examined a large number of these Udaipuria converts and that I have come to the conclusion that their conversion is perfectly genuine.
8. Finally I would beg you to note, in connection with the same enquiry, that the A. G. G. acted immediately on receipt of the P. A.’s report without eliciting the least explanation from us, and that he decided on the strength of the said report, as if it had been of value to have Fr. Gallagher removed from his post at Tapkara.
† O. SERVIN,
ENCLOSURE 3 TO THE BISHOP’S LETTER.
THE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE MISSION
I.-Interference in Udaipur
The A. G. G. states, in his letter of the 14th April, that there has been it “an altogether improper interference of the Mission with the affairs of the Udaipur State” and that the Mission has indulged in activity “detrimental to this State’s interests”.
I cannot possibly allow such a statement to pass unchallenged. It is to be noted that not a single concrete instance is given of any interference with the State administration, down to its lowest officials, on the part of the Mission personnel, and that there is absolutely no record of any breach of the peace traceable to the same. It would follow, therefore, that what is thus qualified as improper interference must be the imparting of religious instruction or the giving of loans, or both. We certainly admit having instructed bona fide converts and having given small loans. But how either fact can be labelled “improper interference with the affairs of the Udaipur State” or “an activity detrimental to the State’s interests” passes comprehension. Besides, with regard to giving loans, we stopped all loans as soon as the A. G. G. expressed the wish we should do so, though we did not, by any means, accept the ground of his request, but rather considered the latter as an undue interference in our private affairs.
II.-Unauthorized activity in Jashpur
According to the A. G. G., the Mission would have broken its promise made in 1907, with regard to Udaipur, and the present movement of conversions would be the result of a deep-laid plan and secret manoeuvres. These are perfectly gratuitous assumptions. I deny any breach of promise and that there was any promise at all. The question of Udaipur had not arisen and was not thought of at the time: there were no converts and there was not the least prospect of future conversions in Udaipur. I deny that Tapkara was chosen as “a base of operations” in view of Udaipur, or that Tapkara huts were erected to lodge future Udaipurias. I deny that there was on our part any infringement of the instructions issued by H. E. the Governor of the Central Provinces, as communicated to the Mission in the Jashpur Superintendent’s letter of the 2nd February 1933. These instructions are simply being misinterpreted by the A. G. G. They refer to land acquisition, extension of existing buildings and the creation of new kacha centres in the State of Jashpur, and they refer to nothing else.
In his letter of the 14th April 1936 the A. G. G. says: “I must lay it down definitely as a principle that the Mission stations in Jashpur shall not be used as a base for the extension of Mission work in any neighbouring State. If this principle is not respected it will be for the State administration to take such action as it sees fit in the matter”.
I would beg you to note that the A. G. G. seems here again to go back on his promise not to take final steps “pending the orders of the Government of India”.
Concerning the principle itself I should say that it is useless to expect that the Aborigines of one place will have no relation with their neighbours, as f. i. for marriages, feasts, tribal meetings. They will have them, and as long as these relations are carried on in peace and within the law it would be sheer tyranny to attempt to check them. Now, if in consequence of such relations, these neighbours too should wish to become Christians and should approach us for that purpose, then these neighbours, on their side, would be exercising their natural right, and we, on our side, would not have the right to refuse them. Again, if the said neighbours actually became Christians, it would be our duty to minister to their spiritual wants, the principle of the A. G. G. notwithstanding.
I beg to draw your attention to the fact that throughout this movement, my missionaries and myself have chosen to adopt an open and frank policy and I fail to see when and where we have deserved to be shown so little consideration, to be the object of such insinuations to be dealt with such punitive measures, and especially to see the primary rights of those who have freely chosen to accept our teaching and ministrations utterly disregarded both in and out of their own State.
However, notwithstanding all that the Mission has had to bear during the past months, considering that the measures taken were to be only temporary as we may, I trust, rightly infer from the earlier statements of the A. G. G. we are quite prepared to forget and forgive and to work in entire and cordial harmony with the Agency provided this be rendered possible by the grant of that minimum of religious toleration and freedom in Udaipur to which I have drawn attention in my general statement.
† O. SEVRIN,
Sequel of Events
Preliminary Remarks.- There is question here of the movement of conversions to Christianity which has been going on since June 1935 in the Udaipur (and to a lesser extent in the Raigarh) State of the Eastern States Agency, where several thousands of Oraons and Kharias have declared themselves Christians as their fellow tribesmen in the Jashpur and Gangpur States and in the Ranchi district had done before.
In earlier years occasional deputations from Udaipur had approached the Missionaries when the latter were camping in Christian villages in Jashpur or had been sent to the R. C. Mission Centre, Tapkara, in Jashpur, some. 10 miles away from the frontier of Udaipur to ask about the possibility of inhabitants of Udaipur being admitted into Christianity. Each time they had been refused admission (however much the missionaries might have wished for it) and had been told to think it over seriously, and to consider the difficulties which would result from their conversion, the need of a thorough change of life, the distances, etc. These deputations, besides, were only occasional and isolated.
From the beginning of 1935 the deputations became so numerous that in February the missionary in charge, Tapkara, applied to the Bishop for an allowance for the maintenance of two Catechists in Udaipur. This, however, was refused owing to shortage of funds at that time.
In May 1935 three groups arrived at Tapkara from three different parts of Udaipur stating they had made up their mind to become Christians. Father Gallagher told them to think it over seriously. As they asked for a catechist, one was sent along with one of the groups to see how far their intention was genuine. So far no inscription had been made.
The Movement.-1. First Inscription (6-6-35).-The first inscriptions were made on June 6, 1935. The deputed members declared they had fully made up their mind to become Christians, to learn the prayers and the rudiments of religion provided a permanent catechist be appointed to teach them and hold the Sunday Services and they agreed to send their children to school in course of time. They asked for some help to enable them to buy seeds or bullocks.
2. Policy.- In a letter of the 14th June 1935, Father Gallagher inquired what policy he was to follow. Was he to go on admitting Udaipurias, a very large number of whom, it appeared, were ready to come over? Could he help them as the crops had been very poor and many had suffered loss on account of the cholera epidemic in 1934? The Bishop answered that “Since the converts were coming of their own accord without any enticement or inducement on our part there was only one course open to him, namely to accept and instruct them. Those in need of assistance could be given a small help, but only in the shape of a loan. They had a natural right to adopt and practise any religion they chose, and there could be no doubt that such a right would be respected”.
3. Extent on 1st August 1935.- By the 1st August 1935, 206 families representing 1,365 persons belonging to 21 villages of Udaipur had been inscribed; several families from Raigarh also had come over. The Bishop then decided to inform the Agency, although the movement had taken place in broad daylight and the authorities of the State were aware of it.
4. First Interview with Acting A. G. G. (6-8-35).-On the 6th August 1935 the Bishop and Rev. C. Timmerman approached the Acting Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States Agency. The Bishop described the movement and explained his plans. He intended sending missionaries to visit the new Christians of Udaipur and to minister to their spiritual needs; but he did not wish the missionaries to appear to the Authorities as if they were spies or to the State subjects as if they were in opposition to the Authorities. Hence he proposed to pay a visit to the Superintendent of Udaipur before starting the series of ministerial visits to the Christians.
The Acting Agent to the Governor-General approved this way of proceeding and said he did not anticipate any difficulties in respect of visiting the Christians. He would see the Superintendent of Udaipur at Raipur on the 22nd August and would ask him whether he had any objection to the missionaries visiting the Christians. In the meantime Rev. C. Timmerman wrote a letter to the Superintendent informing him of the Bishop’s interview with the A. G. G. and announcing the A. G. G.’s meeting of the 22nd August.
