Earlier this week, two hundred Muslims in Agra were reportedly converted to Hinduism by members of the Bajrang Dal, a militant wing of the RSS, and another Sangh-affiliated organisation. Many of the Muslims later said, according various news reports, that they were misled into converting through the promise of BPL cards, which could help them gain access to various welfare schemes. Senior RSS ideologues, however, called the event a ‘ghar vapsi’ or ‘homecoming’.
Leaders from the Sangh have gone onto justify their actions by stating that all Muslims and Christians in the region were earlier Hindus and they wanted to return to their religion. The Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament Yogi Adityanath plans to carry out a similar conversion ceremony in Aligarh, along with the RSS, on December 25, Christmas Day. However, it is not the first time that the RSS and its affiliates have carried out such conversions.
The current controversy surrounding mass conversion, however, have reached the corridors of Parliament. Despite statements by senior BJP leaders that conversions is an old national problem, they have gone to defend the RSS and suggested an anti-conversion law in all states. The opposition, meanwhile, has accused the BJP-led central government of promoting divisive politics. Although states like Odisha and Gujarat have enacted anti-conversion laws in their respective states, the same does not hold true of Uttar Pradesh, with mass conversions led by evangelical Christian groups a common occurrence.
However the environment of fear among religious minorities in Uttar Pradesh, which was created by communal elements affiliated to the Sangh in consonance with an inept state government, has led many to believe that a political motive behind such events does exist. It is no secret that last year’s communal riots in Muzaffarnagar district polarised the state along communal lines, which led to a consolidation of Hindu votes in favour of the BJP in the 2014 general elections. The state goes to the polls in 2017. Anyone is free to change their religion. However, if such events are conducted for political gains, its protagonists must be brought to task.