With Adityanath’s elevation as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh creating a climate of uncertainty among the state’s minorities, activists of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are finding greater success in their programme to persuade Muslims to convert to Hinduism.
Over the past month, at least two instances of Muslims being converted to Hinduism have been recorded in Faizabad. Hindutva organisations refer to the conversions of members of minority communities as “ghar wapasi” – home coming.
Nineteen Muslims were converted on April 23, while 24 more were converted on May 20. Both sets of conversions took place in a temple in Faizabad, even though all the converts were from Ambedkar Nagar, said Surendra Kumar, an RSS worker in Ambedkar Nagar district, who helped organise the ceremony.
Himanshu Tripathi, the manager of the Arya Samaj Mandir where the conversions took place, said that he was in contact with nearly 100 Muslims who would be converted to Hinduism “in due course”.
“We have successfully accomplished two events of ghar wapasi after Yogiji became the chief minister,” Tripathi said. “I am in touch with about 100 more Muslims who have shown inclination to get back to Hinduism. You will hear of more such cases in the time to come.”
Tripathi insisted that the conversions were voluntary. “Though Surendra Kumar brought these Muslims to the temple and I organised ghar wapasi ceremonies, there was no element of force in it,” he said. “We organised ghar wapasi because they expressed their desire to become Hindus.”
Said Kumar: “I had been working on them for several years, but once Yogiji became the chief minister, convincing them that they could live without fear...if they converted to Hinduism became easier for me.”
Kumar belongs to the Nat caste, which is listed as a scheduled caste in Uttar Pradesh. While one section of this caste follows Hinduism, another practises Islam. All new converts belonged to the Nat community. “As I myself belong to this caste, I could easily explain to Muslim members of the community about the risk of continuing to follow Islam,” Kumar said, “and the benefits they might get by becoming Hindus.”