By Sajjad Shaukat
While, the Constitution declares India to be a secular state, granting equal rights to the religious minorities, but in practice, ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) prevails. Hindu politics and culture, dominated by the fundamentalists parties such as BJP, RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena and other similar groups have been propagating Hindutva agenda which enabled BJP hardliner, Narendra Modi to get a land sliding triumph in the Indian elections 2014 and become the prime minister of India. Muslim anxiety in India is multiplying due the fact that during the election campaign, Hindu majority was mobilized on ‘hate Muslim’ slogans.
As regards the anti-Muslim move, on May 28, this year, Rashtriya Hindu Andolan, a Mangalore-based Hindutva outfit and activists from various right wing groups organized a protest in Mangalore in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner by demanding the authorities to ban the morning Muslim call to prayer (Azan) across the country.
Besides, forcing the Muslim employee in a Parliament Canteen by BJP leader to break his fast by stuffing piece of bread in his mouth, statement of Deputy Chief of Goa, declaring India as a Hindu state, opposition to declaration of Sania Mirza as Ambassador of Indian state by calling her daughter-in-law of Pakistan might also be cited as example. And, provocative utterances of Indian extremist leaders have resulted into a campaign against the Muslims and Christians who are being forced to covert into Hindus.
In this respect, Bajrang Dal, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), converted at least 57 Muslim families (200 people) into Hindus at a ‘Purkhon Ki Ghar Vapsi’ (Coming home of the ancestors) ceremony in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. The mass conversion ceremony was organized jointly by Dharma Jagran Samanvay Vibhag and Bajrang Dal. The participants said that 200 Muslims were claimed to be converted “back to Hinduism.” By ignoring the sense of fear and awe, created among the Muslims, the organizers of the ceremony have claimed that the families were originally Hindu and converted to Islam around 30 years ago.
It is not a first event of its kind. Previously, in early September 2014, Christians were also forcefully converted to Hindus which created unrest among Christian clergy. Three months ago, a similar event in Aligarh saw Christian families converting to Hinduism. BJP is trying to portray the event as wishful conversions; however, since installment of BJP government in the center, RSS and its offshoots have accelerated their efforts for minorities’ conversion into Hindus.
In this context, Senior BJP leader Vinay Katiyar has defended the event of conversion into Hindus by saying, “People should be free to choose their own religion. If they have again adopted Hinduism, there is no harm.”
While, an RSS official, Rajeshwar Singh pointed out that 5000 more Muslims and Christians will be brought back into the Hindu fold in Aligarh district on Christmas later this month. He elaborated, “The grand event will be held at Maheshwari College in Aligarh…the upcoming mass re-conversion event will be headed by Yogi Adityanath on December 25 (2014) in Aligarh.”
He revealed that RSS spends Rs.50 lakh every month on the conversion of an average 1000 Muslim and Christian families into Hindus.
He added that RSS has taken over about 60 churches across Uttar Pardesh, explaining, “One day these churches will crumble and our country will belong to the Hindus alone.” He also divulged that they have re-converted 2.73 lakh Muslims and Christians in Braj region that includes Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura, Firozabad, Etah, Meerut, Mainpuri and Uttarakhand since 2003.
It is mentionable that in the recent years, assaults on Christians, their churches and property have been executed by the Hindu mobs in various cities of India. In this context, at least 100 Christians have been assassinated by Hindu extremists, mostly in the state of Orissa. Other religious minorities of India are also target of Hindutva terror.
In Maharashtra, non-Hindu communities have lived in constant fear and awe since the advent of the fundamentalist party, Shiv Sena whose Chief Bal Thackeray (The late) has organized army of hoodlums to beat up any religious minority, openly directing the Hindu terrorists to loot and stone any of their shop or house. Lack of serious action by the subsequent governments against Shiv Sena’s vandalism has clearly defeated the secular echoes of India which is in fact a secular terrorist state. It is owing to creation of terror by the Hindu extremist outfits that poor families of other religious minorities are being compelled to accept Hindu religion. As regards Hindu terrorism, on November 7, 2011, leader of the VHP, Pravin Togadia, in his furious speech questioned the past of Muslims and Christians, and further gave a call to Hindus to capture the Islamic holy places in Arab and Vatican of Europe.
When the BJP-led alliance was firmly in the saddle in 1998, the ideology of Hindutva was encouraged by the government officials. Besides attacks on the Muslims and the Christians entailing their religious establishments, appointment of extremist Hindus in top positions in various institutes and alteration of courses in accordance with the Hindu ideology reflected the intentions of the BJB rulers in various provinces.
Nevertheless, on December 10, this year, many Rajya Sabha members of India raised concerns in Parliament about the conversion and demanded government explanation on it. But, no reaction from international community has appeared so far in relation to the forced conversion of other communities into Hindus, It is a point of concern for Muslims and Christians of India in particular and of other the religions in general.
This is a planned conversion and the trend will continue for the next five years, as it is part of RSS and BJP agenda of converting India into one religion people.
The idea of Hindutva or Hindu nationalism, being promoted by BJP and Prime Minister Modi around the world among Indian origin people, emanates from this ideology.
Particularly, the US-led western world must take cognizance of the fact that the forced conversions in India are against international norms and fall under human rights violations.
All major religions of the world are striving across the globe to protect their followers by ensuring them peaceful—Independent religious life. However, the conversions being committed in India are required to be highlighted massively.
If not checked in time, the forced conversions of other minorities, especially of Muslims into Hindus will have serious backlash not only in India, but across the world, and have the potential to destabilize the whole region.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations