LUCKNOW (Reuters) – A Hindu priest-turned-lawmaker vowed on Friday to convert hundreds of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism on Christmas Day, despite a police investigation into an earlier round of conversions.
Religious conversions in multi-faith India are threatening to sow fresh discord as Muslim groups and opposition parties accuse organisations tied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party of trying to undermine the nation’s secular foundations.
This week, police said they were investigating a case in which Muslim slum-dwellers complained they had been tricked into a Hindu conversion ceremony in Agra, lured by the promise of cheap government rations and voter identity cards.
But Yogi Adityanath, a four-time member of parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said an even bigger ceremony to convert Muslims would be held in the northern town of Aligarh as scheduled and that it was an entirely voluntary affair. “We have been doing this every year for the past 10 years. It’s not a conversion, its a homecoming,” he said, adding that the families signing up for the ceremony were originally Hindus.