12/18/2014, 00.00
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Radical Hindus' Christmas reconversions postponed, not cancelled

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) takes a step back to let parliament's winter session to end. It pledges however to reconvert 5,000 Christian and Muslim families "before the end of the year". Opposition call on the prime minister to speak on the matter, but the ruling party says no.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Despite calls by opposition parties, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not go before parliament to address the issue of forced conversions by Hindu nationalist groups. For its part, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu radical paramilitary group, announced that Christmas reconversions planned for Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh) were not cancelled, only postponed to the end of 2014.

After the conversion to Hinduism of about 300 Muslims in exchange for food and money, the opposition in parliament slammed the ruling ultranationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is closely connected to the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, groups responsible for violent acts against ethnic and religious minorities across the country.

At a closely guarded strategy meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Modi asked key lieutenants in his party not to yield to the Opposition's pressure.

"We (the government) have not done any mistake. Why should we feel sorry?" a source, cited by the Hindustan Times, quoted him as saying in the meeting.

Modi also instructed some of his loyalists to gather information against the opposition, the source also said.  

Driving Modi and the BJP is parliament's timetable. As the winter session ends, the government wants to adopt some key reforms, which are strongly resisted by the opposition.

In view of the situation, the Dharm Jagran Samiti, an RSS affiliate, cancelled the Ghar Wapsi (coming home) ceremony, which is how Hindu nationalists describe their "reconversion" of minorities.

One of the organisers noted however that the mass ceremony planned for Aligarh on Christmas Day was only "postponed, not cancelled." The aim remains to convert hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims.

Although the BJP has tried to distance itself from these conversions, a BJP lawmaker from Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, said he was willing to attend the ceremony.

Similarly, District President Devraj Singh said, "We are not organising this ceremony but if the organisers, including the Bajrang Dal, seek our help on this score, we will certainly do whatever we can to help them".

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