Members of the Christian community took to the streets on Saturday to protest against the conversion of 23 Christian families to the Sikh fold at Guru Ki Wadali village on December 30. The Dharam Jagran Manch, a wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had organised the programme and billed it up as ghar wapsi (reconversion).
The protest, organised by the St Francis Church (Roman Catholic denomination), was held at the Custom Chowk area of Amritsar, with the protesters seeking a magisterial probe into the matter, arrest of those who held the function and a complete ban on such functions.
Armed with banners and placards, the members of the Christian community led by Francis Bhatti, president of the Deanery of Amritsar, and the registrar, Christian Marriage, termed the ghar wapsi programme as ‘nothing, but a bundle of lies’ and demanded a ban on such conversions.
The protest lasted for about 45 minutes and a memorandum was also handed over to Amritsar deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat.
“The allegations of forceful conversions or offering allurements for conversion often levelled against the Christian community are baseless,” Bhatti said.
Stating that the Sikhs and the Christians had always stood by each other, Bhatti said organizations like the RSS were bent on dividing these communities by the organisation of such functions.
“We want a magisterial probe into the matter and the arrest of those responsible for organising the function. Such acts that aim at dividing both the communities will not be tolerated,” he said.
Bhatti added that a number of those who had attended the function were not even Christians, as claimed by the organisers of the function.
He claimed that their inquiries had revealed that some of the people who attended the function were not Christians and had never been associated with any church.
“Others said to have been reconverted are Christians and remain a part of the Christian fold,” he claimed.
At the December 30 ghar wapsi function Baba Jiwan Singh ji Gurdwara in Guru Ki Wadali village on December 30, the Dharam Jagran Manch of the RSS claimed to have returned 23 Christian families back into the Sikh fold.
Those reconverted mostly hailed from the Mazhabi background (a Scheduled Caste community).
The function had resulted in resentment among Christians and had evoked mixed reactions from the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) members, including its president.
Meanwhile, Bishop Franco, Catholic Bishop of Punjab and Himachal, has appealed for calm and has requested the authorities concerned to take immediate action against those attempting to disrupt communal harmony in Punjab.