A ‘ghar wapsi’ organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Bathinda on Friday was postponed as none of the 100 Christian families, who were to be reconverted to Hinduism and Sikhism, turned up at the venue.
The VHP said that the families — 20 of whom were to be converted to Hinduism and 80 to Sikhism — refused to show up because of “pressure and threats from Christians and local Sikhs who support Akali Dal”.
“We are extremely saddened that on New Year’s day, we were not able to give good news of ghar wapsi of almost 100 families, who were converted into Christianity years back. It is all because of the influence and pressure of Christians that the families refused to come today.
However, tomorrow we will perform ghar wapsi of 200 families,” VHP state secretary Sukhpal Sran Sran told The Indian Express.
“Today we were informed that Christians and some Sikh organisations might try to instigate violence at our ghar wapsi programme. It is mainly because the participants include four pastors who want to return to Sikhism,” he added.
Sran said that ghar wapsi is nothing new, but “pressure has now increased from the high command to perform ghar wapsi of maximum persons”. Other parties should support the BJP on a law against forcible conversions, he added.
The venue of today’s programme was Satyanarayan Temple, a temple located in the dingy streets of Rambagh area. According to Sran, the “small temple hidden in the streets was deliberately chosen as the venue as sources hinted at the possibility of an attack from the Christian community”.
The VHP had arranged auto-rickshaws to pick up and drop the families, mostly from neighbouring villages like Jangiana, Raike Kalan, Bhagi Bander and Jalal. The proverbial red carpet was laid out for them at the temple, and the priest, Ashwani Shukla, was ready with the ‘havan samagri’ and lockets of Hindu deities and Sikh gurus, which were to be gifted to the families after the reconversion.
Asked about the 100 more families who were expected to come tomorrow, Sran said, “Our volunteers are in touch with them. They are Sikhs who were forcibly converted to Christianity.”
‘No difference between temples, gurdwaras’
The ‘ghar wapsi’ for Sikhs and Hindus will both be performed at the temple as the VHP believes there is “no difference” between the two religions. “For us, all temples are the abode of Vishnu, the creator of the whole world, and Sikhs too will be re-converted in the temple,” said Sran. “Japuji ardaas will be performed for Sikh conversions at the temple.”