In the Azamgarh district of (Purvanchal) Uttar Pradesh, an attempt to convert villagers in an unlawful manner was foiled on the 30th of July 2022. The Uttar Pradesh Police arrested the perpetrators who had lured fellow villagers to convert to Christianity under Section 504 and Section 506 of the IPC. They were also accused of violation of the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion Ordinance.
This incident occurred in Vishnu Nagar close to the Maharajganj area. The accused, going by the name Indrakala had gathered people from her own village as well as from the nearby hamlet under the pretext of her son’s birthday party. She was distributing sweets and gifts to the villagers but prior to that, she sent pamphlets stating that they convert to Christianity. The illiterate villagers were told that post-conversion, they would get rid of evil spirits and demonic possession. Next, they were given lucrative monetary support. The crowd mainly consisted of women. As a last resort, they were threatened by dire consequences if the demands were refused.
As the event went on, some of the villagers reported the news to Bajrang Dal (Army of Hanuman). Upon hearing the news, they complained to the local police regarding the incident. The Police immediately arrived and stopped the event. Some of the villagers fled, but Indrakala, Subhagi Devi, Sadhna, Sunita and Amita were caught red-handed. A large number of religious books and leaflets were in the possession of the accused. Upon further investigation, the police learned that they belonged to a Dalit Village.
That is not all. There have been many more cases of religious conversion in Azamgarh itself. On the 18th of April 2022, four people were arrested for forceful conversion in Andhkor Village of Azamgarh. In the Hariharganj area of Fatehpur district, twenty-six people were arrested by the police after locals had thwarted the attempt of forced conversion. On the 29th of May 2022, a man named Moharil successfully converted about a hundred people by holding meetings in peoples’ homes and banner decorations.
When apprehended by the police, Moharil stated that it was basically a healing session. Nevertheless, he was booked under the Anti Conversion Act by the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Azamgarh. On the 23rd of May 2022, three people were arrested for preaching and converting locals into the fold of Christianity. The Police were informed about the sessions being held at Harvanshpur (in Azamgarh town). Gaurav Raghuvanshi who is a General Secretary of Azamgarh VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) demanded “strict action” to be taken and demanded that such actions should not be repeated in the future.
In order to counter mass conversions to Islam and Christianity, Eminent organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bhartiya Janta Party that follow Hindutva have initiated a scheme known as “Ghar Wapsi”. The core fundamental of the Ghar Wapsi Scheme is that all the people of India are culturally Hindus and therefore must return to their ancestral roots. This policy has been successful in areas such as Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Tripura, Gujarat and Kerala.
The earliest known Ghar Wapsi can be traced to the 16th century when the Senapati of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj known as “Netaji Palkar” was forcefully converted to Islam by Aurangzeb. He was rechristened as “Quli Muhammad Khan”. He wished to be taken back into the Hindu Fold and thus met Shivaji. This caused huge speculation as the Brahmins and other Hindus severely resisted Palkar’s acceptance of Hinduism. However, at last, he was accepted into the Hindu religion after a “shuddhikaran” ceremony as a Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu.