The alleged forced reconversion of about 100 people to Hinduism in Agra has set off a chorus of criticism against the government by the opposition inside and outside Parliament today even as an FIR was filed against an RSS wing behind the incident.
As the opposition parties called it illegal and demanded "strict" action, the government washed its hands off the issue, saying it had no role and that law and order is a state subject. The opposition also demanded the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Leaders of BJP claimed the reconversion was voluntary and that it was not forcibly done.
In Agra, the Sadar Bazar Police registered the FIR late last night against Dharma Jagran Manch and its UP convener Nand Kishore and launched investigations into the incident.
Police registered cases under Section 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups) and Section 415 (using fraudulent means) of the IPC on a complaint by a person identified as Ismail, who was among those who was reconverted.
It has been alleged in the FIR that promises were held out by the organisers which included getting BPL cards and housing plots for those who embraced Hinduism.
Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, BSP chief Mayawati alleged that RSS-affiliate Bajrang Dal converted some Muslim families to Hinduism in Agra by force and by allurement.
The Constitution, she said, guarantees religious freedom and that it was the responsibility of both the Centre and the state government to ensure safety of life, property and religion of all.
"The Government should take serious note of the Agra incident ... strict action should be taken," she said, warning that such forced conversions will create and breed communal tension in the country.
Forced conversions should be stopped, she demanded as members from Congress, Left, TMC and SP echoed her sentiments and shouted 'Pradhan Mantri Jawab Do (Prime Minister reply)'.
Anand Sharma (Cong) said the government should be directed to give a clarification on the issue.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi informed the agitated members that an FIR has been filed by the Uttar Pradesh government on the issue.
"Action has to be taken by state government. Law and order is a state issue and the state government has to deal with it. Centre has no role in that," he said. The reconversion issue also had its echo in the Lok Sabha.
Outside Parliament, CPI's D Raja alleged that attempts are being made to impose the Hindutva agenda on everybody.
CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said this is the dirtiest of vote-bank politics being played by RSS and the BJP while former Union minister and Congress leader Veerappa Moily called it "anti- national".
BJP leader Vinay Katiyar said that the consent of the participants was obtained before their re-conversion.
In UP, the Home Secretary Kamal Saxena said the state government has taken a serious view of the incident and has sent directives to respective district police chiefs to put their intelligence units on alert and check its recurrence.
Responding to questions about the issue, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, "We believe that in this great, grand country of ours, it is most unfortunate that the BJP is continuously taking up three-Cs to confuse, compound and create chaos and three-Ds to divert, digress and depart from real issues."
He also urged the media to not allow the government to "deliberately divert" attention from the real issues.
Singhvi added that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and its Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha, Anand Sharma, have already spoken on the issue.
Meanwhile, a woman converting to Hinduism to marry her lover has sparked tension in Chapar village, prompting authorities to tighten security in Muzaffarnagar.
The woman eloped with her lover Ishver Singh, a home guard. The two married on November 3 after she converted to Hinduism following which they sought protection from the high court, according to police.
Following a direction from the the Allahabad High Court, Chief Judicial Magistrate Narender Kumar recorded the woman's statement and ordered that she was free to live with her husband. However, the incident has triggered tension in this communally sensitive district.