Different Perspectives: ‘Ghar Wapsi’ for Hindus, ‘Forced Conversion’ for Muslims

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Thirty Muslims become Hindus in Madhya Pradesh; concern over increasing incidents of religious conversions

Team Clarion

INDORE – The issue of religious conversions is becoming increasingly contentious, with reports of poor Muslims being misled into abandoning their faith. An organisation at the forefront of converting Muslims, Saajha Sanskriti Manch, has claimed that a group of 30 Muslims in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore converted to Hinduism on Friday; the event euphemistically called ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming). Surprisingly, no eyebrows are raised and no feathers are ruffled.

On the contrary, if someone accepts Islam influenced by its righteousness, he is sent to jail and the lives of those who convert them are made miserable.

The latest incident from Indore has brought this issue into the spotlight. The event has stirred significant debate and concern among social activists and religious scholars.

The Saajha Sanskriti Manch claims that the Muslims adopted Hinduism voluntarily under the legal provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act 2021.

Sam Pawari, president of the organisation, stated, “About 30 people of the Muslim community have voluntarily converted to Hinduism under the rules of the Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act 2021. These also include 14 women.”

Pawari further explained that the ancestors of these individuals, hailing from Indore and other districts of western Madhya Pradesh, were originally Hindus. The converts reportedly submitted affidavits to the district administration affirming their voluntary decision.

The DCP of the area, Abhinay Vishwakarma, confirmed the conversion ceremony. “We received information about 28 people participating in the ritual of voluntary religious conversion at Khajrana Ganesh temple. We have not received any complaint so far that these people have converted due to any pressure, influence or greed. If any complaint is received, appropriate legal steps will be taken,” he stated.

The Madhya Pradesh Religious Freedom Act 2021, designed to prohibit conversions by force, fraud, or inducement, mandates severe penalties for violators, including imprisonment of up to 10 years and fines up to one lakh rupees.

Eyewitnesses reported that the ceremony included traditional Hindu rituals, such as purification rites and a havan (fire ritual) accompanied by Vedic chants.

Santosh Sharma, the provincial publicity chief of the Dharma Prasar unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, stated, “30-35 Muslims from Indore, Dewas, Dhar, and nearby areas have been brought back home. Earlier, those people believed in Sanatan. Now they have accepted Sanatan and have returned home. They are happy and joyful.”

Despite assurances from the authorities and organisers, there are concerns about the authenticity of these conversions. Activists worry that social and economic pressures may have played a role. The broader context of religious conversions in India is fraught with allegations of coercion and manipulation, especially targeting vulnerable communities.

Renowned social activist and religious scholar Maulana Abdul Malik Nadvi expressed his dismay over the incident. “It is a sad thing; some elements of society are trying to spread anarchy in the country, and no action is being taken against them,” he stated. He highlighted that this is not an isolated incident, noting a pattern where Muslims and Dalits are frequently targeted.

Maulana Mufti Anzar Nadwi, a noted scholar and community leader, echoed these concerns, pointing out that while apostate Muslims face little resistance, those embracing Islam encounter severe repercussions. This discrepancy fuels suspicions about the fairness and voluntariness of such conversions.

While the organisers and authorities claim the conversions were voluntary, activists and community leaders remain sceptical. The incident calls for a thorough investigation to ensure that the principles of religious freedom and personal choice are upheld without coercion or manipulation.

As the debate continues, the government and civil society must work together to protect the rights of all individuals, ensuring that religious conversions, if they occur, are truly voluntary and free from any form of undue influence or pressure.

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