Siraj Qureshi and Dipankar Ghose
Two days after 57 Muslim families were “converted” to Hinduism in a Bajrang Dal and RSS programme, there was tension in Agra on Wednesday after the families alleged that they were misled into the conversion under the ruse of being given BPL cards.
Additional police forces, including PAC personnel, had to be deployed in the Muslim majority area, after two leaders of the Uttar Pradesh All Party Muslim Action Committee allegedly gave speeches threatening dire consequences if any more conversions took place.
Meanwhile, after the families alleged that they were duped into “conversion” on Monday and wanted to continue being Muslims, Vednagar Basti, where the community of ragpickers lives, witnessed a slew of visitors.
“The police, members of the Local Intelligence Unit, Maulana Masroor Qadri and mediapersons have been coming since morning. I have submitted a complaint with the police, but want everything to go back to the way things were,” said Ismail Khan, the pradhan of the ragpicker community, members of which were “converted”.
Senior Superintendent of Police (Agra) Shalabh Mathur said, “An FIR has been registered, and investigations are in progress. Further course of action will be decided based on facts and documents .”
Agra police have registered a case under sections 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 415 (cheating) of the IPC against one Nand Kishore Valmiki, who has been made the prime accused in this case, filed on the application of Ismail Khan.
Meanwhile, a meeting of Uttar Pradesh All Party Muslim Action Committee in the Muslim dominated Mantola area, 5 km from Vednagar, saw the panel’s chairman Haji Bilal and vice-chairman Aslam Qureshi deliver inflammatory speeches, threatening violence if the conversions did not stop.
The meeting, which lasted over an hour, was held barely hundred metres away from Mantola police station and witnessed the presence of many police personnel. Somen Barma, SP (City), Agra, said that the speeches were being investigated.
Members of the Bajrang Dal, however, maintained that the ceremony was not “religious conversion” but “ghar vapsi” of people who had been converted to Islam in the past hundred years. Ajju Chauhan of the Bajrang Dal said, “There is proof that they consented to the conversion and the programme was held for everyone to see. The families are only retracting now under pressure from several quarters.”