Pramod Kumar in Beawar
We have spent our life in confusion, as we were neither Hindu nor Muslim. But we don'twant our children to live in such confusion. Today, we have firmly decided to follow the traditions of our original forefather?Prithviraj Chauhan. That is why we have come here along with our children. It is truly a historical and holy day in our life,? said Meetu Singh Meharat while performing yajna along with his wife Rekha at Andheri Dewari village of Masuda tehsil in Ajmer district of Rajasthan.
The yajna was organised by Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) to bring the people belonging to Rawat, Meharat, Chita and Kathat communities living in the Magra Merwara region of the State back to their original roots. These communities originally belong to the family of Hindu king Prithiraj Chauhan and call themselves Chauhan Rajputs.
A total of 586 families from 73 villages, estimating about 3000 people, performed yajna and resolved to leave all Islamic traditions that their forefathers had adopted, a few generations ago, following pressure from the then Muslim rulers.
They now resolved to follow only Hindu traditions throughout their life. VHP Working President, Ashok Singhal administered them the pledge and received them to the motherfold. During the last two decades the VHP has brought back about 70,000 people of these four communities to Hindu fold.
?Today we have rectified the mistake that some of our ancestors had committed. From now on we have left all the Islamic traditions that we were following,? said Sardar Singh Meharat and his wife Badami Devi of Khera Dand village.
Similar feelings were expressed by Madanlal of Chitar village, Prabhu Singh and Hazari Singh of Kishanpura village, Kishan Singh of Semla village and Hasi Kathat of Adavania village. The new generation appears ready to return to its original roots but it fears of the powerful people of the villages. ?If I decide to leave Islamic traditions today, I will be boycotted by the powerful people of my village,? said Rasul Khan of Samgarh village who works as waiter in a hotel in Beawar.
Beginning from Narvar village, near Ajmer, to Diwer in South, the 180 km long belt is called the Magra Merwara region, which has 944 villages with over 4.25 lakh population. Out of them, 548 villages have 3.25 lakh Chauhan Rajputs who follow a few Islamic traditions. The Rawat caste, which is regarded as a superior caste among these people, is less affected by conversion and follow only Hindu traditions. In the homecoming of the Meharat, Chita and Kathat communities, this caste has played a key role. It has happily hugged all those who returned to their ancestors fold.
Surrounded by small mountains, the Magra Merwara region is economically and educationally a backward region. Due to lesser rains it has to face drought almost every year. As per historians, after the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan in 1192, heinous atrocities were prepetrated of his followers by the then Muslim rulers to adopt Islam. But they did not bend before the atrocities for decades. When the atrocities continued, they partially adopted a few Islamic traditions like sunnat, nikah and burial with the hope that they would leave them after some time when the atrocities stopped. Unfortunately, every Mughal emperor proved more dreaded and they could not leave the Islamic traditions. Apart from some Islamic traditions, they continued to follow a majority of Hindu traditions like worshiping Hindu gods and goddesses, naming their children after Hindu gods and goddesses, etc. They hardly visit mosques but frequently visit temples and also donate for the construction of temple.
By and large 90 per cent of their traditions are still Hindu and they are quite moderate. Dhannaji Kathat of village Ruparela has become a little strict to Muslim traditions since the day he returned from Saudi Arabia after staying there for ten years, but he donated Rs 1,100 for the temple constructed with the help of VHP in his village.
He not only participated in the opening ceremony of the temple, but also invited VHP leaders for lunch at his home. Accepting his proposal the VHP Central Secretary, Dharma Narain, Vice President, Jaidip Patel, Rajasthan president, Jagannath Gupta and about 20 other VHP activists happily had their lunch at his home on February 16.
After Independence, the Magra Merwara region attracted the attention of Muslim fundamentalists and soon over 300 madrasas and mosques mushroomed in the region in order to make these people committed to Islam.
Foreign mullahs and maulvis visit the villages frequently and allure people to adopt Islam. They have also reportedly started monthly payment (Rs 500 or more) for having beard, performing namaz and wearing traditional Islamic clothes like burqa and short payjama. Rs 500 per person are not less in the region where people have no employment and drought hit the region almost every year. ?I was offered Rs 500 per month for having beard and performing daily namaz by Tabligh people who come from Ajmer. They have also offered to construct a mosque and a madrasa in our village. We are frequently threatened of dire consequences if we do not start strictly following Islamic traditions,? said 76-year-old Keshaji of Utami village alleging that some people of his village are working as agents of Muslim fundamentalists.
When contacted the Masuda SDM, G.S. Rathor, admitted that he had received reports of offering money for having beard and offering namaz by some people and he had ordered an enquiry into it.
According to Shri Onkar Singh Shaktawat, the incharge of VHP'sBeawar project, the VHP started survey of these people in 1976 to know their exact number. ?We first reminded them the sacrifice of their ancestor Prithviraj Chauhan and his contribution to the Hindu cause.
Finally 200 people agreed to leave Islamic traditions and they returned to their original roots in September 1980 at a function held at Kharekari village. Since then over 12,000 families, belonging to 285 villages, have returned to Hindu fold. We have decided to bring back at least one lakh people in coming years,? said Shri Shaktawat adding that the VHP has developed a committed team of 40 full timers from those 12,000 returned families.
The VHP has started over 465 service projects in the region that includes 90 Ekal Vidyalaya and Gram Shiksha Mandirs for 130 villages, 22 sports centres, one mobile medical van for 70 villages, one Hari Mandir Rath for 170 villages, medical scheme for 54 villages. Apart from it, the VHP has also constructed 33 temples for 500 villages, one hostel, 26 satsangh kendras and has distributed Sri Ramcharitmanas in 104 villages.