With possibilities soaring on a bill on reconversion of religions in the ongoing Parliament session, tongues have again begun wagging like in last Parliament session about reconversion/anti-conversion bill facilitating homecoming in several parts of the country. However the Government had made it clear on first day itself that it is ready to bring Anti-Conversion Bill if Members of the House are ready, they, instead of discussing the issue, continued to create uproar. Soumitra Bose spoke to Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh of RSS Dr Manmohan Vaidya to know the issue of ‘homecoming’ and ‘conversion’. Following are the excerpts:
Winter Session of the Parliament concluded with an uproar on conversion. How do you look at it?
The growing popularity of the Government following various people-friendly decisions has made the Opposition parties issueless. They have no logical issue to speak against the Government. This uproar was basically to register their presence in the House. Fact is that conversion is not an issue at all. The incidents which were made centre of opposition were not actually ‘conversion’. They were homecoming of the people who in the past due to various reasons alienated from their original roots. They are coming back at their will without any force or allurement. The Constitution allows everyone to change their way of worship anytime. Therefore, nothing is illegal in that.
The previous incidents of large-scale (en mass) conversions into Islam or Christianity had in their roots fraud, allurement or force. There are many examples of it. Therefore, in order to curb such activities the first Anti-Conversion Laws were enacted in Odisha and Madhya Pradesh in 1967. The Niyogi Committee then proved with substantial evidences that conversion of gullible people was going on through fraudulent means. It was also observed that large scale conversions enhanced problems related to internal security. At that time not only in both the states but also at the Centre there were Congress governments. Even five years back the Congress government of Himachal Pradesh brought Anti-Conversion Bill. The question is why the Congress governments felt it necessary to enact such laws? Instead of holding discussion on conversion through allurement or fraudulent means, they created uproar on the corrective steps being taken by the society.
Everywhere the attempt to enact laws banning conversion through fraud, allurement or force, is being opposed by the Christian Missionaries and church. Why they have been opposing needs to be seen seriously. The recent uproar was totally unnecessary. If anything illegal takes place anywhere in the country the State governments are there to take action. Another question is why all the Opposition parties are mum on the Central Government’s proposal to bring Anti-Conversion Law?
Is homecoming not conversion?
No, homecoming is not conversion. Everybody knows that 99 per cent of the Muslims or Christians in India are converts and descendents of Hindu ancestors. They felt alienated from their cultural roots. We have never been in favour of conversion. Many Muslims and Christians attend our daily shakhas or the training camps every year. We never tried to convert them. We think that all people living in India are culturally Hindu though they may have different religions. Many Muslims and Christians, practicing their own way for worship have joined and are active in RSS. Mohammed Karim Chagla had once said, “By Religion I am a Muslim, by culture I am a Hindu.” But if the urge to reconnect to their original roots develops in a section of the society, they come forward and the society welcomes them. This is homecoming and not conversion.
Do you think the enactment of a Central law against conversion will resolve the problem?
Merely enacting law will not resolve the issue. It can put restrictions to conversions by allurement, fraud or force to some extent. The awareness in the society is must for permanent solution. If the Government proposes to bring Anti-Conversion Law we shall support it.
It appears many people are ready to reconnect to their roots, but their original communities are not ready to embrace them wholeheartedly. How this problem will be resolved?
There is increasing awareness in Hindu society for it also. Many people or organisations are working for it. Initially, the Dharmacharyas too were not ready to permit the homecoming. In the first ever convention of Hindu Dharmacharyas and Saints organised by the VHP in 1966 at Prayag, a resolution welcoming our brothers and sisters who want to reconnect and reunite to their original fold, was adopted. Since then not only the Hindu society is getting ready and eager to welcome their lost brethren, a large number of people are coming forward to reconnect to their roots. It does not create any law and order problem. The homecoming is a natural urge to reconnect to the original roots.
Sometimes it is seen that we oppose to the conversion to Christianity and Islam but not to Buddhism and Sikhism.
We do not oppose the conversion done willingly. We only oppose when fraudulent means are adopted to misguide the gullible people. Individually, anybody is free to follow any way of worship. That is why, as I have said in the beginning, we do not try to convert those Muslims and Christians who come to our shakhas or attend out camps. They follow their own faith.
How many Muslims and Christians come to the Sangh shakhas?
We do not keep any count.
Sometime back a dialogue with Muslims and Christians had begun with the initiative of RSS. What is the outcome of that initiative?
The outcome is good. The initiative began when the late Sudarshanji was Sarsanghachalak. During one of his Vijayadashami Speeches he had called upon for Indianisation of Islam and Swadeshi Church. Welcoming this call many people from both the communities contacted him. Since then this dialogue process is going on. It is moving forward gradually.