Top Hindu Group's International President: 'Forced Religious Conversion is a Crime Against Humanity'

CC BY-SA 2.0 / Nicolas / Office of Vishva Hindu ParishadOffice of Vishva Hindu Parishad
Office of Vishva Hindu Parishad - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2021
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Founded in 1964, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) aims to organise and consolidate Hindu groups and serve and protect Hindu religion. The organisation, which has often been accused of fuelling violence against Muslims, is against the caste system and strongly opposes religious conversions in India.
India's top Hindu organisation Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has recently launched a nationwide public awareness campaign about religious conversions in the country. The 11-day campaign will last until 31 December.
A VHP delegation recently met 329 Members of Parliament (MPs) of all parties during the Winter Session of Parliament. It told them that illegal conversions are threatening national security.
It also urged that the constitutional provision of reservation should be denied tribal people who convert to other religions. The VHP has also demanded that the Narendra Modi government make a law against unlawful conversions.
Sputnik contacted the VHP's international president Alok Kumar to talk about the ongoing campaign and the organisation's future plans.
Sputnik: What prompted the Vishva Hindu Parishad to launch a public awareness campaign against religious conversion at this time of the year?
Alok Kumar: In India, there are always elections in [this or that] state. Every election is crucial. In 2022, assembly polls will be held in eight states. So, whenever we held this campaign there would be an election going on somewhere. But honestly, this campaign is not related to any state polls.
During the pandemic and thereafter, there has been a serious spurt in the number of religious conversions and establishment of churches and other activities. Therefore, we thought we should intensify our campaign.
Almost none of these religious conversions are brought about by a change of conscience but rather are forced or the result of deception. And a conversion that is the consequence of deception or force is a crime against humanity and a crime against the constitution of India.
So, we wish to make people aware of what the missionaries and the extremists are doing, their methods, including “Love Jihad” (an alleged phenomenon where Muslim men lure Hindu women for conversion to Islam through marriage). We wish to stop conversion of Hindus to these communities and also to bring back our brothers who converted in this generation or a few generations ago.
Sputnik: Is there any data about conversions that may have happened during the pandemic which inspired the VHP to launch this campaign?
Alok Kumar: The exact numbers may be difficult to obtain because in many areas Christians don’t change their names because then the Scheduled Castes (SCs) might lose the reservation benefits.
But we have made a district-wise study of the trends. We have done an analysis of the areas where the conversions are happening more intensely. We are working on countermeasures in those areas.
Sputnik: Don’t you think such a campaign will be actually politically beneficial for the Hindu-inclined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
Alok Kumar: First of all, I am not sure about it, and secondly, I am not much concerned about it. Religion is a spiritual matter, and we have not started this campaign to benefit any party.
Apart from this, most of the conversions have occurred in the southern part of the country, and no elections are going on there.
I also think at this time that everybody is trying to showcase themselves or their party as pro-Hindu in comparison with the BJP - be it the Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party or any other one.
So, Hinduism has become a matter [of significance], for whatever reasons, which all the political parties are adopting. Therefore, [our campaign] is not designed to benefit any particular political party.
Sputnik: How has the campaign been strategised to ensure people become aware of the illegal religious conversions?
Alok Kumar: We have decided to hold several meetings in all the areas, run the campaign on social media, and also spread awareness through media organisations.
We met 329 Parliamentarians during the Winter session of the Parliament. These lawmakers were from all political parties and belonged to every religion. For Odisha and other states, we will do it during the Budget Session.
For the rest of the country, we have sought appointments with other parliamentarians too. We are happy that most of them have given us time for the meeting and we have conveyed the problems to them.
Sputnik: As the VHP delegation met so many parliamentarians, what views do they share in general since they belong to parties driven by different ideologies?
Alok Kumar: When we had a one-on-one talk with the lawmakers, an overwhelming majority of them agreed with what we said or suggested about religious conversions. Even Muslim MPs said that one of the ways to maintain peace in the country is that Hindus should follow their faith while Muslims should follow theirs and nobody converts.
But I believe in public, they will have to toe their party line.
Sputnik: The VHP has also put forward a demand to pass a law against unlawful conversions. Has the federal government responded to your demand?
Alok Kumar: We have passed our resolution on to the federal government. We have passed a resolution over it for a central law. We have also forwarded a resolution to the party president and I believe the party will consider it.
Sputnik: What is the VHP's plan for the future?
Alok Kumar: As of now, we are focusing on this 11-day campaign and after this, we will take stock of the situation and then adopt our future strategy.
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