Sikkim Political Secretary Denies Conversion Allegations

By Matters India Reporter

Gangtok, Sept 30, 2022: The political secretary of the Sikkim Chief Minister on September 30 denied allegations that he was using his position to spread Christianity in the northeastern Indian Himalayan state.

“Today, I am shocked and pained to learn about the wild, unfounded and dubious allegations leveled against me by a former minister and present Dentam MLA N K Subba about my faith,” Jacob Khaling Rai, a Protestant Christian who serves as the political secretary of Prem Singh Tamang, says in a statement issued September 30.

A day earlier, ANI news agency reported from New Delhi that Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP, World Hindu Council) working president Alok Kumar had written to federal Home Minister Amit Shah alleging that Rai indulged in “conversions.”

Kumar alleged that Rai was using his post to “spread Christianity and conversion to Christianity” in Sikkim.

He also said that Subba had met him and handed over a compilation of news of public appearances of Rai, “all for the promotion of Christianity and Christian Institutions in Sikkim.”

The VHP leader, a lawyer, also said that he believed that the assignment of a chief minister’s political secretary and the responsibility of a pastor engaged in promoting Christianity are different. “They should not be allowed to be mixed,” Kumar asserted in his letter.

In his response, Rai said the allegations surprised and pained him and expressed his disbelief that “an elected public representative” would “hold such animosity against a particular religion.”

The Sikkim government official pointed out that communal animosity “is unheard of here in Sikkim. Respected lamas, pandits and pastors aren’t just next door neighbors but sometimes belong to a same family. In such a well-knit society, a person like N K Subba shouldn’t be taken lightly. He truly can be a threat to our communal harmony.”

Rai also said it was not mistake that he was born a Christian, which he considers to be a blessing. “However I carry no animosity towards any other religion and hold all faiths equally and my life stands witness to it,” he asserted.

Raid said after my appointment as the political secretary to the chief minister, he has had the opportunity to work for the people of Sikkim and never has he differentiated anyone in terms of religion.

“I have attended every religious function be it of any faith, with utmost respect and sincerity. Photographs of different religious functions attended by me in my Facebook page stand testimony to it,” he added.

He challenged Subba to file a case against him if there is any instance where he has used his political position to work against any other religion or promote any particular religion.

“The rise of Christianity not just in Sikkim but also the neighboring hill districts of Kalimpong and Darjeling has been there even before my birth. Now is it not unwise to hold me responsible for it?” he asked.

Rai also said the allegations betrayed an elected public representative’s animosity against a particular religion.

He says Subba’s “unfounded allegations” against him should become an eye opener, “that a mindset of power hungry characters” are even ready to play the communal card just to come back to power.

“They would not hesitate to create communal disharmony and ruin the peace in Sikkim, hence it is we the people who should be aware of such mindset and not allow them to sow the seed of communal disharmony in our peaceful and beautiful state of Sikkim,” Rai asserted.

Sikkim, the least populous and second smallest Indian state, borders the Tibet Autonomous Region of China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Province No. 1 of Nepal in the west, and West Bengal in the south. It is also close to the Siliguri Corridor that borders Bangladesh. It enjoys the highest literacy rate and per capita income among the Himalayan states.

More than 68 percent of Sikkim’s more than 61,000 people are Hindus, followed by Buddhists 27 percent; Christians 3 percent and the rest belong to various other religions.

Situated in the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kangchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on earth.

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