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VHP to convert minorities in Sonia's constituency

VHP to convert minorities in Sonias constituency

Lucknow: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) Monday announced plans to convert 60 Muslim and Christian families to Hinduism in Rae Bareli, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's constituency.

The 'ghar wapsi' or homecoming, as the VHP and allied groups call such programmes, did not amount to communalism, VHP's Rae Bareli district unit chief Harish Chandra Sharma said.

He said the families were ready for 'ghar wapsi'. There was no allurement or coercion involved, he added.

Sharma later told IANS that the to-be-converted-to-Hinduism would include both Muslims and Christians. He said the Rae Bareli event would take place in January.

Rae Bareli, a traditional Congress party stronghold, is the latest place in Uttar Pradesh to be picked by Hindu rightwing groups to convert members of minority communities to Hinduism.

The organisers call these "ghar wapsi", implying the Muslims and Christians are merely returning to their original faith as their ancestors were Hindu to begin with.

Sharma blasted what he called "pseudo-secular" parties and politicians for giving the conversion programmes -- which have rocked national parliament -- a communal colour.

The VHP leader said his group plans to conduct "ghar wapsi" for about 100 families.

The Rae Bareli administration said the Uttar Pradesh government was clear that such events cannot be allowed.

"So far we are not aware of any such move. In case something comes to our notice, we will act," a district official told IANS.

The first of such mass conversions took place in Agra, and the Bajrang Dal claimed responsibility.

There, some 30 Muslim families living in a slum were reportedly made to sit through a fire ceremony and declared Hindus. Some said later said they were unaware what the event was all about and that they agreed to go with the Bajrang Dal because they had been promised ration cards.

Similar events have been announced for Bulandshahr, Varanasi -- which Prime Minister Narendra Modi represents in the Lok Sabha -- and Aligarh.

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