Hardline Hindu activists have drawn up a list of Christian families in Uttar Pradesh’s Barhalganj area for a wider religious conversion programme.
The Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), a group floated by BJP firebrand Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, held what it called a ‘dharma raksha’ meeting where it identified 53 Christian families it aims to bring into the Hindu fold under a so-called homecoming, or ‘ghar wapsi’, programme.
The meeting entrusted a group of men between the ages of 25 and 30 with wooing Christians to become Hindus, just days after 57 Muslim families in Agra said they were tricked into switching to Hinduism.
“Tell them it’s not conversion, but simple ‘ghar wapsi’. Convince them to carry the revenue department record in which the name of their forefathers is registered as Hindu,” the group’s head, Ashok Yadav, told members.
Police said they were on the alert for any forced conversions. “Intelligence sleuths have been told to collect information about the ‘ghar wapsi’ programme launched by the HYV. Action will be taken if people are threatened or tricked to convert,” said DSP Sunil Kumar Singh.
The UP administration has vowed not to allow any conversion programmes but hardline groups say they will press ahead with their plans.
The HYV says Christian missionaries became active in Barhalganj on the border of Gorakhpur and Azamgarh districts after the floods in 1998. “Christian missionaries launched a relief programme (after the floods) and motivated several Hindus to adopt Christianity,” said Sunil Singh, HYV state president adding, “The conversions have not stopped yet and several Hindus — a majority of them poor — have converted to Christianity.”
The head priest of a local church, Pastor Y Samuel, denied the charges.