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Religious conversion bid sparks row

ICC Note: Hindu extremists interrupt what they alleged was a mass baptism of 100 Dalits and take the pastor to a temple and force him to recite Hindu statements.

9/10/07 India (Times of India) – Reports about attempts of religious conversion of about 100 Dalits in Fatuha block of Patna district has kicked off a controversy.

On Saturday, BJP and VHP supporters gatecrashed into the venue where the ceremony was to be performed and raised slogans against the religious conversion. Reports suggest that they took a pastor, Rudal Paswan, to a nearby temple and forced him to raise the slogan of “Jai Sri Ram”.

“We are looking into the matter. I have asked the SDO to submit a report,” Patna DM B Rajender said. Patna City SDO Abhay Kumar Sinha said the matter is being thoroughly probed.

“The local police have recorded Rudal Paswan’s statement. Paswan denied that any ceremony for religious conversion had been organised. We are probing the matter,” Sinha said. Incidentally, the religious conversion was reportedly organised by a splinter Christian sect, Pentescopal Church . BJP and VHP leaders alleged that around 100 people, including women and children, were brought to a house located at Bankipore Gorakh area in Fatuha for baptism. They alleged that the people were being lured with Rs 5,000 instant cash and promise of a Rs 8,000 per month job.

“We did not indulge in any violence. Moreover, we had informed the local administration about our pre-emptive action. We explained to the people the benefits of remaining a Hindu. I told them that they were like our brothers and sisters,” said Gopal Prasad, the local president of the BJP.

He alleged that anybody bringing a person for conversion was being offered a sum of Rs 100. Strangely, even the BJP and VHP activists could not name the persons responsible for conducting these ceremonies. “It was the same person from Madras ,” remarked the BJP leader.