Neither Muslim nor Hindu: Agra ‘converts’ caught in RSS-clerics crossfire

Agra(FT): Fifty seven poor Muslim families – who were ‘converted’ to Hinduism by rightwing elements affiliated to the RSS earlier these week – now face grave religious uncertainty. While they have reportedly gone back to performing the namaz, clerics have warned them that they will “never be forgiven by Allah for converting to Hinduism”.

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While the villagers claim they were unaware that the event they  had attended was actually a conversion drive, angry Muslim leaders in the area have now banished them saying they have made a mockery of Islam.

Mudassir Khan, a local Muslim leader hit out at the families saying they had ‘shamed Islam’ and would have to undergo a re-initiation into the religion to be Muslims again.

“Do the nikah again, make your children go through the Quran again and keep your women in purdah. Only then will you be granted mercy. You have committed a crime… You will have to re-marry, re-revise the Quran and have to re-follow all important aspects of Islam to become Muslim again,” Khan reportedly told the villagers.

Ismail, one of the Muslim villagers who was ‘converted’ bowed at the feet of Maulana Masroor Raza Quadri of the Tehriq Tehafuz Sunniat, TOI reports. Quadri, however, told him, “You made a mockery of our religion. You will never be forgiven by Allah.”

The Hindustan Times, however, reports that other clerics have dismissed the conversions done by the rightwing groups and maintain that the 57 families continue to be Muslims. They have now demanded protection from the government suggesting that conversion attempts could well be on the rise.

“There had been queries regarding the religious status of these 57 families. These Muslims have denied being converted to Hinduism and so they continue to be Muslim,”HT quoted Mufti Abdul Khubeb Rumi as saying.

“Any conversion made under force or forgery is no conversion. It is matter of belief and once they stated that they haven’t switched to Hinduism, there is no need for them to follow any formal ritual to return to Islam,” Cleric Syed Ikhtiyar Jafri told the daily.

“Such incidents have created an atmosphere of fear among Muslims and sparked communalism. Bajrang Dal people intend to disturb the peace and harmony,” Haji Jamiluddin Qureshi, president of the Rashtriya Sarvdaliya Muslim Action Committee said, holding the Modi government responsible for not restraining such groups.

On their part, the Muslim families, mostly Bangladeshi migrants, claim they were asked to attend the event in order to receive ration cards and their names would be enrolled on the voters list. Others say they knew they were being converted and gave in under pressure.

At the meeting, which they believed was a puja for a new plot, they were made to wash the idols of a Hindu goddess and had vermilion applied to their foreheads. Post the conversion, they were all given prashad.  One of the family members said they were made to throw some things into a fire and were then asked whether “they felt happy about being Hindus”.

“We are poor people with nowhere to go, and if our landlord tells us to leave, we will have nowhere to go. What could the men have said but yes?” the Indian Express quotes one of the villagers as saying.

Bajrang Dal leaders, however, refuse to call the event a conversion drive- saying it was “purkho ke ghar vapasi“, a purification and home coming drive.

But despite facing opposition in Parliament the BJP’s cultural organisation, the RSS, is in no mood to give up.

The outfit has deputed 58 pracharaks under Mukund Rao Panshikar for the task, centered around ‘dharm jagran’ (religious awareness) — the maximum number of pracharaks for any single RSS activity, The Indian Express reports.

Interestingly, the meeting was presided over by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.

Its ‘ghar wapsi’ plans include a holy dip of the “reconverts” in the Godavari during the Kumbh at Nashik next August. Over 50,000 who “returned” in the last five years are expected to show up. These plans, RSS sources said, were discussed in Nagpur last month during a conclave of more than 1,200 people involved in ‘dharm jagran’ activities.

RSS sources, speaking to IE, claim that over the last 15 years, Muslims had “reconverted” in large numbers in Beawar district of Rajasthan and several Christians had “returned” to the Hindu fold in Solapur, Maharashtra.

On Wednesday, the Opposition lost no opportunity to target the BJP government in Parliament, even as they sought to defend themselves by saying an FIR has already been filed in the case.

BSP leader and former UP CM Mayawati was at the forefront of the attack over the conversion by the Bajrang Dal and the Dharma Jagran Samanvay Vibhag, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Alleging that the people were bribed and forced to convert to Hinduism, Mayawati said that the government needed to respond to these serious allegations, adding, “It is the responsibility of the party that comes to power to ensure people are allowed to follow their faiths without facing any discrimination. It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that forcible conversions do not take place.”

Congress MP Anand Sharma claimed the incident was part of a “diabolical agenda”.

“This House must be assured the constitution of India will not be violated,” Sharma, told Parliament.

Article Source: First Post

Posted by on December 11, 2014. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.