Amid a raging row over alleged forced reconversions in Agra, a Hindu organisation has announced its plan to “convert a large number of people” on December 25, which was welcomed by a local Bharatiya Janata Party MP who said people are within their rights to choose their religion.
“A number of people who had earlier left the fold of Hinduism will be reconverted at a grand ceremony to be held at the Maheshwari Inter College in the old city on Christmas,” regional in-charge of the Hindu Jagaran Samiti Rajeshwar Singh told reporters on Wednesday evening.
“This is not conversion but homecoming for those who had been misled and enticed to leave their original religion earlier,” he added.
Singh claimed that a large number of such persons were expected to reconvert in several other districts of western Uttar Pradesh as well.
Rajeshwar Singh’s announcement on Wednesday was welcomed by the BJP MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam.
“If people are ready to embrace Hinduism on their own accord and in a peaceful manner, then they are fully within their rights to exercise their choice,” Gautam said.
Meanwhile, leaders of non-BJP political parties have expressed grave concern over the announcement.
“This is not a question of conversion but it is a deliberate move by a political party to polarise society and divide it for political gain. It is a part of the well planned conspiracy. All peace-loving citizens of this city should beware of the designs of the BJP,” Rashtriya Lok Dal MLA Dalvir Singh said.
Congress spokesman Vivek Bansal said, “The issue is not about conversion or re-conversion. It is a move aimed to aggressively promote religious polarisation and the state government should ensure that peace is not breached.
“Religion is a private matter and when political parties get actively associated in such matters, it can only lead to trouble,” he said.
BJP strongman and MP from Gorakhpur Yogi Adityanath has said he will spearhead the reconversion exercise.
Claiming that such an exercise was not new, Adityanath said that he had re-converted thousands of Christians and Muslims in this manner over the past few years.
The UP government has submitted a report on the issue to the Union Home Ministry. “We have narrated all facts of the case and the action that the state government has initiated against the alleged culprits, who are faced with the offence under various sectionsof the IPC,” a top home department official said.
The issue of conversion of some Muslims in Agra rocked the Parliament for the second day on Thursday with opposition members creating uproar and demanding immediate discussion on the matter, which they said could have grave consequences like causing riots.
About 100 people, mostly Muslim slum dwellers, were re-converted and “brought back” to the Hindu fold through a ritual carried out by Hindu organisation Dharma Jagran Manch.
The police in Agra registered a case against the outfit and its UP convener Nand Kishore on late Tuesday night and launched investigations into the incident.
With inputs from Sharat Pradhan
Image: A group of Muslims being reconverted at a ceremony in Agra on Monday. Photograph: PTI photo