The Gaya wing of VHP has planned “ghar wapsi” for the 40 Manjhi families, whose conversion to Christianity came to light this Christmas, on Monday. Local BJP MP Hari Manjhi, who had visited Atiya village on Friday, would likely attend the event, even as the party asserted that it has nothing to do with the VHP’s plan.
Local VHP leader Mani Barik, who visited the village again on Saturday to persuade the converted Dalits for “ghar wapsi”, told The Indian Express: “We have already held discussions with villagers and most of them are willing for purification function to become Hindus again. Though we are not forcing anyone to reconvert, we are facing resistance from the Gaya administration.”
“We have been working with the villagers to know what had gone wrong and what they expected from the government. Manjhi families are simple, plain-hearted and gullible. The families were misguided by the Christian missionaries,” he said.
Gaya DM, who had been asked by Bihar Chief Minister Jeetan Ram Manjhi to file a report on the conversions, reportedly submitted that no Manjhi family was forcibly converted.
Most of the 40 Atiya families, who converted between 2007 and 2010, however, had told The Indian Express team that a Christian missionary had opened a school at the village, carried out deaddiction programmes and provided healthcare, thus wooing them.
Despite its MP’s active participation in persuading the villagers, BJP’s state unit maintained that it has no connection with the Monday event. Its legislature party leader Sushil Kumar Modi, however, told The Indian Express that there was “nothing wrong with reconversion without inducements”.
“We have been against both forced conversion and reconversion. Though we have nothing to do with the Gaya matter, there is nothing wrong with reconversions without inducements and allurements.”
He said the last three cases of conversion in Bihar showed that Dalits were being lured by Christians with “slow and long-term education and health benefits.” “It also shows the Bihar government has failed to provide benefits to Dalits,” he added.