5. Second interview with Acting A. G. G. (21-9-35).-On the 21st September, the Bishop paid another visit to the Acting A. G. G. and was informed he had seen the Superintendent of Udaipur. The latter had no objection to missionaries visiting the Christians of Udaipur. Only the missionaries should take note of the fact that the Minor Chief was the son of the Maharaja of Surguja.
Extent about (1-10-35).-By this time 699 families representing 4,464 persons in 67 villages of Udaipur had been inscribed and some eight or ten catechists and masters had been appointed.
In the beginning of October, the Bishop wrote to the Superintendent of Udaipur to propose the visit of two missionaries to Dharamjaigarh, but was informed that the Superintendent would go on leave on the 13th October to return only in the end of November. He proposed the first week of December as a suitable time for a visit.
In the meantime out of courtesy, the Bishop refrained from availing himself of the oral permission given and did not send his missionaries to visit the Christians inspite of their repeated requests.
6. Visit to the Superintendent of Udaipur (3-12-35).-Eventually on the 3rd December, Rev. C. Timmerman and H. Gallagher paid a visit to the Superintendent of Udaipur. The latter now showed himself unwilling to allow missionaries to visit the Christians. His argument was that he had no power to allow the introduction of a new religion in the State during minority, all the more so that the Minor Ruling Chief was the son of the Maharaja of Surguja. He could not therefore allow the missionaries to visit the Christians without written permission from the Political Agent or the A. G. G.
Extent (1-12-35).-By this time 810 families with 5,117 persons belonging to 78 villages had been inscribed.
Interview with A. G. G. (12-12-35).-On the 12th December the Bishop
wrote to Lt.-Col. Meek, the new Agent to the Governor-General, for an interview
but was informed he was on tour till the end of January. Between
the 20th and 24th January 1936 the Agent to the Governor-General
8. First Interview with A. G. G. (27-1-36).-On the 27th January the Bishop and Rev. C. Timmerman were granted an interview. To the Bishop’s request that the Christians of Udaipur should be allowed the ministrations of their priests, the A. G. G. replied lie could not allow any such change of religion during the Minority. The case had to be referred to the Government of India. Information as to the extent and causes of the movement was given and reference was made to somewhat similar circumstances in Gangpur in 1903. On the 29th January the Bishop forwarded to the A. G. G. a statement describing the situation and applying for permission for missionaries to minister to the new Christians.
9. Reports from Catechists.- In the end of January and the beginning of February reports were received from catechists to the effect that immediately after the visit of the A. G. G. to Udaipur, the Superintendent of the State began bringing pressure to bear upon the catechists who were told that by order of the A. G. G. they were to leave the country within a fortnight. The landholders were asked not to give the catechists shelter in their village and the raiyots not to admit them to their houses.
From this time onward the darogas and other minor officials began a regular campaign of intimidations and threats against the new converts.
10. Second Interview with A. G. G. (8-2-36).-The Bishop showed these reports to the A. G. G. in an interview on 8th February 1936, and added that thanks to the action of minor officials of the State the very situation he had been trying to avoid from the start was being forced upon him and his flock: i.e., Catholics were made to appear as opposed to the Sarkar.
The A. G. G. then asked that all missionary action in Udaipur should be stayed. The Bishop replied that if there was question of forbidding the catechists to go to villages where there are no Christians or to enroll new members pending decision in Delhi, he was prepared to issue instructions to that effect, but if it was meant that he should withdraw the catechists from Udaipur, he could not take the responsibility of such a step: it would be an admission that the catechists, i.e., the Mission had committed a breach of the peace, or had acted illegally and it would mean leaving a free hand to the police and other officers and they had just shown by their threats and intimidations that they were opposed to Christianity. There were Christians in the State and they had a right to be taught.
The A. G. G. replied it was beyond his power to allow free scope to Missions during Minority and as the case would be referred to higher authorities, he asked the Bishop to stay all activity in the State pending decision in Delhi; hence the catechists should be withdrawn during the intervening period, say three months. In the meantime he would issue orders that no one should in any way molest those who have expressed the wish to become Christians. The Bishop said he could not take such a step without consulting his staff.
11. Date of meeting settled.- On the 14th February, the Bishop went on tour and it was only whilst in Camp at Rengarih on the 20th February that he was able to fix a date for a meeting of his staff. It was to be held in Gholeng on the 27th February.
12. Inquiry.- In the meantime an inquiry was being conducted in Udaipur by Colonel Murphy. A few villages were visited out of the 89 in which there were Christians.
13. Visit to Tapkara (24, 25-2-36).-On the 24th February the Bishop went to Tapkara and saw there 400 Udaipuria converts or catechumens; 95 of whom had been baptized and talked with them in their own language: Oraon. They made upon him as upon everyone who saw them an excellent impression. It was clear they were determined to become Christians, to learn their religion and to live as Christians. They protested they had not come for money’s sake nor in order to get rid of forced labour, but they had come to join their bretheren of Jashpur who were all Christians. They asked the Bishop to send a Father to Udaipur.
14. Meeting in Gholeng (27-2-36).-On the 27th a meeting was held in Gholeng at which the Bishop and 7 Fathers were present. The decision arrived at was that the Bishop could not consistently with his principles withdraw the catechists from Udaipur.
15. Receipt of formal request to withdraw catechists.- On Sunday, 1st March, while the Bishop was in camp Ginabahar, Jashpur, he received a letter, dated the 26th. February, from the Agent to the Governor General making a formal request that he (Bishop) should withdraw the catechists from Udaipur, and asking him to stop all loans. To this the Bishop answered that to please him, be was prepared to stop all loans but he could not take upon himself to withdraw the catechists. If warrants were issued by the State authorities, the catechists would be instructed to obey.
16. Issue of notices (9, 15-3-1936).-Soon after the catechists of Udaipur were served notices to quit according to orders received from the Agent to the Governor-General. By the 19th of March all the catechists had left Udaipur. From this time onward the vexations, intimidations and threats of confiscation and expulsion became more and more numerous and acquired a fresh vigour.
17. Protest re: wording of notice.- On receiving a copy of the warrant the Bishop sent in a protest against the absolute wording of the notices.
18. Report of P. A. and request to transfer Father Gallagher (18-3-36).-In the meantime an abstract of the report of the inquiry by the P. A. was forwarded to the Bishop on March 18. The A. G. G. asked for the transfer of Father Gallagher.
19. Reply re: P. A.’s report and transfer of Father Gallagher.- On the 30th March the Bishop replied he could not admit the unwarranted conclusions of the report and could therefore not accept to transfer Father Gallagher.
20. Extent end of March 1936.- By this time 1,135 families representing close to 7,000 persons in over 90 villages had been inscribed.
21. Accusations of abduction.- In the meantime accusations of kidnapping and abduction were being forged in more than one place, e.g., in Chiro where the Christians were being forcibly tutored by unscrupulous policemen (after having been fined Rs. 4) to make statements to the effect that their children had been forcibly taken away to Tapkara.
22. Third interview with A. G. G. (9-4-36).-On the 9th April, the Bishop had another interview with A. G. G. The Udaipur affairs were once more discussed, with the same result. The only concession the Bishop could obtain was that the A. G. G. would not for the present press the point of Father Gallagher’s transfer.
23. Peremptory order from the A. G. G. (14-4-36).-But on the 14th April 1936, in a letter the tone of which cannot but be deplored, the A. G. G. asked for the unconditional transfer of Father Gallagher, and the removal of all the Udaipur children from Tapkara and forbade the use of any Mission station in Jashpur as a base for operations in any other State.
24. Reply to letter of A. G. G. (21-4-36).-On the 21st April, the Bishop protested against the tone of the letter and questioned the validity of the grounds for such unprecedented measures.
