The campaign to help people of other faiths reconvert to Hinduism will continue, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Saturday, daring political rivals to bring in a law to ban religious conversions if they wanted to stop ‘Ghar Wapsi’.
“Those who have lost their way were separated from us. If they want to return home, we will bring them back home,” Bhagwat told a first of its kind gathering of Hindu groups and their supporters in central Kolkata.
“It is like a thief who steals our valuables. The chief is caught and we will get our valuables back. They are ours.”
Religious conversions have long been a lightning rod for identity politics in India, whose history is scarred with episodes of blood-letting of citizens divided on faith and ethnicity. Such religion-driven politics took a backseat in the last decade of economic boom, but signs of a more assertive Hindu right have surfaced since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, adding to a climate of fear.
Earlier this month, Hindu groups claimed to have reconverted dozens of Muslims in Agra, Uttar Pradesh and announced plans for more ‘Ghar Wapsi’. Islamic leaders and clerics have bristled at this, vowing to counter the Hindu proselytisation drive.
Bhagwat dared those opposed to the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ campaign to bring in a federal law to stop it, echoing comments made by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah in Kochi earlier in the day.
"(The) BJP is against (forcible) conversions and that is why we want to bring a law. (The) so-called secular parties should support (the) BJP's move," Shah told reporters, rejecting allegations made by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi that the saffron party was trying to divide the country on communal lines.
Most political parties, including the Congress, are against any law restricting religious conversions, saying such a move, although ostensibly intended to protect people from being forced to change their beliefs, would be in conflict with constitutional guarantees on religious freedom.
Calling on all Hindus to “stand upright”, Bhagwat said if Hindus rise the world would benefit and it would give “sleepless nights to opportunists and wrong doers”.
“We are not infiltrators, we will not run. This is our land. While we were sleeping, something has gone lost. We will bring it back,” he said.
“In our motherland it is necessary that Hindus rise. So that anyone whoever they worship is secure and prosperous. Only the Hindus can do it.”
He took a dig at Pakistan, saying the people of that country had been unhappy ever since separating from India.
“Pakistan was part of our Bharat Bhumi. Something happened in (19)47 and they got separated. But they were a part of Bharat Bhumi. You tell me, are the people there happy now?”