NEW DELHI: A row has broken out over the reported conversion of over 350 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra by Hindu right wing organisations Bajrang Dal and Dharm Jagran Manch, newspapers said on Wednesday. They said the two organisations are also being accused of luring people with the promise of monetary benefits.
The conversions are said to have taken place on Monday at Madhunagar slum area in Agra where the two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliates organised a “Purkhon ki ghar vapsi” (homecoming for ancestors).
The programme saw around 60 Muslim families being converted amid chanting of hymns. The organisers now plan to hold a month-long training session for these “converts” on Hindu rituals and culture.
Sources say the “converts,” mostly hailing from Bihar and West Bengal, were promised BPL (below poverty line) and Aadhaar cards, besides free housing plots. But programme coordinator Ajju Chauhan reportedly claimed the conversion was voluntary. However, a couple of people later told mediapersons that the organisers had promised monetary and other benefits under government-sponsored schemes.
“We will look into the entire programme and order a detailed probe if needed,” said Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajender Choudhary.
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said the incident was the handiwork of communal forces who were trying to vitiate the peace in the state. She demanded strict action against such organisations.
On the other hand, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said there should be no objection to the programme as those who converted were originally Hindus and it was like homecoming for them.
This Christmas, according to reports, the RSS plans to convert at least 4,000 Christian and 1,000 Muslim families into Hinduism under what it calls the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (returning home) programme.
Organisers claim the event in Aligarh will be one of the biggest ever conversion programmes.
It has chosen the city, Aligarh, and the day, Dec 25, carefully. “Aligarh was chosen because it’s time we wrest the Hindu city from Muslims. It is a city of brave Rajputs and their temples on whose remains Muslim institutions have been established,” RSS regional pracharak Rajeshwar Singh reportedly said.
Christmas was chosen as the day for conversion because the event is a “shakti pariksha” (test of strength) for both religions, said Mr Singh. “If their religion is better, they can stop them. It is a test for both of us. If they come to us on Christmas, it is the biggest rejection of the faith.”
The families have already been identified from 40 slums in Aligarh, Bulandshahr and Hathras, Singh said. “The 4,000 Christian families belong to the Valmiki samaj. The (low caste) Valmiki Samaj is the feet of the Hindu society. We are incomplete without them.”
The 1,000 Muslim families who have been identified for the conversion are descendants of Thakurs and Brahmins who have been convinced of their “lost pride”, Mr Singh claimed. RSS workers said the conversion was an annual event but it has been low profile all these years.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2014