The biggest problem with ghar wapsi: There's no escape from caste

The Sangh Parivar might be very pleased with its ghar vapsi exercise at the moment, but the real test for it lies in accommodating and locating the converts in the inflexible caste matrix.

Chandrakant Naidu December 27, 2014 10:17:44 IST
The biggest problem with ghar wapsi: There's no escape from caste

With news of re-conversion from Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and everywhere in the country the Sangh Parivar might be very pleased with its ghar vapsi exercise at the moment, but the real test for it lies in accommodating and locating the converts in the inflexible caste matrix.

The controversy over Maniram Jatav is a case in point. In September, Madhya Pradesh police had arrested Jatav and nine others for not informing the administration about their plans to convert to Islam. Maniram has been forced to return to the Hindu fold since, while his son, now known as Abdul Kasim, remains a Muslim. Maniram was on a news channel recently to declare that he was coerced into reconverting. The government has not acted against the right wing culprits. Many applications for conversion have been kept pending for long periods while reconversions to Hindu fold haven't been stuck in red tape.

Where does Maniram stand on the caste ladder post-reconversion? On the lowest rung as a Jatav should. He wanted to leave Hinduism to escape his position in the caste hierarchy; he is back where he was. That is the case with all those who have retuned ‘home’.

The biggest problem with ghar wapsi Theres no escape from caste

Representational image. AFP

The RSS affiliates engaged in the reconversion activity focus on areas on the basis of caste names. In Beawar district of neighbouring Rajasthan, RSS claimed that around 90,000 Muslims returned to Hindu fold over a decade.

“There have been no planned conversions here ever. As and when Muslims realise their original roots, they get back to Hinduism… Even the Meo Muslims in Alwar were all Meenas,” a RSS functionary was quoted as saying by a scholar.

According to the RSS functionary, Kshatriyas and Baniyas of western Uttar Pradesh form a majority of those who got converted to Islam because of poverty or lack of respect within their own community. So the RSS is looking at Chauhans and Soms as its target.

The VHP, which held its latest convention in Bhopal, was seized of the issue. Speaker after speaker stressed that caste discrimination and untouchability were driving the Hindus to other faiths.

“When you let dogs and cats enter your bedrooms and kitchens why discriminate against some human beings because of their caste,’’ one of them said.

Another said, “If all Hindus are treated equal, Hindus will become a major force that they were once.’’

One leader blamed the caste system for the rise Islam, insisting that untouchability was not practiced in India before that time.

Interestingly, the convention selectively even used Mahatma Gandhi saying he was opposed to conversions. One RSS leader described the Scheduled Castes as Dharma Yodhas as they bore the brunt of proselytization.

However, while its diagnosis is right, in terms of practical solution the outfit has come out with nothing. Who decides which caste a reconvert should be assigned? Does reconversion give the status of equality to a Brahmin and someone like Maniram, a Jatav? Neither the RSS nor its several outfits have an answer.

In this season of political convulsions over religious conversion one shudders to visualise the state of the nation when the likes of Dharm Jagran Manch leader Rajeshwar Singh approach their deadline for Hinduisation of the nation with no real solution to the core reason behind conversions. If Rajeshwar is taken seriously we are just about seven years away from converting every Christian and Muslim into a Hindu or taking care of his faith some other way.

“Just wait and watch. 31 December 2021 is the last for Christianity and Islam in this country,” Singh said.

Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Praveen Togadia has not set a deadline but he can’t wait to see a nation of 100 per cent Hindus. Where does this leave the Mukhtar Abbas Naqvis, Najma Heputllahs, Shahnawaz Hussains, Michael Lobos and Jose Almeidas of the BJP?

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