25. The conduct of the Christians.- While all these transactions were going on, i.e., from the month of August onwards the new Christians had been learning the prayers and the rudiments of religion. They had been gathering every Sunday for the customary religious service. By the 24th April all the children of Udaipur had left Tapkara and Rev. H. Gallagher’s departure took place on April 1928.
COPY OF NOTES AND MINUTES ON THE FOREGOING LETTERS
This is an exceedingly difficult problem and one that is likely to be with us for sometime as the minor Raja of Udaipur is only 13 years old and the State will probably be under minority administration for another six or seven years.
2. I have placed a map with the file which shows the boundaries of the following States: -
The Bishop of Ranchi makes two statements in his letter of the 12th May 1936 which, if true, have an important bearing on the problem from the geographical and tribal point of view. He says-
If this is true and if the movement has a genuine tribal impetus and is not due solely to the machinations of the Jesuits the problem becomes more intricate if only for the practical reason that any repressive action on our part may lead to local excitement if not to active resistance and the whole business may become a first class issue.
State-the A. G. G.’s present proposals have only to do with Udaipur and
he intends to refer the question of Gangpur and Jashpur later when he has
had orders about what to do in Udaipur-has a total area of 1,045 square
miles and a population of 97,738. At the 1931 Census, there were
no Christians in Udaipur while from June 1935 to the 1st April 1936 7,000
persons appear to have been “inscribed” as converts. In nine months
therefore about 8 per cent of the whole population of the State has been
affected so there is obviously a problem. From the 1931 Census Report
the details of the population of Udaipur are as under:-
If there is anything in the Bishop’s contention then that Uraons and Kharias outside the States of Udaipur and Raigarh “have for the greater part adopted Christianity” and if we do not put a spoke in his wheel we may expect at the present rate of conversion that long before the minor Raja succeeds to his heritage 17 per cent of the total population of his State will at any rate in name have become Christians-including the entire tribal element. In Raigarh at the 1931 Census the total population emerged as 2,77,569 of which-
7,970 were Uraons, and
The problem in Raigarh-which is not cinder minority administration-is therefore less serious than in Udaipur but if the Jesuits have their way in the latter State the Raigarh Raja may have trouble with the administration of his new Conversion Act. That the missionaries are making a dead set at Uraons in both States is clear from the conversations between the Bishop of Ranchi and Mr. Evans in August last and later with Colonel Meek in January of this year.
4. The objectionable features which the A. G. G. finds in the Jesuits’ campaign may now be summarised:-
(a) The use by the missionaries of their station at Tapkara in Jashpur State territory for proselytising subjects of Udaipur and especially the despatch of “catechists” to work in the latter State;5. The Bishop replies to these accusations-
(a) that the Jesuits never undertook not to extend their activities into Udaipur State when they got permission to open a station at Tapkara ;
generally that the Uraons, etc., of Udaipur have an inherent right to freedom of conscience whether the Ruler is in charge of the State or not.
6. The A. G. G. on his own responsibility has taken the following action:-
(a) He has succeeded in persuading the Bishop to put a stop to the practice of granting loans to converts ;
7. The A. G. G. has summarised in paragraphs 6-16 of his letter the history of mission endeavour in this group of States. , There can be to my mind no possible doubt but that the phenomenal success the missions-and especially the Roman Catholic Mission-have obtained in a comparatively short period of time-the Jesuits gathered no less than 40,000 people into the fold in the four years, 1886-1890-has been due much more to the offer of material inducements than to any genuine conviction on the part of these aborigines of the truth of the Christian doctrine. The missionaries have also not contented themselves with the spiritual guidance of their new flocks but have posed as their champions in secular matter-often apparently with considerable success. It is no doubt a good thing that the standard of living should be raised among these aboriginal tribes and that they should be freed from any undue burdens or disabilities which the Darbars concerned may inflict upon them but from our point of view it is obviously undesirable that mass conversions to Christianity or indeed to an other religion should take place while we are in charge of the administration especially if conversion is going to turn a large section of the population into sea lawyers with Jesuits at their elbows ready to start nagging at the Darbar on behalf of their flocks at the slightest provocation. As far as the “uplift” of the tribal population is concerted this-from our point of view is far better effected by an enlightened minority administration in the States which are temporarily in our charge. We appear to have taken, to my mind, indefensible line on this matter of missions in Jashpur and Gangpur in earlier days which makes it all the more necessary for us to adopt a correct attitude now. The problem is however how to put a brake on Jesuits who are kittle cattle to handle.
8. The A. G. G. wants our approval to certain “propositions”:-
(a) the prohibition of missionary enterprise in the Udaipur State during the minority administration whether with the aid of cash loans to converts or otherwise;
9. I think that the A. G. G. is right as regards his first proposition and that the mass conversion of Uraons, etc., in Udaipur must be stopped. If the Ruler was in control it would almost certainly not he allowed if only in view of the attitude taken by Surguja. In matters of this sort it is for us during a minority administration to anticipate the Ruler’s wishes as far as this can be done and we need have the less compunction in taking action as there is something definitely bogus about the whole business-particularly the granting of loans to declared converts. The Bishop’s defence of this practice strikes me as peculiarly thin. The question is however what is the least objectionable way of taking action. Whatever we do, there is likely to be some publicity given to our action both in India and at home and we should go carefully. Personally I feel inclined to suggest that a conversion law be introduced in Udaipur on the lines of that recently promulgated in Raigarh. This law seems to be a quite fairly reasonable enactment and if our action in promulgating a similar law in Udaipur is called in question I think that the “minority administration” argument is good enough to justify it. I cannot see however how we are going to take positive action to prevent the “removal” of people outside the State in order to turn them into Christians-the A. G. G.’s second “proposition”. He has got rid of all Jesuit emissaries out of Udaipur already and if they stay out indefinitely there will be no underhand work going on inside the State limits. If the Udaipur Uraons however think that the Kingdom of Heaven is in Tapkara it would be very difficult for any administration to stop them from going there. This particular “proposition” I do not consider to be practicable. Nor do I like the third proposition with its 5-mile limit. The proposal is obviously aimed at Tapkara but Jashpur is, under administration and if the Jesuits there keep on making a dead set at Udaipur Uraons pressure can presumably be put on them to restrain them. The fourth proposition seems to be self-evident and the A. G. G. has already expelled Father Gallagher.
10. I think that we should tell the A. G. G. therefore-
(a) that the action he has taken so far is approved;
The Home Department should see the file in the first instance for any comments or suggestions they may have to offer.
11. As regards the Bishop’s request for an interview, no useful purpose will perhaps be served by bringing him here and I have added a draft putting him off which may issue before the file goes, to the Home Department. Copies of the whole correspondence will later have to be sent to the India
Office. F. V. WYLIE,
There stems to be no doubt that the activities of the Jesuit Mission are open to serious exception. Their methods of procedure, and in particular their habit of encouraging converts by means of “tangible pledges”, are to be deplored. The story of the late Ruler of Jashpur as related by Col. Meek is an unhappy affair and we do not want such history to repeat itself.
As regards the Udaipur State, which was until very recently a virgin field so far as the missionaries were concerned, I think that Col. Meek should be supported in his view that the Mission’s agents should be excluded as long as the minority lasts. Just as the missionaries should abstain from making convert of individual minors, so, I think, they should refrain from any material expansion of their activities in a State which is under minority administration.
As to the action to be taken in States bordering on Udaipur, it would be prudent, I think, to limit any immediate measures to what is actually necessary. It is clear that the base of the Mission’s operation is Tapkara in the Jashpur State. I suggest that the Tapkara Branch of the Mission be asked to supply the State and the local Political authorities with a list of their missioners, etc., notifying any changes or additions as occasion may arise: that each missioner, etc., should be asked to confine his activities to the State in which he resides and to give an undertaking that he will abstain from any action which is calculated or likely to undermine the loyalty of any State subject to his Ruler: that all who are authorised to make converts should maintain a register, which should be open to the inspection of the State and the local Political authorities, showing in the case of each new convert his name, his father’s name, his caste, his birthplace, his present residence and the date and place of his conversion; a record should also be made of any material benefits given to converts at the time of their conversion; and copies of relevant entries should be suppliable on demand to the State or the local Political authorities. Failure to comply would render the offender liable to expulsion from Jashpur.
