Notwithstanding the anti-conversion stand of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), an alliance partner of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has planned the 'ghar wapsi' (homecoming) of 30 Christian families back into the Sikh fold.
The families, all belonging to the Mazhabi community, had embraced Christianity after leaving Sikhism six-seven decades ago.
The 'ghar wapsi' would be conducted by the Dharam Jagran Manch of the RSS here on Tuesday. It will be held at the Baba Jeevan Singhji gurdwara at Guru-ki-Wadali near Chheratta in Amritsar district. Guru-ki-Wadali is the birthplace of Guru Hargobind, the sixth guru of the Sikhs.
Baba Jeevan Singh whose original name was Bhai Jaita, was a Mazbhai and he had brought the 'seesh' (head) of ninth Guru Tegh Bahadur from Delhi to Anandpur Sahib after the guru was beheaded by the then Moghul rulers for opposing forced religious conversions, that if from other faiths to the Muslim faith. The tenth guru, Guru Gobind Singh impressed by Bhai Jaita' bravery had proclaimed 'Rangettae (belonging to a low caste) guru ka beta' .
A total of 30 families involving about 110--130 members will convert back to Sikhism or will become Mazbhabi Sikhs again from Christain Mazbhabi Sikhs.
These families had embraced Christianity after coming into contact with Christian missionaries, who were very active in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.
All the families that had given their consent for the 'ghar vaapsi' hail from villages around Lopoke-Chogawan, one of the most backward areas of Punjab.
Against Akali policy:
The RSS is going ahead with its conversion despite Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal having expressed his opposition to it. In fact not only the SAD but also the Congress had expressed its opposition to the conversion at the just concluded Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib.
Deputy CM and SAD chief Sukhbir Badal has clearly stated that his party was 'anti-conversion'. He had clearly stated that every religion including Islam and Christianity had the right to flourish alongside other religions.
The elder Badal had described conversions as ' unfortunate and against the basic tenets of Sikhism as Sikh gurus sacrificed their lives resisting conversion".
Former chief minister and Congress Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha, Capt Amarinder Singh had also expressed his oppostion, saying he was against any form of forced conversion.
However, the RSS is taking the plea that the 'ghar vaapsi' is into the Sikh fold and not into Hinduism. The RSS feels that the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) should have undertaken this task. Over the years the SGPC has been criticised for not doing enough to halt the conversion of Sikhs belonging to poor families to Christianity.
District administration unaware :
The programme is being kept a closely guarded secret, with the district administration not even aware.
The organisers have indicated that they will seek police security just before the function starts.
RSS is taking a plea that they are not converting Sikhs into Hinduism. But bringing back converted Sikhs into the fold of Sikhism---something they say SGPC should have done.