Hindu groups convert 40 Christians to Sikhism – Matters India

ghar-wapsi

Amritsar: Hindu radical groups are continuing with their reconversion programs in Punjab which involves converting Christians back to Sikhism, firstpost.com reported.

The Times of India reports that Dharma Jagran Manch (DJM, forum to awaken religion) on Tuesday “re-converted” 40 Scheduled Caste Christians to Sikhism. While no Sikh organization was present, the function took place at “a gurdwara at Guru Ki Wadali near Amritsar.”

Earlier, The Indian Express had reported that the Hindu groups had converted nearly 8,000 Christians to ‘Sikhism’ in the last three years. The report pointed out that over 3,500 of these conversions took place in the past one year.

“I am very poor. I have no money to pay my house rent,” Gurmej Kaur, a 65-year-old woman who was among the converted, told reporters. The DJM activists stopped her from talking further.

Another convert Jasbir Masih, said that Christian priests wanted them to “remove photographs of Lord Shiva and the Gurus” from their homes. “I could not bear it and decided to go back to my real religion,” he added.

Church of North India Bishop P K Samantaroy of Amrisar said the converts could not have been Christians and “had they known their religion, they would never have done so.” He asserted that Christian missionaries have never forced any conversion.

While the RSS and Sangh “might be doing their bit” to convert people back to Sikhism, the other Sikh residents were unhappy with such ceremonies and will now report the matter to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest body among the Sikhs.

Previously RSS leader Ram Gopal and head of Dharm Jagran unit had justified their program and claimed that in some villages “the entire population had converted” to Christianity and that this was a threat to Sikhism. They had even found support from one SGPC member who helped them organize the ceremonies.

The SGPC member Kiranjot Kaur, who helped the RSS with these ceremonies, said “The situation is so alarming that even Sikhs in Amritsar, which is the seat of Sikhism, are converting…The RSS does not mind people re-converting to Sikhism because it sees Hindus and Sikhs as members of the same family.”

The earlier report had pointed out that “Hoshiarpur district has seen the most ‘ghar wapsis’, followed by Amritsar and Batala.”

But this re-conversion tactic has not gone down well with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is an ally of the BJP. In the past even Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal had assured Christians that they would not allow “forcible conversions” in the city of Amritsar.

Moreover RSS’ tendency to put Sikhism within the fold of Hinduism has never gone down well with Sikhs. Of course Punjab is not the only state where such ‘conversions’ are taking place.

Earlier this month it was reported that VHP had converted over 200 Christians in Gujarat in a mass ceremony. A PTI report showed that the rituals were held at Aranai village in Valsad district of BJP-ruled Gujarat and that a ‘Maha Yagnya’ (ritual of the sacred fire) was organised for “purification” of the tribals before taking them back in Hindu-fold. Each of them was also given a copy of Bhagwad Gita. VHP insisted that the re-conversion was “voluntary” and not by force.

In Kerala it was reported that 35 people had converted to Hinduism, forcing the state to call a probe into the incident. The conversion reportedly took in Alappuzha and Kollam districts. On Christmas Day, VHP claimed that it had converted 59 Christians back to Hinduism.

According to an IANS report the conversions took placein Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s home district Kottayam and as many as 42 people from 21 families – all of them Christians – took part in temple rituals, and amidst chanting of slogans became Hindus in Ponkunam in Kottayam district. Another 17 people from near Kottayam town also became Hindus at a temple function, added the report.

Now the latest report in Punjab shows that despite ‘religious conversions’ or rather ‘Ghar Wapsi’ as the Sangh calls it is continuing at a steady pace all across. What is unclear is whether these are forced or if the converts are being lured back with monetary promises. For now the central government insists that it does not support “forced religious conversion”, but as regular reports show, ‘ghar wapsi’ ceremonies have gained a steady ground all across India.

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