If necessary, similar arrangements could be introduced at places other than Tapkara.
I think that this should be enough to enable the State officials and Political Officers to keep a check on the movements of the Mission, and we might ask the A. G. G. for his opinion as to whether he thought that this would, for the present at all events, be sufficient.
We should certainly, I think, take the opportunity of addressing the A. G. G., as suggested in paragraph 10 (d) of Mr. Wylie’s note in regard to the removal of grievances.
I am not in favour of suggesting to the A. G. G. legislation on the lines of the Raigarh enactment. The kernel of this legislation is that a change of religion, in the absence of official sanction, constitutes a penal offence. We should, I think, expose ourselves to severe criticism in certain quarters if we proceed on these lines.
The ad interim draft to the Bishop should issue please, and the file should then be sent to the Home Department. We shall be very grateful to receive their comments and suggestions.
B. J. GLANCY,
I have read these papers, though voluminous, with considerable interest, for I have myself had considerable experience of the work of the Roman Catholic Mission which has its headquarters at Ranchi and saw many years ago, about 1910, the methods by which they were gradually filtering into the adjacent States of Jashpur and Gangpur. The Gumla sub-division of Ranchi district, of which I held charge for two years, bordered on Jashpur and Gangpur, and there were at least 4 or 5 Mission stations within a few miles of the border, the sites having been selected so that they might extend their influence into the States in which they were not at that time allowed to acquire any property. I think there is no doubt that the A. G. G. has correctly appreciated the position after the very careful study he has made both of recent and of more distant events. I cannot myself believe that there is a genuine movement among these tribes in favour of Christianity. It is true that, as the Bishop has pointed out (vide paragraph 2 of Mr. Wylie’s note on page 32) the present mass movement only concerns two aboriginal tribes, Uraons and Kharias, yet there is nothing surprising in that. These tribes predominate in the western and south-western portions of Ranchi district, where a large majority of them are Christians. It is not surprising, therefore, that the outlying members of the tribes in Udaipur and the other States beyond have been influenced to some extent by the conversion of their fellow tribesmen in Ranchi and Jashpur. But in spite of this I think there is no doubt that R. C. Missionaries are endeavouring to encourage converts by means of “tangible pledges”. That was certainly the policy, which they had adopted in Ranchi itself at one time. They recognised that it was hardly possible to convert an old man who had been brought up to animistic beliefs and practices and to a belief in devils and witches. They endeavoured, however, to get hold of the older men by means of loans or by giving them assistance in other matters such as disputes with their landlords or, in the case of the States, with the Rulers of the States. By this means they were able to get in touch with the children, give them good education and religious training and really convert them to Christianity. I entirely agree with what is stated on Page 11 of Col. Meek’s letter, where he quotes a statement made by the Anglican Bishop of Nagpur who told him that they had no real hope of Christianising adult men and women but that they did hope to be able to instil that doctrine into the minds of the Children.
2. I do not wish in any way to depreciate the excellent work which the R. C. Mission have done among the aboriginal tribes of Ranchi district but with the Jesuits “the end justifies the means” and one cannot always approve of the means which they have adopted. Still less can one approve of the adoption of these methods in the States. In British India Government as at present constituted have certainly to give freedom to members of all religions, but clearly in a State under administration Government as a paramount power have to administer that State on the lines on which it would be administered by its own rulers. I, therefore, agree generally that the A. G. G. is right in taking steps to prevent the gradual infiltration of Missionaries into Udaipur. I do not like the idea of enacting a Conversion Law on the lines of that enacted in Raigarh, for that seem unduly drastic, and if prosecutions and convictions were instituted under such an enactment, it might stir up the aboriginal tribes to further opposition. I agree rather with-the views put forward by Political Secretary in his note of 10th June 1936, though the register which he suggests should be maintained may be a little too elaborate However, it will be well to put this before the A. G. G. to see what he says in the matter.
M. G. HALLETI,
I spoke to His Excellency today about- this case, which concerns the activities of Missionaries in the Eastern States, particularly in Udaipur, which is under a minority administration. The reports from the Eastern States and the representation of the Mission authorities are voluminous. Perhaps my note at page 36 ante and the note of Mr. Hallett, who agrees broadly with my conclusions, will be sufficient to explain the case briefly.
If His, Excellency approves, the conclusions that we have tentatively reached will be put to the A. G. G. (Col. Meek) who will be asked for his views. But I think that, pending his reply, I had better accede to the request of the Bishop of Ranchi, who is anxious to come to Simla and explain his case at a personal interview.
1. I have examined this file with much care. It will be of interest to observe how far the cessation of “tangible pledges” check the momentum towards conversion.
2. I approve the tentative conclusions reached by Political Secretary. I hope, when he sees the Bishop of Ranchi, he may make plain to him the very unfortunate impression created in the mind of the Government of India by this system of loans to prospective converts.
3. I wish, please, to be informed specifically of the course of this and ancillary matters once in each six months till my further orders.
Copy of demi-Official letter, dated the 13th July 1936, from the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, to the Hon’ble Sir Bertrand Glancy, Secretary to the Government of India, Political Department.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi has applied for an interview with His Excellency during his visit to Bihar, and Sir James Sifton sees no objection to this. His Excellency is quite prepared to grant an interview but asks me, before I reply in this sense to the Governor’s Private Secretary, to find out from you on what date your interview with him will take place. You will, probably agree that it would be convenient that it should have taken place before the visit to Bihar.
I have informed P. S. V. that the Bishop is coming here on the 20th instant.
Copy of confidential demi-official letter No. F.233-P-36, dated the 17th July 1936 from Mr. F. V. Wylie, joint Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign and Political Department, to Lt.-Col. A. S. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States Agency.
Please refer to your official letter No. F.751-JMS-35, dated the 20th April 1936.
2. The Government of India have given this exceedingly delicate problem much anxious consideration and they concur in your view that the activities of the Jesuit Mission in the Udaipur State are open to serious exception, especially at the present time when it is the duty of Government to administer the State as far as possible on the lines on which it would be administered if the Ruler were not a minor. The methods of procedure favoured by the Mission and in particular their practice of encouraging converts by means of “tangible pledges” have created an unfortunate impression on the minds of the Government of India and it is clear that some action is necessary to restrain any undesirable activities in this direction. The Government of India, therefore, after mature consideration agree with your view that Missionary enterprise should not be allowed to develop in the Udaipur State so long as the minority administration lasts. But they all naturally desire that prohibitive action should be restricted to what is actually necessary to achieve the purpose in view. It seems clear that the main base of the Mission’s operations is in Tapkara in the Jashpur State and I am to suggest that as a first step this branch of the Mission should be asked to supply the State authorities and the Political Agent as well with a complete list of the missioners, etc., employed there undertaking at the same time to notify any changes or additions as occasion may arise. Simultaneously each missioner etc., should be asked to confine his activities to the State in which he resides and to give an undertaking, that he will abstain from any action which is calculated to undermine the loyalty of any State subject to his Ruler. It should be a rule also that all those persons who are authorised to make converts should maintain a register which would be open to the inspection of the State and the local Political authorities showing in the case of each new convert his name, his father’s name, his caste, birth place, present residence, and the date and place of his conversion. A record should also he made of any material benefits given to converts at the time of their conversion and copies of relevant entries in such registers should be available on demand by the State or by the local Political authorities, Failure to comply with these requests should render the offender liable to expulsion from the limits of the Jashpur State. Later, if circumstances rendered this course necessary similar arrangements could be introduced at places other than Tapkara. It is considered that these measures should suffice to enable the State officials and Political officers to keep a check on the activities of the Mission and I am to enquire if you concur.
