2014-12-15 15:53:00

Indian Hindu groups banned from holding Christmas conversions

A senior police officer in India's Uttar Pradesh state has said they will not allow Hindu nationalist ‎groups to hold a ‎religious ceremony to convert hundreds of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism on ‎Christmas Day.   The proposed mass conversion scheduled to be held on December 25 will not be ‎allowed under "any circumstance" and prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been ‎clamped in the city, deputy inspector of police of Aligarh Zone Amit Agarwal said on Sunday.    ‎‎"Under no circumstances will we allow the proposed mass conversation programme slated for ‎December 25," he said.  He said, "The so-called 'ghar waapsi' (home return) programme organized by the Dharam ‎Jagran Samiti can become a law and order issue for the state and irrespective of the finer details of this ‎event it cannot be allowed to be held."   Taking note of the outfit's plan to "convert a large number of ‎people" on December 25, the district authorities had last week issued a warning to those trying to ‎disturb communal amity and asked citizens not to get provoked.  "Religious conversion is a matter of ‎personal choice and the law permits it. However, if certain groups deliberately try to provoke communal ‎sentiments by misusing this provision, then we will certainly not allow this to take place," district ‎magistrate Abhishek Prakash had said on Friday.‎

Last week, more than 50 Muslim families were reportedly converted to Hinduism against their will in the town of Agra.  Those who were converted were poor rag-pickers from a slum and many of them said they had been promised food ration cards if they attended the ceremony. They also said they had no idea they were going to be converted to Hinduism.  The Hindu groups denied the charges, saying the conversions had been voluntary.

Critics say Hindu hardline groups are flexing their muscles under the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Recently, a row broke out after government minister Niranjan Jyoti used an abusive term to refer to non-Hindus.  Modi said he disapproved of her language but refused to sack her.  On Friday a BJP MP apologized in parliament after praising the killer of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi as a "patriot". 

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