30 Christians 'converted' by VHP in Kerala
The VHP on Sunday claimed to have converted at least 30 Christians in a ghar wapsi ceremony in Alappuzha district, adding that 150 more families would be welcomed into the Hindu fold in the run up to Christmas.india Updated: Dec 22, 2014 11:52 IST
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday claimed to have converted at least 30 Christians in a ghar wapsi (homecoming) ceremony in Kerala's Alappuzha district, adding that 150 more families would be welcomed into the Hindu fold in the run-up to Christmas.
This is the first time Kerala has reported such a case of conversion. The incident comes a day after the VHP claimed to have converted 225 tribal Christians in south Gujarat in a similar ghar wapsi ceremony.
"Thirty people wanted to come back to their roots. Neither money nor favours were granted for their home-coming," said VHP district president G Prathap.
Sunday also saw villagers in Uttar Pradesh's Agra district allege that 24 Hindus were converted to Christianity under the lure of curing their diseases.
Though local Hindu groups raised a hue and cry, some of those converted denied they were induced to change their religion.
The developments came a day after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said conversions by Hindu groups will continue, daring the Opposition to enact an anti-conversion law if they wanted the controversial ghar wapsi ceremonies to stop.
A majority of those converted in the coastal Kerala district belonged to the Dalit Christian sect. The Hindu group said more mass conversion ceremonies were underway in tribal hamlets of Wayanad and Palakkad districts and would continue till December 25.
The police said they were yet to receive a complaint.
The alleged forced conversions of 300 Muslims in Agra earlier this month and a spate of similar cases across north India paralysed Rajya Sabha for most of last week, with opposition parties demanding a response from the Prime Minister.
In Gujarat, VHP claimed poor people and tribals wanted to come back into the Hindu fold after being lured to convert to Christianity.
"We have not forced anyone for ghar wapsi. They requested us to take them back," VHP leader Ashok Sharma told the media in south Gujarat's Valsad district. Christian and human rights groups hit back at the VHP, accusing the government of facilitating the VHP's conversion agenda.
In Agra's Garhi Sampat village, locals said 24 people, mostly women were induced to convert to Christianity on Sunday after attending Sunday Bible discourses.
This prompted the VHP and Bajrang Dal to demand strict action against churches in the neighbourhood, alleging that the Hindus had been lured with jobs, land, convent education and cure for diseases.
Some of those converted, however, dismissed the charges. "Seven years ago, I found Christian literature and my faith grew as the disease stopped troubling me," said Hari Shankar, who said he wasn't afraid of resentment from those opposed to his conversion.
(With inputs from HTC, Ahmedabad)
First Published: Dec 21, 2014 21:16 IST