22/12/2014 7:53 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST

Conversion Row Rages On In Kerala, Gujarat

STRDEL via Getty Images
An Indian tribesperson (R, foreground) participates in a conversion ritual of some 200 Christians into Hinduism, at Aranai Village in Valsad district of Gujarat state, some 350 kms from Ahmedabad, on December 20, 2014. Hardline Hindu groups came under fire December 21 after some 200 Christians were converted in the Indian prime minister's home state, amid increasing concern at the right-wing government's perceived pro-Hindu tilt. AFP PHOTO / STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Amidst raging controversy over conversion in the country, a group of 35 people belonging to eight families of Dalit Christians and were "reconverted" to Hinduism under the auspices of Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Alappuzha and Kollam districts of Kerala on Sunday.

The ritual of "ghar wapsi" (homecoming), organised by district wing of VHP, was held at a local temple at Kanichanallor, reported PTI.

VHP leader Prathap G Padikkal, who arranged the function, told PTI that the families "expressed their desire to come back to Hinduism" and VHP "only facilitated the return".

He said their ancestors had converted to Christianity some decades ago.

Another 150 families in the district have expressed their wish to embrace Hinduism and VHP would arrange their "homecoming" also, he said.

Meanwhile an IANS report said that Kerala Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala has launched a police probe on the alleged conversion of these families.

Additional Director General of Police A. Hemachandran has been asked to probe the matter and submit a report, Chennithala told reporters on Sunday.

"He will look into whether any law was violated," he said.

The VHP, meanwhile, said all those who became Hindus Sunday decided to convert on their own, and all the organisation did was to prepare the stage for it.

Reports said another 300 people in Alappuzha have expressed their desire to embrace Hinduism, and the conversion ceremony was likely to take place on Christmas day.

Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah, who was in the state Saturday, said his party was against forced religious conversion.

Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, who is currently in Delhi to take part in the politburo meeting, alleged that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was behind Sunday's conversions.

In Kerala, Hindus comprise more than 50 percent of the 32 million population, followed by Muslims with 24 percent while Christians occupy the third place with 22 percent.

Meanwhile reports on Saturday suggested that VHP on Saturday had converted over 200 tribal Christians to Hinduism by holding rituals at Aranai village in Valsad district of Gujarat, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state and currently ruled by BJP.

Expressing concern over the Vishwa Hindu Parishad's (VHP) move to re-convert Christians in Gujarat as 'provocative', an ANI report Sunday quoted Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja saying that such acts amount to an affront against the Constitutional framework of our system and governance.

"This is again another provocative action by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. It is not just one incident, these are all things happening in co-ordination," said Raja, according to ANI's report.

Expressing concern over the re-conversion in Gujarat, the CPI leader said that such acts was part of a sinister design to insult the Constitutional system of governance in our country.

"I do not think what RSS chief is saying is an isolated thing, or the VHP is doing is an isolated thing. These are all part of a sinister design which is in a way affront to the Constitutional system of governance in our country," he said.

"On the one hand they talk about good governance, on the other hand they do what all they can do to destroy the Constitutional framework of our system and governance," he added.

Congress leader Rashid Alvi too spoke out against the conversions. An ANI report on Sunday said that such acts conducted by right-wing outfits only create a bad impression around the world about India.

"This is totally unfortunate whatever is happening. In the world India had a different image of having people practicing various religious beliefs, speaking different languages, based on which the country was built. If the same thing happens that is happening (here) starts taking place in Europe and in America, then what will happen.

These actions will only create bad impression about the country," Alvi said.

He also said that if such re-conversion happened through coercion or inducement then it was a clear violation of law.

"Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and others are trying to destroy the country. If these people have been converted by coercion or inducement then it is a clear violation of law. But then what kind of image of India will be in the world," he added.