At least 50 people from both Christian and Muslim communities were “reconverted” to Hinduism during the Virat Hindu Sammelan, organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, at Khurmadanga village in Rampurhat on Wednesday. The outfit’s “ghar wapsi” programme was organised at the Banhat Panchayat area, dominated by tribal population and located near Bengal-Jharkhand border.
“Conversion is the root of terrorism…and terrorism would end when ‘ghar wapsi’ would happen. That is why we are against conversion. We are not committing any sin by bringing back our people to our own religion. This is a service to our country and we will continue with the ‘ghar wapsi’,” said VHP general secretary, Jugal Kishore, who is also the functionary in-charge of the programme.
Kishore also said that the central government should ask the authorities at mosques, churches and madrasas to raise the slogan: Bharat Mata Ki Jai.
At least 45 tribal Christian members from 15 families and seven people from two Muslim families, mostly peasants, were “reconverted” to Hinduism in Khurmadanga, with the VHP also organising a “suddhi havan”.
Mansar Baskey, a resident of Luripahari village and one among the “reconverted”, said: “I was converted to Christianity a year ago with my son, wife and father. Soon after, my father died and I was diagnosed with epilepsy. I was told I have committed sin by converting to Christianity. Now, my family and I want to become Hindu again.” Baskey added that over a dozen families from his neighbouring villages had attended the programme.
Later, Kishore laid the foundation stone for a Hindu-integrated complex in the area where the VHP will construct temples, goshala and residential schools for tribal people.
The area with four gram panchayats houses 73 villages that are largely inhabited by tribals. A Catholic church under Don Bosco Society is located at Baro Pahari area, where the Bengal border ends and Jharkhand begins. Priests at the 25-year-old church work for the villagers.
“We have built residential schools for the girls and boys on the church premises. The hostels can house 200 kids. We have started a vocational training centre with 60 seats. We serve the people and if they want to become Christian, we give them time to understand the religion. We never convert people if they are not convinced spiritually and mentally. We never call 100 people and baptize them,” said Father Agapit Minj.
According to the church authorities, at least 1,000 people from 300 families were baptized in this region in the last one year.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP and party spokesperson, Derek O’Brien, said the state government is still ascertaining more details.
“I will address the media when I have the details. Let me say this, if there is even a hint of coercion or forced conversion, the issue will be dealt with in the strongest manner possible. Inquiry will be initiated. Initial reports say that those who have converted were BJP workers and they were lured. Bengal has a long history of (people) living in communal harmony and bigots like Togadia will be dealt with ruthlessly,” O’Brien said.