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AsiaNews (02/13/06) – The Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP, a youth paramilitary movement of nationalist Hindus) yesterday organized a “re-conversion” ceremony in Rourkela village in Orissa. In this ceremony, at least 25 tribal people of Christian faith “returned to Hinduism”. Around 500 residents of Sundargarh district participated in the function; Mitrabhanu Panda, VHP president for the district and Gadadhar Sahu, national secretary, were present.

”This defies logic,” John Dayal, president of the All India Catholic Union, told AsiaNews. “The VHP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, paramilitary, nationalistic organization) want a ban on conversions, but they turn a blind eye when it comes to ‘re-conversions’ to Hinduism.”

The activist said “the scorn these organizations have for the law is evident: if they believed in the equality of the law for all, they would also call for the arrest of Hindu activists and not only arrest and molest priests and pastors regularly because of their work.”

Fr Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said: “These acts of re-conversion are suspect; tribals are often intimidated by diverse forms of violence and they have neither the preparedness nor the means to ask for help.”

He added: “The authorities should help them in some way.”