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The onslaught of the saffron brigade4 min read

January 30, 2015 3 min read

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The onslaught of the saffron brigade4 min read

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The highly controversial ‘Ghar Wapasi’ campaign which has been sweeping across the country, causing waves of conversions from varied locations of the country has been trying to penetrate into the coastal regions of Udupi. The Sangh Parivar’s choice of location, considered a BJP stronghold for the reconversion, has been seen as an alarming move by the district administration, thus putting the law enforcement agencies on high alert. As of now, the 110 Christian families that had been scheduled to be converted, haven’t had their lives tampered with.

But the same cannot be said about other such families, who have been treated as mere puppets or rag dolls in this outrageous attempt to paint the country saffron. In the last six months, almost 6000 people have been converted in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the latter still in infancy, having been freshly cropped out of a larger Andhra. On the northern front, the ‘Ghar Wapasi’ is in full swing in Gujarat and UP, where the RSS affiliate Dharam Jagran Manch seems to be the front runner in facilitating the conversions. There have also been rumours about the RSS considering the conversion, or as they like to put it, re- conversion of Goan Catholics whose ancestors had been forcibly converted by the Portuguese.

Coming back to the local front, this is not the first time that news of conversion has hit Udupi. Back in 2008, there had been rumors about forceful conversions happening, which were proven baseless in a report submitted by Mohamed Shafi Qureshi, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities. The law enforcement and administration have therefore been put on high alert, keeping a tight vigil to control and contain any such incidents, if and when they occur.

It is dishearteningly disturbing to see such blatant disregard of the very national fabric on which the Indian democracy thrives. The same one that gives every citizen the right to choose his or her religion irrespective of caste, creed, colour, religion, gender, financial status or his position in the society. The ideology behind this whole campaign is clear. It is to portray an image of India which is synonymous with that of a Hindu state, a literal ‘Hindustan’ if you may. But the whole debate is baseless as India never was, and never will be a Hindu dominion. Every aspect of the nation, be it the culture, cuisine, literature, art, architecture or anything else, has been heavily influenced by Islam, Christianity, and other religions and foreign influences. To forget that or to separate those from the Indian culture will leave a hollow structural fray.

While most of these conversions have not been forced, it is interesting as to how almost the entirety of the converts belonged to a lower strata of the populous, and have changed their religion because of lack of respect in their community, or to climb up the ladder of social status. This leaves room for speculation as to whether the ignorance of those converts was used to get them on board with the whole plan.

Among all the controversial statements that the campaign has used for its propagation, this is the perhaps the most terrifying. “Aim of making Bharat free from converted Christians and Muslims by 31 December, 2021.”  While on one hand we may laugh it off as something ridiculously jocular, on the other hand, can we ignore a statement that reeks of ethnic cleansing to a point that it reminds us of Idi Amin’s Asian Expulsion of 1972 or worse, something that might match in tone if not in action, to the Jewish Holocaust by the Third Reich.

Another vital concern that plagues the minds of many is how the actual meaning of Hinduism is being lost in this process. Hinduism has never been a religion, but a way of life. The sheer beauty and depth of this has been streamlined into a narrow pathway by the so called ‘protectors of Hinduism’, who should frankly be protecting Hinduism from themselves. How can one speak about conversion when the religion itself speaks about acceptance, and mob violence when ahimsa is one of its long standing ideals? It seems like these questions will remain unanswered for now.

Raunak Bose is Reporter, The Manipal Journal and a student of School of Communication.

The views expressed in the blog are personal.