3. The Government of India assumes that you have satisfied yourself that there are no such grievances-economic or otherwise-among the Uraon population of Udaipur as would dispose them to get themselves labelled Christians mainly in order to secure the protection of Christian priests. If you have not already done so the Government of India desire that instructions be issued to the Superintendent to look into this aspect of the matter and to take any remedial action which may be found to be necessary.
4. I am to add that ending your reply to this letter the Bishop of Ranchi who is anxious to explain his case personally has been told that he can come to Simla for an interview.
5. A copy of the correspondence is being sent to the Bihar Government for their information.
Note recorded by the Political Secretary after his interview with the Bishop of Ranchi.
I had an hour’s interview with the Bishop of Ranchi today. He gave me an account of the Mission’s activities in the Udaipur State and in the surrounding territories. He stated with considerable emphasis that the Mission had not gone out of their way to encourage converts from Udaipur, but that the Udaipur aborigines had of their own accord come into centres such as Tapkara and asked to be converted; they were instigated chiefly by the benefits which the aborigines in the neighbouring territories had received as a result of conversion to Christianity. It was not denied that “tangible pledges” had been given, but these were of trifling value. The num. her of Christian converts in the State of Udaipur was now reported to be about 7,000. At present, in consequence of the orders recently passed, no actual Mission activities were going on in the Udaipur State; the converts, when an opportunity offered, came to Tapkara, about 12 miles from the nearest border of Udaipur, and sometimes to a place in British India about twice that distance away from the nearest Udaipur boundary, to receive spiritual ministration. The Bishop informed me that, although some time back, the Christians reading in Udaipur had had cause to complain of some oppressive treatment from the State officials, there has during the last few months been considerable improvement in this matter. The Bishop said that it was essential in the interests of the Christians of Udaipur that they should have constant religious teachings, etc., from priests and others, he therefore requested that catechists should be allowed to reside in the State and the priests should be permitted to go there whenever it might be necessary. He said that the Mission had no intention at present of building a Church or applying for a grant of land in Udaipur, as he realised that this might be an undesirable development while the minority administration still continued.
I asked the Bishop whether the Mission maintained a register of converts, etc., and also a register of “tangible pledges” and other benefits which the converts received. He assured me that complete registers were maintained on the lines that I have indicated in my previous note on the file. He stated that there would be no difficulty in allowing the State or the Political authorities to inspect these registers whenever they wished to do so and though it would obviously be very difficult to send the entire registers for perusal elsewhere, it should be quite practicable to supply extracts whenever required. He also stated that it was carefully enjoined on all members of the Mission (including catechists, etc.), that they should do nothing whatsoever to undermine the loyalty of a subject to his Ruler. He maintained that this had always been the practice of the Mission: their activities differed markedly in this respect from those of certain individual members of the Lutheran Mission who had sometimes been indiscreet and had been largely responsible for stirring up something in the nature of a rebellion in a certain State in 1922. He also said that the Rulers of States could rely on the Mission to combat any activities on the part of Congress agitators, though as yet no such agitation had manifested itself in the areas in question.
I told the Bishop that as far as Tapkara and similar centres in States other than Udaipur were concerned, I thought that a system of registers open to inspection and a careful abstention from anything in the nature of inculcation of disloyalty should meet the case, provided that the missioners, etc., confined their activities to the State in which they reside. It did not appear to me to be desirable that the States should be in any way encouraged to embark on legislation, based on that of the Raigarh State, whereby a change of religion became a criminal offence, in the absence of the approval of the State authorities-a form of legislation, which the Bishop in the course of his conversation most heartily condemned. I explained to the Bishop that, though I realised his difficulties and his point of view, it would in my opinion be better to abstain from anything approaching mass conversion in a State such as Udaipur which was at the beginning of the minority administration practically a virgin field to missionary endeavours and where the minority administration still continues. I pointed out to the Bishop that from my own experience it was very common for a Ruler on getting his powers to be prejudiced by his entourage against any substantial changes encouraged by the minority administration before he got his powers. And I suggested that it would be better in the ultimate interests of the Mission if during the seven years or so that remain of the Udaipur minority administration, they confined their efforts to other States and left Udaipur out of the picture except in so far as Christians might come to British India for spiritual ministration. I told him that the Rulers and the State authorities were not always successful in discriminating between one Mission and another and it would be easy to stir up ill-feelings against any Mission if it could be merely shown that the followers of one particular Mission had a few years ago been largely responsible for instigating a rebellion; also the giving of “tangible Pledges” to converts would provide an easy source of criticism however much the converts themselves might appreciate this procedure.
The Bishop, I am afraid, remained unconvinced as regards the desirability of excluding Udaipur from the Mission’s crusade during the rest of the minority. He repeated his statement that spiritual ministration must be constant and he left with me an essay about “Liberty of Conscience and Freedom of Religion”, which I attach to this note. He said that, although he realised there might be some practical difficulties such as I had suggested, it was unfair to the people to deprive them of their liberty of conscience and their right to change their religion, and he thought that the Ruler, when he got his powers, should be duly grateful for the benefits conferred by the Mission on his subjects.
I told him that I would make a note of our conversation and inform His Excellency and that we would again take the A. G. G. into consultation. The Bishop said that he hoped a decision favourable to him would be arrived at as soon as possible.
2. It does not seem to me that there is any strong ground for departing from our previous conclusions. The A. G. G. should be given a copy of this note for favour of comments. In the meantime P. S. V. should see.
I agree with Political Secretary.
Copy of demi-official letter No. F.233-P-36, dated the 5th August 1936, from the Joint Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign and Political Department, to Lt.-Col. A. S. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States.
Please refer to paragraph 4 of my demi-official letter No. F.233-P-36, dated the 17th July 1936.
2. I am desired to forward a copy of a notice recorded by the Political Secretary after his interview with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ranchi on the 20th July 1936, and to say that the Government of India do not find in .he Bishop’s representation an good ground for departing from their previous conclusions. They will, however, be glad to receive your comments on the note as well as on the proposals mentioned in my demi-official letter under reference.
Copy of confidential demi-official letter No. F.751-JMS-35, dated the 24th August 1936, from Lt.-Col. A. S. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States Agency, to Hon'ble Sir Bertrand Glancy, Secretary to the Government of India, Political Department.
Please refer to Wylie’s confidential demi-official letter No. 233-P-36, dated the 17th July 1936.
2. I concur with the views of the Government of India and suggest for their consideration, in amplification of the proposals made, that the Missionaries in the Jashpur State should confine their activities to that State, that they should be enjoined to limit their activities to bona fide subjects of the State, and that they should not be allowed to entice subjects of the Udaipur State into Jashpur or other States or British Indian districts.
3. I heard only yesterday from Murphy that converts in the Udaipur State are no longer under the charge of the Tapkara Mission. The mission headquarters for Udaipur State activities have been transferred to Kurdeg- a village 10 miles east of Tapkara and 5 miles inside the Ranchi district. I send a map to show this position and on it I mark in red the mission stations in the Jashpur State. This is clearly a move to render supervision of missionary activities in Udaipur more difficult. Kurdeg is 20 miles from the Udaipur border but this distance means very little to aboriginals who are reported to the visiting the new headquarters frequently. It is also stated by the Superintendent of Jashpur that a number of Udaipur converts have sent their children to Kurdeg to be educated. This is being verified.
4. The possibility of the Uraon population having some grievance was prominently in mind during my original enquiry and at page 3 of my report of 20th April 1936 will be found the answer to this point. Murphy found on his visit to the area affected that the people had no complaints either against the revenue assessment or the State officials.
