Modi’s silence over minority conversions

Conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism in India since the last year’s election that brought BJP to power raised concern and evoked strong criticism from the Western World. But sadly, Muslim countries and the OIC have so far remained conspicuously silent about the forced conversion. During his recent visit to India, US President Barak Obama pointed to the rising violence against religious minorities and advised the Modi government to ensure religious tolerance and guard against sectarian conflict.

About 200 Muslims were reportedly converted to Hindu in Agra last month. RSS and VHP, front bodies of BJP have built a mass conversion centre in Ayodhya. A number of churches were burnt in different parts including Delhi.

Conversions of Indian minorities
BBC reports said nearly a dozen Muslim families fled their homes in Agra after 57 families were converted to Hinduism against their will.  Muslim organizations have accused Hindu nationalist groups, affiliated to the governing BJP, of forced conversions and demanded action against them. Opposition MPs have accused hard line Hindus of undermining India’s unity and secular nature. The issue has been hotly debated in parliament, with opposition parties demanding an explanation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Critics say Hindu hard line groups are flexing their muscles under the BJP government.
Recently, a row broke out after government minister Niranjan Jyoti used an abusive term to refer to non-Hindus, by asking people at a public rally to choose between Ramzada (children of the Hindu God Ram) and Haramzada (bastards). Prime Minister Modi said he disapproved of her language but refused to sack her. It showed that hard line supporters of the government were receiving quiet encouragement from the administration.
In Agra, Hindus applied fraudulent methods (by not telling people they were going to be converted) and also offered inducements including promise of ration cards for their conversions.  Many feared over the future of religious minorities in the country. The residents of Vednagar slum told BBC correspondent Salman Ravi that some 250 people had attended a havan (Hindu religious ceremony). Most residents of the slum are poor rag-pickers and many said they had been promised ration cards and other basic amenities by a local Hindu activist if they attended the event.

Modi’s deafening silence
One slum resident, Salina, said she had no idea that it was a conversion ceremony. “During the ritual, suddenly we were made to do what the [Hindu] priest was doing. One Muslim man was even made to hold an idol in his hand. After the ritual was over, the local activists told us that we had all become Hindus. We wanted to protest, but we were advised to keep quiet. Ramzan Sheikh, a witness to the ritual, said there was a lot of fear in the area. “We are scared.  Whatever happened, we never expected,” he said.
New York Times editorial on February 6 under the heading Modis dangerous Silence was critical of rising violence against religious minorities and attacks on churches in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot or does not wish to control the extreme Hindu elements.  Referring to recent incidents the editorial said a number of churches were burnt. A church in Delhi engulfed in fire another church was vandalized. In last December about 200 Muslims were converted to be Hindu. In Agra, 100 Christians were converted in January. VHP and RSS opened centre for mass conversion of Muslims in Ayodhya. Modi needs to break his deafening silence on religious intolerance.

Secular India into Hindu India
During the winter session Parliament was unable to deal with important legislative business because of repeated adjournments and uproar over attempts by Hindu groups to convert Christians and Muslims. The issue has come to a head following a homecoming campaign by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad ­ groups dedicated to transforming India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state ­ to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism.
In recent weeks, Hindu militants have engineered conversions of Muslims and Christians in Agra and in the states of Gujarat and Kerala. Police are investigating accusations that people have been induced to participate in mass conversion meetings by a combination of intimidation and bribery, including the promise of food ration cards.  Attacks on Christians and their places of worship have intensified in recent weeks. One of New Delhi’s biggest churches burned down on December 1 ­ arson is being blamed ­ and Christmas carolers were attacked on their way home in the city of Hyderabad on December 12.

Source: Weekly Holiday


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