Kolkata: Around 20 tribal Christians reconverted to Hinduism in West Bengal's Birbhum district on Wednesday. Though the number was far less than the rumoured 100, it was still a shock in a state which has seen very little of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which had sponsored the conversions.
The ruling Trinamool Congress has condemned the incident and the state government has initiated a thorough probe into it.
"This is a zero tolerance subject. An inquiry has been initiated. Some are saying 8, 10, 12 50 people. Numbers are not the point. This is the VHP, RSS, BJP up to their dirty tricks," said Trinamool MP Derek O'Brien, who was in touch with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee through the day on the issue.
The VHP's Bengal unit organising secretary, Sachin Singha, however, denied there was any forced conversion in Birbhum today.
The incident took place at Khamardanga village, close to Birbhum's Rampurhat town.
Earlier in the day, VHP leader Pravin Togadia held a public rally at Rampurhat. Soon after he left, the VHP held a "yagna" at nearby Khamardanga, led by VHP leader Jugal Kishore.
"We are not doing parivartan or suddhikaran. We are only doing sanskriti diksha. It is for the benefit of the country. If anyone comes willingly, then Article 25 of the Constitution says they can," he said.
One woman who was at the event, told reporters she had converted on her own free will. A local VHP worker, Chakru Tudu, claimed about 100 people had converted.
According to church sources, only two families of 8 and 4 members had converted from Christianity to Hinduism. The police are trying to verify the information and have promised action if there are any complaints about use of force.
"We were vociferous in Parliament about this. The PM refused to speak on the subject. Some church leaders have recently met the President. This is unacceptable," Mr O'Brien said. "After what the US President said yesterday -- he reminded the prime minister about the constitution of our country. So everyone can be a Hindu, Christian, Sikh or Muslim. But no forced or coercive conversion."