5. Please now refer to Corfield’s demi-official letter No. F.233-P-36, dated the 5th August 1936, in which I have been asked for my comments on the note recorded by you, after your interview with the Bishop of Ranchi. My report covers the matter of the Bishop’s cage and he merely repeated to you what he had said to me. I will however comment on certain his remarks:
(a) “That the Mission had not gone out of their way to encourage converts from Udaipur”
(i) The evidence shows that catechists and missionaries invaded Udaipur. In paragraph 3 at page 4 of my report of 20th April 1936 I showed that the movement began in 1929, when the State expelled a Jesuit preacher. Murphy has now reported that this man, Masihdas, came from Tapkara to Pita Amba in Udaipur, and that he was expelled from the State under the orders of the Central Provinces Government. In 1934 he returned to the village of Pita Amba and since then loans have been granted to converts. Last year the campaign was pursued with greater vigour and Masihdas toured numerous villages inducing people to obtain loans. A force of 200 Preachers then invaded Udaipur mobilised from many mission stations.
(ii) As recently as the 21st July the Superintendent of the Udaipur State reported to Murphy that between 40 and 50 young men and boys of the Udaipur State were given a three weeks course in Christianity at Tapkara at the beginning of last April. At the end of this period they were all Rent back to their villages with instructions to teach Christianity. For this work each was paid at the rate of Rs. 4 a month. This report has been personally verified by the Superintendent of Police of the State.
Many aborigines never handle money and village purchases are made by barter. A sum of Rs. 3 is a considerable sum to such people.
This statement is untrue. Missioners have been withdrawn but the latest reports show that there is strong indirect activity and that the Mission will not now relax its efforts to secure its purpose.
These allegations are conveniently vague and unsubstantiated, and almost certainly incorrect. Murphy found that none of the people bad any grievances when he paid a surprise visit to the affected area.
As I have shown, superficial conversion on a considerable scale has been undertaken since last March, and I am of opinion that this has been done with the express object of establishing the Mission for all time in Udaipur State.
Murphy heard on all sides when he visited the State in March last that the Christians were the least tractable subjects of Udaipur and that they were frequently the spokesmen in all complaints genuine and frivolous.
6. While I entirely agree with you that the Roman Catholic Mission should be instructed to leave Udaipur completely out of the field of their activities during the period of minority administration, I feel that the Jesuits will follow the doctrine they have applied throughout history that the end justifies the means, and that having applied themselves to the conversion of this State they will leave no stone unturned to secure their purpose and to defeat any that the Government of India may enunciate in their restraint.
7. I must add a point I omitted to mention in my official report. After the disturbances in the Jashpur State the Political Agent, with the approval of the Local Government, expelled the Lutheren pastors from Jashpur. They are not now allowed to reside in that State but they are allowed to go into the State for ministration.
Copy of demi-official letter, dated the 8th September 1936, from the Private Secretary to the Viceroy, to Hon’ble Sir Bertrand Glancy, Secretary to the Government of India, Political Department.
As suggested by you I showed the Bishop’s letter (copy of which I enclose for reference) to His Excellence and said that I proposed to reply that he had better approach the A. G. G., Eastern States.
2. His Excellency tells me that he was in fact non-commital with the Bishop. He informed him that he fully appreciated that the Bishop might find difficulty on grounds of conscience in accepting in full the proposition that he and his agents should have nothing to do with any person in Udaipur. But he tells me that he also indicated to the Bishop that he did not wish to deceive him and that he was conscious himself that it might be quite impossible to reach an arrangement between the Government of India and his Church which the Bishop could accept, and that if so there would be nothing for it but for matters to take their course.
3. His Excellency, in the light of the Bishop’s letter, asks me to say however that lie thinks the A. G. G. should let the State know in whatever way is proper that they must walk very carefully, that there must be no bullying of people who have accepted Christianity, and that it is indeed in their own interests to avoid any difficulties over such matters. Perhaps you would arrange for the necessary communication to be made to Meek, to whom also you may care to send copies of this correspondence?
Copy of demi-official letter, dated the 2nd September 1936, from the Bishop of Ranchi to the Secretary to the Viceroy
I am writing to you for advice in connection with the question of Udaipur.
I was very favourably impressed by the attitude taken by His Excellency the Viceroy on the occasion of my interview in Ranchi. After that interview I began to; entertain very serious hopes that as His Excellency put it a solution world soon be found that would be acceptable to me in conscience.
But the more this question is kept dragging on the more delicate the situation becomes for the new Christians: the darogas and even the Superintendent of the State himself are bringing pressure to bear upon them with renewed intensity. Threats of confiscation and of expulsion are of frequent occurrence in several villages; in some parts the Christians are forbidden to gather on Sundays; others are incessantly urged to withdraw their children from the Catholic school they attend in, British territory: others are harassed in many other ways including violence.
Now I do not know to whom to apply first to obtain redress on behalf of the Christians who have to bear the brunt of what is little short of persecution; next to secure that the solution of the whole problem be expedited so that my missionaries may soon be permitted to visit the Christians and instruct them and minister to them.
I think the best is to apply to the Political Secretary. However, I would be glad to have your advice on this point. You have been so very kind to me throughout this delicate transaction that I trust you will not mind my asking you more advice in a question which concerns the liberty of conscience of so many souls.
I shall ever be grateful for your kindness.
Copy of demi-official letter, dated the 8th September 1936, from the Private Secretary to the Viceroy to Rt. Revd. O. Sevrin, Bishop of Ranchi
I have delayed replying to your letter of 2nd September, which I received only on the 6th, so that I might have an opportunity of talking informally to Sir B. Glancy. As a result and in the light of discussion with him, I think much the best thing if I might suggest it would be chat you should approach the A. G. G. direct, and bring to his notice the facts referred to in your letter to me. He may not, I am well aware, be able on all points to see matters from the same angle as you do yourself, but you can, I am sure, rely upon him to give a fair and courteous bearing to any representations that you make and in so far as there is any ground for complaint with which he can deal, to do all in his power to assist you.
Copy of letter No. F.233-P-36, dated the 23rd September 1936, from the Joint Secretary to the Government of India, in the Foreign and Political Department, to the Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States
I am directed to refer to your letter No. F.751-JMS-35, dated the 20th April 1936, and to say that the Government of India have given careful consideration to your report and agree that the activities of tile Jesuit Mission in the Udaipur State are to be deprecated, especially at the present time when it is the duty of Government to administer the State in this respect on the lines on which it would be administered if its Ruler were not a minor. The methods of procedure favoured by the Mission and in particular their practice of encouraging conversion by means of giving loans have created an unfortunate impression on the minds of the Government of India, who have, after mature consideration, decided that Missionary enterprise should not be allowed to develop in the Udaipur State so long as the minority administration lasts.
2. The Government of India consider that, in addition to the action already taken by you, such Mission stations as, you are satisfied, are in close touch with converts from the Udaipur State, should be asked to supply the State authorities and the Political Agent with a complete list of the missioners they employ and to notify all changes and additions in the future. Simultaneously each missioner, etc., should be asked to confine his activities to the State in which he resides and to give an undertaking that he will abstain from any action which is calculated to undermine the loyalty of any State subject to his Ruler. It should also be arranged that all persons who are authorised to make converts should maintain a register, which would be open to the inspection of the State and local Political authorities, showing in the case of each new convert his name, his father’s name, his caste, birth place, present residence and the date and place of his conversion. In this register a record should also be made of any material benefits given to converts at the time of their conversion and copies of relevant entries in such registers should be available on demand by the State or by the local Political authorities. Failure to comply with these requests would render the offender liable to expulsion from the State, in which his Mission station is situated.
If an examination of these registers indicates in due course that the purpose in view is not being achieved, the Government of India would be prepared to consider the advisability of imposing further restrictions.
