96 Christians 'converted' to Hinduism in Tripura; conversions took place 'according to their wish', claims VHP

Right-wing group Hindu Jagran Manch has claimed that as many as 96 Christians belonging to 23 tribal families were converted to Hinduism in Tripura on Sunday, reported the NDTV. Mostly labourers from Jharkhand and Bihar, these 'converts' had been forcibly made to embrace Christianity in the past, said the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which had allegedly overseen this mass conversion in Unakoti area, situated around 150 kolimetre from Agartala.

"These people were originally Hindus and were forced to become Christians in the past, and the conversions took place according to their wish," a VHP supporter was quoted by NDTV.

The incident comes days after Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that mass conversions from one religion to another was a matter of concern and needed to be checked. "Whether we win or lose... we will not discriminate among people," Singh had said at an event organised by a Christian body in New Delhi on 16 January. He had also made it clear that mass conversions need to be checked across the country.

Those converted are mostly tea garden labourers from the Orao and Munda communities. The right-wing groups have allegedly called it "gharwapsi" (homecoming) and said that some people had earlier taken "advantage of the illiteracy and poverty" of tribals.

It is to be noted that the BJP has its own government in Tripura, which has a substantial Christian population.

At the Delhi event, Singh had further said, "I would also say one thing to the Christian community. We do not want to level allegations against anybody. You may have also heard. If somebody wants to accept a religion, he should do that. There should not be any objection to it. But if mass conversion starts happening, large number of people start changing their religion, then it could be a matter of concern for any country," Singh said.

Interestingly, the VHP had in 2018 launched what they called the 'katha vachaks' campaign to check conversions. It was meant to inform people about the dignity and respect that is part  of the Hindu culture. The campaign started in October, 2018 with West Bengal and the North East as the focal regions.

"Things have changed after the BJP came to power in Assam and Tripura and we will be increasing our presence as well as our activities so that the Hindus there can feel reassured. VHP leader Shyamji Gupta will be in charge of the campaign and leaders like Tapan Kumar Mukherjee, Dr Surya Prakash Sharma and Uma Shankar Misra will tour the states to make an assessment of the ground realities,” a senior VHP leader was quoted as saying by Deccan Chronicle.

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2019 12:52:24 IST

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