Cheruvally Estate owned by Believers church faces complaint of forced conversion on workers
The workers of Cheruvally Estate allege that it is not just an agreement they are asked to sign is to pay the hospital bill but also to be a part of the Believers dialect. Added to this is raised a serious allegation by the workers about the low wages in the estate in form of labor exploitation.
The self-proclaimed bishop KP Yohannan of Believer's church hits the news again, but this time on forced religious conversion. A few days ago, a labor to KP Yohannan's firm revealed to the media that the bishop is trying to convince the employees of the Cheruvally Estate in Kerala. The management has said that to get a benefit they should be a member of Believers Church. Against this forced conversion, the workers have said to complain the police.
The workers of Cheruvally Estate allege that it is not just an agreement they are asked to sign is to pay the hospital bill but also to be a part of the Believers dialect. To gain their rights of financial aid in case of medical urgency and family matters the labors are forced to sign an agreement agreeing to be a member of Believers Church. There are about 40 Muslim families and more than 300 Ezhava families in the estate. Others are Dalit Christians. A total of 500 worker families reside in the Estate. Hassan Ravuthar, a resident of the 5th division of the Cheruvally Estate, a permanent worker at the estate, had complained to the Kanjirappally police station that he and his family had been asked to join the Believers Church by the estate manager for availing medical financial assistance. As the police investigation was started on the complaint the General Manager came up with an apology requesting it not to proceed legally. And an amicable settlement was imposed on the investigation to be held but the company has not yet been able to provide medical assistance to the worker.
Added to this is raised a serious allegation by the workers about the low wages in the estate in form of labor exploitation. A worker tapping a rubber tree is being paid only two rupees while they are being fined three rupees for an absence. A case is being executed in the Erumeli court on behalf of the PC PC / 10640/2015 to prove who owns the estate under the leadership of Selvaraj so that the workers can move legally for their right to proper wages. There is a mosque for Muslims, a church for Christians and two temples for Hindus in the estate. The worker's complaint on the management's order is not to go with any festival lavishly or by any other religion rather than the faith of Believer's church. Among the Christian community Mar Thoma church followers can conduct their worship afternoon and in the morning the Catholic community can. But these Christian communities also face the restriction for elaborate religious celebrations. Only the Believers church members are privileged all the religious extravaganza in plenty and freedom says the workers there at Cheruvally estate.
The Cheruvally Estate recently hogged headlines when the state decided to go ahead with the proposal for setting up of an International airport at Erumely. The 2263 acres that comprise the Cheruvally Estate was claimed to be acquired by the Believers Church from the infamous Harrison Malayalam Limited a company notoriety for its dubious ownership claims on many plantation-lands. Recently, The Believers Church, founded by K P Yohannan, and three NGOs associated with it have been barred from bringing in foreign funds to India with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) canceling their FCRA registrations. It was widely accused of these NGOs attracting money from the foreign countries and lending it for profit among the poor. Following these come the allegations of forced conversion too.