3. I am to add, that if you see no objection, it might be suggested to the Superintendent, Jashpur State, that remedial action should embrace a wider field than the removal of grievances, if any, and might extend to some plans for rural uplift such as would tend to divert attention from the purely tangible advantages of conversion. This suggestion might also be made to other States where, in your opinion, it could usefully be adopted.
4. The Government of India will be glad to receive, until further orders, half-yearly reports on the working of these arrangements commencing from the 1st January 1937.
Copy of demi-official letter, dated the 3rd October 1936, from the Joint Secretary to the Government of India, Foreign and Political Department, to Lt.-Col. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States Agency.
With reference to the correspondence resting with this department official letter No. F.233-P-36, dated the 23rd September 1936, I am desired to forward for your information, a copy of the correspondence cited in the foot-note* and to request that, if you see no objection, instructions on the lines desired by His Excellency the Viceroy may be conveyed to the Superintendent, Udaipur State, in such manner as you think best.
2. The map of the Jashpur State received with your demi-official letter No. F.751-JMS, dated the 24th August 1936, is returned with thanks.
Copy of letter, dated Ranchi, the 21st November 1936, from the Bishop of Ranchi, to the Viceroy of India
On the occasion of your visit to Ranchi and of the interview you granted me on the 29th July 1936 you were so kind as to allow me to expose briefly to Your Excellency the special difficulties which had arisen between my Mission and the Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States, with regard to the spontaneous conversion to Christianity of several thousands of aborigines of the Udaipur and Raigarh States, and you very graciously gave me to understand that you would use your influence towards bringing about an equitable settlement.
Great was my hope, therefore, that a solution would be found which be acceptable to my conscience, but the bitterer was my disappointment when, on the 9th October, I received from the A. G. G. what purports to be communication of the orders of the Government of India on the subject of the supposed activity of my Mission in the State of Udaipur.
The implications which the said communication contains, and the consequent measures therein formulated, are so offensive as to be hardly believable. According to this document it would be the intention of the Government to have us treated as political suspects and dangerous underhand schemers; whose word can in no way be relied on; who must be fettered and followed up, as public wrong-doers are, by the State officials high and low; who are so little to be trusted that a threat of summary expulsion must ever hang over their heads.
If Your Excellency will kindly peruse this document, a copy of which I enclose herewith, you will realise how difficult it is for me to believe that this can be the last word on the subject on the part of Government who has ever dealt with us with fairness and justice and to whom we, on our side, have ever been staunchly loyal. Yet. I must needs assume that the said communication outlines in a substantially correct manner the policy which the Government intends to follow henceforth. This is why I now come to lay my most earnest appeal before Your Excellency.
I shall not here, before Your Excellency, cover once more the ground already gone over, but I beg to declare most emphatically and with full knowledge of all the circumstances of the case that the Agent to the Governor-General has totally misrepresented my Missionaries, either because he based his views on false reports, or because he failed to comprehend the actual facts, or owing to both causes. It is by no means my intention to impugn the good faith or veracity of this distinguished servant of the Government, but only to affirm that his findings and conclusions constitute objectively a miscarriage of justice in which the fair name of British administration is deeply involved.
The stand taken all along by the A. G. G. in this Udaipur affair has been, and is still, though unknown to him no doubt, the cause of untold sufferings being inflicted on the poor aborigines concerned. The recent happenings in that country, and I am in a position to substantiate the facts, make harrowing reading and point to a ruthless and systematic determination on the part of the A. G . G.’s subordinates to stamp out all traces of Christianity, regardless of the most elementary human rights.
It is, therefore, as much on behalf of these helpless and down-trodden aborigines as on behalf of my Missionaries and myself that I appeal to Your Excellency, as to the highest authority in the land, for fair treatment and justice for the reconsideration of the orders of the Government of India as embodied in the A. G. G.’s communication to me of the 9th October 1936.
Copy of letter No. F.751-JMS-35, dated the 9th October 1936, from Lieut.-Colonel A. S. Meek, Agent to the Governor-General, Eastern States, to the Bishop of Ranchi
I have the honour to communicate to you the orders of the Government of India in the matter of the report which I made to them on the subject of the activity of Your Lordship’s mission in the Udaipur State. No doubt you will receive a separate communication on this subject from the Government of Bihar in so far as the representation which you made to the Government of India is concerned. It rests with me now only to make known to you what the orders of the Government are in so far as their execution depends upon me.
2. The Government of India have approved of all the action taken by me in the restriction of the activities of the Mission in the Udaipur State and they have intimated-their decision that Missionary enterprise shall not be allowed to develop in this State so long as the minority administration lasts.
3. Further I have to intimate to you that the Government of India consider that, in addition to the action already taken by me, such mission stations in Jashpur as appear to me to be in close touch with converts from the Udaipur State should be required to supply to the State authorities and to the Political Agent a complete list of the missionary whom they employ and to notify all changes and additions in the future. Simultaneously each missioner-in this term I include priests and catechists-will be required to confine his activities to the State in which he resides and to give an undertaking that he will abstain from any action which is calculated to undermine the loyalty of any State subject to his Ruler. This undertaking should be in writing and I request that Your Lordship will kindly send a copy of it in each case to the Political Agent for record in his office. I have also to make request to you, under the orders of the Government of India, that all persons who are authorised to make converts shall maintain a register which shall be open to the inspection of the State and the Political authorities, showing in the case of each new convert his name, his father’s name, his caste, birth place, present residence and the date and place of his conversion. In this register shall be made a record of any material benefits given to converts at the time of their conversion, and copies of relevant entries in such registers shall be furnished on demand by the State or by the Political authorities. Failure to comply with this request will render the missioner concerned liable to expulsion from the State.
4. In requesting you to kindly intimate to me in due course that instructions on these requirements of the Government of India have been issued, I would particularly ask you that the Mission should now desist from any attempt to proceed further with missionary activity in the Udaipur State. The orders of the Government of India that missionary enterprise in the State shall not be allowed to develop are fully clear and can admit of no possible misunderstanding and it will be my duty to take effective action to secure that they are carried out. Prior to what I can only describe as the invasion of the State by the Mission last year there was no manner of trouble between the Political authorities, and yourself and I would express the very earnest hope that the former good relations be now resumed and that there may in future be no clash of interests as between us.
Noting on the above Letter.
I mentioned this case to His Excellency yesterday. In substance the A. G. G.’s communication to the Bishop of Ranchi was sufficiently correct, but he might well have been less stilted in his style. It was, for instance, hardly necessary for him to refer in his letter to the “invasion” of the State by the Mission last year. At the same time this expression was not without justification if the report is correct that a preacher. called Masihdas, systematically laid down ground-bait in Udaipur State in the form of loans to converts, and a detachment of 200 preachers then advanced on the State in order to develop the position.
I put below for His Excellency’s consideration a draft reply from him to the Bishop of Ranchi. If there is no objection I should like to send copies of the correspondence confidentially to the A. G. G. and also to the Bihar Government.
Copy of letter, dated the 5th December 1936, from Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India, to the Bishop of Ranchi
I write to thank Your Lordship for your letter of the 21st of November 1936, on the subject of the difficulties which your Mission has encountered in the Eastern States. Let me assure you that it is very far from being the desire of myself or my officers to belittle the good work that your Mission has achieved, nor have I the slightest wish that any form of restrictions beyond those which practical considerations appear to demand should be imposed on the Mission’s activities. But, while I fully sympathies with Your Lordship’s difficulties, I trust that you will not fail to appreciate my own.
