A Hindu group converted 11 Dalit Christians to Hinduism at a ghar wapsi, or homecoming, ceremony in a Chennai temple on Friday, as the BJP looks to make inroads in Tamil Nadu ahead of next year's assembly elections.
The hour-long function was organised by the Hindu Makkal Katchi at the Kamakshiamman temple, run by the Shankaracharya Mutt, said HMK secretary Ponnuswamy. "We have big plans for more such events," Ponnuswamy added.
The function comes in the midst of a controversy on allegedly forced conversions following a spate of controversial ghar wapsi ceremonies across India. Hindu groups say they are 're-converting' people who want to come back to the Hindu fold after being coerced into accepting other faiths. Last month, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said conversions by Hindu groups will continue, daring the Opposition to enact an anti-conversion law if they wanted it to stop.
The group had planned to hold the programme at a famous temple in Triplicane but had to change its venue after police placed four top leaders under house arrest.
"The police did not give permission to carry out the ghar wapsi ceremony and put us under house arrest," said Arjun Sampath, president of the Hindu Makkal Katchi. The four, detained at a house in west Chennai's Anna Nagar, are yet to be released, sources said. Sampath said he was mulling going to court against the state government for preventing voluntary conversions.