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ICC Note:

A recent development that has dominated the news in India has been the proliferation of ‘ghar wapsi’ or home coming programs being run by Hindu radical organizations. The goal of these programs is to convert Christians and Muslims to Hinduism in mass. In many cases, reports of forced conversions has been reported by those who converted. So far, India’s prime minister has remained silent on this issue, despite the fact that the issues has frozen India’s legislature. Many in the Hindu radical groups have claimed Modi’s silence on this issues means he is tacitly supporting it. This claim has caused Christians in India to demand Modi make a clear cut statement on the ‘ghar wapsi’ programs. How will India’s prime minister respond? 

1/5/2015 India (Times of India) – Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of extending “tacit support” to the ‘ghar wapsi’ program of saffron outfits, churches here have threatened to take to the streets if the government doesn’t impose a ban on the practice.

Church of North India, the Roman Catholic Church and the Salvation Army Church have also warned of legal action against communal forces trying to convert people forcibly. In a joint press conference by Diocese of Amritsar Church of North India, Diocese of Jalandhar of the Roman Catholic Church and the Salvation Army Church, P K Samantaroy, bishop of Amritsar and moderator Church of North India, said Modi should give a clear-cut statement on the ‘ghar wapsi’ programme and tell the nation why the government has not been able to stop “forcible” conversions.

“Keeping silent on such a sensitive issue construes his silent approval,” he said. Samantaroy added that all the heads of churches would soon hold a meeting and take up the issue of conversions at the national level. “We will also write to chief ministers and governors of all the states regarding truth of reconversion programs,” he said.

He alleged that organizations like RSS, Dharam Jagran Manch and Vishwa Hindu Parishad were carrying out forcible conversions through coercion in the name of ‘ghar wapsi’ to meet their political ends, which may benefit some vested interests, especially in the ruling party.

Bishop Franco of the Roman Catholic Church alleged that conversions were merely a tool in the hands of communal and fundamentalist forces to divide the dalit communities to indulge in communal violence for their political gains.

Divisional Commander of Salvation Army Church Major Manuel Masih said there were many dalit families in which half of the family members were Mazhbi Sikhs and the other half were Christians and the same was true in case of Balmikis.

Father John of the Roman Catholic Church said religion was adopted by following the inner voice and not under any external pressure or monetary allurements.

Director of Socio Economy Development Programme, Diocese of Amritsar, Daniel B Das said, “We all are Indians and we never left home. So, there is no question of ghar wapsi.”

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