In regard to Udaipur, this State is, as you are well aware, under minority administration. There is, I think, no denying that, if any movement in the nature of mass conversion is to take place in an Indian State, the most appropriate time for such a movement to occur is when the Ruler of the State has the power to decide for himself what attitude he should adopt towards a development that intimately concerns his subjects and himself. Moreover there appear to be good reasons in the ultimate interests of the Mission itself for abstaining from any marked extension of missionary activities in a State of which the Ruler is still a minor: it would be no difficult matter for persons who were so disposed to prejudice the Ruler, once he assumed his powers, against sudden and substantial changes that had taken place during his minority in the beliefs and professions of his people, especially if it could be shown that these changes were not unconnected with material inducements in the form of tangible pledges conferred on the individuals concerned. Consequently, after giving Your Lordship’s letter my most careful consideration, it is still my opinion that any further development of missionary enterprise in the Udaipur State should be avoided until the period of the minority is over. I hope and believe that in the meantime your Mission will be able to find ample scope for its beneficent labours in other fields.
So far as concerns the work of the Mission in other States, I trust that the procedure which my Agent has indicated in his letter will give rise to no serious inconvenience. For I understand from the account which my Political Secretary gave me of his interview with you that you informed him that registers on the lines of those mentioned by Colonel Meek are already maintained by the Mission, that there would be no difficulty in providing for the inspection of these registers by the State or Political authorities-or in supplying extracts when required and that it is already carefully enjoined on all members of the Mission that they should do nothing whatsoever to undermine the loyalty of a subject to his Ruler.
I have noted with much pleasure that it is by no means Your Lordship’s intention to impugn the good faith of my Agent in the Eastern States, and I fully share the hope which he has expressed that the former good relations between the. Mission and the Political authorities may henceforward be restored.
Copy of letter No. F.E.3-1-37, dated the 15th April 1937, from Lieutenant-Colonel H. W. C. Robson, O.B.E., Resident for the Eastern States, to the Secretary to His Excellency the Crown Representative, Simla
I have the honour to invite a reference to the correspondence resting with my predecessor’s letter No. F.E.3-1-37 of the 24th March 1937, on the above subject and to submit an interim report for the period ending the 31st December 1936. A further report will be submitted on receipt of a reply from the Political Agent, Chhattisgarh States, who has been asked for some further information.
2. Udaipur State.- The Mission station at Tapkara in the Jashpur State was asked to submit a list of the missioners and to notify all changes and additions. They replied that no records are now maintained there as instructions have been received for that station to cease activities as regards the Udaipur State. The Superintendent reports, however, that missionary activities continue in the eastern portion of the State adjoining Jashpur and that these are controlled from the Kurdeg Mission Station at Khalijore in Bihar. Villagers are being trained in Khalijore in increasing numbers as preachers and catechists, and special efforts are being made to win over young people. A school is maintained, and under the guise of education, attempts are made to convert them to Christianity. Pressure continues to be brought by Khalijore agents on the people who have taken loans to repay them or become active Christians. The Kurdeg Mission has very recently expressed its willingness to keep registers of converts, to supply a list of missioners and to notify changes and additions. Notwithstanding the measures already taken, the Superintendent of Udaipur is still of the opinion that Christianity is steadily pushing its way into the State.
3. Jashpur State.- The Jesuit Mission at Gholeng has produced lists of their missioners and catechists, but the Political Agent has not reported whether registers of converts are being maintained or whether any undertakings have been demanded or received from the missioners. A further statement is being called for from him.
The German Evangelical Lutheran Mission has supplied a list showing three names of mission workers.
4. The most disturbing feature which has recently come to light is the shifting of the base for missionary activity in Udaipur from Tapkara in Jashpur State to the Kurdeg Mission at Khalijore in Bihar, and the obvious inference is that this has been done to evade the orders already issued by Government. It would be difficult for the Political Agent or the local State authorities to inspect such registers as may be maintained at Khalijore and I would point out that the penalty for non-observance of Government orders to keep up registers of converts, viz., expulsion from the State, cannot apply to Khalijore. I suggest that the only remedy is the issue of orders by Government through the Local Government for this Mission to cease its activities in the Udaipur State and I would enquire whether it would not be possible to refuse entry into any State to any missioner from Khalijore. Although the information at present available to me is not complete, it seems nevertheless apparent that the measures already taken have not been successful in meeting the situation.
5. Pending a more detailed report and recommendations on the Gangpur and Jashpur States as promised in Colonel Meek’s letter No. F.751-JMS-35, dated the 20th April 1936, there seems to be no reason why the measures in force in Udaipur should not apply to these States also. I have asked the Political Agents whether it would be possible to adopt a generous policy in the granting of taccavi loans as it seems to me that this might more quickly and effectively counteract the mission activities than the development of rural uplift in which the missions seem to have obtained such a start that it would take years to catch up.
6. The Political Agent, Chhattisgarh States, reports that he was recently visited by the Maharaja of Surguja, who enquired anxiously what measures were being taken to combat the spread of Christianity in Jashpur and Udaipur. He is very apprehensive lest his State should be the next to suffer from the attacks of the Jesuits. He is being asked to keep the Agency informed of all activities of this nature as soon as they come to his notice.
Noting on the above Letter.
I see that the Kurdeg Mission has agreed to keep registers of converts, to supply lists of missioners and to notify changes and additions. It is difficult therefore to accept at present the Resident's inference that missionary activity has been shifted to Kurdeg in order to “evade the orders already issued by Government”. I suggest that the Resident could arrange with the Bihar Government that no objection would be raised if the Political Agent or the State authorities inspected these registers from time to time. In the light of the information so obtained and the lists supplied by the Mission the Resident could make sure whether missionary enterprise was developing in the Udaipur State or not. If it is so developing, it will be necessary to forbid entry to missioners except for a few specified persons sufficient to minister to existing converts.
2. We may also ask the Resident if he has obtained any direct evidence of pressure to repay loans and whether he anticipates that this pressure can be alleviated by the taccavi loans which he suggests.
3. A further report in regard to Gangpur and Jashpur may be awaited. The administrations in these States are also under minority and, provided similar evidence is forthcoming, such measures as would be justified in the case of Udaipur can also be adopted in these two cases.
Political Secretary may wish to mention this case to His Excellency.
C. L. CORFIFLD,
I have informed His Excellency of the position. He approves the action proposed. He has received no further letter from the Bishop of Ranchi.
As regards Gangpur and Jashpur I think that these both differ from Udaipur in that they were not virgin fields for missionary enterprise at the time when their minorities started.
Copy of letter No. F.233-P-37, dated the 26th May 1937, from the joint Secretary, Political Department, to the Resident for the Eastern States
I am directed to refer to your letter No. F.E.3-1-37, dated the 15th April 1937, and to say that, as the Kurdeg Mission has expressed its willingness to keep registers of converts, to supply list of missioners and to notify changes and additions, the Crown Representative would hesitate as yet to accept the inference that missionary activity has been shifted to Kurdeg in order to evade the orders already issued by Government. I am, however, to suggest that you should approach the Bihar Government so as to ensure that there would be no objection to the Political Agent or the State authorities inspecting these registers from time to time. In the light of the information so obtained and the lists supplied by the Mission, it should be possible to arrive at a definite conclusion whether missionary enterprise is developing in the Udaipur State or not. If this is found to be the case, it may be necessary to forbid missioners entering the State except for a few specified persons sufficient to minister to existing converts.
2. As regards Gangpur and Jashpur it is understood that both these States differ from Udaipur in that they were not virgin fields for missionary enterprise at the time when their minorities started, in which case exactly the same measures as prove justified in the case of Udaipur could hardly be adopted there also.
3. I am
also to ask if you have obtained any direct evidence of pressure to repay
loans and whether you anticipate that this pressure can be alleviated by
the taccavi loans which you suggest.
2D.O. letter from the Private Secretary to His Excellency, the Viceroy, dated the 8th September 1936, to the Bishop of Ranchi. (Page 46 ante).