Former radical Hindu convert to Christianity holds on to faith despite receiving death treats

Published 25 February 2020  |  
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Fifty-three-year-old former Hindu radical who converted to Christianity finds comfort in visiting families in Odisha and praying for them despite receiving death threats from other Hindu nationalists.

Niladri Kanhara was a former Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader and a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member.

He was a former follower of Lakshmanananda Saraswati in Kandhamal, before the 2008 horrific mass killing, and had taken part in attacks against Christians.

Kanhara studied up to sixth grade in 1980 in Chokapad, Tiakabali Block, the ashram built by VHP leader Swami Lakshmanananda. Speaking about his experience in the ashram, Kanhara said, "They instilled the poison of hatred in my mind since childhood. I learnt to hate and torture Christians. The belief was: 'To save Hinduism, Christians must be eliminated from Kandhamal'."

Kanhara admitted that when he was a VHP and RSS leader, he tortured many Christians and threatened them with Ghar Waps to Hinduism, and that he desecrated many churches in Odisha.

There was a time when Kanhara's five children fell sick. For their healing, "I went to the temple and offered pujas. I sold gold off jewels; I sacrificed goats; I spent a lot of money," he explained.

But Kanhara found hope when Reverend Pavitra Mohomo Kata approached him. Rev Kata "Came to my house and spoke to my wife. He told her: 'If you believe in God, your daughter will be saved.'"

Initially, Kanhara hated Rev Kata because he was a Christian. Soon Kanhara confessed that "Jesus Christ healed my daughter from illness thanks to the pastor's constant prayers."

This way, Kanhara found the true God and welcomed Jesus Christ as his Redeemer and Saviour. He repented for his past life and converted to Christianity.

Alarmed by the conversion, Kanhara's Sangh Parivar colleagues went furious. They abducted his son Bantu to teach him a lesson. Members of the RSS and VHP attacked Kanhara and the priest and physically abused them.

In no time, Kanhara's family was subjected to social boycott. In 2008, he escaped into the forest and never returned home.

According to Kanhara, the VHP and RSS invited him to return to Hinduism when BJP rose to power in 2014. But he refused everything in order to proclaim the gospel.

Since then, Kanhara has dedicated himself to the service of others. He visits different families and prays for their well being. A few people have already seen the fruits of his prayers.

Though he continues to receive death threats from his former Hindu nationalist groups, Kanhara is determined to not to give up on his Christian faith.

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