Voluntary religious ‘reconversion’ has been going on in West Bengal for years to counter conversions of Hindus, Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders told HT on Thursday, a day after a controversy over its conversion of 150 Christian tribals to Hinduism.
VHP leaders said they would go to court if the Trinamool Congress-led state government accused them of forcibly converting people. “Various organisations, including ours, have been helping people who voluntarily want to reconvert. This has been happening for the past 30 years and thousands have been reconverted,” said VHP representative Sachindranath Sinha. “Why this argument now if someone wants to reconvert voluntarily?”
The controversy comes at a time when hardline Hindu groups have conducted a series of ceremonies over the past six months to convert minorities to Hinduism, terming it ‘ghar wapsi’, or homecoming.
TMC spokesperson Derek O’Brien tweeted that CM Mamata Banerjee was personally monitoring the inquiry into the incident in Birbhum and tough measures would be taken if coercion was used in the conversions. Organisations like the VHP and RSS say Muslims and Christians have been forcing Hindus to convert for centuries. “We are not against any political party. But if there is an inquiry in the Birbhum issue, one should have an overall examination of all conversions in the state,” said RSS spokesperson Jishnu Basu. “If there is a witch-hunt, people will think that it is to serve political means.” BJP leaders remained silent on the issue as sources said party members were wary of creating controversy with local elections in the state this year and assembly polls next year.