Agra: A day after the reports of some 300 poor Muslims here embracing Hinduism under the patronage of hard-line Hindu groups Dharma Jagaran Manch and Bajrang Dal hit the headlines, about 60 Muslim families contested the claim, saying they were tricked into a conversion event couched as a “homecoming ceremony” in Agra.
A report in Hindustan Times quoted one Noor Mohammad, one of the 300 Muslims, saying that the two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh offshoots had lured them into Monday’s programme to collect BPL and ration cards.
“We were not aware that it was an exercise to convert us to Hinduism. We are Muslims and would continue to be so,” he said.
An IANS report quoted one Muslim scholar who, however, said that those who converted were not Muslims.
"It is true that they are all from outside Agra, perhaps from Bangladesh, and had been living here illegally as they have no voter, Adhaar or ration cards," he said.
Muneera, one of the 300, alleged they were lured to the event on the promise of giving them a plot of land and ration cards.
"We were taken to a place where a fire ceremony was on," Muneera told ABP news channel. "We were made to sit there. We became panicky. We were told to pray to Hindu gods. We did whatever they told us...
"But now we are again reading the Holy Quran and our family members offered namaz today," she added .
Meanwhile, a Bajrang Dal leader said Tuesday that all the 300 poor Muslims who he said had embraced Hinduism here will be given ration cards they badly lacked.
Bajrang Dal functionary and one of the co-conveners of the program Ajju Chauhan said everyone in the group would be now taught Hindu rituals.
He said the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), to which the Bajrang Dal is allied, had been working "hard for three months to persuade them to convert to Hinduism".
However, after some of Muslims came out denying the conversion report, the red-faced organisers of the function promptly blamed “pressure from outside to reverse their reconversion”.
Ajju Chauhan later said no force, coercion or lure of BPL and ration cards were used to bring people to the camp, considered a dry run to a massive function with a similar agenda lined up for December 25 in Aligarh.
The 300 members of some 60 Muslim families who reportedly embraced Hinduism Monday evening live in a slum on the outskirts of the Taj city -- and are miserably poor.
Most of them had lived near Madhu Nagar on Gwalior Road for 17 long years after migrating either from West Bengal or Bangladesh.
Agra's Muslim leaders mostly declined to comment on the episode.
Agra's Senior Superintendent of Police Shalabh Mathur said no complaint had been registered regarding the event. "We will take action if there is a complaint."
(With IANS inputs)