The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an extremist Hindu communal organisation, has been reportedly converting Christians to Hinduism under forced and deceptive circumstances.
The VHP had previously launched an aggressive campaign toward India's Christian minority, but now the group has diverted its attention to Muslims.
The latest victims are 40-year-old Abdul Mannaf Jamaddar, his wife and four children, who were hoaxed into Hinduism. The alleged conversion recently took place at an Arya Samaj Mandir on College Street in Central Calcutta, amidst religious ceremonies and chanting of verses from the Vedas, Hindu scriptures. A local Bengali news channel televised the conversion ceremony.
Now Abdul Mannaf has lodged an FIR (first information report) with the Magrahat police station, stating that they were duped into going to Calcutta from their native Malar Chak village on the pretext of being offered a job.
Unable to read and write, Abdul Mannaf affixed his thumb-mark on certain papers, which he believed to be a formality to obtain a job. Little did he know that after his consent on the papers, he along with his family had declared his conversion to Hinduism.
Immediately after the conversion procedure, the entire family was taken to an undisclosed location. The VHP has since denied decieving the family to conversion.
"We feel their lives are in danger," said Mr. Sanjiv Kumar, secretary, religious propagation department of the VHP. "Mannaf was influenced by the preaching of our propagators and realised that his forefathers had been converted by Muslim rulers. He expressed his own desire to return to his original faith along with his family," said a VHP spokesman.
But Abdul Mannaf denies the VHP claims. "We have been Muslims for several generations and we will remain so. There is no question of our abandoning Islam."
In the past, the VHP has accused Muslim rulers for forcing Hindus to come to the fold of Islam. The history books written by the VHP members say that Muslim rulers had a sword in one hand and Qur'an in the other.
However, since the independence of India, thousands of people have converted to Islam in the country, without force. But many of these converts from Hinduism to Islam face persecution from other Hindus.
The VHP claims that its conversion activities are in fact a homecoming, as the forefathers of Muslims were Hindus in the past. But this "homecoming" has proved to be a farce, making a mockery of itself.
A leading Muslim organization, the Jamiat-e-Ulama Hind, whose mostly members are religious scholars, has requested the West Bengal government of the Communists to intervene in the matter and stringent action be taken the VHP members.
The Confederation of Minorities and Dalits Associations (its members are Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Lower Caste Hindus, Christians, Parsis) have also demanded the immediate arrest of all those involved in the forcible conversion. They are also seeking full security for the family of Abdul Mannaf.