Taking into note a Hindu outfit’s plan to “convert a large number of people” on December 25, district authorities today issued a warning to those trying to disturb communal amity and asked citizens not to get provoked.
“Religious conversion is a matter of personal choice and the law permits it. However, if certain groups deliberately try to provoke communal sentiments by misusing this provision, then we will certainly not allow this to take place,” District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash said.
The leaders of Aligarh-based Hindu Jagaran Samiti had announced a mass conversion ceremony of Christians and Muslims, described by them as “homecoming”, at a local college here on December 25.
Following this, a delegation of Christian leaders met the DM today to express their concerns on the statements and were given an assurance by him that he would look into the matter.
Christian community led by Rev Jonathan Lal of the Methodist Church had sought police protection for their church buildings on Christmas.
“We are satisfied by the assurances received by the District Magistrate today,” Lal later told media persons.
Prakash issued an appeal saying, “We are a peace loving people and the festival of Christmas is very sacred to us. We appeal to all sections to join hands with us in celebrating this festival of peace and love and refrain from indulging in any act which causes friction between different sections.
“Religious belief is a very personal matter and there should be no question of any coercion or inducement for religious conversions,” he said.
Prominent Muslim leaders and organisations have also appealed to all sections “not to be provoked or disturbed by any statements by any organisation”.
Samajwadi Party MLA from here, Zafar Alam, today said that there was no problem whatsoever if any individual wants to convert, adding, there is clearly an attempt to spread “ill-will” in the state when a particular group announces a mass conversion ceremony of two minority communities.
Hindu Jagaran Samiti had announced its plan for mass conversion on December 25, which was welcomed by the local BJP MPs who said people are within their rights to choose their religion.
“A number of people who had earlier left the fold of Hinduism will be reconverted at a grand ceremony to be held at the Maheshwari Inter College in the old city on Christmas,” regional in-charge of the Hindu Jagaran Samiti Rajeshwar Singh told reporters on Wednesday.
“This is not conversion but homecoming for those who had been misled and enticed to leave their original religion earlier,” he added.
This comes after over 100 people, mostly Muslim slum dwellers, were allegedly forcefully converted to Hinduism through a ritual carried out by Hindu organisation Dharma Jagran Manch in Agra on December 8.