The Hindu Jagaran Manch and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad have converted 96 Christians from 23 Adivasi families to Hinduism at Kailashahar in Unakoti district, around 150 km from Tripura’s capital Agartala, The Indian Express reported on Monday. The Hindutva outfits organised the event on Sunday.

“They were Hindus at the beginning,” Hindu Jagaran Manch leader Makhan Lal Nath told the newspaper. “Nine years back, these 96 persons of 23 families from Rachipara area were converted to Christianity. They wished to be reconverted to Hinduism and a ‘yajna [holy pyre]’ was organised to convert them back and respect their wishes.”

Most of the converted people are from Jharkhand and Bihar and belong to the Orao and Munda communities. They work at the Sonamukhi Tea Estate in the area.

Hindu Jagran Manch activists alleged that some people “took advantage of the illiteracy and poverty” of these people and converted them to Christianity, NDTV reported.

The VHP’s Unakoti District Secretary Madan Mohan Goswami said the conversion “yajna” was a Ghar Wapsi”, or homecoming, event. At such events, Hindus who had converted to other religions return to their own religious fold.

Birsa Munda, one of those who reconverted, said he had been lured for conversion to Christianity. “We are very poor people in villages,” he told reporters. “Christians converted us and behaved with us at their will. We were bewildered as they frequently misbehaved with us. This ‘yajna’ was organised here today and we were reconverted to Hinduism with our own volition.”

Last week, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had claimed that mass conversions from one religion to another were a matter of concern and needed to be checked. “If you are Hindu be Hindu, Muslim be Muslim, Christian be Christian,” he said at an event organised by a Christian organisation in Delhi.