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HT & One India Reporters | Rampurhat & Kolkata | 29 January 2015:: In perhaps the biggest ghar wapsi exercise in the state, about 150 tribals were converted at Khoramdanga village in Birbhum district on Wednesday. The ruling party threatened action if coercion, or force, was detected in the process. Central Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders including Praveen Togadia were present at a rally held in the area.
According to locals, 98% of the residents of the village, close to the Jharkhand border, were Christians and on Wednesday, all of them were converted.
“Almost 15 to 20 years ago, our forefathers converted to Christianity. Now, we have converted back to Hinduism,” said Bani Murmu and Srimoti Tudu.
VHP district coordinator Churka Tudu said, “This was not a conversion but a home coming ceremony.”
“A programme was today organised at a village near Rampurhat. It was attended by about 1,000 people including Christians, Hindus and Muslims. During the programme, a ‘yajna’ – a ritual of fire – was held and about 150 Christians participated in it and took a pledge to follow Hindu path of life,” state VHP leader Sachindranath Singha said.
The news triggered a barrage of criticism. “Bengal has a history of living in communal harmony and bigots like Togadia will be dealt with ruthlessly,” tweeted Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O’Brien.
“A rally was organised for the protection, socio-economic development of Hindus in Birbhum. About 15,000 people turned up at the rally,” said VHP international president Praveen Togadia.
“It is unfortunate that the BJP and VHP are politicising religion. They are misguiding the naïve tribals,” said Anubrata Mondal, Trinamool Congress district president.
CPI(M) district secretary Ram Chandra Dome also condemned the incident and said, “It is against our Constitution.”
Asked about the conversion, VHP President Praveen Togadia who addressed a rally at Rampurhat on Wednesday, said, “If someone wanted to become a Hindu. How can we stop it?” “We have announced various schemes to help each and every Hindu family from arranging employment to providing education to Hindu children,” he said.
Addressing the rally, Togadia said the state government should undertake a time-bound programme to deport illegal Bangladeshi Muslims “else Bengal would soon become greater Bangladesh”.
“We didn’t force anyone to change their religion. This is not conversion as projected by the media as no legal procedure was followed which is needed for conversion,” he said, adding that the programme was attended by VHP National Secretary Jugal Kishore.
When contacted, Birbhum Superintendent of Police Alok Rajoria said he was not aware of any such incident as no complaint had been filed in this regard.
Trinamool Rajya Sabha MP and party spokesperson Derek O’Brien expressed concern over the alleged conversion. “Initial reports suggest those converted at the VHP rally are BJP workers who were lured. Let me say this that if there is a hint of coercion or forcible conversion the matter will be dealt with seriously,” he said, adding that the government has already started an inquiry. [end].
Some Hindu Organisations have taken very seriously the coinage like ‘bigots’ and ‘will be dealt with ruthlessly’ by RS MP Derek O’Brien (TMC) against Dr Praveen Togadia in twitter. If he does not beg apology within three days, some Hindu Forums in Delhi are ready to teach a lesson to ‘bigot Brien’ and he ‘will be dealt with ruthlessly’ by Delhi public. [this blockquote is not a part of this report.]
Courtesy: The Hindustan Times | One India | TOI.