Alappuzha (AsiaNews) – These "are forced conversions, which are undertaken out of a desire for the benefits granted to Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits,” said Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), who spoke to AsiaNews about the conversion of 39 Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) from 11 Christian families, organised by the Hindu fundamentalist Visvha Hindu Parishad (VHP) last Sunday in Alappuzha, Kerala.
Many VHP leaders attended the ceremony of re-conversion to Hinduism (Ghar Wapsi) held between 6 and 10 am at the Nallaveetil Bhadrakali temple, near Cheriyanadu.
Traditional Ganapathi homam and Shudhi homam prayers were recited as ritual cleansing and converts were asked to recite the Gayathri Manthra (one of the most famous mantra) at the end of the ritual.
"We are moving ahead with our initiative so that many other families from other religions will soon be converted to Hinduism,” said Alappuzha VHP chief Prathap G. Padickal. “Many people contact us because they want to return to their original faith.”
Alappuzha district is the nerve centre of these activities. Kerala’s first Ghar Wapsi was held near Haripad on 21 December of last year, when 30 Christian Dalits embraced Hinduism.
Most Christian Dalits belong to Pentecostal groups and are denied the benefits enjoyed by Hindu Dalits, and are therefore an easy target for the VHP. “VHP people have targeted Dalits because they belong to the lower class," Sajan George said.
For the GCIC president, “granting benefits to Hindu, Sikh, Jain or Buddhist Dalits is discriminatory under Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution which grants equal treatment to all religions.”
What is more, "Ghar Wapsi cause disharmony in the community and sow the seeds of suspicion among people”.