‘Scared… but looking forward to promised jobs, new names’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/scared-but-looking-forward-to-promised-jobs-new-names-5067070/

‘Scared… but looking forward to promised jobs, new names’

Ali, who claimed to be a resident of Silchar in Assam, said it was a conscious decision to convert and relocate after facing ostracism for marrying a Hindu.

The family in a hotel at Barrackpore, North 24 Parganas, on Friday. (Express Photo by Subham Dutta)

TWO DAYS after they were presented before the people of Kolkata as Muslims who have “returned” to the Hindu fold, 41-year-old Hussain Ali and 13 members of his family on Friday said that they are looking forward to jobs and new names that have been promised to them by Hindutva organisation Hindu Samhati. Asking Hindus in the state to have more children to tackle the demographic imbalance in future, Hindu Samhati had on Wednesday given a call for “ghar wapsi” at a rally while presenting Ali and his family, including his wife Moyna Bibi (33) — a Hindu who had converted to Islam to marry. Four members of the outfit were later arrested for physically assaulting mediapersons who tried to pose questions to the family.

Ali, who claimed to be a resident of Silchar in Assam, said it was a conscious decision to convert and relocate after facing ostracism for marrying a Hindu. “We are scared but these people are helping us. They have got us a home on rent… providing us food… security. With their help, my son and I are positive of getting jobs and starting a new life with new names,” Ali said at a hotel in Barrackpore in the presence of Hindu Samhati members.

Ali, his wife, their five sons and two daughters and five grandchildren, claimed to have legally converted to Hinduism. The family said it is waiting to perform certain religious rituals to complete the process. The family said they reached Kolkata in January with the help of Hindu Samhati members, who are looking to permanently settle them in Bengal. “I faced ostracism in Assam after I married her (Bibi). This is despite her converting to Islam. We were in love. People in my village, where everyone is a Muslim, did not like the idea,” said Ali.

Bibi said: “After our marriage, my family announced I was dead and performed my last rites. My husband’s community, too, did not accept us… Our elder boy went missing seven years ago. The younger one was beaten up and taunted every day by villagers as the ‘son of a Hindu’.” When the in-laws of their daughter came to know of Bibi’s Hindu identity, they dropped Minara Begum (28) and her children on their doorstep. “Her husband gave her talaq and dropped them at our house after 11 years of marriage,” said Ali. The family now wants the children to start going to school soon.

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“We cannot return to our village. We will be killed… we have left that place forever. Now, I want a job and these people have promised me one. I am a good construction worker,” said Zakiruddin, Ali’s eldest son. Samhati leaders said they came to know about the family in December 2016. “Our local workers got in touch with the family. They were willing to convert and we decided to help them. We facilitated… and the family filed an affidavit in the court (to convert). We will try and get them jobs… they will also get new names. We have taken the responsibility of their lodging, food and security,” said Prasun Maitra, a Hindu Samhati advisor.

The outfit said they had helped convert over 300 Muslim girls who had married Hindus. “We have helped 300 couples. They are settled in Bengal and other states. But this is the first family we have dealt with. More are waiting. We will also settle them here. We will help them get a job and a proper home,” said Debtanu Bhattacharya, the president of Hindu Samhati.